Musical Borrowing
An Annotated Bibliography

Individual record

[+] Kramer, Lawrence. “Cultural Politics and Musical Form: The Case of Charles Ives.” In Classical Music and Postmodern Knowledge, 174-200. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995.

Beneath the radical heterogeneity of Ives’s style runs a strong undercurrent of moral ambivalence which reinforces the regressive hierarchies—especially those of gender, race, and class—inherent in late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century America. By placing certain tunes, such as Protestant hymns, at the top of this hierarchy, Ives musically articulates his nostalgia for his idealized America, where traits such as white-ness, rural-ness, and masculinity dominate social order. In multi-movement works especially, Ives performs his ambivalence using three strategies. First, “Interplay” pits representations of heterogeneity against those of homogenizing idealism within a programmatic context. Second, “Excess” occurs in up-tempo second movements framed by soft, static music that contains and negates the hectic energy and suggests a transcendental truth. Finally, “Hierarchy” resolves the previous movements by privileging a single, often ideologically weighted, musical gesture, affording hegemonic status to white, rural Protestant culture. The recognition of this hierarchical structure leads to a more thorough interpretation of Ives’s music, its cultural context, and the composer’s ideals.

Works: Ives: String Quartet No. 2 (178-79, 187-91), Orchestral Set No. 1: Three Places in New England (182), Majority (185-87), Orchestral Set No. 2 (189-92), Song of Myself (191), Symphony No. 4 (192-94), Piano Sonata No. 2: Concord, Mass., 1840-60 (194-98).

Sources: David T. Shaw: Columbia, Gem of the Ocean (178); George Frederick Root: Battle Cry of Freedom (182); Henry Clay Work: Marching Through Georgia (182); Stephen Foster: Old Black Joe (182); Lowell Mason: Watchman, Tell Us of the Night (188); Joseph P. Webster: In the Sweet Bye and Bye (191-92); Lowell Mason: Bethany (194).

Index Classifications: 1900s

Contributed by: Matthew G. Leone, Daniel Rogers, David G. Rugger

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