Friday, November 14, 2014

Learnin' -- and lovin' -- the Copland-Stepp connection

Where was I...
Ah, yes...
Music.
I've begun reading SEAN WILENTZ'S study of BOB DYLAN, "BOB DYLAN IN AMERICA."
In it, the Princeton historian explores (among other themes) Dylan's talent (genius) for recombining various strands of American musical DNA, and creating new, lasting compositions in the process.
Wilentz begins the book with an overview of the classical composer AARON COPLAND, who provided a template of sorts for Dylan to follow by adapting folk music into such compositions as "Billy the Kid" and "Rodeo."
Our own ANNIKA has been playing violin for seven years in school, which has provided me with about seven years' worth of hearing the celebrated "Hoe-Down" section from Copland's "Rodeo."
Today, thanks to a reference in Wilentz's book, I heard the melodic basis Copland used to help form "Hoe-Down" -- the 1937 recording of "Bonaparte's Retreat" by the Kentucky fiddler WILLIAM HAMILTON STEPP (pictured).
My boundless curiosity thrives when I can discover connections between forms I had never before realized, so imagine my delight when Wilentz helped me hear how Copland adapted Stepp's tune.
I was startled to hear something so familiar to me in a fresh, earlier form.
I think I'm going to learn a lot from "Bob Dylan in America," and I'm looking forward to the surprises awaiting me as I turn each page.

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