Investigating Symbolic Meaning in Partch’s Delusion of the Fury


  • Taylor Brook University of Victoria


Harry Partch’s seminal work, Delusion of the Fury (1966) represents the culmination of a creative life developing a deeply personal music. Partch’s music may be better understood through an analysis of its symbolic meaning, relying upon his concepts of monophony, corporealism, tonalities, and the “One-Footed Bride,” a diagram he developed to link expressive qualities with interval regions. After considering some of the unique challenges of analyzing Partch-like instrumentation and notation, this article connects Partch’s “One-Footed Bride” to pitch organization in the score of Delusion of the Fury. This analysis describes how Partch implements his 43-tone just intonation scale, showing how his pitch system is closely linked to the design of his instruments, his use of motives, the harmonic organization of his music, and its large-scale form. Following a focused analysis on the Exordium of Delusion of the Fury, this article considers some details of harmonic organization, vocal writing, and formal structure as well as broader organizational principles and tendencies that apply throughout this large-scale work.