Aaron Copland The Perfect Example Of American Music

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Aaron Copland was one of the most prominent and respected composers of the 20th-century, and his works are known for being the perfect example of Americana music. One of his most famous pieces is Appalachian Spring, for which he won a Pulitzer Prize in music in 1945. Appalachian Spring shows Copland’s individual style through its tone color, its tonal system, its harmony, and its melody. It also demonstrates why Copland’s music is considered to be the perfect example of Americana music. First of all, Appalachian Spring shows Copland’s individual style through its tone color. The tone color of the piece varies between sections. Its use of instruments like the violin and flute give the music a brighter and more harsh sounding tone color in the …show more content…

Copland uses polychords throughout the piece to accompany, “melodies in various solo instruments” (Kleppinger, 2015), a specific example being an E-major chord played over an A-major chord in the first movement. The harmonies are slow moving, “almost motionless” (Kamien, 2018), and aim to make the listener visualize the open American landscape. In fact, the entirety of the first movement and certain sections of other movements have, “no harmonic motion” (Rober, 1993). Moreover, the piece shows his style through the melody. Copland uses American-sounding rhythms and melodies, even borrowing from the Shaker folk tune, Simple Gifts, in the 7th movement of the piece in order to give it a distinct American …show more content…

Copland was extremely concerned with composing works that would, “immediately be recognized as American in character” (Kamien, 2018), and he made it his goal to incorporate, “American popular music and culture into a classical setting” (Baughman, Bondi, & Layman, 2001). To do this, he frequently inserts easily recognizable American tunes that are reminiscent of western and folk songs into his music. For example, as it was mentioned earlier, Copland uses the American folk tune Simple Gifts in Appalachian Spring, as well as rhythms and melodies that suggest, “barn dances, fiddle tunes, and revival hymns” (Kamien, 2018) . This makes the piece, “deeply evocative of prairie skies and pioneer (Music)[sic]” (Baughman et al., 2001). Because of this, his compositions were used in movies like Of Mice and Men and Our Town, both taking place in rural areas of the United States. In the 1930s, when jazz was considered to be the epitome of American music, Copland went through a short-lived jazz phase. During this time, he wrote very dissonant pieces, such as his Piano Variations, that greatly differed from most of his other

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