Posts Tagged ‘Italian’

Air from Orchestral Suite No. 3 in D Major is Perfect for a Wedding Prelude Selection

J.S. Bach Air on a G String

Air from Orchestral Suite No. 3 in D. Major, Commonly referred to as Air on a G String, makes a great wedding prelude selection.


If you are looking to create a sophisticated wedding or special event there is no better way than by treating your guests to the music of Johann Sebastian Bach. Bach is currently attributed to writing at least 1,127 works in his lifetime. Many of these melodies are even recognized by audiences that are not very familiar with classical music. One such tune is the Air from Orchestral Suite No. 3 in D. Major.

Bach’s Air was written sometime between 1717-1723 while he worked as Prince Leopold of Anhalt-Köthen’s Kapellmeister. It is interesting to note that Bach’s new position in the Prince’s court did not come easily. When his previous employer Duke William Ernest of Saxe-Weimar learned of J.S. Bach’s intention of accepting the Kapellmeister position, Bach was imprisoned for not following correct procedures in requesting release from his post.

The years that Bach spent working for Prince Leopold were clearly some of his most prolific and innovative. Aside from the famous Air from Orchestral Suite No. 3, Bach also wrote perhaps his most popular works the six Brandenburg Concertos while in the service of the Prince. This is perhaps because the Prince’s Court position allowed Bach creative latitude, which varied greatly from the stringent requirements of church. The fact that Prince Leopold was a violinist himself and an appreciative patron of the arts also certainly contributed to the innovative work that J.S. Bach produced during this part of his career.

The Air from Orchestral Suite No. 3 is often referred to as Air on the G String due to an arrangement for Violin and piano composed in 1871 by the German violinist August Wilhelmj. Wilhelmj transposed the original key of the piece from D Major to C Major and also dropped the pitch down one octave so that it could be performed entirely on the G String of a violin.

This arrangement of the Air is very fitting for prelude music in wedding ceremonies because it is traditionally performed by a duet of piano and violin, which is suitable for almost any sized hall or wedding venue. The melody itself is also very appropriate for a wedding setting due to its slow and graceful tempo and haunting counterpoint. The soulful melodic interplay between the violin and piano creates a great deal of musical tension. This is especially prevalent between the walking bass line of the piano part and the slow sweeping melody maintained by the violin.

For those familiar with the intricacies of early music it is interesting to note the similarities between the counterpoint of this Baroque era work and the rhythmic polyphonies of Italian Renaissance music. No doubt this stems from Bach’s studies of the Italian Masters such as Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina, pushing his innovations to new musical heights.

So there is no need to endlessly ponder what music should be performed during your wedding or special event in New York’s Hudson Valley. A great and appropriate choice is Air from Orchestral Suite No. 3 in D. Major, or in other words, Air on a G String.

Turkeylony From William Ballet’s Lute Book

Facsimile of Light o’ Love from William Ballet’s Lute Book. This song was mentioned in William Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing. Modern musicians will appreciate the number of lines per staff and the lack of time signature. Sheet music or pricksong for Lute was comparable to modern guitar tablature where each line represented a string of the instrument.

Facsimile of Light o’ Love from William Ballet’s Lute Book. This song was mentioned in William Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing. Modern musicians will appreciate the number of lines per staff and the lack of time signature. Sheet music or pricksong for Lute was comparable to modern guitar tablature where each line represented a string of the instrument.

Turkeylony, sometimes spelled Turkeyloney was a popular dance from the renaissance era of King James I and Queen Elizabeth I.  There is no certainty where the name originated. It has been surmised that the word Turkeylony is derived from the Italian Tordiglione.  A Tordiglione was a type of Italian Galliard which is a dance that utilizes five steps to a measure .
In England, the Turkeylony was originally a country dance. However, as with many popular country dances it made its way into aristocratic circles as a court dance where it most likely earned its name.
There are at least two known songs from the English Renaissance entitled Turkeylony.  One of the versions is also known as The God of Love. However, the rendition of Turkeylony presented here was originally transcribed from William Ballet’s Lute Book. Ballet’s original manuscript resides in Trinity College in Dublin. William Chappell transcribed the tune in 1859 in his work Popular Music of the Olden Time. Vol. 1.

The following recording of Turkeylony uses an arrangement of Violin, Viola and Piano. In William Ballet’s time this would have been considered a mixed, or broken consort because there were more than one instrument families performing the song.

It is believed that although William Ballet started the book, there was more than one author.  This is because there are different hand writing styles and colored inks used throughout the manuscript. Ballet’s Lute book was most likely a student work used for the instruction of music theory and site reading.
William Chappell paired Ballet’s Turkeylony with the ballad If Ever I Marry, I’ll Marry a Maid.  This was clearly a rather crass song favored by young men. It is a ballad probably more suited to a bachelor’s party than a modern wedding ceremony. Still, reveler’s of today will certainly appreciate it’s comic approach toward picking one’s spouse. The following lyrics are from the broadside If Ever I Marry, I’ll Marry a Maid.

1

If ever I marry, I’ll marry a maid
To marry a widdow, I’m sore afraid
For maids they are simple and never will grudge
But widows full oft, as they say know to mutch.

2
A maid is so sweet, and so gentle of kind,
That a maid is the wife I will choose to my mind;
A widow if frowned and never will yield;
Of if such there be, you will meet them but seeld.

3
A maid ne’er complaineth, do what so you will;
But what you mean well, a widow takes ill:
A widow will make you a drudge and a slave,
And cost ne’er so much, she will ever go brave.

4
A maid is so modest, she seemeth a rose,
When first it beginneth the bud to unclose;
But a widow full blown, full often deceives,
And the next wind that bloweth shakes down all her leaves.

5
That widows be lovely I never gain say,
But too well all their beauty they know to display;
But a maid hath so great hidden beauty in store,
She can spare to a widow, yet never be poor.

6
Then, if ever I marry, give me a fresh maid,
If to marry with any I be not afraid;
But to marry with any it asketh much care,
And some bachelors hold they are best as they are.

For those interested in the performance of early music, I’ve included a PDF of this version of Turkeylony sheet music complete with the If Ever I Marry broadside. Simply Click Here to download it.