Listening To: American Dream
Earlier this week I discovered a new album on Apple Music called American Dream, by Norwegian composer Thomas Bergersen. It has turned out to be pretty good “background music” for listening at work, especially during more focused sessions of writing or programming (which I’ve been doing more over the past few days). The music sounds much like a “film soundtrack” but turns out to be a great classical-style symphonic suite.
The album is primarily composed of large orchestral themes, mostly on the boisterous side, with sweeping melodies that paint a picture of the typical expansive American landscape, or perhaps a romantic dream of sailing across the sea to a new land. According to one write-up about the album, the music is intended to tell the story of a young boy on his voyage from Europe to America, in search of the American Dream. Initially, I thought the music might have been a really good computer-generated orchestra, but it appears that the album was recorded with a live orchestra in Bulgaria. After listening to a few tracks over again, I noticed some cello sections that had to be recorded by live musicians.
Good American-Style Composing
In terms of style, Thomas Bergersen does a great job composing this suite with a distinctly “American” style, which is somewhat different from many of his other albums. I caught fragments that sounded very much like Copeland, Gershwin, and even themes that were quite reminiscent of American folk music. Interestingly, the “Ballroom” track has horn overtures that resemble motifs from the dance movement of Mahler’s early symphonies.
One item of note: this album is set up for continuous play, so the music doesn’t finish at the end of a track but instead transitions directly into the next piece. Some listeners might not like this, but I actually appreciated the long play for background music at work. Apparently, the orchestra had to record the entire 45-ish minutes of the entire suite. There’s even a full-length track at the beginning of the album that you can use to listen to the whole album in a single track.