I thought it might be interesting to see whether I could provide a simplified, illustrated guide to the art of fugue writing as I understand it. There may be pedagogues here who know more about this subject than I do, and I welcome their input. I am simply hoping this will be helpful as a starting-off point for those interested in trying to understand the anatomy of a fugue and how it is constructed, along with a few examples of just some of the many advanced techniques one can employ in writing a fugue. In looking for a subject that would be easy to hear in almost any texture, I chose an old French folk tune, Ah, vous dirais-je, maman.
Share3 Shares This lister originally intended to write a list of the ten greatest fugues ever, but all ten, and the next or so, would be by Johann Sebastian Bach. So for some interesting diversity, here are ten outstanding fugues from other composers.
These are not the ten greatest that are not by Bach, but simply ten great fugues. Certainly, many worthy examples have been left off, so you are invited to mention your choices.
He wrote over two hundred pieces for the organ, his instrument, and hundreds of pieces for all other instrumentation and voices.
This is a light, fun one, with repeated notes in the melody. The theme is deceptively simple but promises many elaborations, and the whole piece is superbly logical, with a steady build in polyphonic complexity.
The entire piece, in four movements, is written without key signature, but, while it is strictly atonal, the strictness of its adherence to the Baroque traditions of a fugue make it intensely arresting, and not difficult to follow.
If you were to describe an impression the music gives you, you might say it sounds like some hideous monster sneaking up on you slowly, ever patiently, until about two-thirds of the way through, you, the audience, turn and see the monster, and have to decide what to do next.
In the end, you cautiously back away from it. Its almost unbearable intensity, however, cannot be ignored. The end of Act 1 of Lohengrin is another fine example of his grandiose, Romantic polyphony. But he outdid himself with Die Meistersinger.
In scene 6 of Act 2, Beckmesser, a mastersinger, attempts to serenade Eva at her window, but is interrupted by Hans Sachs, another mastersinger, who strikes the soles of a pair of shoes with a hammer each time Beckmesser makes a mistake.
By the time Beckmesser finishes his song to Magdalena, disguised as EvaSachs has finished repairing the shoes. Their ruckus wakes up David, who jealously attacks Beckmesser, which wakes up the entire neighborhood and nearly starts a riot. All this chaos on stage is held together magnificently by the fugue Wagner has the characters sing and the orchestra play.
This movement is a double fugue, combining both the Kyrie Eleison and the Christe Eleison into one piece of music. The idea is that the Kyrie invokes God the Father, who will destroy all sinners in the last days, while the Christe invokes Christ, who pleads for all sinners to convert.
The fugue is not particularly long, but it demonstrates a mastery of the polyphonic techniques in which you must be fluent in order to maintain the theme and development in a fugue. Double fugues are much more difficult to compose than single fugues, and because Bach wrote several, the most notable of which are in his monumental Art of the Fugue, many later composers have felt the pressure to prove themselves.
Verdi practically failed, writing a technically accurate, but very academic double fugue for the Sanctus of his Requiem. Mozart, however, is able to toy with the intricacies, which is necessary for the proper exploration of the subjects.
It is not very long, compared to many others on this list, but Buxtedhude got in, said all he needed to say, and got out. A slender, fair-haired dance of a fugue. Handel This list would be grossly incomplete without mentioning Handel. Bach had no such luck, being employed exclusively by churches, which could barely afford everything besides music.Composing a Fugue.
The form of a fugue has the advantage of being somewhat strict, especially in its exposition. Thus, one can emulate fugue composition by following a few basic procedures, and then using the fugues of Bach as supreme (if somewhat intimidating!) examples.
It's almost impossible to write an interesting, beautiful fugue, as proven by the fact that very few composers attempted it very often, except BACH, who wrote the most amazingly brilliant and beautiful fugues, and he wrote two books of them, with a prelude for each one: the Well Tempered Clavier Books I .
Feb 26, · any composer worth their salt should be able to write a good fugue. Some composers who come to mind: Sofia Gubaidulina Kaija Saariajo Ernst KrenekStatus: Resolved. A composer (Latin compōnō; literally "one who puts together") is a musician who is an author of music in any form, including vocal music (for a singer or choir), instrumental music, electronic music, and music which combines multiple forms.
How To Write A Fugue A fugue is a piece of music of contrapuntal texture which is predominantly based on one theme called the subject. It’s important to note that a fugue isn’t really a form, it is a way of presenting a contrapuntal texture.
This description was illustrated with examples from J. S. Bach's Fugue in G Minor, the "Little" (so named to distinguish it from the "Great" G minor fugue). The concept sounded intriguing, so I went out and bought an orchestrated recording of the piece.