The work begins with an orchestral tutti playing an “out-of-key” scalic descending melody and is accompanied by a percussive “street beat” pattern. This opening “mistaken” sound seems to inform the listeners that this piece is neither written for any concert nor amateur band, but is written as a record of the composer’s past listening experience of street performances. Ives seems to capture such performances from a nebulous memory of childhood. Although the form this work is not that of a March, the themes are designed in the style of March, portraying a high spirited but affectionate festive atmosphere. The quoted tunes are always placed on the top of the sonic layers. Fragment of
appears most, serving a role similar to that of the Countermelody to support other borrowed tunes. For example, an altered fragment of The Girl I Left Behind Me follows immediately the first appearance of London Bridge London Bridge in mm. 24-28, but the residue of is still lingering in the sonic background. London Bridge
As I have mentioned before, Country March Band consists of a hotchpotch of quotations in different styles, but they are molded into a framework of March-like piece. By adding a collage of tunes related to the main tunes and to one another by melodic resemblance, genre, or extra-musical association, the thoughts of the listener, who may be reminded of other tunes that sound similar, or of pieces the band has played before, or of other musical pieces recently heard, or hear more and less extraneous music in his/her mind at different points, as he/her mind wanders and refocuses. In fact, it is not important whether a listener could identify all the quotations from the piece. Just as a daily life event that we do not need to count how many apples, oranges and bananas are there in a basket in order to recognize that it is a basket of fruit. Now, more important is the entirety, not the partial. Ives’ uses of a hotchpotch of quotations in the Country Band March produces a similar effect to listeners. Such a cluster of borrowings, mostly marches and patriotic tunes, and several popular songs surrounding the main tunes, therefore, could never fail to evoke a sense of festive experience in our daily life. Certainly this is a boisterous and lively moment with procession music of March and Patriotic tunes pervaded. As such, for listeners who are familiar with the American cultures or
New England cultural milieu, the entire borrowed clusters, perhaps, may represent a high-spirit affectionate caricature, reflecting the heydays of Ives’ hometown. To those listeners of non-native background, for instance, as Hong Kong Chinese, my listening experience could associate to the celebrative occasions related to the Disney Visiting.
The procession music is not difficult to recall a HongKongese’s experience of visiting and watching Disney’s Shows in the Park. In fact Disney is a worldwide symbol of fantasies and dreams. They significantly represent an illusive world of manufacturing happiness and laughter. Celebrative music in March style is easily heard in every corner of the Disney world. Parade music becomes one of the signs of worldwide Disney’s world. As such, the collage quotations in Country Band March are really the “Disney experience” captured in some
Hong Kong listeners’ memory. The metaphor of “Disney Visiting” is no doubt created from one of the Hong Kong popular cultures. Apart from seeing quotation in Ives’ music as photos in a photo-album or a painting contained many paintings, we can also understand quotation as a reflection of the past in terms of “flashback effect.” This is the third metaphor conceptualize our minds on the understanding of quotation.
To Be Continued.....
David Leung (theorydavid)