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Topic: The Unanswered Question

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  1. #1

    The Unanswered Question

    The Unanswered Question
    by Charles E. Ives

    We recently played this work at an orchestra concert in our hometown. I thought it would be fun to see if Finale could realize the music. Though the program crashed several times in playback (because of my attempts to create different tempi within a given tempo) I was able to render this recording of the Unanswered Question. For those that don't know the work, it was written by Charles Ives in 1908 and is a clear example of his unique ability to look for new and unusual ways to create music. The string choir represent "The Silences of the Druids - Who Know, See and Hear Nothing." The trumpet asks "The Perenial Question of Existence", and the hunt for the "Invisible Answer" is taken on by the woodwind choir representing man's search for the answer. The woodwinds try to answer but get hopelessly lost and in the end, mock the question. The question is stated one final time (the seventh time as a matter-of-fact) and the strings are unperturbed by it all.

    It's amazing that it actually reminds me of most orchestras that I have played in. The brass state the obvious, the winds argue about the obvious and the strings don't even know we are around. Ives was a genius!

    Here is: The Unanswered Question

    Best regards,
    Bill
    We dream to write and we write to dream.

    Challenge #10 Winner

  2. #2

    Re: The Unanswered Question

    I have a question, but don't answer it . Is this a copy of the score made with Finale? Wonderful music. I must have some more of Ives... You know, the more I listen to this and other contemporary composers, the more I feel that "huge gap" in my musical education. Thank you for bringing this.

    Raymond

  3. #3

    Re: The Unanswered Question

    I always love hearing Ives. Thanks for this Bill. Now There is a master of "dissonance" at work - It's a brilliant piece.

    Playback was extremely quiet so I had my speakers turned up much farther than usual. I know the Strings need to remain quiet and gentle, but volume is relative. As long as the balance between the instruments is what you want, the whole track can be louder without spoiling the dynamics. - And I know the rest of the orchestra is meant to be louder than the strings - but could the woods really be This much louder? They also seemed much closer with less reverb. I've probably hit on just some of the usual difficulties of rendering a recording in Finale.

    Thanks for this.

    Randy

  4. #4

    Re: The Unanswered Question

    Raymond - Though Charles Ives was a well trained musician and organist (the two don't always go hand in hand), he made his living as an Insurance Salesman.


    He played sports at Yale and was on the Varsity football team and the baseball team. He was an American modernist[1] composer. He is widely regarded as one of the first American composers of international significance. Ives' music was largely ignored during his life, and many of his works went unperformed for many years.

    The score was done in Finale. It is a Southern Music Publication.

    I am glad you enjoyed the work. He is an extremly interesting composer.

    Randy - I agree with you, but I took the suggestion of the composer where the strings are to be off stage and in the distance, uncaring and unseeing (unseen too, I guess). I like your suggestions and when I have time I will try to make a render according to your suggestions.

    Thanks for listening,

    Bill
    We dream to write and we write to dream.

    Challenge #10 Winner

  5. #5
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    Re: The Unanswered Question

    I’m a big Charles Ives fan. I noticed some of the things Randy did, but overall I liked what I heard. This is a very interesting piece.
    Trent P. McDonald

  6. #6

    Re: The Unanswered Question

    Bill

    I don't know a lot about Ives. I know that this was new in his time, but this style is common in cinema. Hitchcock wouldn't had been as famous without the dissonace in the background of his movies.

    Ron
    "Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one." Albert Einstein

    http://composersforum.ning.com/profile/RonaldFerguson

  7. #7

    Re: The Unanswered Question

    Quote Originally Posted by trentpmcd View Post
    I’m a big Charles Ives fan. I noticed some of the things Randy did, but overall I liked what I heard. This is a very interesting piece.
    Thanks Trent, for listening. As I said, it was more of an experiment to see if I could get different simultaneous tempi out of finale. I think, it would be easier if I wrote three different pieces - Srtings, woodwinds and trumpet and them used sonar to convert the tempos and then render the work. I will try that soon.
    We dream to write and we write to dream.

    Challenge #10 Winner

  8. #8

    Re: The Unanswered Question

    Hey Bill,

    I must confess I don't know much at all about Ives nor have I listened to much of his music. You're "experiment" here has given me the motivation to check out more of his music. Thanks for that!

    I'm interested to know how you handled this in Finale? I read a little of the thread in the makemusic forum and it appeared you simply used different note values to mimic different tempi for the various choirs. Just curious.

    Steve Winkler

  9. #9

    Re: The Unanswered Question

    Well done Bill.
    Producer ~ Sound Engineer ~ Musician

    http://www.myspace.com/451525581

  10. #10

    Re: The Unanswered Question

    Quote Originally Posted by rolifer View Post
    Bill

    I don't know a lot about Ives. I know that this was new in his time, but this style is common in cinema. Hitchcock wouldn't had been as famous without the dissonace in the background of his movies.

    Ron
    Ron, hitchcock's movies are a favorite of mine. I would venture to say, you are thinking of Psycho. Bernard Herrmann wrote much of the music to Hitchcock's movies and he is a favorite of mine also. But Ives died in 1954, so I don't think the two ever met.

    Thanks for listening,
    Bill
    We dream to write and we write to dream.

    Challenge #10 Winner

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