Musical Borrowing
An Annotated Bibliography

Individual record

[+] Bruhn, Christopher. “The Transitive Multiverse of Charles Ives’s ‘Concord’ Sonata.” Journal of Musicology 28 (Spring 2011): 166-94.

Charles Ives’s Concord Sonata, together with his Essays before a Sonata, can be read through the lens of turn-of-the-century psychologist William James’s work on the functioning of the human brain, yielding new insights into the behavior of Ives’s music. James conceptualizes consciousness as a flowing “Stream of Thought” in which fringe images fill the space between more concrete ideas. Throughout Concord Sonata, Ives constructs a sense of musical vagueness comparable to the Jamesian fringe through uncertain meter and key signatures as well as obscured and distorted musical borrowing. The structure of the sonata is also related to James’s metaphor of “flights” and “perches” in that relatively stable musical phrases emerge from the hazy musical texture. Although Ives does not directly address James’s psychological theories in Essays before a Sonata, he does incorporate many of James’s ideas, which were widespread at the time. Furthermore, James’s cosmological ideas about the multiverse (an extension of his psychological work) are expressed in Ives’s Concord Sonata as well as his Fourth Symphony through their incorporation of borrowed material from many varied musical sources and connections to other works.

Works: Charles Ives: Piano Sonata No. 2: Concord Mass., 1840-1860 (179-84), Symphony No. 4 (189-91)

Sources: David T. Shaw (or Thomas A’Becket): Columbia, the Gem of the Ocean (179-80, 190); Stephen Foster: Massa’s in da Cold Ground (180); Beethoven: Symphony No. 5 in C Minor, Op. 67 (180-81); Traditional: Loch Lomond (183-184); Wagner: Lohengrin (183-84); A. F. Winnemore: Stop That Knockin’ at My Door (183-84); Lowell Mason: Watchman (189), Missionary Hymn (190), Bethany (191); Charles Ives: Piano Sonata No. 2: Concord Mass., 1840-1860 (190), String Quartet No. 1 (190); Oliver Holden: Coronation (190)

Index Classifications: 1900s

Contributed by: Matthew Van Vleet

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