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. 
 

Aaron Copland: Sonata for Violin and Piano (1943)

Copland, Violin Sonata


 

Aaron Copland: 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)

Beth

accompagnato

Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, “Youth at a restaurant night club…” (ca. 1941)

accompagnato

Scarlatti went to dinner with
Scriabin and Rameau
and at the table next to them were
Schoenberg and Milhaud

Scarlatti sang 440 “A”
to catch the waiter’s ear
Arnold sang eleven more
and Webern drank his beer

—J.S.