The New River -
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,
Killed is the blare of the hunting horn.
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
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