Aaron Copland invents the sound of pop music

Aaron Copland invented the sound of pop music.

In two works from the early 1940s – the Violin Sonata and “Appalachian Spring” – he introduced a specific, independent harmonic entity which has defined pop music since 1970.

This harmonic entity consists of a chord built a fifth above the root.

Below I have highlighted the scores and given audio examples of both Copland works.

Copland, Aaron: Sonata for Violin and Piano (1943) for violin and piano

Copland, Violin Sonata

Copland, Aaron: Appalachian Spring – Ballet in one act for full orchestra (1944)

Appalachian Spring


Here are just a few of the many famous pop songs that have used this chord…

“So Far Away” (Carole King)

“If You Leave Me Now” (Chicago)

“Josie” (Steely Dan)

“Sailing” (Christopher Cross)

“Love’s Theme” (Barry White)

“One On One” (Hall & Oates)

“Beth” (Kiss)


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