Charles Ives: Avant-Squeeze Art

538 Words3 Pages
Charles Ives is considered a modern composer, along with Aaron Copland and William Grant Still due to the shift in their music. Modernist music associates with innovation, complexity, abstraction, and challenging convention; but according to Ives, Copland and Still, an avant-garde music does not necessarily have to be complex and difficult. Charles and his music embrace ideas of modernism; his personality and point of view reflect in his essay and compositions. He is similar to Aaron Copland in how he viewed avant-garde music and its meaning. Aaron Copland wanted a “musical vernacular […] would cause no difficulties to [his] listeners.” He claimed that “music that is born complex is not inherently better or worse than music that is born simple”…show more content…
What modernist about Ives is his music has deep fascination with innovation, progress, and avant-garde impulse. In his Piano Sonata No. 2, and Holiday Symphony, “Washington’s birthday,” Charles Ives combined American and European traditional elements. It is what “musicologist J. Peter Burkholder calls “borrowed tunes.” (The Rest is Noise, p. 143). His music embraces a hallmark of modernism as “it breaks with the past, and substitutes a mythical sense of the past for a historical one” (“Some hallmarks of Modernism”). Charles Ives’s ‘playing with tunes’ is an effective avant-garde innovation. He collected and combined the old and new tunes in his music. He gave audience a sense of music that is different from tradition, but still provokes reminiscing feeling from listeners. It is how Ives communicated with people. He created this connection with the audience, and it is up to them to interpret the meaning of music. “He preferred to imagine a world in which music could somehow circulate without being bought or sold” (The Rest is Noise, p. 142). His music is creative because it was built on traditional tunes but it demonstrates Ives’ “great interest in technique in the broadest sense” (“Some hallmarks of Modernism”). This avant-garde music has a unique style but it is easily accessible to a viable
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