The Use of the Guitar in the works of Harry Partch

Thursday, November 12, 2015
Sousa Archives and Center for American Music, Harding Band Building, 1103 S. 6th Street, Champaign

Harry Partch purchased and adapted his first guitar in 1934 and used this instrument to create and perform two of his most recognized early works, Barstow and U.S. Highball. This instrument was fitted with raised stainless steel frets that were attached to a brass plate that was screwed onto the neck of the guitar. This modified fret board provided Partch with the ability to use just intonation for his early works. In 1945 he adapted his second guitar by attaching a smooth narrow fingerboard to the neck of the guitar and adding additional pinheads and brass rivets to the fret board to create a microtonal compatible instrument. That same year he also similarly adapted a Hawaiian guitar that utilized ten strings which provided him with a broader tonal range that could be used for his different music compositions. Join Chris Rainier in a special lecture performance that discusses Partch’s varied use of the guitar in his early music compositions, and Rainier’s efforts to recreate and learn to play Partch’s microtonal guitar. For further information contact the Sousa Archives and Center for American Music at 217-333-4577 or email

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