Thursday, August 21, 2008

Cowboy Music

So I'm sitting in the basement student lounge at school, blatantly ignoring my Property homework, and listening to Pandora.

I've got the classical station on, because it's usually good to have as background music whilst delving into legal minutiae. The lounge is filling up with freshly minted 1L's, still hopelessly optimistic and just released from their 9:30 classes.

I am drawn from my Mozart-induced coma by a loud, brash combination of winds and strings, and am immediately drawn to the Old West. It's Copland, sending me to the land of Clint Eastwood, spaghetti Westerns and tumbleweed-infested saloons in a way only he can. I don't know how one composer can embody a spirit, a time, an imagery the way Copland does with the Western spirit, but if there is a quintessential American composer, one that brings forth barn-raisings, Conestoga wagons and Stetson hats in the mind of the listerner, it's him. (Horrible runon sentence, that. Sorry.)

Most people would know the particular piece as the "Beef! It's what's for dinner!" song, but I know it by its given name (Ballet Rodeo) and specifically by movement (#3: Hoedown).

Copland goes beyond "Rodeo" for me though. Appalachian Spring is a favorite, and its "Variations on a Shaker Hymn" (Simple Gifts) is a three minute journey to the ever-possible.

My dad loves Copland. I think I was inculcated by the time I was five. It hasn't left me. It's probably one of those things I don't mind having in common with him.

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