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Greetings all, just a short triple fugue - 3 expositions - first is the subject in its original form, second is an inversion, 3rd is a retrograde. The subject is almost unrecognizable in retrograde - and was a real challenge to write counterpoint for!

Its the top-most piece here:

There was a recent thread about fugues where someone asked "why write a fugue?" My answer is because I want to, and I continue to want to write better fugues. Like Gregorio X said, they are addictive!

As for the audience for fugues: that is not really my concern. There are many people who enjoy fugues, perhaps many who don't know that they enjoy fugues, and the majority of people who don't even know what a fugue is. 90% of people that I tell I'm 'writing a fugue' will ask "What is a fugue?"

They do still have their place in modern composition, as much as some people would like them to die out, people still use them. There was a volume of organ fugues written and recorded in my country not too long ago, and Ferneyhough supposedly used a strict canon in one of his pieces (although that's not exactly a fugue...)

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Very nice!  It sounds reminiscient of a fugue you posted some time ago as having a subject remarkably similar to Bob's fugue: an early version of this triple fugue?

I like the interesting harmonies you put in the 2nd exposition, as a consequence of the inversion. That gave it an added level of interest.

You're right that the retrograde is almost unrecognizable! I think part of it was because of the tempo change. It might be (perhaps only slightly) more recognizable if played at the original tempo.

I kinda wished you had gone further than just writing the expositions, though. It sounded like you have enough material to develop into a full-length fugue.

As for fugue-phobia, my current theory is that it's not so much the fugues themselves, but it's the name "fugue" that scare people off.  They hear "fugue" and go "ooooh that's a scary big word that I've never heard of before! It must be one of those obscure academic pieces that nobody understands and nobody listens to!" and therefore even before they even hear the piece, they've already decided that they aren't going to like it.

It's just like some people hear the word "computer" and instantly they convince themselves that "this is complicated stuff! I don't think I can understand this stuff that these youngsters are pandering these days!" -- even before they actually sit down to use it.  But tell them "this is just a phone with smart features!" and they go "oh yeah, I know how to use a phone, so this can't be too hard!".  And bam, you have Apple's business model. :-D

My suspicion is that the fugue naysayers on this forum, if you were to present a fugue without actually calling it a fugue, would actually enjoy listening to it in spite of themselves, even if they don't understand what it actually is.  But call it a fugue and immediately even before they open the audio file they've already decided in their heads, "this is another one of those stupid fugue things that's no longer relevant to nobody these days".  It's all just perception.

HS, the fugue IS an academic piece of work. No doubt. And, it is perfectly logical

that people that listen to music might be 'intimidated' by the 'academic' side of it.

I know what you are saying about 'computers'. I have seen and talked to people

that have zero interest in making that 'leap'. Yet, the computer is just a modern day tool.

On the otherhand, a fugue is not something you can dance to, or would care to whistle.

I can't give you 'statistics, but I would bet that most listeners are casual listeners.

They aren't interested in the 'technical' merits of a work, they listen and respond to/by

their own level of appreciation and pleasure, not the composers.

The fugue is what it is... it will never be 'pop' art. If that makes me a naysayer, then so be it.   RS

The catch is that if said casual listener doesn't recognize a fugue for what it is, then they may actually enjoy it apart from any preconceived notion that academic = intimidating.

As for 'pop' art, I personally couldn't care less for 'pop', but I'd venture to say that it's probably possible to write a fugue in 'pop' style such that people (1) will enjoy it as 'pop', yet (2) not be "intimidated" by its fugal structure.  They may not appreciate its fugal aspects, but that doesn't mean they can't enjoy it as "music".

HS, agreed, packaging and 'marketing' is paramount.

Just show Kim Kardashian eating a bowl of busselsprouts,

but call them 'yummie balls' and the stores would sell out in minutes. lol  X 10  RS

roger stancill said:

a fugue is not something you can dance to, or would care to whistle.

I whistle fugue subjects all the time :) a lot of my subjects come from whistled or sung ideas. If I could whistle in 4 parts (or even 3) I would whistle Bach fugues all day!

roger stancill said:

The fugue is what it is... it will never be 'pop' art. If that makes me a naysayer, then so be it.   RS

I actually wrote a fugal bridge for a pop song once. I think the fugal form can be slotted into other forms pretty easily. People won't really notice what's going on, just that there's some imitation. Those who recognize a fugue will recognize it.

The ending of Paranoid Android by Radiohead is somewhat fugue-like

I think all composers should at have a go at writing fugues, even if just as an exercise. Gives you some good skills and its a real challenge!

Totally, Tom.  After having a few fugues under my belt, I can say my approach to musical composition has never been the same.  In fact, it has been revolutionized.  Those who have never written a fugue are missing out on a whole new landscape of musical possibilities! :-P

Hi Tom J. you wrote;

I think all composers should at have a go at writing fugues, even if just as an exercise. Gives you some good skills and its a real challenge!

No disagreement there, though I

see it more as an exercise and a personal challenge as oposed to a marketable intestment of time and


OK, so maybe, just maybe, a composer might whistle a fugue.. really?, I'd bet that's a rare event.

I totally agree with you that the 'exercise' is a challenge that might improve both skill and insight

for a composer. I think that it may just 'boil down' to... what your definition of a successful composer is

with regards to present day mentalities.

Hi Roger, my definition of a successful composer is someone who writes interesting and/or beautiful music. Popularity and "marketability" aren't a factor. In my opinion popularity seems to have an inverse relationship to quality, (although quality is somewhat subjective). The very popular composers in the these days like Hans Zimmer, Einaudi, Max Richter, are (again, in my opinion) of much lower quality than composers like Bach or Palestrina, who seem to be almost unheard of outside the classical world (although people will still recognize Bach pieces like his cello suites, they just won't know his name)

Marketing is the realm of popular music and I don't think it's worth mentioning in a music discussion forum. Pretty much anything can be made popular with enough money thrown into it and enough exposure, and a nice music video :)

Hi Tom,
That's a nice piece of writing and I really enjoyed it. I personally didn't like being led so obviously into each section, but so what eh?
I do feel as though it needs a final section to round it off, you know the usual final statement with more and closer stretto or some such thing- it just didn't feel finished. Whatever critique I have about it is irrelevant really, a great piece with a subject that could be treated in so many ways. In my opinion I think you chose well.
Thanks Mike, I also feel like its more of a draft than a finished fugue. It seems after every fugue I write I say "ok, now I want to write a really GOOD one..."
I think I need to work on my harmony a bit more, often too static. Time for some chord and sequence exercises I think :)

I didn't feel as though your fugue stood still harmonically, but it's always good to push a bit more if you feel you need to. I hope you consider a final section because there is so much impetus in the theme and CS - it'd make a very exciting end.

I am in the process of writing 12 preludes and fugues for piano. I've done 8 so far and am pushing into atonal fields - to paraphrase Dorothy, I don't think I'm in Kansas anymore.

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