Thursday, November 19, 2009

Harry Partch in the News

It isn't often that the main subject of my scholarly inquiry ends up at the center of a feud between rock musicians. So imagine my glee when I discovered this single this morning:
That's right, Beck has posted a song called "Harry Partch" over on his website. Granted that listening to it he borrows from minimalism as he does from Partch, but he's got some sounds that mimic Partch's plectrum instruments and he plays around in a justly tuned toolbox.

Evidently the single was inspired by an argument between Radiohead and The Fiery Furnaces. Radiohead recently released a single called "Harry Patch" in honor to the oldest WWI British Soldier who died this summer. The lead singer of Furnaces responded:

"'Oh, please listen to our new song about Harry Patch'. You brand yourself by brazenly and arbitrarily associating yourself with things that you know people consider cool. That is bogus. That's a put-on. That's a branding technique, and Radiohead have their brand that they're popular and intelligent, so they have a song about Harry Patch. How's the song? Is it 48 notes to the octave? What does it have to do with Harry Patch? Oh, my wife says I am being very rude. She doesn't like me insulting Radiohead. She's afraid they will send their lackeys through the computer to sabotage us. But they needn't worry -- we are a band that sabotages ourselves."

Yes, he mistook Harry Partch for Harry Patch. That's ok, I do it all the time. Still, it made for a great moment in the sun for good ole Harry.

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