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One of the earliest of Harry Partch's compostions that still survives is this set of seventeen pieces composed between 1931 and 1933. The pieces are not "sung" so much as "intoned," or spoken in tones. The vocal performance is accompanied by an Adapted Viola, one of Partch's personally invented instruments, made from a cello neck grafted onto a viola body, with a flattened bridge to allow three strings to sound simultaneously.

The lyrics are taken from Shigeyoshi Obata's English translation of poems by the eighth century Chinese poet Li Po. As in many of his compositions, Harry Partch discarded the standard western form of twelve tone, equal temperment scales, in favor of a just intoned microtonal scale of 43 tones per octave. The music has an often dramatic and haunting quality, sometimes sorrowful, sometimes simply elegant. The lyrics include onomatopoetic renditions of such sounds as the breathy playing of a bamboo flute.

The first recording of all seventeen pieces was done on July 15, 1995, using a tenor violin especially adapted to fill the role of Partch's Adapted Viola, and it was released on the Tzadik label. The seventeen poems set to music in this recording are as follows:

  1. The Long Departed Lover
  2. On the City Street
  3. An Encounter In The Field
  4. The Intruder
  5. On Ascending the Sin-Ping Tower
  6. In the Springtime on the South Side of the Yangtze Kiang
  7. The Night of Sorrow
  8. On Hearing the Flute in the Yellow Crane House
  9. On Hearing the Flute at Lo-Cheng's One Spring Night
  10. A Dream
  11. On Seeing Off Meng Hao-Jan
  12. On the Ship of Spice-Wood
  13. With a Man of Leisure
  14. A Midnight Farewell
  15. Before the Cask of Wine
  16. By the Great Wall
  17. I Am a Peach Tree

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