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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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Hi Lori.

 

That Kris is highly respected is one reason I’m flattered he considers me to be a friend in this community. I follow his blogs and posts - particularly when they concern our shared obsession: counterpoint. He is virtually a walking textbook on the subject – and self-effacing into the bargain.

 

Yes, I have listened; and enjoyed your piece very much. You’re a born composer, with – clearly – a strong instinct for contrapuntal texture. That said, the piece is certainly not a fugue by the accepted conventions of the term. I would describe it as a Baroque pastiche, or even, possibly, very early Rococo: it defies exact categorization. It’s almost Scarlatti-ish  in places (I don’t think that term is in the dictionary!).

 

Did I miss something, or is there no score accompanying this piece?. If you post the first few bars in score, I could – with your permission, of course – write a couple of fugal expositions based on your material, if you think this would help.

 

Best wishes, Nick

 


Lori Sweeney said:

Kris is a highly respected composer in this community.  So have you listened and??

Nick Capocci said:

Hi Lori. 

I've only just discovered this thread - a long and delightful one... like a fugue subject by Buxtehude! - (Bach's hero!)

 

I concur with one of your previous correspondents, Kris Emerig is the master on this topic.

 

So, I'm going to have a listen. :)

Lori Sweeney said:

Clearly I have not attended Harvard but I am pleased that you found my piece enjoyable.  I enjoy it.  I could care less if it's a fugue or not.  The fact that it's been debatable for this long makes it disectable and heard.  I should go to college and study music.  I know I have potential.  Thanks for your input. 

Sorry for butting in, but:

 

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.

 

Kris, I would be interested in your thoughts on late Beethoven. I’m thinking mainly of the piano sonatas and quartets. (Stricly speaking, off-topic, I realize. Apologies to Lori!)

 



Kristofer Emerig said:

No, I'll give you that one. It would be difficult to describe as even "fugal" in nature if the minimal condition of at least two distinguishable voices in contrapuntal opposition were not met. It might be worthwhile to mention that there is some very good counterpoint which is in no way fugal, but no fugue that I can recall that is not contrapuntal.
Michael Tauben said:

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.

Hey Nick, why don't you start a new thread on the late sonatas and quartets? I'll certainly read with interest and contribute if I can. For me, those works along with the Diabelli Variations are among the most if not the most profound musical works in the cannon. 

This present thread can remain on the topic of Lori's piece.

Nick Capocci said:

Sorry for butting in, but:

 

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.

 

Kris, I would be interested in your thoughts on late Beethoven. I’m thinking mainly of the piano sonatas and quartets. (Stricly speaking, off-topic, I realize. Apologies to Lori!)

 



Kristofer Emerig said:

No, I'll give you that one. It would be difficult to describe as even "fugal" in nature if the minimal condition of at least two distinguishable voices in contrapuntal opposition were not met. It might be worthwhile to mention that there is some very good counterpoint which is in no way fugal, but no fugue that I can recall that is not contrapuntal.
Michael Tauben said:

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.

Thanks Michael, and what a good idea. I totally concur with your take on those works. I'll get to work on it. As you intimated, it's off-topic for Lori's thread. 

Michael Tauben said:

Hey Nick, why don't you start a new thread on the late sonatas and quartets? I'll certainly read with interest and contribute if I can. For me, those works along with the Diabelli Variations are among the most if not the most profound musical works in the cannon. 

This present thread can remain on the topic of Lori's piece.

Nick Capocci said:

Sorry for butting in, but:

 

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.

 

Kris, I would be interested in your thoughts on late Beethoven. I’m thinking mainly of the piano sonatas and quartets. (Stricly speaking, off-topic, I realize. Apologies to Lori!)

 



Kristofer Emerig said:

No, I'll give you that one. It would be difficult to describe as even "fugal" in nature if the minimal condition of at least two distinguishable voices in contrapuntal opposition were not met. It might be worthwhile to mention that there is some very good counterpoint which is in no way fugal, but no fugue that I can recall that is not contrapuntal.
Michael Tauben said:

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.

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