Around 1941, American composer Harry Partch
was walking along the highway outside Barstow, California (in the Mojave Desert). He sat down to rest, and then he noticed that hitchhikers had written graffiti all over the white railing that ran along the side of the road. He transcribed the graffiti and turned it into a musical composition he called "Barstow: Eight Hitchhiker Inscriptions." Click here
to read the text of the graffiti. In the clip below, you can hear Partch himself perform the song. Blogger (and composer) Drew Baker
describes the piece as "a surreal and sometimes inebriated sound world." How would you describe it?
Apparently quite a few people have looked for the graffiti that inspired Partch, but I haven't read of anyone finding it.
Partch was also known for creating strange musical instruments
such as the Crychord, Surrogate Kithara, Harmonic Canon, Eucal Blossom, and the Spoils of War. In the picture below, he's playing his "Cloud Chamber Bowls" that he made out of pyrex containers, cut in half, that had been used in cloud chamber experiments at the University of California Radiation Laboratory.