The neoclassical movement in European and American music marked a reinvigoration of interest in fugue.
Fugal techniques can produce music of great interest and complexity, although the ingredients of a fugue are relatively few and the procedures are straightforward. The first section, always included, is the exposition , during which the principal theme, or subject , is stated successively in each of the constituent voices or parts. The first statement of the subject is in one voice alone. While this voice continues, the second statement enters, transposed to the key of the dominant the fifth degree of the scale , and is called the answer ; the third statement returns to the main key; the fourth statement, if there is one, typically is in the dominant key again.
If the melody of the answer is an exact transposition of the subject, into the new key, it is a real answer; often, however, the melody will be slightly manipulated to avoid a true change of key, in which case it is a tonal answer. The answer is typically accompanied by counterpoint in another voice; if the same pairing continues throughout the fugue, that contrapuntal voice is labeled a countersubject. The contrapuntal relationship between subject and countersubject in different voices must work equally well regardless of which is above or below; that is, the counterpoint must be invertible.
In many fugues, however, there is no countersubject; the counterpoint accompanying the subject is free and does not systematically recur. Following the exposition, the subject can be regularly restated as often as the composer desires, but normally the subject appears at least once more in every part. Statements of the subject are often varied by transposition, with a corresponding temporary change of key. In some fugues, the subject is always present in one part or another; in most, statements of the subject are often separated by connective melodic passages called episodes.
The number of parts voices in the fugue is likewise flexible. Fugues have been composed for every medium and genre , sacred or secular , vocal or instrumental, solo or ensemble. Bach composed his fugues for the organ; for the harpsichord or clavichord in the two books of The Well-Tempered Clavier and in the toccatas, suites, and partitas; for unaccompanied chorus, in the motets; for chorus with organ or orchestra, in the cantatas, passions, and masses; even for solo violin, in the partitas and sonatas.
Five-, six-, and even seven-part fugues are likewise possible but uncommon.
Composers have varied the subject by doubling the rhythmic value of each note, a technique known as augmentation. Conversely, they may cut the values in half, or into smaller fractions, resulting in the diminution of the subject. Another approach to manipulating the subject is melodic inversion , in which the up and down intervals of the subject are exactly reversed; for example, if the subject moves upward a whole tone as from g to a , the inversion moves downward a whole tone as from g to f.
In The Art of the Fugue , BWV published ; Die Kunst der Fuge , Bach composed two three-voice mirror fugues; each of these is paired with a second fugue that is the exact mirror inversion, in all parts, of the first. The subject may be begun in one part as usual but then proceed immediately in another as well, before the first statement has finished. This overlapping, called stretto , is often found near the end of a fugue, as a means of building to a climax, but may occur anywhere, usually after the exposition.
More often, in a double fugue the composer gives the two subjects separate complete expositions, first one and then the other, and eventually brings the two subjects together, as in The Well-Tempered Clavier , Book 2, No. Two excellent examples of triple fugue i. Anne ; both of these are five-voice fugues, but a complete texture of five different parts appears only part of the time, with passages of two, three, or four parts making up most of the piece.
Anne fugue, each of the three subjects has a separate exposition in its own metre, and only the first subject is combined with each of the other two.
A fughetta is a short fugue, with exposition plus only a few restatements of the subject. Fugato applies to music where only part of a fugue—usually an exposition—appears in a context that is not otherwise fugal, as a means of thematic development.
Beethoven used the technique in the finales of Symphony No. An example from Mendelssohn is the first movement of Symphony No.
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The Baroque period fantasia In fantasia melody In melody toccata In toccata. Only one entry of the subject must be heard in its completion in a stretto. One example of permutation fugue can be seen in the opening chorus of J. These included the fugues for String Quartet, K. First Known Use of fugue , in the meaning defined at sense 1a.
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Time Traveler for fugue The first known use of fugue was in See more words from the same year. More Definitions for fugue.
English Language Learners Definition of fugue. More from Merriam-Webster on fugue Spanish Central: Translation of fugue Nglish: Translation of fugue for Spanish Speakers Britannica.
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