Charles Ives's Three Quarter-Tone Pieces

These piano pieces were the first quarter-tone pieces I had ever heard. My first impression was that what I was hearing was not two pianos tuned a quarter tone apart, but rather one piano that was badly out of tune. I played these pieces frequently because I found the effect humourous.

The impression that I always get from reading CD liner notes, concert reviews (and so on) is that these are cute little throwaway novelty pieces but not very interesting otherwise. Easley Blackwood describes these pieces as "not very encouraging" (whatever that means). I find the pieces charming and clever. One thing that I have observed is that many of the musical features that make a typical Ives piece "sound like Ives" (quotation, symmetry, aggregate building, borrowing from traditional styles) are present in the Three Quarter-Tone Pieces.


Contents of Chapter 4

Chapter 4: Charles Ives's Three Quarter-Tone Pieces
The current version of this chapter, saved as a .pdf
Example 4.1
Ives's primary sonority (A-chord) and two rejected candidates.
Example 4.3
Three Quarter-Tone Pieces, Mvt. I, Largo, mm. 7-12.
Example 4.5
Three Quarter-Tone Pieces, Mvt. I, Largo, mm. 37-38.
Example 4.6
Three Quarter-Tone Pieces, Mvt. II, Allegro, mm. 88-89.
Example 4.7
Three Quarter-Tone Pieces, Mvt. III, Chorale, mm. 13-15.
Example 4.8
Three Quarter-Tone Pieces, Mvt. III, Chorale, mm. 1-9.
Example 4.12
Three Quarter-Tone Pieces, Mvt. III, Chorale, mm. 26-27.
Example 4.13
Three Quarter-Tone Pieces, Mvt. II, Allegro, mm. 47-50.
Example 4.16
Three Quarter-Tone Pieces, Mvt. III, Chorale, mm. 10-15.
Example 4.17
Three Quarter-Tone Pieces, Mvt. III, Chorale, mm. 40-42.