The New River - (2008)
Charles Edward Ives
for medium voice and piano
Down the river comes a noise!
It is not the voice of rolling waters.
It's only the sound of man,
phonographs and gasoline,
dancing halls and tambourine;
Killed is the blare of the hunting horn.
The River Gods are gone.
[ 3 pages, circa 1' 30" ]
With the progression of history comes change of all sorts, especially of technology. Ives tells us the "river gods" are gone, a metaphor no doubt for that earlier, less noisy age, which is replaced with new sounds "of man." Ironic indeed that in Britain as with hunting in other cultures, hunting has become a political anathema to some, such that the traditional fox hunt was banned there. "Killed is the blare of the hunting horn."
The Americana accents to this text are reflected in the musical setting as well, the parallel fourths speaking not of Hindemith's use of them, but of the jazz chords to whose service they were bent in that portion of music history's progress. The piano accompaniment is meant to be dynamically loud, harsh and even steely, to echo the modernity through which the old days are killed off.
The echo of the older time of the "river gods" is captured in a whole tone harmonic gesture as the incessant harmonic change gives way to a moment of tonal stasis. The list of items which kill off the "blare of the hunting horn" are set in syncopated, music hall fasion.
The score for The New River is available as a free PDF download, though any major commercial performance or recording of the work is prohibited without prior arrangement with the composer. Click on the graphic below for this piano-vocal score.
The New River