• Love+Chemistry+Charles Ives: Break the Rules

    As part of our ongoing American Mavericks: Break the Rules series, featuring students from the Music Humanities class at Columbia University, classmates Sophie Kuznetzov and Jorge Betanzos juxtapose clichéd words of love with the Periodic Table of Elements to the tune of Andrew Bird's "Chorus of the Swan."


    Pardon me if I seem to cop an attitude
    But the attitude is one of worship
    And is, I think, sincere.
    My heart swells
    against the prison of my ribs
    And grows to keep my lungs from seeking air.
    Still the breath is not pushed out
    By such a simple force as pride
    But by the glory of my dreaming
    That I might, perhaps, be loved
    By you.

    Pardon me if I'm moved to endless chatter
    But I fear that the beauty of the silence,
    As I watch your distant eyes
    Caress the words I have arranged
    As atonement, on the page, as sacrifice,
    Might cause my soul to rise
    Above this flesh
    And leave inert these hands
    With which I spell these prayers
    Against your thighs.

    Pardon me;
    I burden you with too much honour.
    I know you are no goddess,
    Simply human,
    Still alive.
    The others who I prayed would love me
    Ran,
    Or else I was the one to run.
    And yet their cracked reflections
    Howl to me from pools of molten glass
    Within my hidden pantheon.
    I know you've missed perfection,
    But your quirks and flaws
    Are not personal betrayals,
    But are the marks left
    By the kiss of angels,
    Allowing you to live within
    This far too real world.

    Pardon me if these songs of praise defile you
    But I'll try to keep my hosannahs
    To a quiet whisper,
    And try, as I stroke your face,
    Not to inscribe the Holy Name upon your brow,
    Not to believe that you are both Creator and Creation
    And that you, therefore,
    Must obey my will.
    For as I rest
    My head upon your shoulder
    My lips against your throat,
    I read your pulse as the rhythm
    Of the rushing of the waves,
    Your breaths as the passage
    Of clouds against a bright and empty sky,
    The gentle motion of your breasts
    As the soft processional of continents,
    As, within this dark and silent world,
    We define
    A temporary world of our own.
     
    OH
    OH
    Ring
    C
    CH
    C
    CH
    CH
    C
    CH2
    CH2
    NH2

    OH
    Ring
    CH
    C
    C
    CH
    Ring
    C
    CH
    NH
    C
    CH2
    CH2
    NH2

    OH
    OH
    Ring
    C
    CH
    C
    CH
    CH
    C
    CH2
    CH2
    NH2

    OH
    Ring
    CH
    C
    C
    CH
    Ring
    C
    CH
    NH
    C
    CH2
    CH2
    NH2

    OH
    OH
    Ring
    C
    CH
     

    Charles Ives was a composer who had a different perspective on what classical music should be. Above all, he was mainly described as a modernist, experimentalist, and the inspiration for 20th century music. His style was unique, in that he was able to mix different sounds and types of music together in order to form a piece that showed different perspectives and how they could coexist in one piece.

    He composed Symphony No. 2 using what he referred to as musical quotations or the process of creating a new piece using music from an older piece, thus “quoting” another composers work. Sophie and I were inspired by his musical quotations and were inspired to do just that—quote music and poetry. Ives selected radical sounds and pieces to live together in his music; we believed that his ability to musically quote pieces allowed him to convey his idea from more than one perspective, using many different voices and we wanted to do the same.

    We planned to show two different perspectives of love through our work. Our composition is similar to storytelling. We have created a character, a man, who is writing to his beloved about his surreal affection and unearthly feelings for his goddess. The poem that was chosen is in many ways very cliché and “sappy” because we want the listeners to envision love in its most clichéd form. We hope that the class feels the oversaturation of these feelings of love.

    The second part is an original piece created to intentionally make a sharp contrast with the poem that is being read. It is to be read very abruptly and interrupt the poem’s verse by following the rhythm of the music that was chosen. The letters that are submitted are actually chemical formulas that correspond to serotonin and dopamine, the two chemicals produced by the human body to initiate feelings of happiness as well as well-being.

    When read together, these two things do not sound so aesthetically pleasing. We are attempting to create the scene of love from two different perspectives—the emotional point of view (the poem by our main character) and the biological physiological side (from the point of view of his body). Interestingly, the poem and chant seem to mix at times (or at least when practiced) and it is that sound for which we are hoping.

    Our piece is to give two perspectives of love through chant and poetry. In order to tie both of these pieces together, we have chosen the song, “Chorus of the Swan” (Spotify link) by Andrew Bird. This piece was chosen because of its simplicity and “light feeling.” When first listened to, Sophie and I both believed that we had stumbled upon the perfect piece because it sounds to us like someone is floating, giving a “dream-like” feeling to our complete composition. The piece is also perfect because the plucking dictates the meter of the chant.

    We hope to do musical quotation justice with our newly created piece. We believe that we will create discussion after performing our piece because of the differences that exists between our two texts. Although the chemical formulas being read are simple, they are poignant and “cut” through the very charming poem that we have selected. Our desire was to create a moment that related the artistic side of a phenomena like falling love in an emotional sense (which is usually captured very well by musical compositions) and the physiological occurrences during love (which are also present, but we are not very conscious of).


    Related:
    American Mavericks
    Break the Rules  

Load Testing by Web Performance