Preparing the prescribed works – part one (El Salon Mexico)

By Friday, May 28, 2010 No tags 0

Greetings all!

This is the first part in a multi-part post that will discuss preparation of the prescribed works for first exams in May 2011.

This discussion will focus on gathering resources for analysis.

I find the prescribed works both fascinating and challenging.  The two-year duration of instruction is quick, but it keeps teachers active as researchers and (musical) theorists.

My preparation process is two-fold – the first is gathering data and the second is refining the information until it is suitable for teaching and learning.

The Boosey & Hawkes pocket score (this is not an endorsement) has a brief pamphlet that provides a somewhat detailed analysis and a discussion of the source material for the piece.

An internet search led me to “Aaron Copland: the life and work of an uncommon man” By Howard Pollack (

This text provides more detail than the Boosey score and some contradictory information concerning the folk music source material.


According to Boosey, there are three musical sources that are used in El Salon Mexico:

El Palo Verde, La Jesusita, and El Mosco.


Some Youtube links for El Palo Verde are listed below (please note that these are not exhaustive):


El  Palo Verde (audio only)



Once materials have been gathered, then the analysis can begin.

An important element to remember is that this piece, El Salón Mexicó, was selected to be the ‘world music’ element of the prescribed works section.


Some questions to contemplate:

How much structural knowledge do my students need?

How many technical compositional elements should be mentioned?

How much of Copland’s musical style needs to be discussed?

What is the best method of instruction for this score?

How will I ensure that my students are vested in this music?

  • Bradley Sharp
    December 4, 2010

    Will there be a 2nd post? Brad.

    • Matt
      December 12, 2010

      Greetings –
      The posts from 28 May 2010 through 29 June 2010 discuss the prescribed works. Please let me know what topics you would like to see in future posts.


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