Creating Space: Perception and Structure in Charles Ives’s Collages

Jennifer Iverson

KEYWORDS: collage, spatial form, Charles Ives, The Fourth of July, “Putnam’s Camp,” Fourth Symphony, auditory scene analysis, Albert Bregman, streams, masking, perception, cognition, schemas

ABSTRACT: Charles’s Ives’s collages, such as “Putnam’s Camp,” The Fourth of July, and selected movements of the Fourth Symphony, present listeners with extraordinarily complex sound environments. This article uses Albert Bregman’s Auditory Scene Analysis as a source for methodology to analyze how listeners may parse and organize the chaotic surface of a musical collage. Since scene analysis problems in Ives’s collages often mimic real-world environments, Ives creates music that seems “spatial” or “pictorial” as a result. Finally, the article compares and contrasts the perception of space in Ives’s musical collages with their historical parallel in visual art, Cubist collage.

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Received December 2010
Volume 17, Number 2, July 2011
Copyright © 2011 Society for Music Theory