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Born on this date in 1901, American composer Harry Partch (Wikipedia) made music he wrote himself, in a tonal system he designed himself, on instruments he designed, and built, himself. He is largely responsible for the build-your-own-instruments craze that began in the 70s and continues to influence modern performers like The Blue Man Group and, oh, what’s his name…that cigar-box guitar guy…Mark something? Partch died in 1974, aged 73. American Public Media has a great online gallery of Partch’s instruments, including “virtual” versions you can play yourself in a Flash application.

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Sean Michael Ragan

I am descended from 5,000 generations of tool-using primates. Also, I went to college and stuff. I am a long-time contributor to MAKE magazine and makezine.com. My work has also appeared in ReadyMade, c’t – Magazin für Computertechnik, and The Wall Street Journal.


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