A conductor's guide to Aaron Copland's Eight poems of Emily Dickinson for voice and chamber orchestra
Dickey, Thomas Taylor
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The purpose of this document is to identify the unifying elements of text, phrase structure, pitch content, tempos, meters, and orchestration that bind together Aaron Copland’s "Eight Poems of Emily Dickinson" as a structurally cohesive orchestral song cycle. This study provides a complete formal analysis of each of the eight songs. The poems are examined in terms of structure and perceived meaning of the text through the composer’s setting. The pitch content of both the vocal line and the orchestra is analyzed using referential collections. Chapter Three discusses the setting of each poem, noting relationships among the text, phrase structure, pitch content, tempos, meters, and orchestration within the song. The final chapter is devoted to observations made about the large-scale relationships that provide cyclic unity within each song and, more importantly, across the entire song cycle. Brief summaries of the lives of Aaron Copland and Emily Dickinson, as well as the compositional background of the song cycle, precede the detailed analysis of "Eight Poems of Emily Dickinson."