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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:

https://soundcloud.com/psllbof

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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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.

Interesting! I would love to hear some of them. I'm always keen to see what people do with the form, especially once tonality goes out the window!

What I would like to do with this fugue is expand each section into a 2-3 minute fugue, would make a collection of 3 fugues on a subject.

Good idea, the retrograde is the slow reflective mvt. I decided to write mine (50 mins so far) to explore the forms flexibility and it is proving very fertile and it's showcasing of motivic development is something I hold very dear. My idea is that within each prelude, is the seed for the fugue subject.

I posted no2 of mine here a while back, you can find it here...http://composersforum.ning.com/forum/topics/prelude-and-fugue-no-2-...

This is an a2 fugue, the rest are a3's and 4. and explore every facet of contrapuntal technique. I posted this one as it is still in the main tonal (at least to my ears), as to the rest, I'll post them when I get myself a reinforced hard hat to deflect the tirades.

@Mike: I remember you posted one of your preludes + fugues from your set. I haven't seen any of the others, though.  Even though I'm not personally into atonal music, your work nonetheless intrigues me, and I'm curious to see what else you've done in the set -- if you don't mind posting (some of) them.

@Tom: yes, I also feel your subject and its alter egos definitely have the potential to be expanded into full-fledged fugues in their own right.  Well, if it were up to me, I would be less ambitious and try to incorporate them into just part of the same fugue, since I still feel somewhat shaky in my grasp of fugue writing, but if you could do a set of 3, that would be even better!

Hi Tom.  I like the subject, and i am thinking as a triptych - each section is too short.. I didn't notice any sequential development as a contrast to exposition - which each section could employ.

I would think all sections could be overlapped into one  piece and have parts of inversion  for example interacting with the subject.. I noticed that in the retrograde section the previous rhythmic downbeats are now the last 16th of the measure… I feel this makes the rhythm a bit strange.. i am wondering if rhythm retrograde could be modified slightly.

Thanks for posting. I really like this, and hope you go further into it!

@HS

Thank you for the interest...ok maybe I'll post a couple more in a while. I'll say again, perhaps we should make a sticky fugue thread to protect us from the onslaughts - if a member enters the thread, they do so at their own risk...

I've heard it said that fugue is not a form, but a procedure. That's the blessing and curse of fugues, because it's up to the composer to make an enjoyable piece out of the procedure. This fugue has some delightful parts, but overall is less than satisfying because it's not a complete piece. I hope you make the effort to take these parts and make something more substantial of them.

I had a challenge along those same lines. I just uploaded onto my page my piece called Crazy Fugue'n Piece. The subject is best described as stretched tonality, which is kinda anathema to the concept of fugue. My first attempt was almost atonal and frankly didn't work because it didn't have dramatic topology. It took 5 or 6 attempts before I got something that really worked. The Paris terrorist attack (11/13/15) happened while I was in the midst of composing the piece and so I included a l'istesso tempo section to commemorate my feelings about the event.

Hi Steve,
Nice to have a new voice here.
I have to disagree about your statement about "stretched tonality" being anathema to fugue. There are many examples by masters who have succesfully composed fugue in atonal style, one thinks of Hindemiths' Ludus Tonalis, Messiaens fugue in the Vingt Regard and Bartoks' many examples.
Fugue is a state of mind as much as anything and in my view its flexibility in form and technique lends itself very well to 20th c harmonic innovation.
As it happens I am currently embarked on 12 preludes and fugues in the very styles you have struggled with and am finding the whole process extremely liberating, especially whem focusing on one of fugues main strengths, that of motivic development. I have promised to post them soon and look forward to our banter.
.

Hi Steve, as you've probably noticed, I'm working on a book... Bach for Dummies  lol

Would you equate your statement 'because it's up to the composer.....'

to what Chopin did with the Etude?   just casually curious    thanks,   RS
 
Steve Chandler said:

I've heard it said that fugue is not a form, but a procedure. That's the blessing and curse of fugues, because it's up to the composer to make an enjoyable piece out of the procedure. This fugue has some delightful parts, but overall is less than satisfying because it's not a complete piece. I hope you make the effort to take these parts and make something more substantial of them.

I had a challenge along those same lines. I just uploaded onto my page my piece called Crazy Fugue'n Piece. The subject is best described as stretched tonality, which is kinda anathema to the concept of fugue. My first attempt was almost atonal and frankly didn't work because it didn't have dramatic topology. It took 5 or 6 attempts before I got something that really worked. The Paris terrorist attack (11/13/15) happened while I was in the midst of composing the piece and so I included a l'istesso tempo section to commemorate my feelings about the event.

Chopin did write one fugue.. His etudes are not just mere studies of technique development, which they methodically are, but also passionate music. Fugues can be quite flat as well,  unless the composer can breathe music into them. 

Hi Mike,

I guess you didn't listen to my Crazy Fugue, I may have struggled in writing it, but I was trying to craft a piece with a dramatic arc. My statement about atonality being anathema to fugue was with regard to the traditional procedure (tonic and dominant subject entries).I am aware of many modern style fugues, but they do tend to get away the commonly known concept of the form. Ives even wrote a fugue in 4 keys.

As for Roger's comment, Chopin's etudes took that concept farther than anyone prior. Bach did the same with fugues, in a sense he reinvented it to what we know today. Prior to Bach (and in fact also in early Bach) preludes and fugues weren't separate pieces, rather separate fugues on separate (but perhaps related) subjects were interspersed with prelude material. BWV 551 is an example.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EJ9Oj6wIwVo

Mike Hewer said:

Hi Steve,
Nice to have a new voice here.
I have to disagree about your statement about "stretched tonality" being anathema to fugue. There are many examples by masters who have succesfully composed fugue in atonal style, one thinks of Hindemiths' Ludus Tonalis, Messiaens fugue in the Vingt Regard and Bartoks' many examples.
Fugue is a state of mind as much as anything and in my view its flexibility in form and technique lends itself very well to 20th c harmonic innovation.
As it happens I am currently embarked on 12 preludes and fugues in the very styles you have struggled with and am finding the whole process extremely liberating, especially whem focusing on one of fugues main strengths, that of motivic development. I have promised to post them soon and look forward to our banter.
.

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