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Declaration for the rights of song


Stackabones

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That's what Howard Boatright said about the quote below.

 

 

A song has a few rights, the same as other ordinary citizens ... If it feels like kicking over an ash can, a poet's castle, or the prosodic law, will you stop it? Must it always be a polite triad ... a ribbon to match the voice? Should it not be free at times from the dominion of the thorax, the diaphragm, the ear, and other points of interest? ... Should it not have a chance to sing to itself, if it can sing? ... If it happens to feel like trying to fly where humans cannot fly, to sing what cannot be sung ... who shall stop it?--in short, must a song always be a song?

 

--Charles Ives, from the postface for 114 Songs (1922)

 

I pulled this quote from Song: A Guide to Art Song Style and Literature.

 

Not too sure what Ives means; it's a knotty passage. But there seems to some kind of idea of a song's liberty and individualism -- that a song will do what it needs to do, rather than what we want it to do.

 

An interesting passage, I thought that some of y'all would find it worth reading.

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Ives drew from many sources when writing his orchestral works, probing, pulling apart, recombining musical ideas from everything from orchestral music to folk and popular songs to nursery rhymes. Song seemed very much on his mind... you can 'hear' the voices in his instrumental music... or at least their ghosts.

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I took singing lessons for 8 months in the early 90s. It was a mixed experience as my teacher was not as atuned to my goals as I would've liked. I worked on a few Charles Ives songs during those lessons - The Greatest Man is the only title that I remember. His songs went from conventional to jarring discord and back again in a very short time span. For years I've been meaning to get a collection of his songs on cd but always forget to follow through.

 

I'm a fan of his other "hits", like "Unanswered Question" and "Central Park In The Dark" among others. "Robert Browning Overture" is another fun piece of orchestral chaos.

 

As blue says, Ives was a free-wheeling guy as far as how he dealt with his art. This quote strikes me as his manifesto for how he works. Music scholars tend to characterize his work as undisciplined - which is another way of saying that they don't understand what he's doing and why can't he just write a conventional sonata form movement?

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This quote strikes me as his manifesto for how he works.

 

 

That's very similiar to another thing Boatwright said, "the best possible introduction to Ive's idea of a song's function."

 

I need to check out more Ives. I listened to a few of his songs at youtube, but I think I need to find other versions.

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