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Sonorous Boxes

Now through August 07, 2019

Miller Nichols Library, 1st Floor

Harry Partch, affectionately nicknamed the “Hobo Composer,” was an American composer, music theorist, and creator of unique musical instruments. 

He was known as a rebel who composed outside the traditional relationship between music and sound. He loved to manipulate intonations and microtonal scales, often pulling influence from a portion of his life spent traveling the country relying on grants and odd jobs to support himself. 

Partch passed away in 1974, and has been immortalized as one of the most innovative American composers of the 20th century. His legacy includes dozens of unique instruments

In February 2019, the UMKC Conservatory brought a collection of these instruments, along with 10 performers, to Kansas City for free public concerts. In partnership with the Partch Project at UMKC, Jean Schmitt Ormaza, a professor at the Kansas City Art Institute (KCAI), hosted a workshop allowing students to make their own Partch-inspired instruments.

These “Sonorous Boxes” (pronounced saw-ner-us) hold to the avant-garde nature of Partch’s own instruments, finding inventive ways to produce sound from hollow wooden boxes.

Four of these pieces are now on display at the library. While not currently available for interaction, their construction speaks to the unexpected intersection of art and music that Partch loved to explore. 

Special thanks to the KCAI student artists displaying their work: Benjamin Cissner, Brianna Watson, Pyrindaria Riley, and Dante Moore. 

Posted: June 07, 2019

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