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Fugue in D minor

I've been writing a lot of fugues recently. A very challenging and fun form to write in!

If anyone else has experimented in this area, feel free to post some of your fugues, or favorite fugues from other composers here. Fugue Thread in general.

A whole bunch of my recent fugues on my soundcloud:

Soundcloud

I've attached the first page of my Fugue in C minor (organ), I started writing it out just to see the score, but ran into trouble when I started trying to put sextuplets against quavers in sibelius. Note that many of my fugues aren't actually playable, and would need some transposition or re-arrangement. I really need to start writing with a player in mind, as there isn't much point having fugues that only exist in a recording.

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Yeah I totally agree, live performers should be the end result. These have just been a purely musical excercise, with no thought to performers! Definitely need to write a few that are playable!

Bob Porter said:

We listen to so many recordings. They're the same every time. No new life. No zing. I like recordings, but I prefer live music

What I liked about this particular fugue is that it sounded interesting.  It started out sounding like a standard or normal fugue from the baroque era to me.  But after a short while, something happened that felt like a stretching.  I can't describe it technically very well.  Maybe you can explain what gives it that sound.  But I noticed on your soundcloud page you had baroque and contemporary as your interests and neo-baroque.  So it might be natural for you to produce modern fugues which don't quite fit the standard definition.  Perhaps you could explain beyond "sextuplets against quavers in sibelius," what you might be doing.  I would be interested.  It's partly because I am doing something like neo-baroque music which seems to change into something else, when I start to elaborate the piece.   You can hear the Prelude I posted a while back.  I wonder what your reaction might be.

Hi Serenity, there is definitely a "stretching" of the fugal form going on here. I start with a fairly strict fugue exposition, and then let things go wild and just try to have a lot of fun with the imitation, and let the subject run amok. I write mostly by ear, but often with fugues you have to modulate back to the original key for the entrance of the 3rd voice, so I find myself having to actually use pivot chords and very carefully modulate back to the original key. This sometimes can sound unusual, as the modulation is often a bit forced (something I try improve each time).

I love contemporary music, especially polystylism like Schnittke and early Arvo Part, so that kind of harmony often creeps into my works, I try to write quite freely, but still pay careful attention to independence of parts, and to make sure that voices dont cross paths, and of course try to avoid parallel 5th and octaves. These are definitely "modern" fugues, written in my own style, and only the expositions are treated strictly (and even then not all the time).

Hope that explains a bit!

Serenity Laine said:

What I liked about this particular fugue is that it sounded interesting.  It started out sounding like a standard or normal fugue from the baroque era to me.  But after a short while, something happened that felt like a stretching.  I can't describe it technically very well.  Maybe you can explain what gives it that sound.  But I noticed on your soundcloud page you had baroque and contemporary as your interests and neo-baroque.  So it might be natural for you to produce modern fugues which don't quite fit the standard definition.  Perhaps you could explain beyond "sextuplets against quavers in sibelius," what you might be doing.  I would be interested.  It's partly because I am doing something like neo-baroque music which seems to change into something else, when I start to elaborate the piece.   You can hear the Prelude I posted a while back.  I wonder what your reaction might be.

Thank you Tom, that's a marvelous explanation.  I have heard some Schnittke chamber works, and a few orchestral pieces, so your reference to him helps me understand.   I know Arvo Part is very famous now and frequently played, though I confess I really haven't carefully examined his work carefully, just heard bits.  You encourage me to learn more about him. 

I like what you said about modulating, using pivot chords,  and going back to the orginal key.  I can hear that.  I don't mind it sounding "unusual," that's what I like actually.  And to my ear, this one did not sound "forced" in the way it was resolved, the Fugue in D Minor.  I also liked that melody.  How did you come up with that?  It's very good.

 

Thanks for your reply to my question.

I usually improvise on a keyboard in order to come up with the subjects. Many of them just appear in my mind too. Sometimes I sit down and just try to imagine a melody, and one comes. Sometimes they are good, and work well for a fugue, sometimes not! The interesting thing about writing fugues is the subject has to be a "complete" phrase that holds all the material to generate the piece, it should also outline harmonic progression.

Some of Arvo Part's early works are very interesting, especially his collage uber B-A-C-H:

Sarabande

A very interesting mix of baroque applied chords / tonicization and modern dissonance!

Schnittke's concerto for piano and strings is another of my favorites:

Concerto for Piano and Strings

I love the "destroyed" major cadences. Not many composers have the confidence to do that kind of thing!

Best of luck with your writing, I did listen to your Prelude, its very busy! have you ever tried to play it? There is a lot of quite unnatural leaping motion that I think might be difficult for a pianist. How long have you been writing for? do you study music or work in the industry?

Serenity Laine said:

I also liked that melody.  How did you come up with that?  It's very good

Here's my attempt at fugue, written last year: Fugue in A minor.

It's my first substantial attempt at fugue writing, and I couldn't resist the temptation to stretch the conventions a little, so it doesn't really fit into the strict mold of fugue. In fact, the way I envisioned it wasn't so much a fugue as some kind of hybrid between a canon and a fugue.  So it would disqualify as a "real" fugue, but nevertheless I quite like it myself, warts and all. I especially like the "total inversion" passage in the middle, where all 4 voices are playing an (almost) exact inversion of the opening theme. I freely admit my inexperience at quartet writing in general, so there are too many crossing voices and the fugue theme doesn't stand out quite enough, but it was a fun exercise and IMO the piece itself is enjoyable to listen to, fugue or not. At least, I listen to it a lot myself! Hopefully others would like it too, in spite of its shortcomings.

Hey Tom,

I listened to your c minor fugue.  I love the opening theme/subject.. Very nice modulations, and well balanced with the voicings.  It seems that at the 2 minute  mark, another subject comes in and finishes the piece.. I was thinking there might be a culmination of the first subject with the second subject - .  Although i liked the second part, it had a more 'prelude' quality, having me wonder about your thoughts on this.

HS - I liked your fugue, and left my comments on your thread :)

Here is one i did a while back.  C minor, 4 voices… Part of my  attempt was to expand the traditional harmonic palette - as organically/naturally as i could, while trying to modulate quite far.. In the middle, the fugue subject and it's inversion play simultaneously, while in b minor.. There are perhaps 4 stretto passages… (which i love trying to figure..)

https://soundcloud.com/gregoriox88/fugue-in-c-minor-17-rendered-by-...

 

Very nice work Gregorio, a very evenly tempered fugue, I love when there's plenty of space to soak up all the harmony and different lines going on. Nice work. Bach would be proud. I try to aim for that "neutral" feel as well, although the piece I posted in the OP is more of a furioso fugue.

As for the C minor fugue, its one of my favorites, and often I will introduce a second or third subject in my fugues. Not too sure why, it just seems to be how it happens. Usually the second or third subjects are somehow related to the opening subject.

Thank you very much Tom!  I feel honored to be mentioned in context with Bach.. His work perhaps occupies the most special place in my heart.. :)  I am glad you enjoyed it.

Curious… I thought to see if that second subject was related to the first… either at half speed, or inverted, or retrograde… I couldn't hear if it was…  Of course, i understand that no explanation is needed … Sometimes i am not exactly sure why i make decisions  :)

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