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1. El Salon Mexico by Aaron Copland Aaron Copland was the creator of an ‘American Sound’ – a new musical style drawing upon elements from traditional folk music, jazz and other musical styles that were flourishing in the Americas. Identify two (or more) musical elements that have their roots in traditional folk music. two (or more) elements that originate from other cultures. Demonstrate and discuss how these musical elements contribute to create the work’s overall style. Elements in ESM that have their roots in traditional folk music are: The use of a descending third to end phrases, eg. at figure II, violin Is directly inspired by the end of: the first phrase of La Jesusita & the first and second phrases of El Mosco. Alternating between 3/4 and 6/8 meter: both El Palo Verde and El Mosco , two of the Mexican folk tunes which inspired ESM, have this metrical shift, the underlying feel of tension between groups of 2 eighth notes and three eighth notes can be felt throughout ESM and at times the obvious use of such a metrical shift can also be heard, although Copland doesn’t always notate it as such, eg. fig 4 the hemiola shift from a 6/8 feel to a 3/4 feel can be heard alternately between the timpani and the double bass. The use of the trumpet in ESM is said to be inspired by the sound of the mariachi trumpet of Mexican folk bands. The only Mexican instrument he actually uses is the guiro. Elements in ESM that have their roots in other cultures include: Copland greatly admired the music of Carlos Chávez and the way he integrated Mexican folk music in his orchestral works. The use of push rhythms (see the last eighth note leading into bar 4 of the introduction in the wind and strings) and syncopation (see bar 5 for off-beat accented syncopation in winds and strings) throughout the work show the influence of jazz music, which surrounded Copland in the streets of Brooklyn as a child and its influence was also affecting the music of Copland’s contemporaries. During the 20’s whilst studying with Boulanger in Paris, Copland will have heard and been affected by Milhaud’s ‘La Création du monde’ which in turn was inspired by the jazz music he heard in a night club in Harlem, opening with its amazing jazz fugue representing the chaos before creation; likewise he will have heard Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring with its pulsating off-beat accents in the Auguries, of Spring section. Copland’s use of bitonality, (eg bars 248- 256, where the chords of G major, Bb major and D major can be heard simultaneously , where the common note D softens the dissonance somewhat) is directly inspired by Stravinsky’s Petruschka, scene II, where the clarinets are playing the same motif in C and F# major. Parallel major and minor tonality: the combined G major and G minor feel of the dissonant bassoons bars 20-29 is directly inspired by Béla Bartók’s coloured C chord, where Bartók combined both a C major and C minor arpeggio in his opera Duke Bluebeard’s Castle to represent the ‘lake of tears’ motif. Influence of neoclassicism, by such composers such as Poulenc, Honegger, Milhaud, Stravinsky, with the use of a relatively small orchestra and a relatively simple harmonic framework, largely diatonic with the odd smatterings of bitonality and the use of jazzy added-note chords (eg. bars 305 – 390), with clear tonal centres throughout the piece. The use of additive rhythms as inspired by the work of Bartók, such as his Bulgarian dances, eg. in bars 40 – 43 (including the upbeat) in bassoon I the original 6/8 El Mosco tune has been extended by Copland to a 4/4 melody through lengthening some notes and adding rests. Fig 13 Pandiatonicism as inspired by the crowd scenes in Petrushka, here it’s a wash of notes from the mixolydian scale on G Fig 14: spacing of the broken chords in the horn part: playing the root, third and major 7th , missing out the 5th is typical for jazz music and is adopted by Copland here: is this in particular the later American sound he developed?
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