Sometimes when I’m having a hard time coming up with something to write about
I put on a piece of music guaranteed to stimulate a brain wave or two.
I’m currently listening to Charles Ives and his Concord Symphony,
specifically ‘Hawthorne’, the second movement of the piece.
Ives isn’t for the average listener, believe me.
It’s some strange and beautiful stuff.
When I first listened to this particular piece years ago,
I wondered how one man could physically play it.
About three minutes into ‘Hawthorne’ you hear these pentatonic (all black notes) clusters,
an impossibility for the right hand alone given what the left hand is doing at that point.
Or so I thought.
I would find out years later that the performance notes for the Concord
require a piece of wood that must be cut to a certain size and
must weigh approximately 8oz or some crazy ass shit like that.
The board is gently ‘layed’ across the black notes on the piano giving the massive ‘cluster’ effect that I heard (and loved)
Nope Ives is not for the faint of heart simply because of the harmonic complexity of his music.
One minute he can sound like Chick Corea while the next he’s Scott Joplin on an acid trip.
I would recommend that everyone listen to Ives but I fear you’d call me insane.
If you want to experience something insanely creative by a lowly insurance salesman from Danbury, Connecticut,
go for it.
Ives is incredible and one of a kind.
I heard someone play something by Ives many years ago and it was something of a religious experience.
Check it out.
Be sure and stop back for Weird Wednesday!
For those of you that choose to listen:
These are performed by Marc-Andre Hamelin,
an amazing pianist and great interpreter of Ives.