COWBOYS, CABALLEROS & COPLAND!

Developed by Michael Barrett and Jamie Bernstein
Written by Jamie Bernstein

(EXCERPT)
 
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
 

 'Cowboys, Caballeros and Copland' at Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts, Michael Barrett, conductor; July 2005. Photo by: Liesl Steiner

'Cowboys, Caballeros and Copland' at Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts, Michael Barrett, conductor; July 2005. Photo by: Liesl Steiner