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kid's eye view

why symphonies not melodies

December 26, 2012

Last week, Adam Rosen, son of board chairman Michael Rosen, was asked in his English class at Harvard Westland to write a poem. Inspired by the LACO performance of Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, he wrote the following:

Why symphonies not melodies

Why write symphonies, not just melodies?
It seems they are much harder
And melody can stand alone
Notes in a certain order, chromatic
Pleasing to our ears

Mozart would say, its because a note can’t be happy,
But a major chord can
Beethoven would say a note can’t be mad
But raising a fourth can
Gershwin would say notes can’t be blue
And Copland that they can’t be dynamic

It’s because symphonies show us more
Beyond the melody and chromatic sequence there is harmony
It can’t be replicated by a single noise
It is a blend of thirds and
It can rise and fall

Because you can feel the minor in Beethoven’s 5th
and the crescendo in Appalachian Spring
Bach’s fugue couldn’t break into iconic movements
Rhapsody in Blue wouldn’t be an anthem
To the industrial America
Without clarinet mixing with trumpet

1 comment

"Rhapsody in Blue wouldn’t be an anthem
To the industrial America
Without clarinet mixing with trumpet"

Great imagery! I like the metaphor of instruments as parts of a powerful machine, or as working people building a nation.

  • —Anonymous, December 28, 2012 11:27 am

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