2018: A Year In Food
In 2018, my gym coach assigned me to keep a food blog so he could track my meals. Through developing healthy eating habits to satisfy all of my nutritional needs and a rigorous exercise programme, I lost the 21 kg between January-August 2018 I'd gained on anti-depressants.
I wanted it to be somewhere more private rather than being shoved down people's throats (literally) through Instagram/WhatsApp. Hence I've posted my culinary creations here.
Being vegetarian and/or vegan always presents a challenge in terms of hitting the protein target so this was particularly the most interesting challenge for me.
I made a conscious decision to stop food blogging in 2019 (due to time restraints), but it's useful to have a year's diet documented as a reference and a source of inspiration!
Choose any ONE symphony composed between 1900 and 1950. Discuss what you consider to be its main strengths and weaknesses, and place it in the context of the composer’s output (especially symphonic) and of relevant contemporary musical and cultural trends in its country of origin, and of the history of the symphony as a genre.
Charles Ives’ Fourth Symphony, completed in around 1916-1917 (the exact date is unknown) is considered to be the culmination of the compositional techniques that Ives developed during his maturity after the First World War since his small town upbringing in Danbury, Connecticut. It was also the last of his orchestral works; Ives stopped composing at this time, mindful of his mortality, and devoted his remaining time to revising and updating his existing works, including the compilation of his 114 Songs, the Second Piano Sonata entitled Concord Sonata, with musical sketches from the writings of Emerson, Hawthorne the Alcotts and Thoreau, and the accompanying Essays Before A Sonata, which was the most comprehensive account of his aesthetics. During the 1920s, Ives set about completing and revising his First Piano Sonata, Second Violin Sonata, Orchestral Set no.1 (Holidays Symphony), Orchestral Set no.2 (Three Places In New England) and his Fourth Symphony. Indeed, many of these works were not performed for the first time until after his death, since his career as a composer was relatively unknown during his life – his career in the insurance firm taking precedence. It is difficult to pinpoint exactly a chronological ‘order’ of these works as such, since it was fairly typical of Ives to draft several works simultaneously at any one time, and many of these multi-movement works were initially conceived as individual movements rather than in the traditional symphonic genre. This is not to say that Ives was unfamiliar with the symphonic form, but he was fully aware of the developments taking place in Europe and America during the late Romantic period, and even as far back as Beethoven, as well as those of the early 20th century – and, in most cases, chose to contradict them, both in content and the way in which his musical content was structured. It is important to look at the Fourth Symphony both from the outset formal arrangement of his ideas to the inset subject matter that he was dealing with, and his distinction between ‘substance’ and ‘manner’ – one that underlies his musical and philosophical thought, which is the key to this understanding and its application in performance.
A dichotomy prevailed in America during the 20th century, and it pervaded all aspects of life. The struggle between absolutism and relativism, egalitarianism and individualism, empiricism and intuitionism, was reflected in musical trends from the era. Composers that were typically associated with the established, mainstream and politically associated commercial music such as Aaron Copeland, George Gershwin and Elliot Carter, were often contrasted with those who were on the marginal lines, such as Henry Cowell, Carl Ruggles, Ruth Crawford-Seeger, and Ives himself – ultra-modernist composers who wished to break free from rules. Ives embraced the ‘new world’ idiom of vast horizons, new possibilities and an attitude of ‘childish innocence’ that presented such attractive prospects of freedom for the composer. In particular, he was heavily influenced by the transcendental views of Emerson and Thoreau, that asserted the innate goodness in mankind, solidified by a direct relationship between the individual and the divine. The ‘self’ was thought to be part of the universal ‘over-soul’ and the divine accessible through intuition, so Transcendentalism was a philosophy that set the individual against the background of society, and it linked the everyday working life to spiritual fulfilment through an aesthetic experience that transcended the boundaries of time of space. This line of thought can be traced back to Romantic idealism, found in 19th century art, literature and religion and ultimately to Immanual Kant. Ives was a deep admirer of Beethoven, he believed that the works of Beethoven contained pure spiritual substance. Ives compared the prose style of Emerson to the music of Beethoven, saying that ‘his essays are filled with “flashes that approach as near the divine as Beethoven in his most inspired moments”’.
Indeed, his own nationalistic style often reflected traits of European Romanticism, and like Beethoven, Ives adopted the traditions, but he went beyond them, exploring new harmonies and techniques – taking the traditions in new directions.
Since Ives saw himself as a revolutionist, much of his music did not synchronize with the musical developments happening in the United States, neither did he conform to the traits of European art music. Many composers discarded the traits peculiar to traditional folk music in order to make their music conform to academic standards, thus distorting its unconventional characteristics. Ives, however, took advantage of these unconventional characteristics in order to create something totally unique. This explains why the majority of his works were not performed until after his death; because they were simply too forward-looking. Ives had reached his compositional procedures independently of current trends and as a result, he was ahead of his time. However, by combining these advanced techniques with traditional materials from the past, Ives succeeded in integrating the past into the present as a continuing tradition.
His father, George Ives, was a key influence on his music, and introduced him to the broad palette of sound at his disposition that went beyond the usual ‘textbook harmony’. This included the relative spatial qualities of musical texture, where layers of musical ideas could be placed in the foreground and background, creating a multi-dimensional effect. Ives’ father often experimented with the physical properties of sound and the positioning the musicians, placing two bands on two separate levels and exploring the effect that this sound had on the ear. Such innovations are reflected in the programme note to the Fourth Symphony, where Ives mentions a number of cases; ‘a brass band playing pianissimo across the street is a different sounding thing than the same band playing the same piece forte a block or so away...when a conductor separates a chorus from the orchestra or places a choir off the stage or in a remote part of the hall’, ‘A horn over a lake ‘ which gives a quality of sound and feeling that is hard to produce in any other way’ and the equidistant positioning of the listener between two pianos in two rooms, the grand piano in a larger room and the upright piano in the smaller room, so that ‘the contrasting rhythms will be more readily felt by the listener than if the pianos be in the same room’. His father also constructed the quarter-tone piano which explored tones that did not fall into the Western tempered twelve-tone scale. These ideas manifest themselves in the Fourth Symphony, particularly in the second movement, the passage at 36 where the ad-lib quarter-tone piano set in the background is juxtaposed with chordal material from the orchestral piano under the solo violin line in the foreground playing the theme from Beulah Land. They reveal the extra degree of sensitivity towards sound that set Ives apart from other composers, and the aesthetic distinction that Ives made between pure sound and music – that sound alone did not prescribe true music, but that a whole array of techniques had to come into play in order to create music.
Ives chooses an idiosyncratic form for his Fourth Symphony, initially conceived as individual movements and combined into a multi-movement work during his revision period after the war. In his programme note, he describes the opening movement as being a prelude, proposing the ‘spiritual questions of What? and Why? which the spirit of man asks of life’ and the three succeeding movements as being the three diverse answers in which existence responds.
This results in three highly dissimilar movements, that could work, it seems, just as well as individual pieces, or a set that could be listened to in any order.
The second movement, ‘Celestial Railroad’ is a mystical collage that fluctuates between slow, wistful passages punctuated by chaotic marching bands, a dream interrupted by reality, contrasting discipleship with an easy, carefree existence of spiritual laziness – a sort of incidental programme depicting, in comic satire, the individual’s quest towards spiritual fulfilment. The third movement, conversely, is a fugue, based on the fugal first movement of the First String Quartet, which is, in turn, based on the missionary hymn, From Greenland’s Icy Mountains, described by Henry Bellamann as ‘an expression of the reaction of life into formalism and ritualism.’  In this sense, the third movement appears to be almost a reaction to the second movement, the reduction of the fast-moving, bipolar alternation into a slow moving, extended meditation of the missionary hymn – the transformation from intensely chaotic extremes to the methodical middle-ground. The fourth movement, on the other hand, is neither a state of conflicting energies, constant upheavals and unsettlement, nor is it a balanced state of tranquillity, but it is a unifying force between these two states. The vertical alignment of popular hymns Bethany and Martyn and the Missionary Chant, interspersed with themes from the other three movements, such as at section 65 where the contrapuntal combinations of these tunes are layered on one top of the other, links thematic material from the other three movements in a genuine synthesis. Thus, the over-arching structure of the symphony appears to carry its own logic, much the same way as a philosophical argument proposes a fundamental problem (first movement) and answers this in a three-way ‘triangle of logic’ beginning with the thesis (second movement), the antithesis (third movement) and the synthesis (fourth movement). However, taken at face value, while the Fourth Symphony achieves an impressive sense of integration, it hardly succeeds in concealing its origin as a collection of separate movements, because, for instance, each of the four movements is scored for an ensemble of different size and composition. Therefore, the traditional concept of genre virtually disappears from his music and is replaced with a form that is disconnected and incoherent to the listener who is unfamiliar to its programmatic content.
Once we have considered the external structure of the symphony, we must then consider its internal structure, characterised primarily by techniques of quotation, including collage, quodlibet (the combining of two or more tunes into counterpoint or quick succession) and self-quotation from his previous works.
Ives took music from vernacular sources, popular fiddle tunes, country band songs and hymns, and incorporated them into his own formats, clearly within the traditions of European art music. He is especially notable for taking a familiar hymn tune, such as Watchman, and placing it within an unfamiliar musical setting; enveloping it in rich, discordant harmonies, interweaving a patchwork of motives from other hymn tunes around it through the faintly heard violin and harp choirs, and deliberately altering the ending of the text to give it a distinctly different undertone. It sounds more like a question than an answer:
These techniques of quotation create ‘a kind of aesthetic dissonance, violating the expectation that compositions should be original, self-contained and based on newly conceived ideas’ and, in our minds, we struggle to distinguish between acts of composition and acts of quotation. However, some researchers, such as John Kirkpatrick and Clayton Henderson, emphasize the context, and the importance of musical relationships between borrowed material and surroundings, the linking of musical ideas through a set of common motives. These techniques reveal a deeper complexity behind Ives’ music, and suggest that his choice of borrowed material was exploited for the higher aims of composition. But the extra-musical significance of these borrowed tunes cannot be avoided. Ives’ pragmatic writings in Essays Before a Sonata stated that all music provokes thoughts, feelings and emotions that could not be separated from the music itself, and the abundance of vernacular tunes in the Fourth Symphony is bound to create feelings of nostalgia among those who are already familiar with those tunes. Hence, the music could only be understood through programmatic exploration of its borrowed material. After all, the Fourth Symphony is programmatic, although not as explicit as those of Strauss or some of his other pieces, which clearly state the images that he was attempting to conjure up. Nevertheless, it is as if the programme dictates the music, its success determined by the listener and how familiar they are with its quotations. However, many of these quotations contain religious connotations (such as Watchman, Bethany, and Something for Thee), and memories or themes the listener can relate to through their own experiences.
For example, a fiddle-tune or a marching band may remind the listener of a similar fiddle-tune or marching band that they have heard before in their own past, and Ives deliberately created these melodic relationships to conjure up new worlds of meaning, as if he were showing us the connections and inviting us to continue this process ourselves. In Essays Before a Sonata, Ives stressed the importance of free-association – making connections between musical ideas as an intuitive, psychological process relative to the individual. This gives the Fourth Symphony an accessibility and openness to hearing the music in variety of different ways. Quotations are executed in all degrees of paraphrase from direct replication to being virtually unrecognisable, and sometimes distorted like dreams or memories.
Through these ambiguities, we are reminded of our own dreams and memories, and the listener is able to draw allusions between their lives and the music, enriching the music so that it becomes an experience in itself. On the other hand, one could argue that music could be so open that the boundaries between compositions become blurred, and that by drawing too heavily on extra-musical content, a piece of music surrenders its autonomy. After all, the second movement of the Fourth Symphony quotes much of the same material as the piano fantasy, the Celestial Railroad, so there reason to say that it is simply a paraphrase of an earlier work, enlarged for the orchestra. Since many of Ives’ compositions were conceived simultaneously, it is difficult to tell where one begins and another ends. Nevertheless, this is a question of balance; between the music itself and our own deductions. There is as much quoted material as there is original material here, and it would be impossible to say one way or the other.
The magnitude of these quotations creates a multi-dimensional texture, consisting of many different layers of activity, and for Ives, this was the culmination of a logical and gradual development; the fusion of all the techniques that he had learned under Horatorio Parker, a collage technique, otherwise known as the ‘stream of consciousness’ technique. Musical ideas were not intended to depict events bound by the constraints of time and space, but were one within the same ‘substance’ of music. They were intended to create an inner, imagined landscape as opposed to an external, physical plane, so the emphasis is on the subjective. Some critics such as the journalist Kurt Stone, have commented that his choice of vernacular materials in his Fourth Symphony bear no significance on the work in its entirety, since they are related exclusively to extra-musical images from his personal life thus their musical qualities have been overlooked, and that any other tune would have sufficed in its place to create the same effect. However, it is important to look at the Fourth Symphony like an impressionist painting, and here we find a parallel with Debussy. The Fourth Symphony is impressionistic in quality; it is the overall picture that is important rather than the individual dots that go into making the picture. However, Ives’ substance was concerned more with people; their thoughts, feelings, actions and emotions, rather than the physical landscapes into which they dissolve, once again uniting the individual within the overall picture of society at large, which was a typically Transcendentalist perspective on life. Since the Fourth Symphony is a musical representation of a mystical experience, an essence that can only be partially captured in musical terms, it is impossible to account for every event that transpires during its course. That is the idea, for it represents events that cannot be fully explained or described, only experienced.
From starting on the outside and gradually moving inwards, by looking at form, musical content and texture, one can detect a general tension between programme music and music of pure, artistic content, in relation to the symphony as a genre; should a symphony have a programme of extra-musical significance, or should a symphony express nothing but itself in musical terms? The answer, of course, depends on the relationship between the music and its programme, and on which has the most emphasis. Ives managed to account for both viewpoints by incorporating the programmatic aspects of his music into the music itself through his use of vernacular materials in a contemporary, symphonic format. The listener is not obliged to make the link between Ives’ music and his aesthetics, however the connection is implied, and in this subtle difference lies the main strength of the Fourth Symphony; that while it benefits from having a programme, in the sense that it succeeds in express what it seeks to express, it does not rely on content outside of itself for meaning, and it is therefore disposed to a wide scope of interpretation. Moreover, its blend of the traditional and the contemporary gives it wide appeal, and gives his music ‘a new name for an old way of thinking’.
Block, Geoffrey and Burkholder, J. Peter, Charles Ives and the Classical Tradition, Yale (1996)
Burkholder, J. Peter, Ives, Charles (Edward), Grove Music Online ed. L. Macy
(Accessed 26/11/2005) <http://www.grovemusic.com>
Burkholder, J. Peter, All Made Of Tunes: Charles Ives and the Uses of Musical Borrowing, Yale University Press, New Haven & London (1995)
Burkholder, J. Peter, Charles Ives: The Ideas Behind His Music, Yale University Press, New Haven & London (1985)
Cyr, Gordon, Intervallic Structural Elements in Ives’s Fourth Symphony, Perspectives on New Music, (1971) JSTOR accessed 18/03/2007 <www.jstor.org>
Howard, John Tasker, Our Contemporary Composers: American Music in the Twentieth Century, New York (1943)
Ives, Charles E., Essays Before a Sonata, The Majority and Other Writings. ed. Howard Boatwright, New York (1961)
Ives, Charles E., Symphony No.4: Performance Score, ed. John Kirkpatrick, Yale (1965)
Perry, Rosalie Sandra, Charles Ives and the American Mind, Ohio (1974)
Rossiter, Frank R., Charles Ives & His America, London (1976)
Ives – The Symphonies, Christoph von Dohnányi, Neville Marriner, Zubin Mehta with Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields, Cleveland Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra, ©2001, CD, Decca, B00004TTIK
 Ertan, Deniz, Lecture notes 17/10/2005, Introduction to American Music.
 Burkholder, J. Peter, Charles Ives: The Ideas Behind His Music, pg 14
 Ives, Charles, Symphony no.4 – Conductor’s Note, pg 13
 Burkholder, J. Peter, All Made Of Tunes: Charles Ives and the Uses of Musical Borrowing, pg 402.
 Kirkpatrick, John, Preface to Performance Score of Symphony no.4 by Charles E. Ives. New York, Associated Music Publishers (1965), pg viii.
 Burkholder, J. Peter, All Made Of Tunes: Charles Ives and the Uses of Musical Borrowing, pg 390.
 Burkholder, J. Peter, All Made Of Tunes: Charles Ives and the Uses of Musical Borrowing, pg 2.
 Stone, Kurt, Ives’ Fourth Symphony; A Review, The Musical Quarterly (1966) pg 14-15, on JSOR, accessed 18/03/2007.
 Perry, Rosalie Sandra, Charles Ives and the American Mind, Ohio (1974), pg xvii
Rory spent the first few years of his life in an ice cave, carving out his palace of wonder. He's a bit of a love doll, but he who melts the ice shall have their reward.