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Air 6 "Modal Twist" [2000]


John Pitts

Year of composition





Moderate (Grades 4-6)


5 minutes


Solo instruments


Modern classical music

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Air VI is the fourth in a series of 8 pieces written between 2000 and 2001 exploring the idea of twisting harmonic relationships. My first experiment was to rewrite a Bach prelude swapping all of the chord implications with new ones - it sounded wonky, but kept its shape. The idea arose from a desire to imitate some of the qualities in much of Bach�s music that are so appealing - joy, singularity of focus, purity of emotion. The aim was to develop a language that seeks to reproduce the harmonic pulls of classical cadences while avoiding chords IV and V. The eight pieces use a bizarre circle of not-fifths, each of the 12 keys having a unique combination of unrelated chords and its own peculiar scale. Air VI is in C, and goes through the keys of F# (the acting sub-dominant) and A (the acting dominant). It lasts approximately 4 minutes, exploring each register of the piano, in an almost rhapsodic manner, sounding freely-composed, although of course it is actually very carefully written!!!

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