Labored this weekend on Electronic Bard System Monograph on work of Ed Sanders. Always encountering news stuff... the Ondes Marento, the Mellotone, Harry Parch.
In conversation with Ed I was introduced to Parch. He is noted for a tuning system with 43 notes in an octave. Most especially, Parch created his own instruments (see Jelly fish-like glass bell example above), to get the sound he wanted. Friday's NYTimes discussed Parch: "In the Forest of Instruments, Signs of Evolution."
Parch is in a pantheon with John Cage, Robert Moog, Leon Theremin, Raymond Scott. With Cage, I'd venture that Parch influenced the Performance Art movement in New York in the '60s - a formative mileu for Sanders. New York in those years was a mesh for sure. This mesh including Dylan, Tiny Tim, Cecil Taylor, Albert Ayler, Cage and Glass, Andy Warhol and Phillip Guston.
Several times Sanders pointed out he did not go as far as Parch - Sanders used 31 notes - or 'cents' - on his Micro Lyre project.
The invention of new musical instruments, overshadowed in classical circles in this generation by interest in rediscovering and re-making period instruments, has been gaining attention again...as the 9.4.2010 NYT piece shows - the articles discusses Robert Dick, an LA group known as "The Parch Ensemble," the American Fesival of Microtonal Music.
Classical music once evolved in part with the instrument inventions..the saxophone for example begat Debussy's Rapsodie pour Orchestre et Saxophone. The new instruments were written too, joined the orchestra. Some hang on big time (the piano).
Sanders search for the accompanying instrument was a search for similar invention.