Indiana Theory Review 27, no. 1 (2009): 45–78.
This essay provides analysis of the first Allegro (“Eden Valley”) and the coda from Aaron Copland’s Appalachian Spring. Following Joseph Straus and Arthur Berger, this investigation traces the correspondences of the work’s pitch centers with other pitch components of the music’s surface. The varied musical approaches of the Allegro—functional progressions, polychords, quartal trichords, chains of triads related by half or whole step, and pandiatonic melodies—coalesce to create a multi-faceted movement from centricity on A to centricity on F, while also presenting unique, individual narratives of that procession to F. In Appalachian Spring’s coda, both A and F reappear in marked contexts, and the coda’s overall focus on C recalls an important role C had in the progress of the Allegro. The resulting tonal connections span the entire composition.
This linking of pitch centers with other musical elements can yield analytic insights into a large cross-section of repertoire cutting across stylistic and historical boundaries. In that respect, this analysis illustrates an approach potentially appropriate to any pitch-centric music.