A THEORETICAL ANALYSIS OF THE
SYMPHONIES OF AARON COPLAND
QUINCY CHARLES HILLIARD
A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF
THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT
OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF
DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
Quincy Charles Hilliard
The author is greatly appreciative of Mr. Edward
Troupin for his astute criticism and mature judgment. His
candid comments helped to clarify many of the facts and
concepts in this study. Recognition goes to Dr. William
Hedges for his expert criticism of the manuscript. Much
appreciation goes to Dr. Albert Smith and Dr. Budd Udell for
their counsel throughout the work. The writer is grateful
to Mr. Richard Bowles not only as a committee member, but
also as a composer. His infinite patience, keen insight,
and criticism have been invaluable to me, as has been the
fish scholarship. The author is grateful to Dr. David
Kushner for his wisdom, encouragement, and assistance shown
not only as a professor, but also as a friend. In securing
information, Mrs. Robena Cornwell and Mrs. Barbara Salaman
were most helpful. Special thanks also go to Aaron Copland
for being such a gracious host and allowing time for an
interview, and to Boosey and Hawkes Publishers for granting
permission to incorporate excerpts from the symphonies in
this dissertation. The writer is indebted to his father,
the late Reverend Q. C. Hilliard, whose memory was a con-
stant source of inspiration. Acknowledgment also goes to
the following for their encouragement and support: Laura M.
Hilliard, Alsenia Ashford, Coty Ashford, Deborah James,
Vivian James, and friends. Last, but certainly not least, a
special gratitude goes to his wife, Rubye. Her optimism,
inspiration, and wit were the brightest in the darkest
hours. Without her ceaseless patience, motivation, and
financial support, this degree would be a dream and not a
TABLE OF CONTENTS
ABSTRACT........ ..................................... vii
CHAPTER I INTRODUCTION.......................... 1
Statement of the Problem............. 1
Need for the Study.................... 2
Limitations ..... .................... 2
Methodology.................. ........ 3
Data Sources .. ................. ..... 3
Collection of Data................... 3
Analysis of Data..................... 4
Definition of Terms.................. 5
Organization of the Chapters.......... 7
CHAPTER II REVIEW OF RELATED LITERATURE ........... 9
Books Written by Aaron Copland........ 9
Articles Written by Aaron Copland..... 11
Books Written About Aaron Copland..... 14
Articles Written About Copland........ 15
Jazz Elements........................ 16
Folk Music .......................... 18
Short Symphony.................... 18
Third Symphony...................... 19
The Music in General................ 20
CHAPTER III DANCE SYMPHONY ......................... 22
First Movement ........................ 25
Second Movement ...................... 38
Third Movement ....................... 47
General Observations................. 58
First Movement ......................
Second Movement ....................
SECOND (SHORT) SYMPHONY ..............
First Movement .......................
Third Movement ....................... .
THIRD SYMPHONY ....................... .
First Movement ........................
Second Movement ...................
Fourth Movement ...................
SYNTHESIS OF COMPOSITIONAL PROCEDURES.
Formal Design .........................
Instrumentation and Orchestration.....
THE USEFULNESS OF THE SYMPHONIES AS
EXEMPLARS IN THE TEACHING OF HIGHER
LEVEL MUSIC THEORY COURSES...........
Copland's Melodic Contour.............
Copland's Harmonic Practice...........
Copland's Rhythmic Practice...........
Value of These Symphonies to a Young
SUMMARY, CONCLUSIONS AND
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH......................... ........
Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the
Graduate School of the University of Florida
in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements
for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy
A THEORETICAL ANALYSIS OF THE
SYMPHONIES OF AARON COPLAND
Quincy Charles Hilliard
Chairman: Dr. William Hedges
Cochairman: Mr. Edward Troupin
Major Department: Curriculum and Instruction
The primary purpose of this study is to provide a
theoretical analysis of the symphonies of Aaron Copland.
The symphonies analyzed are the Dance Symphony, First
Symphony, Second Symphony (Short Symphony), and the Third
Symphony. The study investigates each symphony with regard
to thematic material, tonality, formal design, rhythm, and
orchestration. A comparison of these elements concentrates
on the differences and similarities among the symphonies,
and the importance of their construction in the development
of Copland's technique and style. His technique and style
are significant examples of twentieth-century musical pract-
ice, and are, therefore, relevant in teaching twentieth-
century music. The study examines the usefulness of the
symphonies as exemplars in the teaching of higher level
music theory courses and the value of the symphonies to a
Based on the analysis, the researcher found that a
majority of Copland's melodies are diatonic and do not span
more than an octave. The composer also uses polyharmonies,
polytonality, and clusters. In constructing chords, Copland
sometimes omits tones. There is also an abundant use of
counterpoint throughout the symphonies. With regard to
rhythm, the composer employs such devices as syncopation,
frequent changes of meter, asymmetrical rhythms, ostinatos,
and polyrhythm. The form of each movement is usually based
on some traditional design, and all the symphonies adhere to
the cyclic principle of structural design. Copland's trans-
parent texture can be attributed to the soloistic treatment
of instruments, incomplete chord structure, rare doubling,
and the consistent use of intervals of a fourth, fifth, and
octave for a harmonic background.
The author recommends that the symphonies be used in
music curricula of higher education dealing with harmony,
form and analysis, composition, counterpoint, and orchestra-
tion as examples of twentieth-century stylistic practice.
Statement of the Problem
The major purpose of this study is to provide a theo-
retical analysis of the symphonies of Aaron Copland. In.the
analysis, the study investigates tonality, thematic materi-
al, formal design, rhythm, and orchestration. A comparison
of these elements is made to show the characteristics of each
symphony and the stylistic traits that are common to all.
The devices derived from jazz idioms are also examined in
the analysis. Throughout the dissertation, there is an
attempt to answer the following questions:
1. What relevance do the symphonies have
in the teaching of higher level music
2. How can the study of these symphonies
be helpful to a young composer?
3. What does an analysis of these sym-
phonies reveal about Copland's tech-
nique of composing for the orchestral
4. What are the similarities and differ-
ences among the symphonies?
Finally, this study can serve as a model for analyzing
other compositions from this period.
Need for the Study
Aaron Copland has been called the "Dean of American
Composers."I He has written many compositions, several of
which have been analyzed and others which have been over-
looked. His large works, including his symphonies, fall
into the latter category. Such large works by a major com-
poser should be analyzed to determine the structural make-up
of his symphonic form. The analysis may not only provide
exemplars for the teaching of higher level music theory
courses, but can also be useful in teaching twentieth-
century compositional techniques to young composers.
The present dissertation is subject to the following
1. The works by Copland that are analyzed are
the Dance Symphony, First Symphony, Second
Symphony (Short Symphony), and the Third
2. There is no attempt to supplement extant
biographical material on Copland.
3. No judgment is made concerning the rela-
tive merits of these works.
'Harriett Johnson, "Aaron Copland: Dean of American
Composers," International Musician, LXXV (July, 1976), p. 6.
The following procedure was used in the collection and
analysis of data.
The printed scores of the symphonies were the primary
sources of data. The Dance Symphony (1925) and the First
Symphony (1928) were first published by Arrow Music Press
(originally Cos Cob Press). The Short Symphony (1933) and
the Third Symphony (1946) were published by Boosey and
Hawkes. Another primary source is a personal interview with
Aaron Copland on July 15, 1981.
Secondary sources include books written by Julia Smith
and Arthur Berger. Aaron Copland: His Work and Contribu-
tion to American Music was written by Julia Smith and
published by E. P. Dutton and Company, Inc., in 1955.
Berger's book, entitled Aaron Copland, was first published
by Greenwood Press in 1977.
A majority of the articles that are used in this study
were written by Copland and published in the journals Modern
Music and Tempo. Other critical works, as well as books
written by the composer, were also utilized in the analysis.
Collection of Data
The collection of data was accomplished by purchasing
the scores of the symphonies from Boosey and Hawkes, current
publishers of Copland's music. For the purposes of this
study, an interview was conducted with Aaron Copland to
collect data pertaining to his symphonies and his teaching
philosophy. A methodical search was also conducted through
several magazines and journals, in particular, the journals
Modern Music and Tempo. The books and other historical
material were available in the University of Florida Music
Library in Gainesville, Florida, and the Library of
Congress, in Washington, D.C. The search for data was
conducted from January, 1980, to July, 1981.
Analysis of Data
The symphonies are analyzed through the use of tradi-
tional and contemporary methods. These methods examine
harmony, formal design, melodic structure, rhythm, and
instrumentation. The data from the interview, books, and
periodicals are analyzed to show the usefulness of these
symphonies in the teaching of higher level music theory
courses. The comparative analysis concentrates on the
differences and similarities in the ways Copland has con-
structed his symphonies and the importance of this con-
struction in the development of his particular technique and
style. His technique and style are significant examples of
twentieth-century musical practice and are, therefore,
relevant in teaching twentieth-century music theory and
composition. Charts, diagrams, and musical examples are
shown to aid in a greater understanding of the data.
Definition of Terms
For the purpose of this study, the following
definitions were used:
Augmentation. A proportional increase in note value.
Canonic imitation. A restatement of a melody, theme,
or motive in close succession in a contrapuntal
Cluster. A chord that consists of two or more consecu-
tive intervals of a second.
Col legno. A style of bowing which requires the per-
former to bounce the wooden stick of the violin bow
against the strings.
Cuivrt. An effect which is usually found in the French
horn, but is common to all brass instruments. The term
instructs the player to produce a forced and brassy
Cyclic form. A format for a composition with several
movements in which thematic material from the first
movement is used in some or all of the movements,
especially in the last movement.
Diminution. A proportional decrease in note value.
Fugato. A section or passage in fugal style which
occurs in a composition.
Glissando. An effect which requires the performer to
execute a scale passage in a rapid, sliding movement.
Inversion. The changing of a melody, theme, or motive
so that each descending interval becomes the corre-
sponding ascending interval and vice versa.
Jett. An effect which is produced by throwing the
upper third of the bow on the strings so that it will
bounce a series of rapid notes on the down bow.
Neo-classic. A period in twentieth-century music which
uses characteristics and stylistic traits from the
seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.
Ostinato. A recurring rhythm-pitch figure which is re-
peated persistently in immediate succession.
Polyharmony. The combination of two or more chordal
Polyrhythm. The simultaneous combination of two or
more metric pulsations.
Polytonality. The combination of two or more key
Retrograde. A melody or theme written backward.
Sonata allegro design. A movement of a composition
written in primarily three sections--exposition,
development, and recapitulation. The exposition may be
preceded by an introduction, and the recapitulation may
be followed by a coda. The exposition consists of two
contrasting themes. In the development section, the
two themes are subject to various treatments, and in
the recapitulation, the two themes are repeated.
Stretto. The imitation of a motive or phrase in close
succession, with the repetition entering before the
first statement is completed. Stretto is a device
commonly associated with the fugue.
Sul ponticello. A style of bowing which requires the
performer to bow close to the bridge.
Sul tasto. An effect which is produced by bowing
slightly over the fingerboard.
Tonal center. The pitch level which serves as a
gravitational pole or pitch focus for a section of a
Organization of Chapters
Chapter II contains a review of significant literature
related to Copland's musical output. The chapter also con-
tains a review of his articles, books and essays, as well as
other literary writings about Copland.
Chapters III, IV, V and VI are devoted to the analyses
of his First Symphony, Second Symphony, Third Symphony, and
Dance Symphony, respectively. These chapters examine each
symphony by movements. There is also a brief section at the
end of each chapter to summarize the important observations.
Chapter VII gives a synthesis of Aaron Copland's
symphonic procedures. The chapter investigates similarities
and differences in melodic, harmonic, rhythmic, and formal
structure. The instrumentation and orchestration of each
symphony are also taken into consideration in this chapter.
Chapter VIII shows the potential utility and importance
of these symphonies as teaching instruments in higher level
music theory courses, and the value of these symphonies to a
Chapter IX summarizes and gives conclusions on findings
in relation to their implications in the teaching of theory
and composition. Suggestions for additional research
are also supplied. A comprehensive bibliography is also
Excerpts from Symphony No. 1, Symphony No. 2, Symphony
No. 3, and the Dance Symphony are reprinted by permission of
Aaron Copland, copyright owner, and Boosey & Hawkes, Inc.,
REVIEW OF RELATED LITERATURE
For the purposes of this study, the review of litera-
ture has been divided into four categories: books written
by Copland, articles written by Aaron Copland, books written
about Copland, and articles written about Copland. The
author believes that Copland's writings and viewpoints about
music are of the utmost importance in the analysis and
understanding of the composer's music.
Books Written by Aaron Copland
Music and Imagination consists of a set of presenta-
tions known as the Charles Eliot Norton Lectures given at
Harvard University during the academic year 1951-52.1 All
the lectures carry the general theme of the role imagination
plays in the art of music. The book is divided into two
parts: Music and the Imaginative Mind, and Musical Imagina-
tion and the Contemporary Scene. The first part of the book
investigates the musical mind in the role of listener (audi-
ence), creator (composer), and interpreter (performer). The
Aaron Copland, Music and Imagination (Cambridge,
Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1952).
second part examines the recent innovations and the imagina-
tive mind in Europe and America. Copland also examines the
role and perception of the composer in Industrial America.
What to Listen for in Music was derived from a course
of fifteen lectures that Copland gave at the New School for
Social Research in New York City during the winter of 1936
and 1937. The author not only discusses how people listen
and the importance of listening, but also states that the
listener should "strive for a more active kind of listen-
ing."2 To gain a deeper understanding of music, the com-
poser believes that the listener should become more alert
and aware of what to listen for in music. The importance of
the interpreter, and the effect that he can have on the
listener's comprehension and understanding of a composer's
work are also examined. The book was written for the layman
and not the professional musician. Because of this fact,
Copland acknowledges that his book is restricted to matters
which he feels clarify essential listening problems.
The New Music, as it is called in its revised edition,
was titled in this manner to indicate that it is not just a
reprint of the original edition.3 The book highlights the
main developments in music from the late nineteenth century
Aaron Copland, What to Listen for in Music (New York:
McGraw-Hill Company, Inc., 1957), p. 23.
Aaron Copland, The New Music: 1900-1960 (New York:
W. W. Norton and Company, 1965).
to the mid-twentieth century, and the composers who have
played a significant role in this development. Ideas in
this book are also the result of articles, radio talks, and
lectures presented since 1927. Copland also gives a general
overview of late nineteenth-century and early twentieth-
Copland on Music contains articles written by Copland
over a period of thirty years on music and musicians.4 Most
of these articles have already appeared in magazines and
newspapers; thus, the purpose of this collection was to make
them available in a collective volume which would summarize
the composer's viewpoints on music.
Most of Copland's writings were the result of lectures
and articles written by him over a period of years. In an
interview with Copland, he explains that the lectures were a
definite source of income. The composer says, "I could make
more money in one afternoon by lecturing to 200 students
than seeing each one of them individually."5
Aaron Copland, Copland on Music (New York: Da Capa
Statement by Aaron Copland, Composer, in a personal
interview, Peekskill, New York, July 15, 1981.
Articles Written by Aaron Copland
Copland has written many articles, several of which
appear in Copland on Music. Most of these articles are
1. A particular composer's style of composition to
aid in the understanding of his work.
2. American contemporary music.
3. Contemporary music.
For the purposes of this dissertation, only two of the
articles written by Copland have a direct connection with
his symphonic works. Both of these articles give his
viewpoints concerning certain musical elements that are
present in his music.
The first article, "Jazz Structure and Influences,"
published in 1927, gives a brief background of the history
of jazz and its origin. According to Copland, the most
important element of jazz is rhythm. He also states that
early jazz consisted of a slow four quarter note bass line
and is improved by accenting the feminine beats (two and
four). Along with this combination, a new rhythmic element
was introduced in the melody. Jazz, according to Copland,
"contains no syncopation; it is instead a rhythm of four
quarter [notes] split into eight eighths [notes]."6 Because
of these two rhythms (in the bass and melody), whatever
melody is used comes out "jazzy." These two independent
rhythms became known as polyrhythm. In regard to poly-
rhythms, Copland states, "the peculiar excitement they
[polyrhythms] produce by clashing two definitely and regu-
larly marked rhythms is unprecedented in occidental music."7
Copland, therefore, acknowledges that "polyrhythm is the
real contribution of jazz."
In "On the Notation of Rhythms," published in 1944, the
author states that our present-day system is inadequate to
serve the needs of the performer, composer, and conductor.
Notation of traditional rhythmic patterns is not the pro-
blem. The trouble begins when trying to notate combinations
of unequal units of twos and threes. Use of subterfuges by
composers for keeping the strong beat away from the barline
shows the deficiencies in our present-day system. Although
rhythmic freedom seems to be a characteristic of western
music, Copland feels that a more efficient system is needed
Aaron Copland, "Jazz Structure and Influence," Modern
Music, IV (February, 1927), p. 11.
Copland, "Jazz Structure," p. 13.
Copland, "Jazz Structure," p. 13.
"to account for rhythmic subtleties that don't 'get across'
to the interpreter in our old fashioned notational system."9
Books Written About Copland
There have been only two books written about Copland
which pertain to his music. Since the purpose of this study
is not to investigate existing biographical material, those
books that are biographical have been omitted.
Aaron Copland: His Work and Contribution to American
Music, by Julia Smith, may be the most comprehensive book
yet written on Copland.10 Smith has combined biographical
information with a study of Copland's music and writings to
show his contributions to American music. Separate chapters
are given to his two most important teachers, Rubin Goldmark
and Nadia Boulanger. Smith divided Copland's writing style
into three distinct periods. Each section gives a brief
history and a brief analysis of the works in that particular
period. The periods are divided as indicated below:
French-Jazz Period (1924-1929)
Abstract Period (1929-1935)
American Folksong Period (1934-1955)
Aaron Copland, "On the Notation of Rhythms," Modern
Music, XXI (May/June, 1944), p. 220.
J1ulia Smith, Aaron Copland: His Work and Contribution
to American Music (New York: E. P. Dutton and Company,
She also devotes a separate chapter to Copland's critical
works. Smith says that her purpose was to trace Copland's
development as an individual and as a composer because she
felt that "his work was a reflection of his life."1
Smith's book is limited in that it does not include any of
Copland's compositions after 1955.
Aaron Copland, by Arthur Berger, published in 1953, has
a wealth of information about Copland and his music. The
book is divided into two parts--The Man, and The Music.
Part one, The Man, examines the composer's musical develop-
ment and his relationship to American Music. Part two, The
Music, concentrates on Copland's compositional technique,
his use of folk music, jazz elements, and his method of
chord building. Although brief and generalized, this study
is the only one of its kind that investigates Copland's
music through analysis. The analysis is a consolidated look
at all of Copland's music--ballets, symphonies, film music,
and piano works.
Neither of the two books offers any detailed analysis
of the Copland symphonies. Usually the thematic material
and formal design are the only musical elements discussed.
1Ibid, p. 8.
1Arthur Berger, Aaron Copland (Westport, Connecticut:
Greenwood Press Publishers, 1971).
Articles Written About Copland
A majority of these articles deal with Copland's music
in general. Only four of these articles that the author has
been able to locate deal with his symphonies directly. The
articles in this section of the review of literature are
divided into five subheadings--Jazz Elements, Folk Music,
Second Symphony, Third Symphony, and The Music in General.
Fuller reveals that although Copland studied in France,
his music assumed American traits through the infusion of
the sound and rhythms of jazz.13 Goldberg feels that
Copland has managed to use jazz in its purest state. The
use of double and triple rhythms and "their combination in
the same instrumental line," fascinated Copland.14 Goldberg
also found that Copland's chief extension of the use of jazz
has been a "deepening of its emotional range."15 Gold
reveals that Copland found the harmonic limitations of
Donald Fuller, "A Symphonist Goes to Folk Sources,"
Musical America, LXVIII (February, 1948), p. 256.
14Isaac Goldberg, "Aaron Copland and His Jazz," American
Mercury, XXII (September, 1927), p. 64.
progressive jazz are more free. The composer described
jazz as having two moods: blues and fast rhythm movement.
In an interview with Copland, he states that he was
attracted to jazz:
First because of the rhythm it was
fresh, different, lively, and exciting. Second,
because it was recognized as a product of America.
My desire to write music that could be recognized
as American was in my mind in the twenties. I
spent three years in Paris as a student and had
become aware of the "Frenchness" of French music
by the comparison of the "Germanness" of German
music. So the jazz boys in America proved that
they could write a music that the whole world
could recognize as American, so I asked myself,
"Why can't we do17it in the field of so-called
In an interview with Don Gold, Copland says, "the wildness
of jazz attracts me--the mood stuff and the colorful stuff.
The let-loose quality is rarely found in 'serious' music."18
The main problem that the composer found with jazz was "a
lack of unity in expressive content, by failing to drive
home a unified idea."19 The composer, however, is quoted in
1Don Gold, "Aaron Copland: The Well-Known American
Composer Finds Virtues and Flaws in Jazz," Down Beat, XXV
(May 1, 1958), p. 25.
1Statement by Aaron Copland, composer, in a personal
interview, Peekskill, New York, July 15, 1981.
Gold, pp. 39-40.
1Gold, p. 16.
the article as saying, "the two fields [contemporary classi-
cal music and jazz] will continue to borrow and perhaps
eventually will overlap. But I don't feel that there ever
will be one form."20
Burns found that Copland's desire to appeal to a larger
audience led him to use folk themes in his music. In Burns'
conclusions, she states that he uses both authentic folk
material and folklikee" material of his own composition.
Burns goes on to state that Copland developed his themes
"instrumentally, durationally, and texturally."21
Redlich believes that the octave-transpositions in the
opening bars of the theme contribute to the tonal ambitus.22
The narrow intervallic range of the themes in all three
movements lends itself to ostinato treatment. The second
21Mary T. Burns, "An Analysis of Selected Folk-Style
Themes in the Music of Bedrich Smetana and Aaron Copland,"
American Music Teacher, XXV (November/December, 1975), p.
2Ambitus is a Latin word meaning compass or range.
Redlich refers to the fact that the tonal compass or range
of the opening theme is increased through octave-
movement is derived from the "malaguena" motif of a de-
scending fourth, while the third movement is built around a
variety of "rhythmical metamorphoses."2
Evans' analysis of the Short Symphony shows that the
first movement is filled with short jagged motifs. The
motifs are characterized by "not only modified intervals and
octave-transposition but also interpolated notes usually
completing arpeggio patterns."'4 The second movement
centers around an F tonality with a very free rhythmic
motion. He goes on to state that the last movement has a
Crankshaw says that the tonality in Copland's Third
Symphony is strongly emphasized. The tonal centers of E
major and F major are used throughout the four movements.
The author reveals that the composer uses rhythm and orches-
tral timbres to function as color.26
H. F. Redlich, "Music from the American Continent,"
Music Review, XIX (August, 1958), p. 258.
24Peter Evans, "The Thematic Technique of Copland's
Recent Works," Tempo, LI (Spring/Summer, 1959), p. 4.
2Geoffrey Crankshaw, "Aaron Copland," Chesterian,
XXXII (Spring, 1958), pp. 100-101.
In Berger's analysis of Copland's Third Symphony, he
shows that the first movement contains three themes which
are essentially diatonic. The second movement is a scherzo
and is traditional in form. The third movement is slow in
character and built around a theme that has the elements of
a hymn tune. Copland's Fanfare for the Common Man is also
quoted in this symphony.27
The Music in General
Thomson found that Copland's music is "American in
rhythm, Jewish in melody, eclectic in all the rest."28 The
emotional origin is religious, and tension is created by the
orchestration, which places various instruments into their
extreme high registers. Because of this characteristic,
"the instrumentation is designed to impress, to overpower,
to terrify, not to sing."29 His observations also reveal
that Copland's melodies are "predominantly minor" and chrom-
aticism is used as ornamentation rather than modulation. He
describes Copland's music as coloristicc [with]
harmonic and instrumental elements rather than melodic
devices."30 Thomson states that Copland's music is not
2Arthur Berger, "The Third Symphony of Aaron Copland,"
Tempo, IX (Autumn, 1948), pp. 22-25.
Virgil Thomson, "American Composers: Aaron Copland,"
Modern Music, IX (January/February, 1932), p. 67.
polyphonic. His most common contrapuntal device is a "form
of a canon at the octave or unison, everybody doing the same
thing at a different moment."31 Thomson says, "this is
counterpoint but not polyphony."32
Berger suggests that Copland's greatest musical contri-
bution may be the matter of chord spacing. In addition,
some of his harmonies contain tones that are not part of the
Salas characterized the music of Copland's later period
as having an increased use of open harmonies, rhythmic asym-
metry, and a gradual separation from chromaticism. Poly-
tonalism, says Salas, is created by small thematic phrases
built upon triads which disregard traditional harmonic
All of these articles point to the fact that Copland's
music has a distinctive sound. One of the purposes of this
study is to describe the musical elements in the symphonies
which contribute to this result.
Ibid., p. 68.
Ibid., p. 68. The author of this study disagrees
strongly with this last statement, because a canon is a
contrapuntal device with two or more voices, which can be
described as polyphony.
3Arthur Berger, "The Music of Aaron Copland," Musical
Quarterly, XXXI (October, 1945), p. 438.
34Juan O. Salas, "Aaron Copland: A New York Composer,"
Tempo, IX (Autumn, 1948), pp. 8-16.
The Dance Symphony was derived from the ballet,
The symphony was one of the winners of the RCA Victor
The first performance took place on April 15, 1931,
Academy of Music, in Philadelphia. It was performed
Philadelphia Orchestra, under the direction of
Stokowski, in a concert held for the benefit
unemployed musicians of Philadelphia.1
Regarding the work, Smith quotes the Philac
The "Jazz" or "Dance" Symphony of Copland
promptly proved popular and established itself
as modern music of interest and individuality.
It has substantial musical structure, with
considerable diversity of material, and re-
sourcefulness in treatment. The work is orig-
inal and unusual in effect and distinctly
evocative in atmosphere.
Through the analysis, the author of this dissertation
discovered that the Dance Symphony closely resembles the
Julia Smith, Aaron Copland: His Work and Contribution
to American Music (New York: E. P. Dutton and Company,
Inc., 1955), pp. 133-134.
2Ibid., p. 134.
programmatic symphony. The program symphony is a nineteenth
century composition based on an extra-musical idea. There
are three reasons why the author characterizes this symphony
as a program symphony:
1. The Dance Symphony is a large symphonic work
in three movements.
2. The Dance Symphony is based on an extra-musical
idea which is a character named Grogh.
3. Each movement of the Symphony has its own
The first movement is entitled, "Dance of the Adolescent,"
the second movement is entitled, "Dance of a Young Girl Who
Moves as if in a Dream," and the third movement is entitled,
"Dance of Mockery." The entire symphony is based on a
character named Grogh. Grogh is a character that Copland
and Harold Clurman devised, and around whom they invented a
scenario in which magicians, vampires and dead bodies all
participate. Grogh is the title of a ballet from which the
symphony was taken. The ideas from the ballet are carried
over into the symphony. For instance, Copland states that
the introduction "sets the scene for Grogh's domain" (Dance
of the Adolescent), and the last movement (Dance of Mockery)
is where "Grogh is taunted by his victims and servitors."3
Statement by Aaron Copland, composer, in an interview
with Phillip Ramey at the Connaught Hotel in London. The
interview took place on October 3,1967, after Aaron Copland
In addition, the polyrhythms used in the last movement
represent the dancing of the dead bodies. Copland states:
Grogh-like pronouncements appear in the
trumpets and trombones, and then all hell
breaks loose. A sudden pause terminates the
almost hysterical climax while Grogh's com-
manding motto from the opening movement
erupts into shrieking trills--and collapses.
The author of this study contends that through these de-
scriptive statements, Copland has led the reader to believe
there is a direct correlation between what happens in the
music and the events surrounding Grogh's death. The result
is a symphonic work in several movements with descriptive
titles for each movement. The final conclusion is that the
Dance Symphony is a program symphony adhering to the cyclic
principle of formal design.
The performance time for this symphony is twenty
had finished recording his Dance Symphony with the London
Symphony Orchestra. Aaron Copland, Copland Conducts
Copland, conducted by Aaron Copland, London Symphony
Orchestra, Columbia Records, MS 7223 (jacket notes).
The first movement closely resembles the sonata-allegro
design. There are two contrasting themes that return in the
recapitulation, but not in the order in which they are
traditionally found. There is also an introduction with a
very short development section. The tonal levels of this
movement are not consistent, however, with the classical
Intro 1st Theme 2nd Theme
Meas. 1 26 (70) 78
2nd Theme Ist Theme
(142) 180 176
Figure 3.1. Tonal Levels of the First Movement
The introduction, marked Lento ( = 48), uses a motive
with the minor third as the characteristic interval, and is
played by the trumpets.
Figure 3.2. Page 1, measures 1-2
In measures three and four, the motive is heard again, but
this time, in a slightly different rhythm pattern.
I S 4.
Figure 3.3. Page 1, measures 3-4
The motive is used throughout the introduction which ends in
measure twenty-five. At measure twenty-six, the tempo
changes to Motto allegro ( = 96). The first theme is
played for the first time by the bassoon:
Figure 3.4. Page 5, measures 27-36
The theme is played again beginning in measure forty-four,
and ending in measure sixty-three by the clarinet. The
clarinet plays the theme in a slightly different form;
however, the "dance-like" character is unchanged.
I I I I I
4zz~zL-ilv:V?7 .~~bt; fir,
Figure 3.5. Pages 6-8, measures 44-52
The first theme, played by the bassoon, returns in measures
sixty-six through sixty-nine in its original form. Measures
seventy through seventy-seven serve as transitional material
to the second theme.
The second theme begins in measure seventy-eight. The
theme is played by the oboe and the English horn.
[ W 7dJ
Continued in English horn
Figure 3.6. Pages 12-13, measures 78-83
The first theme material is replayed beginning in measure
115 by .the horns, and continues to measure 120. Second
theme material is played in measures 134 through 142. A
short development section begins in measure 146, and ends in
The recapitulation starts in measure 162 in a C tonal
center. Material that was used earlier in the second theme
is repeated beginning in measures 164 through 171. The
viola plays this material.
Figure 3.7. Pages 25-26, measures 164-171
I~~ ny 1-.9 F&~ III
F F- oo
First theme material is heard in the recapitulation begin-
ning in measure 171 and is played by the clarinet in D and
bassoon. The recapitulation comes to a close in measure 179
which also marks the beginning of the coda in measure 180.
There is a stretto between the trumpets and trombones in
measures 179 through 183. The coda ends in measure 200, and
measures 201 through 207 serve as transitional material to
the second movement.
The harmonic implications of this movement are at times
ambiguous, and in other instances, conservative. The first
theme, for example, indicates an E tonal center. The E
tonal center is further reinforced through the accompaniment
material played by the violins. An excerpt from the violin
part is shown below.
Figure 3.8. Page 5, measures 36-37
The E tonal center is never defined as E major or E minor.
There are instances in which a G-sharp is used to indicate a
raised third degree of the E major triad. There are also
times when a G natural is used along with an F-sharp and
D-sharp to indicate the harmonic form of the minor scale.
The type of alternation just described between a major and
minor tonal center is present throughout the first movement.
To complicate the ambiguity between E major and E minor,
Copland uses an F-sharp pedal point in measures thirty-six
through forty-one, and F pedal point in measures fifty-two
through fifty-five, and a B pedal point (which suggests the
dominant of E) in measures fifty-six through sixty-one. The
chord structure during measures fifty-six through sixty-one
suggests an E tonal center with an added fourth degree.
if. / L 1
Figure 3.9. Page 9, measure 56
In measures sixty-two through sixty-five, the piano and
violin play a short transition ending on the dominant of the
E tonal center. The key centers during the transition are
clearly defined. The last center, which is B, is spelled
enharmonically as C-flat in the piano and violin parts.
4 P go P & I KF I 1-IL g
Figure 3.10. Page 11, measures 62-64
In the few instances where Copland has used chords, their
spelling is often incomplete. In measures 184 through 191,
the composer repeats a series of chords which are without
Page 28, measures 184-186
The writing of chords in this manner creates an ambiguity
because without the third, there is no way of determining
the quality of the chord. These types of chords also have
an "open" or "empty" quality which is associated with
Copland's music. Another example of this type of chord
usage can be seen in measures 194 through 196. Overall, the
movement is characterized by the abundant use of counter-
point. This horizontal structure is evident through
1 r.\ I1 F i
Copland's linear approach to melodic content and the use of
arpeggiated chords. An example can be seen beginning in
The rhythm of the first movement is very active, except
for the slow introduction. The composer uses the alla breve
time signature beginning in measure twenty-six. The tempo
marking at this point is Motto allegro ( J = 96). The alla
breve time signature is used for most of the movement until
measure 193, where the composer changes to 2/4. Measures
194 and 195 have a 3/4 meter signature, measure 196 has a
4/4 meter signature, and measures 197 through 200 have a 3/4
meter signature. The title of the symphony suggests that
the rhythmic content should be active. Copland reinforces
the active rhythmic feeling in his first theme. The first
theme, because of the new tempo in measure twenty-six, is
very lively and has some syncopation.
Figure 3.12. Page 5, measures 27-31
In measure forty-four, the second theme, although slightly
changed, has even more syncopation than it did the first
time it appeared.
Figure 3.13. Pages 6-7, measures 44-49
Syncopation can also be seen in measures seventy-eight
through eighty-three when the second theme is played.
Continued in the English horn.
Continued in the English horn.
Figure 3.14. Pages 12-13, measures 78-82
In measures 147 through 150, syncopation can be seen in
almost every instrument playing.
Copland also uses ostinato rhythms in the first move-
ment. Measures forty-two through fifty-five show an osti-
nato among the harp, second violin, and the second viola.
.K ^r1 ~R-
Figure 3.15. Page 6, measures 42-43
Another ostinato can be seen between measures 112 and 115,
and measures 168 through 171.
With regard to instrumentation, Copland has scored the
symphony for an enlarged orchestra, especially in the
percussion section where he uses a variety of pitched and
nonpitched instruments. The instrumentation for the Dance
Symphony is illustrated below.
1 Flauto piccolo
2 Flauti grand
1 Corno Inglese
1 Clarinetto piccolo in D
2 Clarinetti in A
1 Clarinetto basso
L. I Ir lP
A1 dA 1 A I:
4 Corni in F
3 Trombe in C
2 Pistoni in B-flat
Tam-Tam, Tamburo Militare, Tamburion,
Legno, Triangolo, Rattle, Zilofone
Quintuor a corde
With such a large orchestra, the composer is able to produce
some interesting orchestral colors. Perhaps, the most in-
teresting color used during the first movement is the effect
that Copland achieves by scoring for xylophone, woodblock,
piano, and horn in measures 104 through 106, and measures
112 through 116. The composer also utilizes a variety of
instrumental effects. In the strings, for example, these
effects include muted and pizzicato playing, harmonics,
glissandos, col legno, and sul tasto. An example of the
muted strings can be seen in the opening bars of the piece
between the violins and violas.
Figure 3.16. Page 3, measures 2-5
The most pronounced use of pizzicato playing can be seen in
measures fifty-six through sixty-one. The effect of produc-
ing harmonics on the strings can be seen in measures forty-
eight through fifty-five in the violins, and in the harp in
measures 203 through 205.
a a p
Figure 3.17. Page 32, measures 203-205
The col legno effect can be seen in the second violins in
measures sixty-two through sixty-five.
Figure 3.18. Page 11, measures 62-64
Copland also uses an effect in which half of a group of
strings will play pizzicato and the other half aroo. The
composer labels this effect half pizzicato. There are num-
erous examples of this effect throughout the first movement.
The first violins use this effect in measures sixty-six
through seventy-six. The glissando effect is used in the
first and second violins in measures 157 and 158.
Figure 3.19. Page 23, measures 157-158
The sul tasto effect, which frequently appears in the French
impressionist school of writing, instructs the player to bow
slightly over the finger board. The effect can be found in
measures 201 and 202 in the second violins.
Figure 3.20. Page 32, measures 201-202
Muted playing for brass instruments is also used. In the
introduction, the opening bars begin with muted trumpets.
The solo for the trombone, in measures twenty-two through
twenty-seven, calls for muted playing as well. The horns
use an effect known as cuivrb. The effect calls for a harsh
and "brassy" tone quality and is commonly found in the horn
section. The effect can be seen in measures 102 and 108.
Figure 3.21. Page 15, measure 102
The second movement has a much slower tempo than the
first. Andante moderato ( = 88) is the tempo marking.
This movement is built around two themes linked together by
transitions. The second movement does not follow any
traditional design and is characterized by subtle hints of
polytonality. During the first theme, for example, F and D
tonal center are suggested; whereas, during the second
theme, C-sharp and D tonal centers are implied. The tonal
levels of this movement are diagrammed below.
Meas. 208 (253) 264
1st Theme 2nd Theme
I (Trans.)_ (Trans.)
289 (306) 323 (330)
Figure 3.22. Tonal Levels of the Second Movement
The first theme, which enters in the English horn,
begins in measure 209.
Figure 3.23. Page 33, measures 209-212
A close examination of the first theme shows that it is
comprised of descending chromatic half steps.
The theme is played again in measures 213 through 220;
however, this time, an extension has been added.
Figure 3.25. Page 33, measures 213-220
There are various treatments of this theme, using the
chromatic half step concept, beginning in measure 221. One
such treatment is played by the oboe in measures 221 through
Figure 3.26. Pages 33-34, measures 221-224
Another example can be seen in measures 228 through 230 and
is played by the clarinets.
Figure 3.27. Page 34, measures 228-230
The first theme is played the final time, before the
transition, by the English horn in measures 241 through 244.
Another repetition of the theme is also played between
measures 245 and 249. The transition begins in measure 253,
and finishes its statement in measure 264.
The second theme is played in measures 264 through 266
and consists of only four notes.
I' uu I II
Figure 3.28. Page 37, measures 264-266
The second theme is played again in measures 266 through
272. During this time, a different rhythm pattern is used,
and two more notes are added to give a total of six tones.
19 m lmiilin 99
Figure 3.29. Page 37, measures 266-272
A close examination of these six tones shows the formation
of a whole tone scale on D.
The use of the whole tone scale represents Copland's determ-
ination to move away from the feeling of centralization or
stability which is associated with traditional scales.
Measures 280 through 289 show an expansion of the second
theme and are played by the bassoon.
Figure 3.31. Page 38, measures 280-289
The first theme returns in measure 289 in the English horn.
The second theme completes its statement in this section in
measure 301. There is another transitional section begin-
ning in measure 305 that concludes in measure 322. During
the transition, there is a melodic sequence that is built on
the notes B, C, F-sharp, G, C-sharp, A, and D. A majority
of this sequence is played by the violins with various other
instruments entering occasionally and playing parts of the
sequence. The climax of this movement, in measure 322,
marks the end of the transitional section. The second theme
returns in measures 323 through 330. Measures 331 through
340 serve as transitional material to the final movement.
With respect to harmony, the movement has some implica-
tions of polytonality. The celesta, for example, plays a
figure which implies an F tonal center in measures 208
Figure 3.32. Page 33, measures 208-215
The cello, however, has suggested a D tonal center.
A I 1 ) 1 I F i I v I I \ I
Figure 3.33. Page 33, measures 209-217
Thus, the result of these two tonal centers, sounding
simultaneously, is polytonality. These same two tonal
centers can be seen again in measures 225 through 228
between the bass clarinet and cello, and in measures 241
through 248 between the celesta and cello. Beginning in
measure 265, Copland has established C-sharp and D tonal
centers. This is accomplished through the C-sharp arpeggios
in the harp and the melodic whole tone scale on D.
141 1- / I i "
Figure 3.34. Page 37, measures 265-268
The same polytonality previously mentioned can be seen on
the repeat of each theme throughout the movement. Within
this movement, as with the first movement, Copland has taken
a horizontal approach to writing. Chordal harmonies are all
but eliminated, and when they do occur, it is because of the
interplay of melodic lines.
With a tempo marking of Andante moderato ( J = 88),
the rhythmic activity of this movement is very conservative.
Except for a few instances where the 2/4 meter signature is
used, the entire movement has a 3/4 meter signature. At
times, Copland does manage to escape a strong metric pulse
through the use of ties. The second and third measures of
the first theme are good examples of this phenomenon.
Figure 3.35. Page 33, measures 209-212
With reference to orchestration, the composer has used
a variety of solo instruments and as little doubling as
possible. The entire movement is built around one large
climax. The composition begins softly (ppp), and builds to
a triple forte (fff) at the climax in measure 323. Copland
also uses many orchestral colors, some of which are for
strings. Muted playing for strings can be seen in measured
209 through 212 in the violins, along with the production of
i Con Sord.
Figure 3.36. Page 33, measures 209-212
The violas illustrate the half arco and half pizzicato
effect in measure 211. In measure 221, the second violins
are instructed to play half with mutes and half without
mutes. There is also the use of a glissando in the harp in
measures 328 through 330.
Figure 3.37. Page 45, measures 328-330
Trills can also be observed in the upper woodwinds in
measures 323 through 329. The cuivrt effect is used in the
horns in measure 330. During the transition, Copland has
used a surprisingly new effect. The effect calls for the
viola to play a quarter-tone.
*) = tone
Figure 3.38. Page 46, measures 339-340
The composer uses the quarter-tone effect several times in a
composition entitled Vitebsk. When asked whether or not
his quarter-tone is to be interpreted as a jazz inflection,
Copland is quick to point out that this is not the intent.5
The third movement is built around the development of
three themes. In regard to form, this movement does not
follow any strict mold of formal design. The tonal levels
and thematic material are diagrammed below.
1st Theme 2nd Theme
Meas. 341 (366) (374) (400)
3rd Theme 2nd Theme
1st Theme 1st Theme Prime
(453) 472 (480) 500
2nd Theme Ist Theme
1st Theme Prime 2nd Theme Coda
542 548 571
Figure 3.39. Tonal Levels of the Third Movement
Statement by Aaron Copland, composer, in a personal
interview, Peekskill, New York, July 15, 1981.
Figure 3.40. Page 46, measures 341-345
The first theme implies a G tonal center. The theme is
repeated in measures 346 through 351. In measures 352
through 357, the theme is played by the trumpets. Although
the theme is changed somewhat from its original statement,
the essential character still remains the same.
F I I I I I P"
Figure 3.41. Page 48, measures 352-357
Measures 360 through 365 mark the final time the theme is
heard in this section. Although the new theme does not
enter until measure 374, measures 366 through 373 serve as
linking material between the first theme and the second
theme. The connecting link will be called a buttress
i rr A
I % -Z I
k I r-N-1 11%
i U. I
because of its return later in the composition to serve the
same purpose. The second theme enters in measure 374 and
immediately establishes an F tonal center.
Figure 3.42. Page 52, measures 374-375
The theme is heard again in measures 376 through 382.
Beginning in measure 382, the second theme undergoes a
Figure 3.43. Page 53, measures 382-385
The second theme is played twice between measures 382 and
393. Measures 394 through 399 lead into a transitional
section which begins in measure 400. The transition is
based on material from the second theme, and is concluded in
measure 415. In measure 416, the third theme enters in the
oboe and English horn.
Figure 3.44. Pages 57-58, measures 416-420
The third theme is played in a variety of forms until
measure 439. At this point, the second theme returns in
measures 440 through 453. In measures 454 through 471, the
buttress returns in a slightly different form; however, the
essential character remains unchanged. The first theme
material returns in measures 472 through 479 and the
buttress is heard again in measures 480 through 499. In
measures 500 through 513, the first theme material returns
at a slower tempo and with a change in rhythm. The theme is
played by the first violins while excerpts from the buttress
are played in the background by various other instruments.
Figure 3.45. Page 67, measures 500-503
The original tempo is resumed in measure 514, and the second
theme, with its various treatments, is played between mea-
sures 514 and 533. In measures 534 through 541, the first
theme is heard again and is played by the trumpets in a
different rhythm pattern.
14, I ,I
I Aw 11
r->> >i Ii Y U L
Figure 3.46. Pages 71-72, measures 534-541
The first theme material returns once again at a slower
tempo in measures 542 through 547. In this statement, only
the ostinato from the buttress is used as background materi-
al. Statements of the second theme material continue until
measure 570. During the coda, there are several statements
of thematic material from this movement and the first move-
ment. The listing below shows the occurrence of these
First Theme First Movement 571-675
First Theme First Movement 595-604
First Theme Third Movement 606-631
Second Theme Third Movement 632-635
First Theme Third Movement 636-648
Second Theme Third Movement 638-648
The movement begins with hints of polyharmony. The
first theme implies a G tonal center. The pedal point,
however, implies a D tonal center. The D tonal center is
further reinforced by a C-sharp leading tone. The G tonal
center over a D tonal center implies a tonic/dominant (I
over V) relationship. The polyharmony is used throughout
the statement of the first theme. In the first statement of
the buttress in measures 366 through 373, a D tonal center
is emphasized through the ostinato rhythm in the bassoon,
contra-bassoon, cello, and double bass.
y > 7 "
Figure 3.47. Page 51, measures 366-369
The harp and piano play some very traditional harmonies in
measures 396 through 399. These harmonies include the
B-flat, and A-flat triad.
Figure 3.48. Page 55, measures 396-397
In the statement of the third theme, the cello outlines a D
Figure 3.49. Page 58, measures 417-422
When the buttress is stated a second time, the ostinato
rhythm that accompanies it implies an F tonal center.
Figure 3.50. Pages 61-62, measures 454-457
The same type of harmonic structure is used to imply an F
tonal center at the Meno messo in measure 500. A different
tonal center is emphasized in measures 522 through 533. The
new tonal center is E-flat. The polyharmony of I over V can
again be seen in the return of the first theme in measures
534 through 541. In general, a majority of the harmonies
throughout this movement remain clear and well defined. The
last chord of the movement, however, has a very harsh sound.
This is partly due to the fact that the tones in the cluster
are separated by no more than a whole step.
cluster contains the notes G, A, and B-flat.
Figure 3.51. Page 87, measure 655
In regard to rhythm, the movement is very active. The
tempo marking is Allegro vivo ( ) = 200). With such a fast
tempo, syncopated rhythms, and polyrhythms, Copland is able
to achieve a striking rhythmic effect. The first example of
syncopation can be seen in the first theme.
Figure 3.52. Page 46, measures 341-345
Beginning in measure 366, Copland uses an ostinato rhythm in
a 6/8 meter signature. This rhythmic ostinato is character-
ized by the use of shifting accents.
10 so Mr
Figure 3.53. Page 51, measures 366-370
In measures 396 through 399, Copland uses a 3/8 time signa-
ture, but has shifted the accents to give a 2/8 pulsation.
Figure 3.54. Page 55, measures 396-399
Beginning in measure 472 and ending in measure 479, Copland
uses the first of his polyrhythms. Although still writing
in a 3/8 meter signature, the composer manages to achieve
three different meter signatures or pulsations by shifting
accents. The first, played by the upper woodwinds and
piano, gives a 3/16 metric pulse feeling. The second,
played by the violins, indicates a 2/8 meter pulsation. The
third, played by the viola and cello, indicates a 3/8 meter
K #Iii I5>l~b
ip )~ I.
Figure 3.55. Page 64, measures 472-477
The horns and trumpets, in measures 534 through 541, play
two different meter pulsations. The horns are playing in a
3/8 meter signature while the trumpets are playing in a 3/16
meter signature. In measures 552 through 558, the horns are
again playing a 3/8 rhythmic pulse; but, the violin and
viola are playing a 2/8 meter pulsation. Another example of
C, 1 or
the polyrhythmic effect can also be seen in measures 606
The use of incomplete chords is still prevalent
throughout the movement to give the "open" or "empty"
quality associated with Copland's music. The composer also
manages to use a variety of instrumental effects. The
violin and xylophone give an example of the trill at the
beginning of this movement. In addition to the trill, the
second violins are instructed to play sul ponticello. An
example of the cuivrg effect can be seen in the horns in
measures 352 through 360. Muted playing for brass instru-
ments is shown in measures 366 through 374. In measures 374
through 377, pizzicato playing in the strings can be ob-
served. The glissando can be seen in measures 559 and 600
in the viola, violin, and trombone.
The analysis of the Dance Symphony shows that the tonal
levels of each movement are not consistent with any classic
design. The first movement has some resemblance to the
sonata-allegro design. The second movement is also uncon-
ventional in design. The third movement is the most uncon-
ventional of all. Since thematic material from the other
movements occurs in the last movement, this would qualify
the overall symphony for the cyclic principle of structure.
The tonal levels of the first movement center around E;
whereas, in the second movement, there is a strong tendency
toward polytonality. Although the tonal levels in the last
movement are often well defined, no consistent pattern is
found in the order of their occurrence. In regard to har-
mony, the tonal levels of each movement tend to be ambigu-
ous. The first movement, for example, has an ambiguity
which is created between E major and E minor. The ambiguity
is also carried over into the chord structure. When Copland
does use chords, they are usually constructed with one or
more of the tones omitted. The third of the chord, in some
cases, is omitted. This phenomenon serves two purposes.
The first is the ambiguity that results in chord quality,
and the second is the "empty" effect that results from a
chord built around this principle. The symphony also shows
indications of polyharmony. A majority of the polyharmony
is built around a tonic-dominant (I over V) relationship.
In the second movement, the harmonies center around two
tonal centers. These two centers are D/F and D/C-sharp.
Copland also utilizes the whole tone scale in the second
movement. The implication of this scale is the destruction
of a stabilization or key center which can be associated with
other scales. Thus, the result is an even further move away
from conventional tonality. In every movement, Copland has
taken a linear approach to writing. Through the linear
approach, chordal harmonies as such are mostly eliminated.
Several of the harmonies that do occur, however, are the
result of the interplay of melodic lines.
Copland's themes vary from short fragments to long syn-
copated ones. The themes in the first and last movements
are longer and more syncopated. The themes in the second
movement are built around descending half steps and whole
steps. There is also the use of the whole tone scale as
thematic material in the second movement. Although the
composer manages to change his themes rhythmically or inter-
vallically, the overall character of the themes remains the
same. An example can be seen in the second movement.
There, Copland has applied the half step and whole step
idea, of which the first theme is composed, in a variety of
melodic statements. In almost every case, the first theme
is not quoted exactly, but the essential character remains
the same because of the intervallic relationship of whole
and half steps used in the melodic statements. Copland also
uses stretto in the first movement. The composer has linked
the entire symphony together, without pauses between move-
ments, through transitional material.
Syncopation can be observed in the rhythmic content of
this symphony. The syncopation adds to the "dance-like"
character of the work. The composer also uses ostinatos in
this composition. One of the ostinatos in the third move-
ment is characterized by shifting accents. The most impor-
tant aspect about rhythm is the use of polyrhythms. By
shifting accents, Copland is able to change the pulsation of
a given meter. In the third movement, for example, Copland
uses a 3/8 meter signature. Along with a 3/8 meter pulsa-
tion, the composer, by shifting accents, manages to achieve
a 2/8 meter pulsation and a 3/16 meter pulsation simultane-
ously. It must be pointed out that the composer does not
combine more than three meters at any given time. Copland
makes the following statements regarding Boulanger's atti-
tude toward his use of polyrhythms.
She made much of their appearance in my
own work, and rather pointed them out
to me as one of the new features of the
music in the '20's, different from what
the typical young French student would
be producing. She showed great inter-
est in my rhythmic experiments, and
made me more conscious of my own6
potentialities as a rhythmicist.
Copland also gives conductor's notes, directly on the score,
for subdividing the beats in the polyrhythmic passages.
In orchestrating this work, the composer tends to treat
the instruments in a soloistic fashion in the first and
second movements; whereas, in the third movement, he uses a
Smith, p. 65.
lot of doubling. There is also the use of many instrumental
effects. For the brass, the composer utilizes muted and
cuivrt playing. For the strings, Copland uses such effects
as half arco and half pizzicato playing, glissandos, muted
playing, cot legno, sul tasto, quarter tone, and sul ponti-
cello. The composer does not use more than two of these
effects together at any given time. The symphony also calls
for an expanded percussion section. Through the use of
these instrumental effects, and an expanded percussion
section, the composer is able to achieve a variety of
The Dance Symphony is a program symphony which adheres
to the cyclic principle of design. Through the use of such
elements as polyrhythms, polyharmonies, and polytonality,
Copland is able to attain some very interesting sounds and
effects from the orchestral medium.
The First Symphony was originally written for organ and
orchestra. The symphony, entitled, Symphony for Organ and
Orchestra, was dedicated to Nadia Boulanger. The Symphony
for Organ and Orchestra received its premiere performance on
January 11, 1925, by the New York Symphony Orchestra under
the direction of Walter Damrosch. Copland completed the
orchestral version, without the organ, in 1928. The new
version was called the First Symphony.2 A study of the two
works indicates that this was not a difficult task, the
reason being that during the original version of the work,
the organ was treated not as a solo instrument with accom-
panying orchestra but as an integral part of the orchestra.
There is a difference of opinion between Smith and
Berger regarding the first performance of the First Sym-
phony. Smith is of the opinion that the first performance
took place in Berlin, by the Berlin Symphony Orchestra, in
December, 1931. She also states that the Scherzo movement
was performed on November 4, 1927, by the Philadelphia
Julia Smith, Aaron Copland: His Work and Contribu-
tion to American Music (New York: E. P. Dutton and Company,
Inc., 1955), p. 75.
2Ibid., p. 77.
Orchestra in Carnegie Hall.3 Berger contradicts Smith by
stating that the first performance took place on January 18,
1934, by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Berger does,
however, agree with Smith on the performance of the Scherzo
The performance time for the symphony is twenty-five
The first movement, entitled Prelude, is built around
one theme. The tonal level of this movement centers around
G-sharp. Since there is no standard format for a "prelude,"
this movement could be regarded as being in free form.
Copland states that free form is the "absence of a tradi-
tional strict form or design."5 The tonal levels are
lst Theme - - ->
I i I I I
G-sharp B/F G-sharp D-flat G-sharp
Meas. 1 29 43 51 62
Figure 4.1. Tonal Levels of the First Movement
3Ibid., p. 77.
Arthur Berger, Aaron Copland (Westport, Connecticut:
Greenwood Press Publishers, 1971), p. 101.
Statement by Aaron Copland, Composer, in a personal
interview, Peekskill, New York, July 15, 1981.
The movement begins with the tempo marking Andante
( = 108). Immediately, the first theme is heard as it is
played by the flute.
Figure 4.2. Page 1, measures 2-5
The theme undergoes a different treatment in its next state-
ment. The first three notes are in retrograde, and the
theme can be heard in the clarinet.
K / k 4- 4- .-^- h h /,
SI -1 II *r I
Figure 4.3. Page 1, measures 10-13
There is another treatment of the thematic material in
measures eighteen through twenty. In measure twenty-nine,
the tonal center has changed to B and F. There is also an
ostinato rhythm which accompanies the change in tonal
center. The intervallic content of the ostinato theme is
the intervals of a minor third and a perfect fifth.
_ __ 1_ _I C
AV JI- I- I I I I
Figure 4.4. Page 3, measures 29-30
Julia Smith calls this ostinato theme a motto. The motto
can be heard in measures twenty-nine through thirty-nine.
Even though the motto seems insignificant at this time, it
will soon become the unifying force for the entire symphony.
The G-sharp tonal center is resumed in measure forty-three.
The thematic material in measures forty-three through fifty
is identical to that in measures ten through seventeen; how-
ever, this time, the melody is played by the horn. The
opening melodic material can be seen in measures fifty-two
through fifty-four, and is again played by the flute.
A+K ;7F -I I I I
Figure 4.5. Page 4, measures 52-54
The motto theme can be heard in measures sixty-three through
sixty-five, and is played by the trumpet. In measures
Smith, p. 78.
sixty-seven through sixty-nine, the motto theme can be seen
Figure 4.6. Page 6, measures 67-69
The movement ends with the statement of the first theme by
Copland has begun this movement in a G-sharp tonal
center. Both the ostinato accompaniment and melody, in
measures six through twenty, indicate the G-sharp center.
Measures twenty-nine through thirty-five indicate a poly-
tonality. The motto theme displays a B tonal center,
whereas, the cello and viola suggest an F tonal center.
Figure 4.7. Page 3, measures 29-32
Measures seventy-two through seventy-four also lend them-
selves to polytonality. The tonal center suggests D and
G-sharp centers. The G-sharp center is played by the second
violin, while the D center is played by the cello and
Figure 4.8. Page 6, measures 72-73
SJ. I J
The entire movement has a 6/8 meter signature, except
for measures eighty-one and eighty-nine, which are in 3/8.
On one occasion, Copland changes the 6/8 meter pulsation to
that of a 4/8 meter pulsation by shifting accents through
the use of grace notes.
I Mb. ho I ;MN, I L
Figure 4.9. Page 5, measures 64-65
There are also several rhythmic ostinatos in this movement.
One such ostinato can be seen in measures six through
twenty. Another ostinato can be seen in measures twenty-
nine through thirty-five. The latter consists of four
chords which are repeated for seven measures. Occasionally,
the motto theme is treated with an ostinato rhythmic pat-
tern. An augmentation of the motto theme and its original
rhythm pattern are presented in measures twenty-nine through
The instrumentation for this symphony is listed below.
1 Flauto Piccolo
2 Flauti Grandi
1 Corno Inglese
2 Clarinetti in B-flat
1 Clarinetto Basso in B-flat
1 Alto Saxophone in E-flat
8 Corni in F
5 Trombe in C
Tambour Militare, Tambour de Basque,
Wood Block, Piatti, Tam-Tam, Cassa
For the most part, the orchestration of the first movement
only calls for a portion of the orchestra. The composer has
used such instrumental effects as muted, pizzicato, and sul
ponticello playing. Muted playing, by the strings, can be
seen throughout this movement. One such example is seen in
measure five. Pizzicato playing can be observed in mea-
sures fifty-one through fifty-three.
pizz. arco pizz.
;/n/I "u I I v JE7 u
Figure 4.10. Page 4, measures 51-53
Sul ponticello playing is presented in measures fifty-one
through fifty-seven. Measures sixty-three through sixty-
five show an example of muted playing for trumpets. In this
movement, Copland has treated the instruments in a soloistic
fashion; thus, there is little doubling except for emphasis
The second movement, entitled Scherzo, has a tempo
marking of Molto allegro ( ) = 160). The word scherzo has
a specific meaning with regard to formal design. The
scherzo is usually the third movement of a sonata, symphony,
or quartet. In some instances, this form was used as a
replacement for the minuet. Scherzo is an Italian word
meaning "joke." Much like the minuet, the scherzo is
followed by a trio after which the scherzo returns. The
Harvard Dictionary of Music reveals that, "the distinguish-
ing features of the scherzo are rapid tempo in 3/4 meter,
vigorous rhythm, a certain abruptness as though involving
elements of surprise and whim, and a kind of bustling humor
that ranges from the playful to the sinister."7 The second
movement does have some of these qualities, and also has a
Willi Apel, Harvard Dictionary of Music (Cambridge,
Massachusetts: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press,
1972), 2nd ed., p. 755.
close resemblance to the scherzo design. The trio is re-
placed with a blues section; thus, the element of surprise
is introduced. With regard to tonal levels, the scherzo and
trio have a mediant relationship. The tonal levels of this
movement are shown below.
Meas. 92 128 (171)
Blues Ist Theme 2nd Theme
A C C
215 (266) 274 301
1st Theme Coda
Figure 4.11. Tonal Levels of the Second Movement
The first theme is introduced by the oboe over an osti-
9-m F I IF a I ir I I I
Figure 4.12. Page 8, measures 94-100
For the next twenty-two measures, there are various treat-
ments of the ostinato and first theme material. One such
treatment is played by the alto saxophone in measures 111
>1 7 / \I 7 >>
I' I 1 I I I ]' I .. II
ag / "7 r -
Figure 4.13. Page 9, measures 111-117
The second theme enters in measure 128; however, in contrast
to the first theme, the second theme has a lyrical quality.
The theme also closely resembles a French folksong entitled
Au Clair De La Lune.
I .^ I | | I | o="
Figure 4.14. Page 10, measures 128-132
During the statements of the second theme, the ostinato
rhythm is still present. Immediately following the state-
ment of the theme by the flute, there is another statement
of the theme by the first violin in augmentation. The same
rhythm is used in all the statements of the theme by the
flute; whereas, a different rhythm is used in the statements
of the theme by the first violin. The second statement of
the theme has a different melodic pattern.
Figure 4.15. Pages 11-12, measures 137-141
The melody is echoed in the violin as follows.
I r I I I I II I I I
Figure 4.16. Pages 12-13, measures 141-147
The third statement of the theme acts as the second phrase
of the theme.
Figure 4.17. Page 13, measures 146-150
The second phrase is again repeated in the violin.
}7 1- .7=- 11 1 1
1 I F F i
Figure 4.18. Page 13-14, measures 148-153
Measures 154 through 170 show various treatments of the
second theme material. The flute and oboe, for example,
illustrate one such treatment in measures 154 through 164.
The development section can be seen in measures 171 through
214. In measures 199 through 214, the motto theme, from the
first movement, returns in a B-flat key center. The motto
theme is used in an imitation in which four instruments are
involved--horn, trumpet, bassoon and flute. Measures 204
through 207 show a return of the first theme material before
the trio begins in measure 215. The trio or middle section
introduces new material. The new material is the blues, and
the alto saxophone is used to add to the overall timbre.
1 [ '> r9 I I h i WF I=
Figure 4.19. Page 24, measures 215-221
The blues theme is heard again in measures 222 through 228.
I -~ L-
L.. I W IC IF f
Figure 4.20. Page 25, measures 222-228
A close examination of the tones will show that the composer
had used the flatted third, fifth and seventh degrees of the
major scale. Thus, the alteration of the tones in this
manner will result in a blues scale.
5 4 5
There are various treatments of the blues melody by the alto
saxophone (measures 229 through 235) and by the clarinet
(measures 237 through 241). The original blues melody
returns in measures 249 through 252, and the motto theme
returns in the horns in measures 255 through 258.
Figure 4.22. Pages 28-29, measures 255-258
Measures 266 through 273 serve as transitional material to
the return of the first theme material. First theme materi-
al is heard in measures 274 through 300. At this point, the
second theme returns in augmentation as it has earlier. The
section, measures 301 to 331, is almost identical to the
previous statements of the second theme material in measures
332 through 339. The coda begins in measure 340, and ends
in measure 390.
The composer manages to maintain a C tonal center
throughout the first section of this movement. An example
of the C tonal center can be seen in measures 92 and 93. It
should also be mentioned that the C tonal center is implied
through an ostinato rhythm.
Figure 4.23. Page 8, measures 92-93
On occasions, Copland uses the C tonal center as a pedal
point, and above this center, he will use a variety of im-
plied chords. In measures 118 and 119, the C center is
played by the bassoon, whereas, intervals of a fifth are
played by the flutes above this center. The intervals above
the center imply an E-flat and a D-flat chord; thus, the
result is polyharmony.
k t ) I I L
Figure 4.24. Page 9, measures 118-119
During the middle section of this movement, the tonal center
changes to A. The E (in the cello) serves as a dominant
pedal point; whereas, the B in the upper voices suggests an
Figures 4.25. Page 24, measure 215
Beginning in measure 227, the tonal center has changed to B.
The same type of chord structure, used previously in the A
center, is also used in this center. In the second return
of the first section, the composer, in measures 289 and 290,
has used several different triads over an implied C tonal
center. These triads include D, C, B, A and G.
> > > > >
Figure 4.26. Page 32, measures 289-290
In measures 292 and 293, the composer used a D major triad
over a C center and, in measure 295, a B major triad over a
C center. The use of these triads over the C center results
in polyharmony. Beginning in measure 379, Copland has used
a series of major triads with an added second and a flatted
(4A I' I
,I A I
Figure 4.27. Page 43, measure 379
The composer uses the 3/4 meter signature for a major-
ity of the movement. In the middle section, Copland uses
the 4/4 meter signature. At the beginning of this movement,
there is an ostinato that is used mostly in the first and
third sections of the Scherzo.
10 f I f AV~1
I1 PI F)
Figure 4.28. Page 8, measures 92-94
In measures 97 and 98, the directions call for the performer
to play the notes freely, accelerating.
(ad lib faster and faster)
k A& J 0 10
S0S 0 '0 '0
IX I :t7 I I I I I I
Figure 4.29. Page 8, measures 97-98
Measures 108 through 110 illustrate the shifting of accents
in a 3/4 meter signature to give the pulsation of a 3/8
*f O -A 0
Figure 4.30. Page 8, measures 108-109
Copland uses the 3/8 meter pulsation simultaneously with the
3/4 meter pulsation; thus, the result is polyrhythm. During
the statements of the second theme, Copland uses augmenta-
tion to increase the note values of the melody. In each of
the three statements of the melody by the flute, the violin
echoes the same melody, but in augmentation. In measures
344 through 351, the composer, by shifting accents, manages
to achieve a 2/4 meter pulsation while writing in a 3/4
Figure 4.31. Page 37, measures 334-347
In measures 289 and 290, accents have also been used to
change an 8/8 meter pulsation to a 3/8 meter pulsation.
k 0 >16 t. A- .0
Figure 4.32. Page 32, measures 289-290
The composer also creates an ambiguity between the 3/4 and
6/8 meter signatures. Although the melody is written in a
6/8 metric pulsation, it can also be played in a 3/4 metric
Copland uses a variety of orchestral effects during
this movement. Measure 92, for instance, shows the col
legno effect used by the violins. Although the symphony
calls for an alto saxophone, the composer has written the
part so that it can be played by the English horn if no
saxophone is available. Measures 112 through 114 illustrate
muted playing for the trumpets, while pizzicato playing for
the strings can be found in measures 117 through 183. Muted
passages for strings can be seen at the beginning of the
blues section in measure 215.
The third movement, entitled Finale, has a tempo mark-
ing of Lento ( ) = 60) for measures 391 to 450, and another
marking of Piu mosso (Allegro moderato, J = 112) for meas-
ures 431 through 656. The movement is built around two
contrasting themes, and is similar to the sonata-allegro
design. In the exposition, the two themes remain in the
same tonal center which conflicts with the classical sonata-
atlegro idea where two contrasting themes are used in
different tonal centers. The tonal levels of this movement
are shown below.
1st Theme 2nd Theme 2nd Theme
I I I
B B B-flat
Meas. 391 431 468
2nd Theme 1st Theme
(494) 571 594
Figure 4.33. Tonal levels of the Third Movement
The first theme is played by the viola in measures 391
r---- "-- F --j --1 1 g
Figure 4.34. Page 45, measures 391-402
Beginning in measure 403, there is a stretto occurring
between the strings in which the motto theme is used as
material. In measure 418, the trombones play the first of
several treatments of the first theme material.
Figure 4.35. Page 46, measures 418-422
During the treatments of this theme, the motto material is
played by the cello and bass in measures 420 through 430.
The second section begins at the Piu mosso in measure 431.
However, the second theme does not enter until measure 433.
The second theme is played by the violins and viola.
Figure 4.36. Page 49, measures 433-439
The motto can also be heard in an ostinato rhythmic pattern
beginning in measure 436. The second theme is played by the
horns (measures 451 through 457) and by the trumpets and
trombones (measures 458 through 461). Beginning in measure
468, the first theme is presented in a fugato by the oboe
and English horn. The fugato is heard for fifteen measures.
Along with the fugato, second theme material is played by
the bass. The first theme ends in measure 483, and the
second theme continues until measure 493. The development
section begins in measure 494, and ends in measure 570. In
measure 571, the second theme returns in diminution.
Figure 4.37. Page 66, measures 571-573
The motto theme is also played in diminution.
&0 L., ) C0
Figure 4.38. Page 66, measures 571-572
The second theme is treated in a fugato manner in measures
571 through 585. The first statement of the theme is by the
cello and has a C tonal center. The second statement of the
theme is by the viola and has a G center. Hence, the tradi-
tional statement of the second entrance is on the fifth de-
gree of the scale. The third statement of the theme is by
the violins and has a C center. The first theme material
returns in measures 594 through 603.
Figure 4.39. Pages 68-69, measures 594-603
The coda begins at measure 604, and the movement ends in
measure 656. In measures 627 through 629, there are three
different statements of the motto theme.
1ii ~ e-q -`
L1 I I i1 1 I I 1 ILU I
Pages 73-74, measures 627-629
There is also an augmentation of the first theme material in
measures 627 through 639. The augmented theme is played by
the trumpets and trombones.
kL > 1a b >I |
Figure 4.41. Pages 73-77, measures 627-639
A U 1 I T
*r~ I F r sFf f^--fIrS ff^
r^ F 41 t-_ : .
Copland has used many indications of polytonality.
Measures 451 through 455, for instance, show an example of
polytonality. During these measures, the composer uses
three tonal centers simultaneously. The first, an F tonal
center is the bass, contra-bassoon, and trombones; the
second, an A tonal center in the horns; and the third, an
F-sharp center in the woodwinds, trumpets, and strings.
Figure 4.42. Page 50, measures 451-455
!- > <^ 11 -y. wrr 1'-r e; I ~rjir ~
74 FJ -p7
70-1 | 4 1
More often than not, Copland utilizes the motto theme in an
ostinato rhythm to establish a tonal center or centers. The
idea can be seen in measures 468 through 489 where a B-flat
center is established, measures 431 through 450 where a B
tonal center is established, and various other places
throughout the movement. Measures 494 through 497 show
still another indication of polytonality. In this instance,
the bass and cello indicate an F-sharp center, and the viola
and violin indicate a C center. Beginning in measure 571,
another example of polytonality can be found between the
bass and cello. The bass has established a B tonal center
while the cello has established a C tonal center.
>i^ n- >i
t~h+ '444A -0
Figure 4.43. Page 66, measures 571-574
UI I 7A Ud A( 1 1 Li AL F; 'Cf I 7 I
F ; '11
AV --Ar r r
Perhaps the final example of polytonality can be seen in
measures 594 through 603. In these measures, the cello and
glockenspiel indicate a G-sharp center, and the viola and
bass clarinet indicate an F tonal center.
Copland also utilizes polyharmony. An example of these
polyharmonies can be observed in measures 428 through 430
where there are two different triads sounding simultaneously
over a C tonal center. The example below is a reduction of
the triads that occur in measures 428 through 430.
F* F B C Ff F D E ~F FF E E
G AL' A Bb B C LD'O EL E F F A?
G G F F b A A
G A1W A 8 A BI
'r 1 o A
Figure 4.44. Page 48, measures 428-430
Another example of polyharmony is found in measures 425
through 427. These harmonies also occur over a C center.
The following example is a reduction of the triads that
occur in measures 425 through 427.
F F F F* F F G ,A
FO F A G
Figure 4.45. Page 47, measures 425-427
The last two examples of polyharmony used major triads. The
bottom triadic unit of the polychords is in second inver-
sion. Persichetti states why this is important:
The resonance of a polychord is determined
by the intervallic structure of the bottom
chordal unit and the power of its separate tones
to generate overtones. The second inversion of
the major triad as a bottom unit is the most re-
sonant chordal unit upon which polyharmony can
be erected, because its internal spacing is
closest to that of the harmonic series; the
major third of the fundamental triad in close
position is not as close to the size of the
perfect fifth of the overtone series as is the
perfect fourth of the six-four chord. When the
tones of the bottom triad are spread apart, the
fundamental position is most sonorous.
There is also another series of polyharmonies in measures
509 through 514; however, these chords do not adhere to the
intervallic spacing described by Persichetti.
Copland also uses quartal harmonies. In measures 451
through 461, there are a series of quartal harmonies over an
F center which changes to a B center in measure 458. The
intervallic arrangement of the three note chords is aug-
mented fourth and perfect fourth.
Figure 4.46. Pages 51-52, measures 460-461
The quartal harmonies from measures 451 through 459 imply an
A tonal center while the harmonies in measures 460 and 461
are used to modulate to a different tonal center.
In measures 607 through 609, and measures 610 through
612, the composer uses two different chord clusters.
Vincent Persichetti, Twentieth-Century Harmony (New
York: W. W. Norton and Company, 1961), p. 138.