The Presbyterian couple were missionaries , and served in China from to , and again from to , when they fled the Boxer Rebellion. His father worked for the Immigration Service there, and they settled in the small town of Benson. It was still the Wild West there in the early twentieth century, and Partch recalled seeing outlaws in town. Nearby, there were native Yaqui people , whose music he heard. His mother encouraged her children to learn music, and he learned the mandolin , violin , piano ,  reed organ , and cornet.
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Start your review of Genesis of a Music Write a review Sep 24, Frank Elliott rated it really liked it As a young classical music student, I read this book cover-to-cover with real interest. Harry Partch, who grew up in small-town Arizona before World War II, is a genuine part of Americana and earthly music history, at least for insiders In this, his magnum opus, Harry answers far more questions than he poses, a refreshing trait among authors and inventors.
The more one gets to know him, the more one realizes Harry had some very good ideas. Still it has its merits for the initiated. He would "fit in" better today, when "recycling" is so popular for energy conservation, IMHO.
Digital methods to madness like his would be both easier and cheaper and hence perhaps less corporeal in modern times. But modernity itself held no joy for him. In his own time, he was, like it or not, very much an outlier. How "odd" then, that he ended up getting so much of his work performed and recorded! Four big stars. The descriptions of the tuning system itself can become quite complex with numerous ratios, though the idea is clear enough that most of these sections are just trying to place the maths into a context that fits within contemporary music e.
A highlight, for me, were the detailed descriptions of the various instruments he has built over the years in order to be able to play the music. The only low point in the book was the chapter describing all the alternative attempts to break free of equal temperament using microtonal scales of various sorts. As this come straight after he has described his own means of dealing with the issue, it seems rather redundant.
Genesis of a Music