Breaking Time’s Arrow: Temporality in the Music of Charles Ives


ACLS Fellowship Program




This project focuses on several related aspects of time in the music of Charles Ives: musical time, phenomenological time, real-world time, and narrative time. Informed by Ives’s personal aesthetics and philosophy as well as contemporaneous artistic and intellectual currents, it identifies the sources and expressive meanings of Ives’s idiosyncratic temporal procedures and uses these as a means of addressing the ways in which Ives’s music can be viewed, paradoxically, as both quintessentially modern and anti-modern. Its primary focus is a pervasive procedure whereby fragments of a piece seem to have been dislodged from their “proper” chronological order. Whereas musical time in earlier centuries can be conceptualized in terms of an arrow, in Ives’s music, the arrow has multiplied and broken.