COWBOYS, CABALLEROS & COPLAND!
Developed by Michael Barrett and Jamie Bernstein
Written by Jamie Bernstein
Aaron Copland was so fascinated by this Wild West story that he wrote the music for a whole ballet about “Billy the Kid.”
Copland actually invented a way to make his music describe those wide-open spaces of the Old West. Here’s how he did it: he put wide-open spaces between his notes! And it really works.
Take a look at the very first notes of "Billy the Kid." The clarinets are playing this:
CUE 2: (DEMO) 1st 6 bars of “Open Prairie” – 2 clarinets
You hear how high up they're playing? Meanwhile, the oboe is playing this:
CUE 3: (DEMO) 1st 4 bars of “Open Prairie” oboe only
Now listen to how they fit together.
CUE 4: (DEMO) 1st 6 bars of “Open Prairie,” oboe & clars.
You hear how the instruments sound way, far apart from each other? Maybe they even sound a little lonely, just like we would feel if we were in a covered wagon day after day, crossing those big empty spaces under that wide open sky: no highway, no cars, no McDonald’s – no nuthin’.
Here's "The Open Prairie," from "Billy the Kid."
CUE 5: (TUTTI) OPEN PRAIRIE