Charles Ives’s father, George, probably planted the seeds of his son's musical originality. George Ives was a US Army bandmaster who had a very creative approach to the musical education of his son. George introduced his son to bi-tonality and polytonality (techniques that only the most modern of composers were beginning to use) and as Charles played the piano, his father encouraged him to listen for "the sounds between the notes": for the sound world within the cracks of music’s traditional structures, tones and harmonies.
It is not surprising, therefore, that Charles Ives went very much his own way as a composer, seeking out sounds that have more in common with the subtle and complexly dissonant sound world that surrounds our everyday existence than the tidied up scales and harmonies of traditional music.
The orchestral piece "Central Park in the Dark" is a prime example of Charles Ives’s style. It creates a tone picture of a city park after dark. The atmosphere within the park is created by strangely and darkly harmonised strings, and other glistening snippets of sound and half-heard melodies impinge upon this "sound of darkness" as if from far away within the surrounding, ever awake city. The overall effect of this piece was revolutionary in its day and remains immensely evocative (and strangely attractive) for those who experience it today.
When we are looking for new perspectives that could help us deal with the challenges we face, it can be fruitful to explore what lies between our fully formed and realised thoughts.
Explore what lies between your thinking by doing some of the following:
- Identifying what nobody is talking about or considering.
- Asking what you and others are assuming is not part of the problem.
- Giving yourself and others permission to express feelings and intuitions as well as facts and opinions.
- Verbalising your thoughts and encouraging others to do the same.
- Allowing time and space for partially expressed ideas to become fully discernible.
- Making a point of looking for connections and links that others are not seeing.
- Listening out for the ideas and opinions of those people to whom nobody listens.
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