The Unanswered Question, Charles Ives, always ahead of his time, Ives conceived of music in ways that other composers wouldn’t try for several more decades. In construction and content, this piece remains one of the twentieth century’s most original. With The Unanswered Question Ives began his investigation of the most fundamental question of life and existence (Echols & Zahler 1985). Why are we here? Or, perhaps, how are we here? Or, are we alone? In 1906 Ives sought universal answers about life itself, answers that dealt in the broadest sense with the human condition. The Unanswered Question is an exercise in the relationship of different sets of musical images, played together. The questioner is a solo trumpet, with a pleading; unsettled phrase repeated, almost identically, several t times. A quarter of flutes attempts to answer, but each answer get increasingly dissonant, agitated, and inconclusive. While this is going on and after all the questions and responses have been uttered, the strings calmly play a series of tonal chord progressions that form an otherworldly hymn, suggesting the eternity of the universe. The Unanswered Question can also be savored as pure abstraction. Need essay sample on "Art Music in the 20th Century" ? We will write a custom essay sample specifically for you for only $/page
1943—In The Music Lover’s Handbook, Lawrence Abbott says, “The one brass instrument which has no valves is the trombone, the ‘cello of the brass choir. It is a direct descendant of an ancient instrument which the Moors called a sackbut (Moorish for ‘pump’) and which was played in the same picturesque way as a trombone, by moving a sliding section of U-shaped tubing back and forth. The trombone is about an octave lower in pitch than the trumpet. Its tone is impressively powerful; it has the trumpet’s bold, ringing quality, but being deeper has also a sonorous nobility which no other instrument can quite equal” (Abbot 87).