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It was suggested that I post my new piece here as opposed to my blog. I had challenged myself to write a Fugue but I'm not entirely sure if I've done it properly. Any input?

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Wow!  Thank you for your input everyone, but this is a very old piece that I really like and while I have no intentions of changing it, I suppose I could retitle it.  I've not attempted a "fugue" since, but with all this great advice, I may just do that.  I've not been around this site for awhile.  I should stop in more often.

It's not a fugue. If you want to compare with Bach's Wohltemperierte, I would say this could be a prelude. So now you could write a fugue to go along with it.

There's no reason to call a composition a fugue, if it's not based on voices and counterpoint and it's not following the dux-comes dialog of the voices.

Well Lori, it looks like you have received mixed opinions about whether or not it is a Fugue! I've put in my two cents... I personally do think it's a fugue and I still hold to my argument above... but as you have mentioned, it's been almost two years since you wrote it! Regardless, it is certainly a good composition :) Good job! I have also very much enjoyed reading everyone's ideas about it. Thank you, all.
Cool composition.

This is definitely not a standard fugue or a bach's fugue (Subject, countersubject, episodes, etc)
I think the closest would be an invention (2 part) with accompaniment

You are exactly right. A fugue is really more of a process than a form. A fugue is about what happens to the musical material, not how it is laid out in structure. Though because inevitably structure is married to process you do end up with different examples of the structural form of a fugue. Lori's fugue does follow a pretty common example of those structural forms. Her's is in fact ||: Exposition :|| Episode 1--Statement 1--Episode 2--Statement 2--Episode 3--Statement 3--Long coda. So that's why I say YES this is certainly a fugue. But, as you asked Kris, is it fugual? Yes but... it could be more so if there was a more distinct counter subject to accompany the theme throughout and to put into the developing machine that ensues during the episodes, and if perhaps the theme developed a little more motifically during the episodes. Those would be my two suggestions to begin with for future reference. 

 

I will check out Pachabel's Magnificats. It would be nice to get to know a piece by him that is not the Cannon.


Kristofer Emerig said:

I believe the initial question might have been "is this relatively fugal"?

 

 Fugue is, rather than a formal,sectional concept, a set of

techinques for organic subject development through tranformative and replicative means,

potentially flowering into myriad forms too diverse to define or predict meaningfully. It

is, from my perspective, a study of isometries in sound.

 

 

 

I really don't get this structure point of view. I mean that the structure would be the key to whether we have a fugue or not. You can study all fugues in Wohltemperierte 1 & 2 and Die Kunst der Fuge and you won't find anything alike this composition of Lori's. Just pick any baroque fugue. They are all strictly polyphonic. You can always count the number of voices. And you can pick a fugue of Brahms as well.

In Wohltemperierte the structure of the fugues is there, I give you that. But the development from one section to another deals with the contrapuntal ideas. In the first section the theme and counter theme is usually exposed in each voice. In next sections the theme goes through the voices in stretto, augmented, inverted, sometimes a second theme is introduced. Each section usually deals with one idea. And these ideas are contrapuntal. No rhythmic chord accompaniment. Everything is in the polyphonic voices.

Then we have something called Fugato. A Fugato is like the first section of a fugue, inserted in a larger composition. Like the trancit section in Mozart's Jupiter symphony, 4th movement. It's all there that a fugue needs. A single voice starts, next voice comes in in the dominant key, third voice in the tonic and so on. In Händel's Messiah there are lots of fugato like sections for the choir, some of which have an accompanying orchestra. And I guess the last Amen part from Messiah could be called a complete fugue. Despite the massive homophonic sounding choir and orchestra tutti near the end the whole Amen part is still about the fugal polyphonic voices. Baroque, classic, romantic, makes no difference. The fugue is about polyphonic voices.

That said, I do like Lori's composition. Some small oddities pop up there but I prefer to think they are intentional.

I'm not sure if I'm sorry I started this discussion or not.  All of you are clearly educated composers.  I only write music because I can and I enjoy it.  I am a self taught pianist with very few lessons throughout highschool.  I learned to read music when I was taught violin at age 10.  My goal was to write a fugue and whether I did or did not, I like my end result.  I'm thinking I may stick to writing what I think sounds good, instead of trying to structure my creativity into something it isn't, or more, something I don't fully understand.  Thanks again for the input everyone and I appreciate that some of you liked my piece.

Spot on Johan. At last the voice of reason.


Johan Halmén said:

I really don't get this structure point of view. I mean that the structure would be the key to whether we have a fugue or not. You can study all fugues in Wohltemperierte 1 & 2 and Die Kunst der Fuge and you won't find anything alike this composition of Lori's. Just pick any baroque fugue. They are all strictly polyphonic. You can always count the number of voices. And you can pick a fugue of Brahms as well.

In Wohltemperierte the structure of the fugues is there, I give you that. But the development from one section to another deals with the contrapuntal ideas. In the first section the theme and counter theme is usually exposed in each voice. In next sections the theme goes through the voices in stretto, augmented, inverted, sometimes a second theme is introduced. Each section usually deals with one idea. And these ideas are contrapuntal. No rhythmic chord accompaniment. Everything is in the polyphonic voices.

Then we have something called Fugato. A Fugato is like the first section of a fugue, inserted in a larger composition. Like the trancit section in Mozart's Jupiter symphony, 4th movement. It's all there that a fugue needs. A single voice starts, next voice comes in in the dominant key, third voice in the tonic and so on. In Händel's Messiah there are lots of fugato like sections for the choir, some of which have an accompanying orchestra. And I guess the last Amen part from Messiah could be called a complete fugue. Despite the massive homophonic sounding choir and orchestra tutti near the end the whole Amen part is still about the fugal polyphonic voices. Baroque, classic, romantic, makes no difference. The fugue is about polyphonic voices.

That said, I do like Lori's composition. Some small oddities pop up there but I prefer to think they are intentional.

In the end, I think that the fact that you like your composition is what it ultimately comes down to. It is very enjoyable and I congratulate you. 

Lori Sweeney said:
  My goal was to write a fugue and whether I did or did not, I like my end result.  


The bit of your statement that I've made bold could apply and does apply to many works does it not?  For example, any of Debussy's preludes.

Isn't  the essence of sonata form in general also more a way approaching the musical material than a strict structure or 'mould'? Isn't form and content inseparable in all good works? 

Fugue is a very particular arrangement of interacting independent voices. You can recognise a fugue by it's trademark treatment of it's material.

Oh, and by the way the Quantum mechanical view of it would be , I suppose : 'It is both a fugue and a non-fugue until I hear it. LOL.

 
Kristofer Emerig said:

You've hit on a crucial point, Jonathan, one which has given rise to the hotly debated question,"is fugue a form, or a texture"? My answer to that question is that it is precisely neither and both, simultaneously. The product of the fugal process, ideally, is a musical object in which content and form are inextricably woven, ie, wherein form is a direct consequence of the shape and character of the subject material.

I'd liken the differences between organic (fugal) development and sectional, formal constructs to those which distinguish relativistic physics and Newtonian physics. In the Newtonian system, we are given objects, mass and energy, which interact on or within the space-time continuum. There is very much a pristine distinction between "stuff", and the space it occupies. Sectional form is a bit like this, with ideas being packaged within predictable spaces. Relativistic thinking shattered this object-spacial perspective by imagining the space-time continuum not merely as pristine container, but an interactive object itself. Fugue is similar to me in this respect; Subject material, rather than merely being imbedded within a formal container, actually engenders the "space" -metre, texture, phrasing through the force of its own propensities.

 

The fugal process weds content and container in an endlessly recursive circle. It's no wonder the discipline has captured the attention of mathematicians throughout history.

Perhaps your way of thinking about the nature of fugue is justifiable but can you point to any examples from the Baroque to the present where a piece is either entitled fugue or generally accepted as being a fugue or even a fugato and which doesn't contain at least two independent voices treated contrapuntally?


Kristofer Emerig said:

Agreed, which is why I made a point to characterize fugal, organic, sectional, etc as vanishing points, rather than exact locations. All conceptual things are a continuum, but sometimes we must momentarily pretend that they are discreet and delineated in order to discuss them; it's the semantic paradox.

 

I certainly agree that all real musical objects are to some relative degree organic and to some sectional.

 

I do, however, strongly disagree with your third paragraph. It's the very antithesis of my view of what the discipline of fugue is about, but I won't reiterate what I've said above. Certainly a quasi-formal, somewhat cliche "fugue" evolved by the close of the Baroque, but the entire discipline, with all of it's possibilities, need not be shoehorned into that narrow paradigm.

 

The physics analogy was just me getting carried away.

Michael Tauben said:


The bit of your statement that I've made bold could apply and does apply to many works does it not?  For example, any of Debussy's preludes.

Isn't  the essence of sonata form in general also more a way approaching the musical material than a strict structure or 'mould'? Isn't form and content inseparable in all good works? 

Fugue is a very particular arrangement of interacting independent voices. You can recognise a fugue by it's trademark treatment of it's material.

Oh, and by the way the Quantum mechanical view of it would be , I suppose : 'It is both a fugue and a non-fugue until I hear it. LOL.

 
Kristofer Emerig said:

You've hit on a crucial point, Jonathan, one which has given rise to the hotly debated question,"is fugue a form, or a texture"? My answer to that question is that it is precisely neither and both, simultaneously. The product of the fugal process, ideally, is a musical object in which content and form are inextricably woven, ie, wherein form is a direct consequence of the shape and character of the subject material.

I'd liken the differences between organic (fugal) development and sectional, formal constructs to those which distinguish relativistic physics and Newtonian physics. In the Newtonian system, we are given objects, mass and energy, which interact on or within the space-time continuum. There is very much a pristine distinction between "stuff", and the space it occupies. Sectional form is a bit like this, with ideas being packaged within predictable spaces. Relativistic thinking shattered this object-spacial perspective by imagining the space-time continuum not merely as pristine container, but an interactive object itself. Fugue is similar to me in this respect; Subject material, rather than merely being imbedded within a formal container, actually engenders the "space" -metre, texture, phrasing through the force of its own propensities.

 

The fugal process weds content and container in an endlessly recursive circle. It's no wonder the discipline has captured the attention of mathematicians throughout history.

Would anyone please define fugue so this argument ends?


Is fugue a musical form? is fugue a thinking process regardless of its results?

Is everybody talking about the same concept here?


 


By the way here's my version of a 4 voice fugue with accompaniment.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s3IgDNhcCBg

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