Charles Ives, “4th of July” Listening Challenge

How do we listen to music?

Seems like a silly question! We crank up our home stereos, car stereos, Ipods,  etc.

Most of us think of music as; I like it or I don’t; as cool or not; as good or bad. All very reasonable answers but represent a subjective view. They are opinions vs. analyses. For most people that is more than fine! We grow up with the music that is around us…if it makes us feel good we like it.

When I went to college to study music I was the same way. Somewhere along the line I realized there is more to music than does it have a beat and can I dance to it(or headbang from my heavy metal past). Music even though an art is also a science. Even though a recreation a discipline.

If you have been ready to try something different to feed your ears here is a great piece. It isn’t ear candy to the novice. It wont make you dance, hum, party, workout, clean the house…..etc. However, if you take the time to really listen it will offer you a chance to hear a different perspective on music.

Charles Ives was an experimental composer before there were experimental composers! If this piece reminds you a bit of a horror soundtrack, it was written before there were horror soundtracks! Ives was into creating sounds! Intertwined he liked to add familiar melodies that meant something to him personally. Usually these were lofty motives like Beethoven’s 5th Symphony, hymns and most of all pieces that represent America and Americana at the turn of the last century.

Take the challenge…put away your preconceived notions of what music should be and just listen to sounds. Also listen for the aforementioned American themes that Ives wove into his music the way others use major scales. Remember when you are listening that the composer was very pro-American even though the sounds may seem like not so much.

Go for it! I will keep more listening challenges coming…

Charles Ives 4th of July

About mikeslayen

Guitarist/Instructor

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