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Binary Form
Each of the movements including Air is in
binary form which is the most common
structure for Baroque dances.
These consist of two repeated sections, the
first generally modulates to the dominant (if
the key is major) while the second section is
longer and visits other related keys before
returning to the tonic.
Although the two sections are represented as A
and B, they are based on the same thematic
material, maintaining the Baroque principle of
single affekt (mood) throughout the
movement.…read more

Slide 3

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Air
This isn't a dance, although it shares the
structure of binary form like in Baroque
dances. Air simply means lyrical melody and
Bach often introduced a contrasting movement
of this sort among his dance suites.
The melody seems to be able to unfold without
end, only coming to a rest at bar 6 for a
moment. The forward movement that is
portrayed comes from the walking bass,
especially during the long opening note.
The bass steadily makes it way towards the
cadences and even drives the music back to the
beginning with its only difference in bar 6
where semiquavers replace quavers.…read more

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Air ­ Instrumentation and
Devices
All instruments play rubato to give the lyrical
sounding melody with rhythmical freedom in
musical performance.
Strings play lots of vibrato giving the throbbing
effect which is made by rapidly varying the pitch.
Basso continuo spreads the chords, (realising the
bass) continuous quavers in octaves.
Lots of sequences descending and ascending so to
build the tension making full use of strings.
Harmonies based on 2-bar phrases throughout.
Melody highly decorated with suspensions,
ornaments, accented passing notes and written
out appoggiaturas(E in 4th beat of bar 3).…read more

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Example Key Changes and
Devices
Bar 3 ­ D# and C naturals aren't just chromatic as
they briefly turn the music towards E minor in bar
4. This E minor chord is a pivot chord and chord II
of the tonic.
Bars 5-6 include the first main modulation to the
dominant key of A major.
Some suspensions in the melodic line, first F#
becomes a suspension in bar 2¹, but resolution to E
is delayed by semiquavers on B and G as well as an
appoggiatura on F#, this is called the `decorated
resolution' of the suspension.
Bar 7 starts in A but the G natural in bass on 2nd
beat immediately counters this, while bar 8
contains another passing reference to E minor.…read more

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Examples continued...
Bar 9-10 B minor (relative), bars 11-12 return
to dominant but another G natural in bar 12
turns chord A into dominant 7th (3rd inversion)
of the tonic.
Bars 13-14 there's a rising sequence (Vb/I in G,
Vb/I in A, Vb/I in Bm) over chromatically
ascending bass which increases the tension
and counters mainly downward movement
heard so far.
Bars 15-18 there's a passing reference to
subdominant key (G) which is a typical
Bachian harmonic move just before final
cadence in tonic key.…read more

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