Dissonance as a token of manliness in music

From my Charles Ives biography (A Life with Music, Swafford), of Ives as a teenager: “He was partly ashamed for being an aritst, afraid other boys might call him sissy; he felt alien in an environment that rated almost anything else higher than artistic creativity […] Social dilemmas were not unusual for an American boy groing up an artist, then or later. Some of Ives’s solutions were common ones — lambasting sissies, playing sports, becoming profane and ‘manly’ in personality. This pattern turns up time and again in male American artists — in Hemmingway, Faulkner, Pollock, Carl Ruggles, and many others. At length Ives would arrive at a perverse view of dissonance as a token of manliness in music.”

Ives was skilled enough to be playing organ professionally in local churches at fourteen.

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