Hi All, 

I found this the other day and thought I'd post it for those who haven't seen it.

It's an archive of theory books that can be downloaded for free.

Here's the site...https://archive.org

There is an excellent filter and search engine in the music category. I found a few of my favourite text books easily enough including this for all you fugue geeks.....


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  • Great resource Mike, thanks for sharing that!

  • Thanks for sharing Mike:)

    Bob https://soundcloud.com/bob-morabito

  • You're welcome Ingo and Bob. The resources the site has are enormous and can probably provide a wealth of material on any subject.

  • I'm skimming over The Technique and Spirit of Fugue right now, and already it has been highly educational and enlightening. Thanks for the pointer!

  • Thanks, Mike, very helpful!

    I also came across this two weeks ago:  http://orchestrationonline.com/

    I bought Thomas' book "100 Tips", and have been marvelling at its precise and practical approach from a composer with a lot of studio sessions under his belt. Also very well-laid-out, and the videos are very well done.

    An example of the wealth of detail: he describes that in the real world brass players really prefer no key signature in their parts, instead the composer should just put in all the necessary accidentals note by note - an approach against all the text books, but nevertheless preferred by a pro player.

    Have you had experience of this?


  • @Hs,
    It's a great read and taught me almost single-handedly about fugue, glad you are enjoying it.
    That's a great site John. Early on, I always used signatures for trpts and bones, but eventually didn't bother. I have never used signatures for french horns.
  • @Mike: I found his historical analysis of Bach, in particular how it relates to the older custom of remaining in the prevailing mode in the Answer (without modulation), refreshingly insightful. It gives a whole new perspective on the "answer in the dominant key" issue.[*]  (Besides, it was also entertaining to see how he tears to pieces the usual "this violates the rules we postulate, therefore it must be an exception -- but we can't say why" rhetoric all too common in texts on this subject.)  It certainly got me thinking more about several aspects of fugal writing that I haven't paid that much attention to before.

    [*] Incidentally, while reading that chapter, I was instantly reminded of Bob's first fugue which he posted here, in which the answer effected an immediate (and somewhat jarring) modulation to the dominant key, and in the course of my trying to make the transition less jarring, I stumbled upon the solution of remaining in the tonic key for just a tad longer so that the modulation could be slipped in, in a smoother way.  Revisiting this incident in light of the aforementioned chapter shed new light on why this was more effective.  It's amazing how, even in such a seemingly trivial matter as which key the answer enters, fugues are such fertile grounds for deep consideration of musical issues.

  • Thanks, Dave: filed away for reference!

  • @HS,

    It has been probably about 25 years since I read that book, but presume you are talking about tonal answers? I have hunted it out and it is now in my reading list again.

    Funny you should mention answers as I was chewing the cud on this the other day. In my almost (but still clinging on to gravity here and there) atonal language, subtleties  like modification to an answering subject are quite unnecessary, but I was thinking about distortions beyond any accepted parameters within the exposition. As my fugues have progressed, I have distorted thematic material as a matter of course, but not in the exposition. 

    I should be in jail for all my fugal violating......

  • Yes, tonal answers (though I find that term somewhat misleading).

    I think the concept of necessity (of a tonal or real answer) is already the "wrong" way to look at it. Not really "wrong", you understand, but not as insightful, as the book points out.  I thought the book's perspective on this issue much more fertile ground for innovation than the usual "because of 18th century harmony rules we need to modify the Answer because the subject has characteristic X".  The idea is that the tonal answer isn't really a modification, so much as an imitation of the subject in, in the context of the book, the plagal register (i.e., instead of being a diatonic transposition to the dominant key, it's a restatement in the same mode).  Viewed in this way, we can generalize it in a different way from the usual tonality-sensitive context tonal answers are defined in.  Outside the realm of traditional harmony, for example, one may distinguish between an answer that remains in the chosen set of pitch classes that the subject appeared in, vs. an answer that transposes each pitch of the subject by n semitones, preserving all intervallic relationships. And of course, every shade in between as well.

    Furthermore, such distinctions can be applied in a more insightful way than the mere adherence to some preconceived formula blindly followed.  The analogue of a tonal answer might be to remain in a particular mood or flavor slightly past the end of the subject, for example, with a gradual transition away; whereas the analogue of a real answer might be to boldly introduce the transposed sonority immediately as a contrasting effect.  Thus this gives us a way to work with the underlying motivations for choosing one type of answer over the other that's deeper than merely the unhelpful, uninsightful, "the rules say so" or the equally unhelpful "because a random flip of the coin indicated so".

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