Appalachian Spring – Copland

“Appalachian Spring” by Copland projects visions of a harmonious and pastoral America. The music in this piece is often drawn out and slow, painting a soundscape of purity and a majestic quotidian experience. There seems to be a simplicity and order to this composition, The third part of this piece, at its beginning, picks up speed and enacts a form of festive dancing, which I appreciated. Other parts, such as the dance between the couple, are much more slow-paced, giving off an affect of gentleness.

There seems to be a ‘conservative’ nature to the dancing, which we did not find in Stravinsky’s piece, as here oftentimes there seems to be minimal motion as well as tenseness in the upper body, until the dance fragment develops and the bodies spread. This piece as well as its choreography evokes a slight feeling of stress/tension that I am unable to pinpoint completely, due to the prolonged nature of many of the pitches as well as the immobility of many of the dancers, who seem to adorn the stage and then later move in calculated manners.

Additionally, in this piece, the dance moves seem to often interestingly predict the music. Some examples of this would be at 3:20, where the women hop before the melody in the music depicts this. Another is at 2:10 and further, where dramatic body language is positioned a split second before accents in the music.

One thought on “Appalachian Spring – Copland

  1. Sherri-Chanelle B.

    I completely agree. At first I couldn’t figure out how to describe it, but I would definitely say this piece has a “conservative” feel to it that contributes to the tension that builds up. I sensed this conservatism in the dancing but also the interaction between characters that featured gendered undertones. The men seem to stand tall and proud, while the women have this modest and humble nature about them (this is especially apparent when the bride and groom interact). I think Copeland does a great job of portraying 19th century Prairie life, where this conservative tension permeated nearly all aspects of American Life.


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