Thursday, September 22, 2005

The Blues

Listening tonight to the blues and work songs in the film “The Land Where The Blues Began” (made by Alan Lomax in the late 1970s) set me thinking of Harry Partch all over again!

The constant style running through these songs was conversation between instrument and singer. Even the steady thud of the woodchopper’s axe seemed to say its own story. Some of the instruments, like the homemade fretless diddly-bow guitars, seem to belong in Partch’s own instrument family. The playing styles, bending, percussive and glissando speak to a pitch series far closer to Partch’s 43 note scale than conventional 12-note music. The prominence of the voice as instrument as well as words was also striking.

This was undoubtedly yet more Corporeal music that hews very close to Partch’s vision, even if it is relatively limited in range. Not in emotional impact though. This was as powerful as Roscoe Holcomb, and even more mournful.

See here for how to make a diddly-bow!

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