Harry Partch (June 24, 1901 – September 3, 1974) was an American composer and instrument builder. He was one of the first twentieth-century composers to work extensively and systematically with microtonal scales, writing much of his music for custom-made instruments he built himself, tuned in 11-limit just intonation.
Partch was born on June 24 1901 in Oakland, California. Both his parents were Presbyterian missionaries; Harry was born soon after they fled the Boxer Rebellion in China. He spent his childhood in small remote towns in Arizona and New Mexico, where he heard and sang songs in Mandarin, Spanish and Indian languages. He learned to play the clarinet, harmonium, viola, piano and guitar as a child. He began to compose at an early age using the equally tempered chromatic scale normal in recent western music, but burned all his early works after becoming frustrated with what he saw as the imperfections of that particular system of musical tuning and its unsuitability for...
Genesis of a Music is a book first published in 1947 by American microtonal composer Harry Partch, in which Partch first presents a polemic against both equal temperament and the long history of stagnation in the teaching of music, then goes on to explain his tuning theory based on just intonation, the ensemble of musical instruments of his own invention, and several of his largest musical compositions. This book has been highly influential to succeeding generations of microtonal composers. A revised and enlarged second edition was published just after Partch's death in 1974.