In its six or so yearning minutes, Charles Ives‘s famous chamber composition The Unanswered Question takes you in hand and gives you a longing look and a nudge and a nod of gentle recognition. But that’s not all. In brief, sure strokes it also draws the surrounding days, and captures the enervated breath of seasons in which our questions might go unanswered.
With a bit of musical charcoal and a dab of gouache modulation Ives gives us a time that could be September: the summer sun machine clattering down low in the sky, soon to land, the pell-mell days grinding their gears on failing cogs. Autumn touches your face each time it comes, and lingers.
And I find myself wondering: What the hell happened to my Sloan t-shirt? I used to wear it all the time, and I haven’t seen it in ages. Unanswered, indeed.