Building the World

Charles Ives’ “The New River”


London traffic, from The Guardian, at

The American composer’s “The New River” is a song that in title might sound as if it were about England’s human-made waterway, but instead Ives talks about a different kind of river, one of noise. The song for voice and piano has these lyrics:

“Down the river comes a noise!

It is not the voice of rolling waters.

It’s only the sound of man,

phonographs and gasoline,

dancing halls and tambourine;

Killed is the blare of the hunting horn.

The River Gods are gone.

Fortunately, the New River in England continues to preserve its bucolic nature through walking paths designed to help the public admire the English countryside not too far from London. In fact, some would say that without the beauty of the walking paths and their healthy lifestyle, Britain could have been less attractive due to the river of noise. Consider London Monday morning traffic reports.

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Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G. Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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