The Air, Turning

Edmund Finnis (1984)

The Air, Turning 2016

3333 - 4331 - timp - 3 perc - strings
Duration 
9
Genre 
Commissioner 

The individual elements of this piece are predominantly very simple. Patterns of sound are made up of interwoven instrumental lines that variously rise or fall, remain fixed or form arcs. Blocks of sound colour approach and recede across a background haze of softly shimmering metallic percussion and ephemeral string harmonics. As these clear lines and planes are superimposed and overlapped they create variegated lattices of sound, accumulating and dispersing in waves, revolving and creating subtly shifting harmonies. Sounds are heard drifting into and over one another, gradually coalescing, circling and gathering into swirling currents.

The words of the title are lifted from a poem called “Finding the Keys” by the Scottish poet Robin Robertson. While composing this piece I was thinking about how we experience the medium of air: how vibrating air moves as sound across distance; how air is coloured by light, seen and seen through, breathed in and out; the sensation of it moving around us.

Edmund Finnis

Performances 
23.2.17 City Halls, Glasgow: BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra/Ilan Volkov
26.2.17 Usher Hall, Edinburgh: BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestr/Ilan Volkov
3
Flute
3rd doubling piccolo
3
Oboe
3
Clarinet
3rd doubling bass clarinet
3
Bassoon
3rd contrabassoon
4
Horn
3
Trumpet
3
Trombone
3rd bass trombone
1
Tuba
1
Timpani
3
Percussion
5 bell plates, suspended cymbal, crotales (plus doubt bass bow), tam-tam, vibraphone (plus double bass bow), medium nipple gong
(Esc)