23. Mai 2018

Helge Sten – working with Partch’s instruments

During the project Pitch 43_Tuning the Cosmos Helge Sten were working with the Harry Partch instruments. One result of those studies is his piece Sow Your Gold In The White Foliated Earth Ensemble Musikfabrik ist playing at Musikfabrik im WDR 66 – Pitch 43_Continuum on June 17 in WDR Funkhaus in Köln. We were asking the composer, music producer and musician, also known as Deathprod, some questions about him working with the Partch instruments:

“My approach was to visit Musikfabrik in Cologne a number of times, and play and record all the instruments and parts myself. I found that it would be impossible to compose a piece for these instruments without exploring the exact timbres and functionality of each instrument. This is how I compose most of my music; I record all parts and arrange them inside a digital audio workstation. Harry Partch used a tape recorder and overdubbing in a very similar way to compose many of his pieces. I did a lot of video documentation of these sessions as well, so it would be possible to produce a detailed score later on. Many of the Partch instruments are very open and inviting in terms of sonic and musical exploration. I was educated at the Academy Of Fine Arts in Trondheim, so exploring the instruments as sound producing sculptures made more sense to me than approaching them as defined musical instruments. In the piece some instruments are played as they would be in most of Harry Partch´s compositions, while others are not. The Kithatra II is played in a completely different way, which allows the performer to produce a very different sound and feel. I focused on using instruments with a sustaining metallic timbre, rather than many of the wood percussion instruments.
His instruments are interesting in many ways. The fact that he built and invented the instruments out of necessity to realize his music is important, as well as tunings and the wide palette of timbres and sonic possibilities.”


To make it permanently possible for composers to work with our replicas, the instruments require an intensive maintenance. By donating money you can help to support repair works on Partch’s instruments and to bring his music to a wider audience. Any amount helps! Find out more about Pitch_43 or donate!