Daphne of the Dunes

Categories: Strumentale
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Published on: 26 November 2009

Daphne of the Dunes, by Harry Partch, is here recorded for the first time live. Originally the sound track for Madeline Tourtelot’s film Windsong, Partch recorded it alone, by the process of overdubbing. The film, a modern rendering of the ancient myth of Daphne and Apollo, is a classic of the integration between visuals and sound. Partch explains his approach to the score:

“The music, in effect, is a collage of sounds. The film technique of fairly fast cuts is here translated into musical terms. The sudden shifts represent nature symbols of the film, as used for a dramatic purpose: dead tree, driftwood, falling sand, blowing tumbleweed, flying gulls, wriggling snakes, waving grasses.”

Melodic material is short, haunting, and reoccurs motivically. Arpeggiated harmonic texture contrasts melodic sections. Meter is ever changing, almost measure for measure, with pulse sub-divisions of five, seven, and nine common. A trio of the Bass Marimba, Boo. and Diamond Marimba written in 31/16 meter is structured with 5 unequal beats per measure, the beats sub-divided into sixteenths of 5-5-7-9-5. A duet of the Boo and Harmonic Canon is written in a polymeter of 4/4-7/4 over 4/8-7/8. – Notes by Danlee Mitchell

The instruments heard in this recording:


Adapted Viola
Spoils of War
Kithara II
Gourd Tree
Surrogate Kithara
Diamond Marimba
Harmonic Canons II and III
Boo (Bamboo Marimba)
Chromelodeon I
Bass Marimba
Cloud-Chamber Bowls
Pre-recorded Tape
(Note: No more than four instruments are used simultaneously.)

Harry Partch – Daphne of the Dunes (1967)

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