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Thread: A Prelude and fuge I composed

  1. #11

    Regarding my last post - to be clear, I don't want you to look something up. I want to hear from you, using your own words, how you would answer the question based on what you know so far. That gives a more honest understanding of where you're at in this process.

    I, too, enjoy fugues and have dabbled in writing very small ones. There is both challenge and reward.

  2. #12
    mp Mezzo-Piano Nutball's Avatar
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    Jan 2016
    Mt. Juliet TN, USA

    It couldn't hurt to still look up the term to better define what you like about fugues and what you also like that doesn't exactly have to do with them.

  3. #13
    mp Mezzo-Piano Leisesturm's Avatar
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    Sep 2005
    45.51 N, -122.60 W

    I am going to deliberately overstate, to a perhaps offensive degree, to make a point, in the following: since the end of the Baroque Era and the deaths of J.S. Bach and G.F. Handel, the world has not had any composers capable of composing a proper fugue of any significant length. One or three French composers in the 19th Century could pull it off. But in the Baroque Era any tinpot composer or any of the students of a major composer could write four, five or more five voice fugues... double and triple fugues, while eating breakfast or shaving. They didn't even have to be at an instrument. Fugues have very strict rules. That is mainly what sets them apart from other musical forms. All musical forms have 'rules', but those rules... conventions actually, can be broken, and are broken, and the result can still be recognized as a Sonata or Scherzo, etc. When 20th Century composers write fugues they are more accurately called 'canons'. I am not a composer. Regeron is asking all the right questions, and is also being very diplomatic. My issue with the composition is that it is presented as a mature work by the composer. Both the composer and the composition need to steep for several more years and increase in musical and harmonic complexity and depth. I think a musician can be self taught and acquire proficiency and technique through the repetition of practice, but I suspect composition might actually require instruction from a teacher capable of imparting the rules and critiquing the evolution of the composition process. Specific to the piece under discussion... I didn't actually play it but I scanned the score. It was not clear where the Prelude ended and the Fugue began. That is a departure from accepted practice. I notice a return to thematic material introduced in the Prelude at what I suppose is the close of the fugue. I don't know if it is a pretty amazing tie in or not. I hope it is. That could be something worth working out with a teacher. If not it just demonstrates a lack of understanding of the rules of Fugue. There are several books on the subject. It's kind of amazing with all that pedagogical material about Fugues and their composition that so few can do it but it is saying a lot that really, really great composers of the 19th and 20th century haven't even tried.

  4. #14
    mf Mezzo-Forte rjsilva's Avatar
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    May 2016

    Quote Originally Posted by Leisesturm View Post
    There are several books on the subject. It's kind of amazing with all that pedagogical material about Fugues and their composition that so few can do it but it is saying a lot that really, really great composers of the 19th and 20th century haven't even tried.
    I'm not claiming to be a great composer but I've written fugues In fact last year I wrote a rondo for organ where the B and C sections were fugues, both four part fugues.

    I think, perhaps, the departure from fugue writing has something to do with musical expression. It's very difficult to write a fugue with the same emotional response so easily possible with even a simple melody and harmony. That's one of the reasons I see Bach as such a master, for instance the emotionally exciting end of the fugue in g minor (BWV542). He breaks the rules in his fugue writing for sure but still manages to convey a real sense of voice independence while all of the voices working together in a sensical manner. You kind of have to break the rules sometimes to pull that off. Beethoven's fugues in the 3rd movement of his piano sonata no 31 are another great example of a strong emotional response in fugue writing (though not at the 'intellectual' level of Bach).

    Edit: And I forgot, a more modern example is Hindemith's double fugue in the last movement of his 3rd piano sonata. It gets really exciting at the end. So, some modern composers have taken an interest and do an excellent job.

  5. #15
    ppp Pianississmo Eddy67716's Avatar
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    Apr 2017
    Somewhere in the hills of Adelaide

    When I composed this fugue I thought a fugue was a type of song where there is a subject that will answer back in a different key like the subdominant of the dominant key of the tonic. It then starts off the as the first melody in each stave line. In the case of this composition the fugue starts at bar 19 when the time speeds up. There are then episodes that divert from the subject. (I don't spend as much time on these as Bach) Then the subjet appears in random parts during the rest of a fugue and then the fugue finishes with the subject. I then wrote a coda like the prelude in the begining of the score.

    That how I see a fugue.

  6. #16

    1 members found this post helpful.
    Here is the Wikipedia page for "Fugue".

    It has a lot of information and although I know what it's talking about now, when I first started to study fugues, I would have found some of the information confusing. Feel free to read it and ask questions.

    In the article's secton on "Perceptions and aesthetics," one of my favorite thoughts can be found:
    "This is related to the idea that restrictions create freedom for the composer, by directing their efforts."

  7. #17

    Eddy, I've been thinking about this thread and have come up with some more thoughts/questions:

    - I have an excellent softcover book on writing fugues is "The Fugue" by Allen Hobbs, Lissett Publications 1991. He takes you through each component of a fugue, with clear instructions about what to do and not do, and distinguishes between a "classroom fugue" (the one with strict rules) and the "free fugue" in which the composer has more freedom. Preface is by Marie-Claire Alain. I can't remember when or where I purchased my copy. LISSETT PUBLICATIONS seems to have existed in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. I can't find any sign of it current existence.

    Unfortunately, it seems to be out of print and I apologize for suggesting something that can't be found. Perhaps on a used-book website. And perhaps someone else can suggest an in-print publication that addresses the beginning fugue-composer.

    Allen Hobbs is no longer alive. He died in Denver, Colorado in 2007 at the age of 71. Here is an obituary for him which will indicate the authority which his background grants him, and it may allow for someone else with different connections to find out if his publication is now available from a different publisher.

    - Question - Eddy, when I am asked to give a one-off lesson, I ask the potential student if they want a "critique light" or whether they want me to hit them hard with a solid reality check. If the second is requested, I tell them that I will be polite, but I will have permission to cut anything to shreds that I want. LOL. Reading this makes it sound pretty frightening, but it is helpful to know this up front.

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