ALLAN D. RISTEEN.
AIR, in music (in Italian, aria), means a continuous melody in which some lyric subject or passion is expressed. The lyric melody of a single voice, accompanied by instruments, is its proper form of composition. The word also designates the entire composition in such ex pressions as °national air," °operatic air," etc. In the 16th and 17th centuries the word was used in England to denote a lively, cheerful strain. It is fast becoming obsolete as a technical term synonymous with aria. Many of the Italian airs of the present, together with too great a proportion of the popular music of the day, are destitute of meaning and character. The songwriters of Germany strive to con struct their airs in direct conformity to the of the words. Air is also the name often given to the upper or most prominent part in a concerted piece, and is thus equivalent to treble, soprano, etc. Arietta signifies a short, less elaborate air than aria, and is designed to express a more simple and transient emotion.
AIR, or ASBEN, French West Africa, an oasis of the desert of Sahara, called by Dr. Barth °the Switzerland of the desert and the frontierlaud of negrodom.° In the north, inhabited by the savage and treacherous Tuaregs, the mountain group of Gunge rises 5,000 feet above the level of the sea. On the south a desert plateau, rising 2,000 feet, the home of giraffes, ostriches, and wild oxen, di vides Air from the Sudan. Palm nuts, dates, figs, millet, senna and indigo are the chief products; camels, zebra, asses, cattle and goats are raised. The salt caravan trade to southern regions, and pilgrim caravans traveling to Mecca, are the means of commercial inter course, yielding in tribute much of the revenue of the reigning suzerain sultan whose capital is at Agades (pop. 50,000), and of his emir who governs at Tintellust (pop. 60,000). Ashen is the native designation of the region, which under the name of Air, was first described by Leo Africanus in 1526.