Hello everyone, I've learned a lot analyzing the discussion from my last post, and I've written another imitative piece, which I'll call "fugue-like". I've named it as a Ricercar, in A minor, at the suggestion of Greg Monks. It begins very much like a fugue, but the development section is more focused on modulation, rather than traditional fugal techniques like diminuition and stretto.

This was strictly a compositional exercise in counterpoint, imitative composition, and modulation, among other subjects. I've used a harpsichord for the audio demo because I found the fluidity of tone to be appropriate throughout its range, and it has a nice quality for the piece. I've never played it on a keyboard, nor do I think it is possible to perform as written, on account of the way some passages are notated. That said, it is not intended for performance on an actual harpsichord. In the coming week I hope to orchestrate it for other instruments.

My goal was to write a fluid piece that develops simple melodic themes by modulating through a variety of keys. It begins modulating between A minor and its dominant key, E minor, like a normal fugue. After the exposition it explores the relative major, C, as well as G major, before returning to A minor to conclude the piece. My counterpoint is not strict and follows rules of no particular era.

Do my modulations sound good, or do they seem abrupt? Do you like my melodies and the counterthemes? Does the piece seem to flow well and develop while still retaining a general sense of the initial theme?

Score: http://imgur.com/5oPwMod

Harpsichord Ricercar in A Minor.mp3

Fughetta in A Minor - Full Score.pdf

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  • I like the exposition and build.  The pace is good.  It's difficult to imagine this piece being played on anything other than a harpsichord.  I wish I had more critique for you.  I just like it!

  • Very much enjoyed it, Sam. Honestly, I think you did a much better job with this one than the previous one, but I don't intend that as a disparagement of that one. Fugues are obviously hard, and you'd set yourself quite a high bar with it, and I  applauded your efforts to try and wrestle that beast to the ground, although I had to choose to stay out of the arguments. I agree with James that the pace on this is quite good, and also that it's hard to imagine it on something other than harpsichord. If you do get around to arranging it for other instruments, it'll be interesting to hear what you can make of it.

  • Cool, Sam!  I especially like the sense of repose from 1:25 or so, to the end.  I don't find any of your modulations the least bit abrupt. The spitfire bass lines keep this listener busy, and I'm thinking they do soften up the harmonic edges, if that makes any sense.

    ~D

  • hello, Sam.

    a few comments, in no particular order:

    personally, I don't like your first melody much. This descending bit at bars 3 and 4 sounds a bit strange and doesn't have flow. It feels like it wanted to go "C B A G# F E F G# B A G# F E D E F G#" (keeping the same rythm) or something similar. That E G# A B thing just strikes me as odd. Not much you can do now, but pay attention to it next time. A nicely flowing, good contstructed melody will offer a better basis for the counterpoint you want to build on top (or bellow) it.

    Your counterpoint has it's moments (the part after bar 25 is good ), but it sometimes feels very thin, or misses the opportunities to bring out the movements and dynamics of the melodies. For example, for me bars 7-8 are not working very well. There are various such spots throughout, it's something you will have to work on more. It pretty much boils down to counterpoint writting skills, which you will develop through practice.

    the break at bar 20 sounds nice. why would you break again only 5 bars later? I think this breaks the flow of the piece. in fact, I'm kind of missing the role of bars 20-25, musically. Personally, I'd just remove them, I feel the passage will work much better. You do this thing again shortly after at bar 32, ending a well written passage that had gained some momentum.

    You have to work more on the texture of the sound. While at times it is very good, rigid, with a sense of syncronised movement and direction, like at 26-32, at others it feels kinda soggy and aimless.

    I'm also feeling that you are having trouble thinking of the piece as unified work with a complete flow from start to finish. You have the material, but this is not enough-you need to decide how it will all work together, move from one point to the next, where will it begin and where does it want to go. What you have done so far is take ideas and develop them, as parts, but completely missed the big picture. Each 10 bar phrase from the piece is ok for the most part by itself (some are better than others), but when it's all put together, it fails to come together and form a strong musical statement. Breaks, rests and the like are compositional tools, like many other things such as modulations, instrument effects, wandering harmonies and so on. Instead of making them your default tool for ending an idea and going to the next, try to plan out what will go where and why, then glue everything together in a way that serves your artistic purpose, using the whole variety of tricks available to you. This applies to this piece too, even though it's considered an exercise.

    I haven't been in this forum for quite some time, so I missed the discussion of your other piece. From what I understand you aim at miss Fugue, but let me tell you, she can be such a bitch to tame. Better work with something simpler and smaller first. It doesn't have to be a classical form, you can just devise one. You might not think so, but making 30 bars of music that is good in most aspects, is better than writting 100 bars that "have their moments", in terms of personal practicing and training. Plus, setting rought guidelines before you start will help you not get lost in the way and keep your mind on your goal.

  • Thank you for listening! I agree that harmonically it begins to clash with itself, but I think it's lovely because of that. I particularly like the way the main theme becomes more and more dissonant as the piece goes on.  I think it sounds colorful. It was not done on purpose at first, but as I moved through the piece I enjoyed the way it was working so I kept it and began to elaborate on those ideas.

    My intention was not to write a baroque piece, and outside of that context I think my harmony sounds pleasing. I hope the harpsichord is not misleading people to expect baroque counterpoint! Dismissing all formal analysis, did you like the way the piece sounded?
    Bob Porter said:

    Sam,

    Thanks for posting this and for your continued work.

    Like Spiros, I also have an issue with your opening statement. I think the problem lies with your use of G#. If you are trying to create a Baroque mood, than G# would be mostly used as a leading tone to A (as in an ascending scale). You get away with it in the first measure because A follows it. But you use it in a descending scale in measure three, so that when you hit the F everything sounds oriental. I don't really want to go through your piece measure by measure. You have put a lot of work into it. But there is quite a bit of modal clashing going on. The piece is fighting with itself harmonically as you go through the various keys. And I think it's because of what you set up in the opening theme. Once you had that in your ear, you where stuck with it/. Then you have proper and improper modes living together.  :)

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