Listening Activity #16 - Air On A G String

March 18, 2018

Did you know that this famous piece, as we know it now, is the result of an arrangement by a man named August Wilhelmj? He transposed Bach's original so that the violin part can be played entirely guessed it... the G string. The original was written in the 1700's which puts it in the Baroque era of Western Classical music.

Some of the ideas of the Baroque tradition included the development of 'key' and functional harmony. We hear in this example how the piece settles on a particular key at certain points (1:36 for example) and changes through a series of chords, which was totally different to the Renaissance period. We also hear subtle changes in dynamics, another innovation of the period which was to be exaggerated and built upon in the Classical era.




  • Where was J.S.Bach from?

  • Which instrument is the man on the far right playing?

  • There are 5 women playing string instruments. How many violins are there? How many violas are there?

  • Which word best describes the tempo? Largo/Vivace/Moderato?

  • How does this piece make you feel?


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illustrations by Charity Russell

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