Today the University of Washington is scheduled to receive a collection of unique instruments created by avant-garde composer/inventor Harry Partch from 1930 to 1974 (the year of Partch's death). They will be stored near the percussion studios at Meany Hall, according to School of Music director Richard Karpen.
Students, faculty, and members of the public will have access to these bizarre-looking instruments, which Partch felt compelled to build in order to realize his otherworldly conceptions that favored microtonal scales in order to circumvent conventional Western music. His instruments included the Chromelodeon, Cloud-Chamber Bowls, the Quadrangularis Reversum, the Diamond Marimba, the Zymo-Xyl, and the 72-string Kithara. Partch conceived his concerts as a combination of music, dance, and theater in which the musicians' movements and costumes are as important and unusual as the sounds they're generating.
Composer and recent addition to UW's School of Music Composition faculty Charles Corey will oversee the instruction and usage of Partch's instruments. According to Partch's heir and owner of his instruments, Danlee Mitchell, they require 2,000 feet of storage space. More information on this important acquisition here.
Check out this outstanding documentary released in 2002 by the BBC called The Outsider: The Story of Harry Partch.