Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Townsend: Suite No. 1, Air

The third movement of the Suite No. 1 was actually the first written. It was the beginning of my attempt to re-invent harmony. I was quite fascinated with the Neapolitan sixth at the time as you will hear. In D major, the Neapolitan harmony is a chord of E flat, G and B flat. In traditional harmony it precedes the dominant, but I used it more freely here.

An air is a light melody. As Wikipedia informs us,
Lute ayres emerged in the court of Elizabeth I of England toward the end of the 16th century and enjoyed considerable popularity until the 1620s. Probably based on Italian monody and Frenchair de cour, they were solo songs, occasionally with more (usually three) parts, accompanied on a lute. Their popularity began with the publication of John Dowland's (1563-1626) First Booke of Songs or Ayres (1597). His most famous ayres include Come again, Flow my tears, I saw my Lady weepe, and In darkness let me dwell.
 But look for no Dowland influence in this air. It is just a charming tune. But I was fascinated with sudden harmonic shifts at the time so there is a lot of that.

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