The American composer Carl Ruggles (1876-1971) wrote a small number of powerful, finely crafted, intensely dissonant, and utterly individual works. Although sometimes viewed as ?a stubbornly reclusive New Englander, painstakingly creating his uncompromisingly dissonant music in the wilds of Vermont, ?Ruggles was in fact an integral member of a close-knit group of composers known as the ?ultramoderns,? which included (among others) Charles Seeger, Ruth Crawford Seeger, Henry Cowell, Edgard Varese, Dane Rudhyar, and Charles Ives (mainly in the role of financier). The ultramoderns were interested in creating a distinctive dissonant American music free of the cultural hegemony of European musical authority and convention. As part of this group, Ruggles formed especially strong ties with Charles Ives__?-each considered the other the world?s second-best composer?-and with Charles Seeger, whose theory of dissonant counterpoint exerted a strong influence on Ruggles' evolving compositional style. This study examines the distinctive musical characteristics and compositional procedures that characterize Ruggles' work, and places them in the context of Ruggles?' spiritual aesthetic of the transcendent and the sublime.