The Unanswered Question discussion

Nov 10th, 2015
Price: $5 USD

Question description

The Unanswered Question discussion  

The Unanswered Question (Links to an external site.)Here's a piece of music that is probably unlike anything that you've ever heard before. It's not what most people would listen to for purely listening enjoyment. It's more like a work of art that leads us to contemplate. It was written by Charles Ives in 1906 and although it's over 100 years old, it still sounds very modern and was way ahead of it's time. It has 3 basic parts.

1- Strings- The strings play very calm sounding chords that move very slowly throughout the piece. In Ives' words they represent "The Silence of the Druids who know, see and hear nothing" and "all that is constant in the universe"

2- Solo trumpet- The trumpet plays a 5 note melody or motive 7 times during the piece. The motive is played the exact same way each time and it represents "The Perennial Question of Existence." In other words, What is the meaning of life?

3- Flute quartet- The "Flutes and other Humans" respond to the question 6 times giving "fighting answers." Each "answer" gets more excited and dissonant as if in frustration.

The final thing heard is the trumpet motive that leaves the question unanswered, hence the name of the work.


1-Listen to this work.

2- Post your thoughts on the discussion board.

Here are some ideas for your postings.

Do you like it? Yes or no, why? How did it make you feel? Do you think that he effectively uses music to portray his ideas?  

Tutor Answer

(Top Tutor) anfolse0907
School: University of Virginia

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