Thursday, September 6, 2007

More American Than Apple Pie

Alright, let's see just how uncool we can get. One thing that I really love is music that is uniquely American sounding, in a very traditional sense. I am not talking about rock music really, because traditional American rock is more what you would call "Classic Rock" now-a-days, and really there isn't much about "Classic Rock" it that is uniquely American. When I think classic rock, I think Zeppelin, which takes us to the UK, which means we are already out of our element... Donny. No, the vibe that I am talking about actually probably stems from American Classical Music, although it's influence is prevalent in Folk and plenty of old school Pop.

What is it that makes this music so American to me? I think that the answer is actually pretty simple. This is soundtrack music, literally, because what is more American than Hollywood?

When Classical composer Aaron Copland finished music school, he actually did set out to make "American music", first choosing Jazz as the backbone of his work, simply because he thought that Jazz was what defined America at the time. Eventually though, he left Jazz behind and his influences became consumed almost entirely with traditional American Folk song. Between the 40s and 60s Copland's music somehow worked it's way into every soundtrack and film that crossed the silver screen, most notably the song "Hoe-Down" from the ballet "Rodeo." His work at this time is something that I guarantee you have heard thousands of times, it is filed back somewhere in your subconscious between to lines from Star Wars and how to bake an apple pie. More often than not, though, I think that people associate Aaron Copland specifically with films that are Westerns, and truth be told, it's hard not to imagine cowboys galloping across the desert to most of his compositions.

I see this style of Country, Folk, Classical-soundtrack-pop turn up every once in a while in more recent music. Randy Newman definantly follows a lot of the Aaron Copland conventions, even down to having a song catalog that has been almost entirely used on soundtracks. "Louisiana 1927" is a perfect example of this, even going as far as to make lyrical mention of Calvin Coolidge. Even more recently, artists like Sufjan Stevens are drawing heavily on this American folk style, which officially brings this entire post from music that your grandpa thinks totally slays to music that actually belongs in a music blog. That being said, I love Sufjan Stevens but I am going to save him for later posts. For now, you and your grandparents can rock the fuck out to some sweet Aaron Copland jams. You're welcome.

Appalachian Spring - Allegro by Aaron Copland

Buy The Essential Aaron Copland

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