This fugue breaks so many conventions, I don't even know how to describe it.  For sure, if you're expecting a Bachian fugue, be prepared to be disappointed. :D  A tonally-ambiguous subject, answers coming in a 6th below instead of a 5th, unconventional key structure, a sprawling overarching form that more resembles a rondo than a fugue, a long passage where one of the countersubjects take on a life of its own and overshadows the real subject, almost like a sub-fugue of its own... These are just some of the many unorthodox things you'll find. If my last fugue on a 3-note subject didn't make Bach roll in his grave, surely this one would. :-P

But I can say I'm mighty proud of this piece, and the fact that I managed to sustain fugal development for a whopping 82 bars (and at a relatively slow tempo!). I'm also quite happy with the ending (in spite of the music slapping the Picardy 3rd in the face in defiance of convention).  Tell me what you think! Comments, criticisms, flames, and fan-mail are all welcome. ;-)

Score: fugue.pdf

Audio: fugue.mp3

Edit: revised m.41, which gives me constant headache.

Edit 2: more revisions: increase tempo at the end to reduce the sense of dragging. Also inserted stretto entries for more drama.

Edit 3: shortened the denouement after the climax at m.45, according to suggestion by someone in another forum. Also added reverb as Patrick suggested. Certainly does sound better!

Edit 4: rewrote mm.46-48 for better melodic flow.

Edit 5: revised mm. 13 (reworked counterpoint), 41 (ditto), and 48 (better transition).

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  • Updated post with latest version, with some further revisions to improve the ending section.

  • I think it is well done melody. The only thing I want to add is to change your vst (if you used it) and to put a bit more reverb or delay. 

    P.s. "Fugue" reminds me (in some parts) Dvorak's "New world symphony"

    • Hi Patrick, thanks for the feedback!  I didn't use a VST, but I do pass the audio through an audio filter in the course of creating an .mp3. I'll definitely look into adding some options to tweak the reverb!

      P.S. The Dvorak impression is probably caused by my modifying some of the cadences to use v-i (with the flattened leading tone) instead of V-i.

      • You are welcome! Wish you good luck!!!

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  • Uploaded latest version, with reverb and other revisions suggested by someone in another forum.

  • Dear H.S. Teoh,


    The first note of the subject of the first four entrances outlines an Em7 chord, was the deliberate? Or just serendipitous? Are you familiar with The Study of Fugue by Alfred Mann? It has been several years since I have read it, so this is from memory, but in the history of the fugue section Mann wrote the early fugues (proto-fugues) where not standardized on entrances at the 5th. And different intervals were used before the 5th became standardized. So in someways you have history on your side for using an interval like the 6th (3rd).


    The first four entrances of your subject have a leap of a tri-tone between the second and third notes; that is except for the second entrance. Was there a reason for this



    • I certainly had E minor in mind when I wrote the subject. :) The flattened 7th was also a conscious choice, because I wanted a modal-like feel to the subject, as opposed to a more "harmonic minor" feel had I used D# instead.

      And answers not on the 5th are definitely a thing with me.  My fugue in D major, for example, has an answer in F major (yes, a minor 3rd above the subject -- I deliberately designed it that way).  In this case, though, I did actually try to write answers on the 5th initially. After numerous attempts failed to produce the desired results, I felt justified to go ahead and write "non-standardized" answers on the 3rd/6th. :D

      As for the tritone leap in the subject, it was definitely deliberate. My fugue in C#m also features a subject that contains a tritone -- albeit there only implied: A - C# - D; whereas here it is direct.  In my C#m fugue that (implied) tritone led to all sorts of interesting developments; so in this fugue I wanted also to use the tritone to evoke a similar mood, with the hope that it would also lead to interesting developments.  Ironically, I didn't end up actually doing anything interesting with it in this fugue; the development went in other directions instead, and the tritone often "softened" into 4ths (or sometimes 5ths) in numerous entries after the exposition.

      I don't remember if I read Alfred Mann before... I may have?  I do remember reading one book that talked about how the "standard" answer at the 5th was an innovation based on an earlier custom of answers appearing in the plagal register (as a modal answer).  Upon reading that, the question immediately came up: why indeed is the "standard" answer on the 5th?  Why not any other interval, as was the custom before Bach?  My pet theory is that the underlying purpose of an answer at the 5th was that the dominant key (or plagal register in earlier fugues) served as a source of contrast from the initial entry, thus providing the impetus to drive the music forward.  My thought was therefore, why wouldn't any other interval serve equally well as a source of contrast?  As long as it makes sense harmonically, I didn't see any reason why other intervals should be prohibited or discouraged.  Beethoven wasn't deterred when he wrote his Grosse Fuge, for example. Modern theorists classify that as an "exception" -- but I asked myself, exception from what?  Pachelbel's fugues in Magnificat certainly did not care to observe the I-V-I rule, and they are no less wonderful pieces of music for that.  The only answer (ha!) I can think of is that it's an exception from Bach.  Now, I respect Bach as much as anyone with any musical qualifications would, but I'm not him (in spite of my last name also having 4 letters and ending with H :-P), so why should I confine myself only to "what would Bach do"?

      Thus the basic concept of my fugue in D was conceived: it started out as an experiment in crafting a subject in which the answer would naturally appear a minor 3rd above.  (Of course, after it got started, the music took even more daring steps than I had initially planned, and ended up showcasing subject/answer intervals in all manner of unusual sizes -- just about everything except the 5th, you see, until the very end when the answer finally appears at the 5th, the music interrupts itself and walks away in a huff, thumbing its nose up at tradition and ending before ever completely stating the answer. :-P  Yes, the iconoclast in me definitely enjoyed writing that fugue!)

      • Oops, I meant A - C# - D# in my D major fugue, not A - C# - D.

      • I am not sure you pickup what I was trying say about the tri-tone in the subject.  In the second entrance you jump a perfect fourth not an augmented fourth like you do with the 1st, 3rd, and 4th entrances.  I was wondring if there was a reason for this?  For me the jump of the augmented fourth is one of defining characteristics of the subject. 

        • Oh I see.  There's no particular reason except that the 2nd entry starts on the 3rd degree of the minor scale, so the upward leap of a 4th is naturally perfect rather than augmented. I suppose I could have sharpened the A in order to maintain the quality of the interval, but I didn't feel the need to.

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