From Martha Graham‘s ballet “Appalachian Spring” Simple Gifts must surely be one of the world’s simplest tunes ever written. A 19th century Shaker tune, Christians know the tune as “The Lord of the Dance.”
So simple a kindergartener could play it, but this simple tune becomes a masterwork in the hands of 20th century LGBTQ American composer Aaron Copland. He repeats the theme differently each time, transforming the work into a story, or as close to a story as music can be. Played first by a lone clarinet, then with flutes, then oboes, then as a round with woodwinds setting down the beat normally reserved for percussion punctuated with glockenspiel and triangle, then twice as fast with militaristic trumpet fanfare without the rest of the orchestra except for violin flights of fancy, then it goes into a restful choir of clarinets and strings, and last he lays it down twice as slow with the grandeur of timpani and trombones with full orchestra.
Find out more or buy this music here: