The Feeling of Patriotism in Fanfare for the Common Man, a Musical Work by Aaron Copland
Aaron Copland was one of the most respected American classical composers of the twentieth century. By incorporating popular forms of American music such as jazz and folk into his compositions, he created incredibly innovative pieces. Much like Steve Reich, Copland made great changes in American music by liberating it from European influence. He studied music from a young age in Manhattan, and then moved to France to further his musical education there. He was born in 1900 in Brooklyn New York, and died in 1990 in North Terrytown, New York. Copland’s life and work continue to inspire many American composers.
Fanfare for the Common Man is a very strong and inspirational piece. It was written during the second world war, demonstrating the feeling of patriotism in the country at that time. It begins with a strong drum rhythm and crashing symbols. Then, after the drums repeat the beginning measures, brass instruments come in and begin playing a rather patriotic melody. The melody is fairly simple, playing thirds up the scale, then up the scale, then back down and repeating. The whole song so far then repeats, and then other instruments (still brass) are added in with harmonies, which are simple but complicated enough to be pleasing to the ear., slowly the song builds and builds, adding in more and more harmonies, until it simplifies a little bit just in time for the ending. All throughout the piece the pattern from the beginning weaves its way into the melody again and again, with the drums and symbols repeating their signature “crash!” and “boom, boom!” consistently every couple measures. The song overall is very simple, as I said before, but is complicated enough to be pleasing and interesting. It reflects the patriotic feeling that our nation held during the war, and gives the feeling of inspiration and motivation to march into battle.