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The evolving keyboard style of Charles Ives

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The investigation focusses on the cultural, scientific and philosophical bases underlying Ives' striving towards both a unique kind of keyboard writing and its musical realization. His gradual accumulation of a multiplicity of received traditions in American art and folk music of his time, together with their attendant attitudes with respect to individual performance practice and improvisation, will be accounted for by a detailed examination of the major influences involved and their assimilation into the composer's innovative designs. By enquiring into Ives' early musical environment and training, and noting his subtle modification and experimental reworking of nineteenth-century styles, discoveries made will provide a groundwork for further insights into the oral and notated elements of his keyboard language. Through his experiences as an improvising vaudeville accompanist and as a more passive observer of various surviving New England vocal traditions, the spiritual and acoustical manifestations revealed exert a strong influence on the way that the composer regards the piano's sonority. These diverse features coalesce into an original body of solo studies representing the essence of Ives' transcendentalism: where "the evolving" is both implicit in the determination of written notation and its contingent translation through live performance into musical meaning.

Publication Date Jan 1, 1984


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