Fugue in G major

Here's another recent work of mine, a lighthearted contrast to the brooding fugue in E minor, this one is full of relentless energy and fun. Perhaps a little too relentless, I've been told.  Pacing is one area I need to work on, in future works. :-D

In any case, this one is much more Bach-like than some of my other fugues, though it does have its decidedly non-Bach moments. Enjoy, and let me know what you think, good or bad.

Score: [fugue14.pdf]

Midi playback: [fugue14.mp3]

Bonus organ rendition (request by Dave D): [fugue14-organ.mp3]

Update 2023-11-13: I hired Ukrainian pianist Polina Chorna to perform this fugue, and was pleasantly surprised at how gentle it turned out:

Polina's interpretation: fugue14-polina.mp3

What do y'all think? It doesn't quite have the relentless energy of the computer playback, but it's much more delicate and musical, IMO.

Update 2023-11-14: David Lilly asked about how I would have performed this piece differently from Polina, so here's a score with some dynamics marked according to how I'd have played it. (It is to be understood as one of many possible interpretations, though, not as the Official One-and-Only True Interpretation!):

Score with possible dynamics: fugue14-dynamics.pdf

Also by request, here's the MIDI (the computer-generated version): fugue14.midi

Update 2023-11-19: David Lilly wanted to make a DAW mock-up that, in his words, "meets that vision" that I had when I wrote it. We went through a few rounds of revisions with my feedback, and arrived at the following mock-up:

DAW mock-up: fugue14-lilly.mp3

Curious how this compares with Polina's rendering and the original MIDI mockup. What do y'all think?

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  • Hi, HS- The organ version will work in the hands of an organist who will provide the proper phrasing for that instrument. Just as Polina’s version brought out the music in this wonderful piece. Bravo to you and Polina. -Ray
    • Good to know! I'm not sure the music would fit the organ -- the way I conceive of it anyway -- but if somebody wanted to play it on the organ, I wouldn't be opposed. It would be interesting to hear how it sounds like in the hands of an organist who could bring out the music!
  • Teoh I really like Polina's interpretation, sounds great. Congrats!
  • Added DAW mockup and David Lilly and myself worked on. Curious what y'all think, how it compares to the other renderings.
    • Having listened to the four versions presented, more than once, Polina makes the most music. It’s the only version where phrasing from the fingers is evident. The Polina version also contains momentary and natural tempo variations, and very slight use of pause, which give that performance the human feel the three other versions lack.

      This has been an interesting thread for me to follow, having not worked with midi, getting to hear multiple treatments of a single score. —Ray
      • Hi Ray;
        That’s an interesting take! In regards to the aspects of what you think makes Polina’s performance more convincing; those are all built into the mock up version we worked on as well. The phrasing for each voice, the rubato, and timing deviations, all are in the midi; it’s a subjective matter, however I believe one could be lead to a case of confirmation bias. In my belief, both versions are in fact midi versions of the piece. It’s just a personal opinion of course, others I’m sure would disagree- there’s truly no way to tell, really, for certain. One must just use their ear, which we both have, and one draws their own interpretations.
        • I've been listening, many times, to both interpretations (Polina's recording and the DAW mockup David and I worked on). While the DAW version most closely reflects my intentions in terms of the dynamic arcs, I find Polina's version most human-sounding. It may not fully reflect how I envisioned the piece in my mind, but there's a certain kind of touch, a somewhat reserved feel, that reflects her personality, and I find that human element to be what imparts the most musicality into the performance.

          One could argue whether her performance truly qualifies as a "live" one, as it was done on an electronic instrument and she may have edited some notes after the fact (there were some misread accidentals caused by my somewhat difficult to read notation--she may have edited these in the midi rather than redo the entire take--it was not a part of our agreement that she had to do it in a single take). But nevertheless there's definitely a difference in terms of the musicality of the result. The DAW version was great, it was fun to work on and had the dynamic curves I wanted, but in spite of that there are some elements that impart a sense of artificiality (which unfortunately is quite subjective and therefore hard for me to quantify or pinpoint exactly).

          Whatever the case may be, I'm sure we can all agree that these two interpretations are much better than my original mechanical MIDI mockup. 😅
          • I prefer Polina's version myself, if anyone cares.
          • Absolutely, and that is what is very interesting about the entire thing and the two versions—the varying tastes and the undoubted subjective nature of the matter lend to no 'right' or 'wrong' version.

            To my ears, the Polina version presents itself as a mock-up as well, and I'm not hearing the human elements that you and others seem to hear in the recording. If you had presented it to me without any context, I would assert strongly that it was a MIDI-produced recording. And that's not to say it is for certain, but it also begs the question of whether the two versions were presented with no context; it could sway results. This concept really intrigues me, so I'll ramble for a bit about it...

            Certainly, when you present a piece as a performance done by a pianist, people, to some extent, are going to believe they're hearing nuances and certain touches they attribute to the 'humanness' of the piece. I feel that some people (not anyone here or specifically) are going to tend to want to stray towards the recording that is presented as a natural performance simply because of that fact alone.

            There could be certain cognitive biases, and I feel natural human nature is to perceive the presumed human recordings as having more depth, emotion, or intention behind them, even if the differences are minimal or non-existent. I also feel that when people are informed that one recording is made by a human and the other by a computer, they might enter the listening experience with expectations that can influence their perception and lead them to prefer the human recording, consciously or unconsciously. It's a certain form of cognitive dissonance, if you will.

            It makes me wonder if any studies or 'blind' tests have been done in the past, where pieces of music are presented, one human recorded and one computer-produced with extensive detail put into the mock-up, and identifying which the group prefers (ideally done on the same piano or digital piano VST)
            Version 2 Inc.
  • I'm torn between Polina's and David's version. If I had to choose one I'd go with Davids because the samples sound like a piano. Personally I would have tempered the attack in places and maybe have played whole one dynamic down overall.
    Still, a bloody marvellous fugue Teoh.
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