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Open Access Publications from the University of California

The Bounding Line: Rhythm, Meter, and the Performance of Aaron Copland's Short Symphony

  • Author(s): Dudenbostel, Ryan Keith
  • Advisor(s): Stulberg, Neal H
  • et al.

Aaron Copland's Short Symphony remains among the least performed of his works, this despite the fact that the composer considered it among his finest. This dissertation explores the work's history and reception, issues surrounding Copland's notation of meter and rhythm, and his approaches to metric notation. Freely adapting an analytical process developed by Lerdahl and Jackendoff in their 1983 book A Generative Theory of Tonal Music, the author proposes a method of metrical analysis by which Copland's meters can be stripped away, and new meters derived from the metrical weights inherent in the music itself. The result is a newly re-barred version of the Short Symphony's outer movements, scores of which are included as an appendix. It is the author's hope that this method can help illuminate other works with similar notational issues.

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