Free essay on 20th century musical compositions

Aaron Copland: The Appalachian Springs

http://www. youtube. com/results? search_query= appalachian+spring
Aaron Copland was a renowned 20th Century American music composer. Copland is widely renowned for his infusion of a distinctive “ American style” into his compositions. He is widely credited for putting 20th century American music into an equal platform or footing with the one reflecting the European modernism contemporary development.
One of his most famous compositions is the orchestral suite known as the “ Appalachian Spring”. This composition’s background story is actually a spring celebration of 1800’s American celebrating their building of a new farmhouse in Pennsylvania.
This composition is indeed very captivating and I was particularly very impressed after watching it. The Appalachian Springs displays several very unique musical elements and properties which are actually a signature of Copland’s style.
When it comes to the melody, Copland uses a lot of melodic variations throughout this musical piece. In fact, after listening to the first three few minutes of the composition, I realized that all the melodies and indeed the harmonies are actually built from a motif of only three notes. This motif is then subjected to almost every imaginable variation from. The variation form includes contour dimunition and augmentation, rhythmic dimunition and augmentation, contour inversal and rhythmic pattern alteration. However, the composition’s main melody is a constant reminder of nostalgia through its relatively slow pace and also its gentle accompaniment. This element actually develops even more after every repeat.
The harmony is also significantly varied and also contains very distinctive elements. The first three notes (all A3’s) are used as the harmony to the melody’s appergiation. The harmony is then developed into the famous “ three note rhythm” basis. Copland then utilizes the arpeggio’s different notes, moving from the original interval gradually and then starts making bigger leaps. This then culminates ate the rehearsal mark where a whole octave leap can actually be heard.
The Appalachian springs is characterized by a lot of rhythmic variation. For example, four whole bars precede the rehearsal mark 14. There is then an alteration between the 7/8 and C time. In order to achieve this rhythmic variation effectively, Copland makes the C bar’s second beat a quaver. The general effect of this is that is gives the entire composition a subtle rhythmic propulsion.
The Appalachian Springs has a lot of spare textures that draw a lot upon traditional sources. However, the main texture of the composition is polyphonic. There is an imitation and also the overlapping of tunes throughout the composition. One particular exemplification of this occurs in a section of the composition when the violas are playing a theme at a relatively reduced speed against the harp’s and the pianos high sounds. Then, the cellos and the violins start to imitate the theme therefore creating a polyphonic texture.
The musical form of the Appalachian Spring is fugal. This is actually due to its polyphonic texture and the fact that the main idea or theme is repeated over and over throughout the entire composition.
Throughout, the composition, there are very repetitive elements of the timbre. Timbre is essentially used in this composition to alter the sound or to make it different. Every time there is a statement of the melody, a new instrument is used to play it. First, then melody is played by the clarinet. Later, there is a clarinet and an oboe duet and this actually continues with different instruments until the melody is eventually picked up by the trumpets.

Igor Stravinsky: The Right of Spring

http://www. youtube. com/watch? v= ZGNbULNCiwQ
Igor Stravinsky was a Russian American musical composer renowned for his exemplary musical scores. He is indeed one of the most important composers of the 20th century and is also considered as a music modernism leader. One of his most famous compositions is known as the “ The Rite of Spring” which is a ballet and orchestral concert work.
The melody of the composition is played high using the bassoon. This is done in that instrument’s register that inadvertently makes the music seem remote and impinging and also relatively strained and quiet. The melody then develops in a horizontal manner that only the different instrument masses diminish or increase.
In terms of rhythm, the main features in this composition include a lot of syncopation and also the regular use complex and irregular time signatures. The rhythm is also characterized by a lot of squares structures circumvention, the use of polymeters and polyrhythms. In addition, the rhythm is also characterized by random accents shifting and also alteration of the musical phrases and motives.
The harmony in this composition adopts an octatonic mode. This octatonic sound is actually formed through the combination of a tritone and a minor third triad. It starts in the A major and then jumps to D and then goes back to A major. This creates a very sweet synchronization when it is combined with the distinct A minor of the bassoon.
The texture of this composition is mainly polyphonic. The compositions starts as one distinct melody, but then, multiple melodies are progressively built up over each other by the various instruments in the orchestra.
The timbre of the composition is not really limited to any one particular instrument or pitch. It is instead, the timbre varies pitches continuously and constitutes the whole orchestra in the entire duration of the composition.
Finally, musical form or structure of this composition is a ballet that is held together by thematic material bits.

Works Cited

” Appalachian Spring.” YouTube. N. p., 26 Mar. 2011. Web. 7 June 2013.
” Igor Stravinsky The Rite of Spring (Gergiev/ Tolmachev).” YouTube. N. p., 24 Oct. 2012. Web. 7 June 2013.