Dawn rising on a spring morning

The subtitles for a music education video referred to the first section of Aaron Copland’s Appalachian Spring as “Dawn Rising on a Spring Morning on a Farm in Appalachia”. I wondered if that was the official title of the section (in which case it would be in upper case) or a simple description of it (in which case it would be in lower case), because a) I have never heard or read that the individual parts have titles, and b) the title Appalachian Spring was suggested by the choreographer Martha Graham after Copland had completed the score, so he wasn’t thinking about spring mornings in Appalachia when he wrote it,* and the title must have been applied retrospectively. (The presenter’s spoken inflection didn’t make it clear whether he was using it as a title or a description.)

I searched for “dawn rising on a spring morning” and got 

one result, being the transcript of this video. Think about it – six quite ordinary English words in a quite ordinary order, put together exactly once anywhere on the internet (it will soon be twice).

Dawn rising is slightly unusual – I would naturally say dawn breaking, but “dawn breaking on a spring morning” gets exactly one result as well.

One section of Appalachian Spring does have a title – at least informally. The best-known section is usually referred to as ‘Simple Gifts’, from the Shaker song which provides the melody. (It’s not ‘Tis the gift to be simple, which is the first line of the song, and it’s not a folk song, because the writer’s name is known, or at least generally attributed.)

(*And in fact, the word “spring” in Hart Crane’s poem, from which Graham took the title, referred to a spring of water, not the season.)


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