Harry Partch 1901-1973
The Dreamer That Remains (1972)
The fantastic 1972 film "Harry Partch – The Dreamer That Remains." The composer making rose petal jam. Then again – it’s more. As I watched, a smile spread across my face and a tear formed in my eye. Not only was I witness the wild voice and gesticulations of a figure who had first drawn me toward the avant-garde, but the freedom, singularity, and otherness which had folded me in its arms. Partch was an eccentric, a radical, a free thinker of unparalleled bounds, and a misfit whose principles left him poverty stricken at margins. His tattered tee shirt, and wild eyes speak all too well. In two minutes, without a note to be heard, this document manages to sum up so much of what drew me in. The avant-garde is a social proximity, with a remarkably brave willingness to pursue creative ambition above all else, and embrace the wildest and most diverse spirits. This music isn’t just made of tones, structures, and musical ideas. It proposes a way to be. The Partch featured here, is not just the man, but embodiment of a spirit which once made this world great. Years ago, it seemed like people like Partch – the wild unpredictable ones, were the people I knew. I’m not sure where they’ve gone. Until I find them again, this film will have to do. In anticipation of my series Impressions of the American Avant-Garde, the first installment of which should be up in the coming week, I’m also including Harry Partch – The Dreamer That Remains, the film from which Rose Petal Jam was cut. It’s equally fantastic in its own way – highly recommended viewing.

-Bradford Bailey