What is Avante Americana Music? 

If you’re a fan of avante-garde Americana music, you’re probably curious as to what defines this genre. This article will highlight the influence of Copland, the vision of Paul Renna, and the use of strange new instruments in avant-garde compositions. 


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Copland’s influence on avant-garde americana music 

Aaron Copland was a composer and educator whose works were written with a broad audience in mind, especially during the Great Depression. He was inspired by his trip to Mexico City and incorporated elements of Mexican folk music into his works. One example of his popular music for orchestra is El Salon Mexico (1936). 

Copland also collaborated with choreographer Martha Graham. She had an idea for an Appalachian Spring ballet, but Copland suggested incorporating a Shaker melody. He was also inspired by the simplicity of the Shakers and their Utopian values. Copland went on to compose music that was archetypal, blending many genres and styles into a cohesive work. Eventually, Copland went on to write many popular orchestral works as well as film scores. 

Paul Renna’s vision 

Paul Renna is a wildly prolific singer-songwriter from Dallas, Texas who has been performing for over 25 years. His distinctive music style is a hybrid of soft rock, folk, and Americana. His debut solo album, Portrait, came out in 2003 and has been followed by three EPs. His most recent album, Valley of the Moon, is a superb combination of Americana, folk, and soft rock. “Bound to Love,” from his latest album, is another fine example of his distinctive style. 

Amy Beach’s String Quartet 

Amy Beach’s String Quartet is an example of avante-garde American music composed by women. She often incorporated folk music into her works. Her compositions were inspired by African-American and Native American melodies. One piece is based on the Omaha dance tune, which Beach received from a Native American woman in 1922. 

Before World War I, Beach had already established a concert career in Europe and was scheduled to give thirty recitals in the U.S. during the next concert season. In the United States, Beach’s music was well received and her songs were popular with audiences. Many American musical organizations viewed her as a hero and commissioned her to perform in major American cities. 

Strange new instruments in avant-garde americana music 

In an effort to break the mold of the traditional guitar, musicians in the US have begun building strange new instruments. These instruments include the badgermin (a theremin that is embedded inside a dead badger), zeusaphone (a singing Tesla coil), and holophonor (a clarinet with holographic bars). Some musicians have even been building these instruments for decades. 

Using the perspective of socially constructed societies and individual composers, Rutherford-Johnson organizes his book around an array of cultural forces. These forces range from the breakdown of genres and the late capitalist economy to the emergence of sexual liberation and globalization. The book’s eclectic mix of musicians also highlights diverse musical cultures, including Lebanese, Filipino, and Asian-Australian composers. In addition, Rutherford-Johnson adopts Nicolas Bourriaud’s notion of “radical aesthetics” to examine the work of composers from different parts of the world.