Sunday, February 26, 2006

Axial Fugue in E II (Updated)

Now we're getting somewhere.

One of the reasons I like to work a piece throught to a conclusion, and then re-work it from beginning to end, is that each time through, some idea I come up with later in the piece has implications for what should preceed it, so I get fresh ideas each time. Not only that, but through these re-dos I become very familiar with the materials, and I learn how they "want" to be related to one another.

For instance, in the coda last time through I introduced a decending chromatic line for the runup to the conclusion. You can't do something like that without preparing for it in some fashion (The line is like the do, ti, te, la, le, sol, la, ti do bass line in the coda of the Allegro of Beethoven's Ninth), and since I was looking for a different type of episode for the exposition and development areas, I decided to write them over ascending chromatic lines in the bass. This ends up working gloriously well. Of course, I have now also come up with a chromaticised version of the subject, so there is a whole new area of the development which needs to be written.

UPDATE: There is a lot of latent chromaticism in the initial settup of the piece that probably ought to be pointed out. The first statement of the subject alone has nine of twelve tones in it, since it uses both the ascending and decending forms of the melodic minor sol-do tetrachords, and the fugal exposition area as a whole has eleven of twelve, because the subdominant answer uses the ascending form and countersubject one the decending, which adds G-sharp and F-natural to the list. The only remaining unused tone, A-sharp/B-flat, appears within the first exposition area at measure fifty-four, so all twelve tones are used even before the three-voice texture is presented for the first time. That's one of the reasons I love the traditional minor tonality so much: If you are working with tonic/dominant or tonic/subdominant relationships in a fugue in minor, and use both ascending and decending forms of the sol-do tetrachords, it is actually an eleven-tone system with either the flatted second of the tonic or the subdominant as the only missing tone, depending upon which relationship is used.


Cool: Predator II is on, which I haven't seen in years.


This third version is starting to come much more into focus, as I've started editing out various repititions of material that doesn't need to appear in both two and three voiced versions, and also with respect to occurances of the three chromatic episodes, which don't need to appear every time either.

I went back to v1.2 for the first exposition area, which is the next shortest version at sixty-one measures. This is a big improvement from the 105 measure first expo of v2.0 as it gets things rolling toward the three voice statements much more quickly: Now the counter-exposition starts in measure sixty-two.

Another thing I have a better handle on now is the management of the melodic peaks for each section: The exposition's high-point is the F-natural in measure fifty (Just a semitone above the open E-string zero axis): That's almost exactly at the 80% point of the initial exposition area.

The counter-exposition proceeds exactly like that of v2 until I introduce the G-sharp in the bass at measure 107 to return the piece to A minor for the first chromatic episode. This eighteen bar interjection is exactly what this section has needed all along, and it prepares perfectly for the upcoming appearances of the Taneievian complex contrapuntal derivatives.

UPDATE: The length of this chromatic line - beyond the usual span of a tetrachord - is just long enough to get the listener disoriented, especially as the axis is destroyed.

Note also that the F-natural makes its second appearance in measure 118: This is still the high point of the piece so far.

The melodically inverted statement in C major now enters with more authority, and it establishes the new melodic peak of A in 129, which is at the 63% point of this particular section. After the transitional episode at 134, the following A minor statements are almost unique: The first one is a three voice version of the answer area of the initial fugal exposition, and the tripple inverted statement is totally unique within the piece, which is far more effective that in v2, where they were both just three-voice versions of things which had been heard before in the first exposition area. The final episode of the exposition at 160 also regains it's uniqueness and now more effectively prepares for the upcoming development.

Page one of the development is unchanged, but note that a new melodic peak is reached in 188 with the B natural.

Where the previous chromatic episode started on A and fell a fifth to E before proceeding with the chromatic line, this version starts off on the E. The previous episode was also under an E axis, and this one is under a B axis with the upper open E functioning as a secondary axis and then an actual third voice. Two of my students heard this piece today and pronounced this section "Awesome!" with which I agree. The turn-around figure in 216-217 is particularly nice. The final episode of this first development area that starts in measure 225 now has the lead voice doubled in thirds, which allowed for the melodic peak of B to be reiterated in 230, and also for the G-sharp to appear earlier, which brightens the triumphant entrance of the major mode here.


Hmmmm. Dances with Wolves; another flick I haven't seen in a coon's age. All right.


Again, there are no changes to the second statements of the development until the new episode appears again at 267 (It is so nice, I had to use it twice in this version). I used a V(4/3/b) to introduce it this time at the end of 266 (Which you could also call a French Augmented Sixth chord).

The modulation to upcoming key of E-flat major is set up for in the final measure of the page, but the F-natural (Which the F from the preceeding French Sixth set up) can't proceed down to E-flat because you simply run out of guitar at this point. The modulation works nonetheless, but this episode will probably end up being replaced by the new section with the chromaticised versions of the thematic elements.

UPDATE: Corrected the reference to the augmented sixth chord. Appologies to all nationalities involved. ;^)


I'd forgotten how nice the film score is in "Dances." Cinematography too.


At 283 the final thematic statement in E-flat occurs, and that leads to the unique bridging episode back to the recap which still has the melodic peak of the entire piece with the C in 294. This is now at exactly the 75% point of the piece, but the new section I'm planning for the development will demolish that and move the peak back to a better circa 66% point.

The recap statements are unchanged from v2. Then, the coda begins unchanged.

Nothing more to see here. Move along.


Bad horse. Bad horse.


Nothing has changed in these measures either.

The final chromatic episode is based on a decending line from A versus the previous two ascending versions, and functions as another interjection which has a nice feel to it. I changed the fllowing figures from diatonic falling and rising lines in E major to chromatic versions as a recollection of the minor mode until the final statement resolves the "issue."

At 390 measures of 2/4 with a tempo of 172 BPM the piece now runs about 4:35 with the final ritardando. I'm not sure how long the new development area with the chromaticised thematic elements will run, but I'm guessing it'll add at least another minute or so to the piece. At that point, I'll have to get serious about learning to play it, as I'm more than certain that the guitar will have its own ideas about how things should proceed.

Writing for solo guitar is like composing with a partner. I imagine writing for any solo instrument must be like that.

UPDATE: I am also coming up with some ideas to add some rhythmic variety to the piece - this is normally the last thing to occur to me anyway - and one of the ideas I have is for an episode in faster triplets which dissolves a la Beethoven, and the other is for a metric modulation to 6/8 wherein the eighth note remains a constant. Obviously, if I end up using those devices, a lot of re-writing will be involved. I really like the materials I'm developing here - it's really once-a-decade quality stuff for someone like myself - so I don't mind putting the time and effort in, because I know the end result will be worth it. Heck, it's already been worth it.

I have a little ditty for you to read through for me, hon.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Axial Fugue in E

I live in a desert. Therefore, there are only a few guaranteed rain events every year: Gallery Night in November, and The Cowboy Poetry Gathering in February. Yup, it rained tonight. Not particularly conducive to outdoor gigs vis-a-vis attendance, but it wasn't a complete wash: $87.00 in tips. Buuut, anyway... not exactly a night to go out and paint the town red, so it's posting while watching SciFi Friday tonight.

I didn't bother with the Reynolds-Godin eleven-string (Catchy name?), because just keeping the Multiac in tune oudoors in the winter is enough of a bummer: Just six-stringin' it tonight. Played pretty well, despite missing my nap today.


I have gone back to the opening arpeggio in measure nineteen, and have devised a scheme for appearances of them under similar circumstances throughout the two exposition areas. This one is an augmented triad, which makes a minor major-seventh chord over the A. Other than that, nothing has ever really changed on this page.

In measure forty seven is the second opening triad, and it too is an augmented triad that creates a minor major-seventh over the bass note C. For the C minor statement, I have gone back to the answer form of the theme, which allows for the standard type transitional episode beginning at measure fifty-five. This allows for a return to A minor and a repeat of the exact phrase from the fugal exposition at the beginning. This serves three purposes: 1) It sets up a future appearance of this version of the statement with the countersubject doubled in thirds - A is the only level that works out at, 2) This appearance sets up for the open low A string to be used as the zero axis, and 3) The scheme of the keys as E-, A-; A-, C, C-, A-, A- is better balanced within the overall architecture of the piece (As it stands now).

I am planning to introduce a different kind of episode at forty-eight that will be a harmonized version of countersubject one. I'll get to that episode by changing the bass in measure forty six: The G will progress to G-sharp and then A to effect the change. Obviously, this will lead to another wholescale revision of the piece.

At seventy-three there is another opening arpeggiated triad, only this time it is a diminished triad. It is not functioning as a dominant, however, but is rather a neighboring diminished triad.

On the top of page three is the inverted variation of the subject with the open A-string functioning as the zero axis. This leads to a new episode that eliminates the previous arpeggiated version that linked the first exposition and the varied repeat. By setting things up this way, the entire first expo is all of the materials in two voices.

The varied repeat of the exposition now starts at measure ninety-five, and here we get the first three-voice texture. I have changed this back to the minor mode for two reasons: 1) Contrast with the upcoming major mode statements in A, and 2) the four voice statements only work in the major mode on A, and those need to be saved for the recapitualtion. The opening triad in 106 is now a minor triad, making a major seventh chord over a, and effecting a change of mode to A major.

One of the reasons there are no three-voice statements when countersubject one is in the lead of the A-level statements is because the E zero axis is not an open string, so it would really complicate matters, if I may be allowed a bit of understatement. The change of mode is enough for this statement, and the change of mode and pitch level for the C-sharp minor statement is sufficient as well. There is another opening triad figure in measure 134, and now it's another minor triad making a major seventh over the A.

In the next version the preceeding G in the bass will progress to G-sharp to introduce a new prelude-like episode, just as at the same point previously.


Creepy opening for Battlestar Gallactica.


In 135 countersubject one is doubled in thirds for the statement in C, and that texture is maintained throughout the following transitional episode, which adds quite a bit of interest: That's the main reason I went back to the answer form of the theme; to get this episode.

At 149 the bass has countersubject one, and it is again doubled in thirds, which is why I added the corresponding two-voice statement in the original exposition. In 160 there is another opening arpeggio, only now it is an augmented triad functioning as a neighboring chord, just as the neighboring diminished triad did in the same location previously. This leads to the tripple inverted statement in A major (Octave, melody, and mode) with CS 2 again doubled in thirds. Because of this compound inversion and the fact that the A zero axis is functioning as the root, the effect is totally unique. That goes for the following episode as well, which leads into the development area.

Both of the exposition areas now have identical archetecture: This may or may not be a positive, and it may or may not last until v3, but I wanted it this way for this version.

The development area begins at 175, and the entire development has remained intact from v1 as I was really trying to get the exposition and recapitulation architectures worked out.

Since nothing has changed in the development, it really requires little comment. Do note, however that the expositions and the development all begin in minor modes now: In the battle between minor and major the minor has the upper hand for most of the piece.

Page seven has the most exuberant and triumphant major mode climactic statements, and it's pretty much all down hill for the minor mode from here on out.

I did change the durations of the B-flats in the E-flat major statement to more accurately reflect what is being played on the guitar: That note has to be played on the G-string - which has the zero axis at this point - so those notes cannot be sustained. This actually adds to the passage.

With the expositions now sharing identical architecture and the two sections of the development area sharing identical architecture as well (And the coda sections too), the linking episode at 268 is now the only totally unique feature in the piece. It also has the high note of the entire piece at 272. This is the 76% point of the piece, which is within the acceptable bounds but way outside of my personal ideal of the 67% point. I'll have to start thinking about that for the next revision.

The recap now begins at 274 and is in the major mode. This is the first time in the piece that the subject/answer combination appears in this mode, and it signals that the major mode will win the day. At 281 the ultimate thematic statement is now presented: Subjec, CS 1 doubled in thirds, and CS 2. This is the only key and the only mode this will work in on the guitar. As with all idiomatic guitar music, the guitar made a lot of the decisions for me.

I consider 292 to be the beginning of the coda, as the main thematic statements and the following concluding episode are all there is of actual recapitulation: All of the following material is new.

The only changes here are minor. There is now a decending chromatic line for the "false conclusion" starting in 310 where it was diatonic before, and there are three repeats of the four bar figure: It sounds like it will end in the minor mode, but we'll be having none of that.

The concluding major mode statements are otherwise identical to the minor mode statements, and the concluding four measure figure is now diatonic and in the major mode with an additional final repeat to conclude the fugue.

Though it is a bit on the mechanically constructed side, the piece is nonetheless quite satisfying, and I could just leave it here and call it finished. That was not the case with v1. Ten years ago I would have quit here, but it requires an "x factor" that I haven't stumbled upon yet but I'm getting close. Stay tuned.

Sometimes you just have to try different settings to find out what you like best.

Friday, February 24, 2006

More Miscelaneous Musings

I have just completed "v2.0.0 beta" of the Axial Fugue in E for solo guitar, and I've uploaded the screenshots of it along with tonight's Elvgren lovlies (Yes, two of them for this post, just to make a point) into my Smugmug account. Due to tonights major giggage - the Cowboy Poetry events are this weekend and the place will be packed with people who only get to hear me once a year, so I gotta be sharp - I can't take the time this morning to write that post: Must_practice_guitar. If I'm not shot when I get home tonight (I may go out after the gig and enjoy one of my twice/thrice yearly drinking binges since it's going to be a riotously good time, come to think of it: I'll probably get about a c-note's worth of tips!), I'll start on that post then.

If "v1.0.0 alpha" represented the piece as short and simple as it could possibly be with just the basic thematic and transitional episodic materials, this version is the longest it could be with those same materials, only now with them completely developed. All of the complex contrapuntal derivative combinations are now presented (Taneiev would be proud), and the exposition(s) have been re-worked to both set up and present some of those derivatives. The recap now has the subject, countersubject one doubled in thirds, and countersubject two presented simultaneously, and I even worked out the fingering to make sure it is playable. It is, but not by me (Yet). This is going to end up being a seriously demanding virtuosic work, and I've already decided that I'm just going to have to make learning it a priority. Since my MO is to learn some minor works while simultaneously working on big bombastic stuff, this will give me a chance to catch up with some medieval and renaissance pieces I've wanted to add to my set, but I'm going to have to put off some of the other "crowd pleasers" on my list. Tough. This is important.

As it stands now, the piece has grown to 356 measures and ten pages, which is sixty-one measures longer than the alpha version's 295. That puts the piece a few seconds beyond four minutes in 2/4 at 172 BPM, so it's getting well along toward "serious piece" territory. Since I already have at least two contemplative interlude-type episodes planned for the exposition and it's varied repeat (Two versions of the same episode; one minor and the other major for the respective sections), and I'm also going to want to balance those with related episodes in the development recap areas, v3.0.0 will probably end up somewhere over 400 bars (!), which would be nearly five minutes. For me, that's positively epic.


Played the eleven-string in the after-dinner slot again last night, and it went much better. I didn't suddenly die, rather I ran out of time. I'm feeling just the slightest hint of left-forearm tightness this AM - I wouldn't call it soreness - so I'm progressing quite nicely with my instrumental strength training. I was also much more comfortable playing it last night than previously, but I sure wasn't daydreaming or people-watching while I played it like I do with the Multiac. And I again was wiped out and went straight to bed when I got home, despite good pre-gig nappage (Q: "Dear Hucbald, How do you prepare for a gig?" A: "I'm forty-eight years old; I take a nap!" LOL!).


I just thought this artist-rendition was too freaking cool:

When I was a kid, all my dino-toys were grey or green and had elephantine hide patterns: Now they have feathers. That just tickles the snot out of me. One of my hobbies is that I'm an ameteur paleontologist: I'm into it enough that I put a fossil on my first CD cover:

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Axial Fugue IV

I didn't remember to change the title before I took tonight's screen shots, but the piece just Axial Fugue in E now, because I have gotten both the low E and A strings in on the action, so the previous title just doesn't fit anymore. I have - believe it or not - four completely different versions of this on my desktop now; I've been doing a lot of work on it.

Tonight I just want to run quickly through the new exposition, as that is where the main changes are.

A couple of things I haven't pointed out previously: First of all, there are two versions of the subject in the initial fugal exposition. The first version has the melodic trajectory decending after it reaches do at the beginning of measure six. I'll be referring to this as the "subject form" of the theme. The second version has the melodic trajectory continuing to ascend after it reaches do in measure thirteen. I'll be calling this the "answer form" of the theme.

The second thing to notice is that there is no parallel movement between the answer form of the theme and countersubject one. This allows for doubling one or both melodies in thirds or sixths to get complex countrapuntal derivatives. I was aware of this when I wrote it, of course, but I have been primarily trying to work out the archetecture of the piece so far. There have been some derivitives presented, but now I'm starting to get more serious about figuring out which ones are playable on the guitar, and where to employ them. This has resulted in a few significant changes to the exposition, as you'll see shortly.

I have gone back to the arpeggiated fully diminished seventh chord in measure nineteen, but I'm still not positive which effect I like better; this or the arpeggio opening from the unison A. Aside from some shortened note durations to more accurately reflect what is possible on the guitar in measure twenty-six, there are no other changes to the first page.

The main change on page two is that I have exchanged the second thematic statement in C major for the one in C minor which previously appeared at this point in the varied repeat of the exposition. I did that for two reasons: It provides more contrast here, and the C major statement in this melodic inversion is the only one which allows for the countersubject to be presented in thirds. That just isn't possible in C minor with the E-flats.

In order to keep the bridge episode to the exposition's repeat, I had to modulate the phrase at the end to return to C major, and it turned out to be a necessity which added a nice effect. It's almost not noticible if you aren't paying attention.

Note also the small change in measure forty-six where there is now a G in the bass. That used to be an A, and this little change adds quite a bit of punctuation to the phrase which I like. I'll use that again later in the corresponding position in the varied repeat.

The repeat starts at measure sixty-one, and that has never changed... because it's perfect.

In measure seventy-nine I have also used a descending seventh chord arpeggio this time, but now it's a half-diminished seventh to anticipate the appearance of the A major statements. With the exception of a couple of shortened notes in measure eighty-six and the G replacing the A in the bass in measure one-hundred-six, these passages have not changed. However, the modulation at the end of measure one-hundred-seven is now to C major instead of the previous C minor version, so the E is a natural.

The top of the last page is where the action is now. As I mentioned, putting the C major version of this arrangement here allows for the countersubject in the lead to be harmonized in thirds, which the minor version would not allow on the guitar. I also use the subject form of the theme instead of the answer form now, which allows for a remodulation back to A for the new statements I've added because of the new episode starting on the second system. It is a shame that the A above the F-natural there is not physically playable, but it's just a tad out of reach with the F-natural in the bass.

I like the deceptive nature of the modulation in one-hundred-nineteen: It sounds like it's going to return to C major, but instead it goes to A minor. The "new" A minor statement has the harmonized countersubject in the bass, and this is also pretty much the only level and mode where this will work on the guitar. I just noticed the errant F-sharp in measure one-hundred-tewnty-two, which I'll have to repair: I just made these improvements tonight.

Using the answer form of the theme here allows for the episode at 127, which in turn allows for the new statement using the open low A-string at 132. This is an interesting statement, because the zero axis is functioning as the root, and the harmonized countersubject starts on the fifth, so it's melodically, intervallically, and modally inverted simultaneously.

The following episode on the bottom system is the answer I had been searching for for something unique to bridge the end of the exposition sections and the start of the development. Having triads going to diads and then unisons in the lead followed by the concluding decending run in the bass at the bottom of the guitar is quite nice.

I'm going to have to do some work on the recap now, and then I have some interludes to add to the development. I'll probably be working on this piece for weeks or months before I'm finished with it.

You definitely do not want me to get a hold of that feather duster.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

I Hate Politics

The closest I ever came to a political post on this blog was the Katrina post I did, since I used to be an agency employee and had some insight, but those darned Delians got my hackles up and - well - this pretty much explains my rose-colored glasses word-view.


"I'm always reluctant to get into these kinds of discussions, because I usually find myself as a minority of one when other artists are involved. It's going to take me a while to make this point, so be patient or delete this e-mail now.

In a nutshell, I believe that a libertarian society with the least amount of government and as free a market as possible allows for the most fair, orderly, and natural system of social stratification. People may be born equal under the law and with respect to natural rights, but levels of talent and ambition vary widely.

For example; left to their own devices, people with extraordinary ambition, talent, and success in the areas of commerce and politics will support "the arts" without the government's prodding, because those types of people are the primary consumers for high art: I see no reason for any governmental support for what we do, since the world does not owe us a living just because we create music, and telling Joe Six-Pack that some of his hard earned money must be skimmed off of his taxes to support something he may not understand, like, or even approve of is decidedly unfair. Many "serious" artists think that we are somehow "special" and deserve grants and such - and, so long as those grants come from private foundations and not the government, that is perfectly fine (And people who want to will have more money to contribute to those kinds of things if the government would only end the idiotic policy of taxing productivity (income) instead of only consumption (spending): You want people to save more money Mr. Government Man? Then end the larcenous practice of taxing income and only tax spending. You know - as the founding fathers of this country intended.) - but I see artists as just another cog in a free market machine: We provide a service, and that is entertainment. That those of us with altruistic musical goals receive less compensation than mass-appeal pop stars is just the market at work, and there is nothing inherently unfair about it. In fact, that is a fine example of truly objective fairness. Call it social or economic Darwinism if you want, but it is objectively fair. Heartlessly so, but I'll take heartless and objective fairness to some activist politician's idea of fairness any hour of the day, any day of the week, any week of the month, any month of the year, any year of my life. What I do appeals to a smaller audience that what Steve Vai does: Since I provide my entertainment service for a smaller group of people than he does, I get compensated less accordingly. I'm OK with that, because it's perfectly and objectively fair.

The citizen is not the responsibility of the government, it is the other way around: The government is the responsibility of the citizen. When you upset this natural arrangement, you end up with myriad social ills. And they are that exactly: Illnesses that afflict the citizenry. The glue that binds communities together is interdependence: I need the food Joe sells, and he needs the entertainment I provide (To be simplistic about it), and so we have a symbiotic social relationship. Communities left to their own devices are also effectively self-policing where matters of conscience are concerned. You may not like that idea, but it has been a natural fact since man first identified with tribe. When the government interferes with this social symbiosis, this self-policing and the resultant self-restraint mechanisms fail to function. To take the most brutal example I can think of: You want to end teenage pregnancy and absentee fathering? End all forms of welfare (For the mother and the child), and force the communities to deal with their own behavioral problems. Since it has been generations now since people were compelled to do that - and they have forgotten how to as a result - it wouldn't be pretty, but it would happen, and the community would be better off for it in the long run. That more people don't equate welfare with slavery or at least servitude never ceases to amaze me. Welfare - each and every form of it - is social poison. It is a malefactor that acts as an infective agent to a community, and it creates the disease it purports to treat. What were once just a series of societal bouts with influenza have now become a chronic viral infection that can only be managed by the welfare programs that created it, but not cured by them. When the government effectively isolates people - makes them moral islands unto themselves - many other attendant social ills appear that range all the way from simple rudeness to petty theft, larceny, and even murder. Unfortunately, there is no glue binding most communities together anymore, because the government has dissolved it. Government grants to artists are welfare.

The primary responsibility of government is merely to protect the environment the citizens require to thrive. Number one on the list of ways that is accomplished would be by protecting the integrity of the borders. Living seventy miles north of the Rio Grande, I can assure you that our current government is an abject and utter failure in this area. Number two on that list would be to protect the country (Its land and infrastructure) from foreign aggressors. The US has the most overwhelmingly awesome military supremacy the world has ever known, and our citizens are probably better armed than some country's armies are, so I don't worry about - say - the Nicaraguan Army marching into Alpine, but I believe that a small group of well-financed terrorists could sneak in here and level the place with minimal resistance if it was a priority for them. I'm sorry, but that really, really, really pisses me off. I mean really. Really, really. For real. There is no excuse for that being the case. There is a reason, however. That reason is the right's fear of being labeled as racist, and the left's eagerness to label everybody who disagrees with them as racist. I call bullshit. On both sides. I have no dog in this fight, because I think both parties are equally idiotic, but the Democrats are certainly more equal. OK, much more equal.

As far as the law is concerned, I'm a Jeffersonian (Well, all of the founding fathers would be called radical libertarians in today's political environment, so I guess you could call me an originalist... or the epithet of your choosing). Tommy had a way with words:

"The legitimate powers of government reach actions only and not opinions" - Thomas Jefferson to Danbury Baptists, 1802

I find this quotation's situational birth to be highly ironic, because in my experience Baptists are the most small-minded and authoritarian-oriented of all Christian denominations. Yes, I live in a dry county in Texas. Yes, I'm a Missouri Synod Lutheran.

But this is my favorite, and it says it all:

"The error seems not sufficiently eradicated that the operations of the mind as well as the acts of the body are subject to the coercion of the laws. But our rulers can have authority over such natural rights only as we have submitted to them. The rights of conscience we never submitted, we could not submit. We are answerable for them to our God (I don't have a dog in this fight, but I do have a God in this fight - Ed.). THE LEGITIMATE POWERS OF GOVERNMENT EXTEND TO SUCH ACTS ONLY AS ARE INJURIOUS TO OTHERS. But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods, or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg." - Thomas Jefferson: Notes on Virginia Q.XVII, 1782. ME 2:221

Read that ten times through. I double-dog-dare you. Now, explain to me how it's some cop's business whether I wear my seat-belt or not. Or if I use my turn signal or not. Or if I go out and have a few beers and drive home (So long as I get myself home safely). Or if I want to drive 85 on an open stretch of the interstate. It's not. That's a fact, not my opinion. Now, I wear my seat-belt because I think it's a good idea. I don't go faster than 70 or 75 because I drive a large off-road 4X4 pickup truck that really doesn't want to go any faster than that. When I ride my motorcycles, it's armored jacket, armored pants, armored boots, armored gloves, and a full-face one-piece helmet. My decision. My choice. I have no problem with Joe Harley wearing shorts, a t-shirt, a pair of Birkenstocks, and a pair of Oakleys when he rides if he wants, and if he also perches his SO in a dental-floss bikini behind him, but I'm surely free to opine that he is an abject idiot for so doing, and she even more so for being with such a dim-bulb.

Basically, we no longer have "a government of the people, by the people, and for the people" in THESE United States (THE United states is both grammatically and conceptually incorrect): We have a government of the lawyers, by the lawyers, and for the lawyers. Let's face it - some genuinely nice, good, and decent guys like Hugh Hewett excepted - but lawyers as a group tend to be the lowest form of human life on earth. There is nothing honorable or altruistic about what they do; their job is a necessary evil, and that's all. As I like to say (Only half-jokingly); "If the love of money is the root of all evil, then lawyers ARE the love of money." Of course, William Shakespeare has the all-time greatest "only half-joking" quotation concerning lawyers: "First, let's kill all the lawyers." Note that he says "First": It's the number-one priority. I just freaking love that. The situation in this country today is that all of the laws are made by lawyers. Just look at the composition of the state houses and the congress: It's all lawyers with a few tokens. Having lawyers making laws is EXACTLY like having a wolf as a sheepdog. They make laws that benefit lawyers, not the general citizenry. In fact, they make laws that allow lawyers to predate upon the general citizenry.

It is an obvious and blatant conflict of interest to have lawyers involved in the lawmaking process IN ANY CAPACITY (Even as "advisors" because you know what they will advise: "Write it so that nobody will understand it but a lawyer; that way they'll have to hire one!"). If the founding fathers would have known that their legal profession would devolve in to it's current mob of ambulance-chasing shysters, they certainly would have barred (Ha, ha. Get it?) them from serving in the legislative branch. Which is obviously what ought to be done. Can you actually watch any congressional or senatorial proceedings on C-SPAN without getting the feeling that those people are abjectly vile? I get nausea to the point of nearly vomiting watching those evil bastards. It's like massive carnage that you just can't look away from until you must. For me, anyway.

So, you can boycott Yahoo or Google or bitch about Dubai owning American ports, or Wal-Mart going to the dogs since Sam died if you want; that is certainly your bee's-wax, and not mine. Personally, I'd just be happy if more people were aware of the fundamentals here in THIS country. The US had great promise, and a bunch of ass-hats in the congress and the senate flushed it down the crapper. It would also be nice if 85% of all government agencies were dissolved and 85% of all lawyers and cops were out of bee's-wax.

What's the solution? F*** if I know. I'm just a scuzz-bucket guitarist. I just look on from a persistent vegetative state of amazed bewilderment... and feel somehow above it all.

P.S. Thomas Jefferson also said, "My grandfather was a farmer, so that my father could be a businessman, so that I could be a lawyer, so that my son could be a poet." No greater economy of expression has ever been brought to bear on the American Dream. Pardon the conceit, but I am - in spirit, anyway - the son Jefferson wished he would have had (And one of my grandfathers was a farmer: The other was first baseman for the Chicago Whitesox).

Holy mackerel! It's four-thousand o'-freaking-clock in the dad-burned morning!!!

So yes, I think we should move to an independent site and ditch Yahoo. ROTFL!!!


Ars longa, vita brevis: Carpe diem!"


OK. So there is probably at least one law office I wouldn't mind visiting.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Miscelaneous Musings

I have to drive to a neighboring town today to see a man about a gig (Sixty mile round trip), so just a few minor points before I get my reqired guitar practice out of the way and head out.


I performed on the fretted Glissentar for the first time last night (I need to give that axe a new name. "Fretted Glissentar" just doesn't have a nice enough ring to it; Doesn't do it justice at all), and it went well. Basically, that means I didn't embarrass myself. ;^)

What I decided to do was to play the Multiac until my dinner break, and then the eleven-string afterward. That way not only was I all warmed up, but instead of playing my usual after dinner suites, I could replayed the first (And easiest) suites of my set. All was peachy until I attempted to start the third suite, and very suddenly I had absolutely nothing left. Just couldn't continue. That was OK inasfar as I was well within my "quit window" by that time, but I was surprised that it seemed to be going so well, and then everything just instantly vanished. The muscles in my left forearm are decidedly sore this morning, so it was obviously simply a matter of physical strength and endurance. When I got home last night, I was so shot I went straight to bed, and I had a nice nap before the gig!

I believe I'll continue to perform on the eleven-string in the after dinner spot until I can get through the first four suites of my set comfortably on it... and without any following AM muscle complaints. Then I'll move it to the top of the set, and trade to the Multiac at the half-way point of my pre-dinner suites. Eventually, I want to get to where I can play all circa two hours of my ever-expanding performance set on it.

Luckily, my friend Steve - who is the guitar teacher at Sul Ross State (And who has absolute pitch, and who plays keyboards, and who plays trombone, and who plays tuba, and who plays electric and upright bass, and who is a brilliant theorist: In a nutshell, I hate him) was in attendance, and he really liked the new "guitar." His analysis was spot on: "It almost sounds like a harpsichord!" Yes, that's it exactly! The timbre of the harpsichord is my ideal for contrapuntal textures, so that's one of the reasons I like the eleven-string so much. Neato.


The Tri-Axial Fugue is starting to grow on me, but I'm already coming up with ideas to increase the variety of content in it. Right now the archetectural plan is fine so far as the organization of the key regions is concerned, but it's a subject/episode, subject/episode, subject/episode bore at the moment. I was perusing the scores of my previously written Axial Studies this morning, and it occured to me that I need to use some of the sequential "B-sectiony" material from some of those (Or newly composed passages along those lines) to give the piece some more flowing song-like areas. Initial attempts were dismal failures, so the idea needs some time to germinate.


Well, that's going to have to be it for today. I sure hope I land this gig in Marfa; There is a huge artist community there, and this foot-in-the-door would certainly lead to more art opening and party type gigs for me. More art openings would mean more acoustic performing, which I sorely want right now.

This gig is at a coffee house and... book store.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Ten Random Selections from iTunes

This is something fun going around the blogosphere, so I thought I'd give it a try. What you do is, in iTunes (Or whatever your MP3 player is) you hit random and then list the first ten songs that come up. The idea is that you can't hide either your good or bad taste in music that way. Here's what I got:

1) Kody: Matchbox Twenty, Yourself or Someone Like You

2) Allegretto: Niccolo Paganini, Guitar Works of Niccolo Paganini

3) Moon, Turn the Tides....Gently, Gently Away: Jimi Hendrix, Electric Ladyland

4) Sarabande: Eliot Fisk, Guitar Fantasies

5) Day Tripper: The Beatles, 1

6) Never Die: Creed, Human Clay

7) Appalachian Spring: 4, Fast: Aaron Copland, Copland Conducts Copland

8) Battle We Have Won, Eric Johnson, Venus Isle

9) Contrapunctus 2: J.S. Bach, Art of Fugue, Davitt Moroney

10) I Still Can't Say Goodbye: Tommy Emmanuel, Endless Road

I currently have 877 songs in iTunes, and this is pretty representative of the schizoid selection my iPod is always giving me when I'm out riding my motorcycles. OK all you music bloggers, list ten random selections from your MP3 player.

Hucbald takes a break from riding and iPod listening at Guadalupe Peak State Park in far west Texas.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Tri-Axial Fugue in E

I came up with a cute bromide today. I think I'm going to start telling it to my students: "You don't have to know what you're doing to start composing a piece of music, but you do have to figure it out before you finish." What brought that to mind was the situation concerning the key relationships in this fugue. I was originally thinking of it as being in A, but some unseen and irresistable force kept dragging the thing toward E. Then the lighbulb went off above my noggin: The three axes the piece is based around are the open E, B, and G strings of the guitar; that spells an E minor triad. Duh.

Needless to say, knowing what key the piece is in made coming up with an ending a bit easier. ;^)

It also helped me to tighten up the organization of the previous sections. A lot of little things, but important ones. This would represent v1.0 alpha of the fugue, and as always with a guitar piece of mine, it really won't be finished until I learn how to play it. I have just a ton of ideas that I've developed, tested, and rejected, and some of them are quite nice, but for this first "completed" version I wanted to make it as short as possible. It's still 295 measures long, but at one point it was over 325, and that was without the recap and coda. This might sound long, but in 2/4 at 172 BPM that only comes to 3.4 minutes.

First change to page one would be the title, and then the key signature. The first episode is now a measure longer. This allowed me to converge on a singularity at A, and then arpeggiate out of it. This both better completes the first theme/key area (This is a sonata-process fugue, remember), as well as sowing seeds for later developments. These last two measures of the episode now prefigure the sequential figuration that comprises episode three and its subsequent derivatives.

At measure twenty the second theme/key area begins, which exposes A minor and its relative major of C. Since it's a fugue, it's monothematic, so most of the contrast is accomplished via regional variations, but the variations in the nature of the subject vis-a-vis the function of the zero axis as either the fifth or the third (And eventually the root in the coda) also plays a role.

The second episode on the bottom system builds up some energy and accomplished the modulation to C.

At the top of page two is the first statement in C with the open E-string zero axis functioning as the third of the tonic of the moment. That statement leads organically into the third episode, which has now been prefigured by episode one.

At the second statement in C the open G-string is the zero axis and is functioning as the fifth, which means the subject is back in its original form.

The fourth episode is the joint between the exposition and the upcoming varied repeat of it. At the time of the previous post it was unique, but now it reappears in a variant at the corresponding seam between the end of the development and the recapitulation.

One of the things I figured out about this piece is that it's not just a struggle between tonic and subdominant levels, but also between major and minor modes. As a result, the varied repition of the exposition now starts off with a fugal counter-exposition in Emajor/A major. This is really the only way it can be. The original expo has the most naturally related keys: E minor, A minor, and C major, while this one will have the less naturally related keys oriented around the same axial plan; E major, A major, C-sharp minor, and C minor. This plan allows for an increasing interest level to develop.

On the top system of the third page is the major mode version of the original first episode, and it has also been lengthened by a measure to get the same singularity/arpeggio effect. Then comes the octave inversion of the subject and countersubject one, followed by a more radically modulating version of the original second episode. This relationship between A major and C-sharp minor is "upside down" compared with the major/relative minor relationship at this point in the original expo.

After the C-sharp minor thematic statement, an even more radically modulating version of the original third episode appears to get the piece to C minor. I love these modulations and the emotional contrasts they elicit (Ha! The Aviator is on and they are using the orchestrated version of "Bach's" fugue in D minor as the background music. I love funny synchronicities). The C minor statement ends the page.

The episode at the top of page four is the joint between the end of the varied repeat of the exposition and the development area. I'm still not sure about his episode because I think something unique belongs here, but it works so darned well. The last major bad-ass fugue I wrote had a similar "issue" and it wasn't until a couple of months after I had "completed" it that the solution came to me, and that - literally - ended up making the piece. Can't rush the muse, I guess.

The development now begins with a minor mode version of the climax over a tonic pedal (Which is the open low E-string of the guitar) with countersubject one in the lead. This is actually pretty easy to play and sounds gorgeous, but not nearly as joyous as the upcoming major mode variant.

Each individual thematic statement now has its own truncated version of the original first episode, and it was the sheer overwhelming weight of the E pedal points which started me scratching my head over what tonic level this piece was actually in. It was somewhere around this point that I finally figured it out.

Like the original exposition, this first section of the development area presents the most naturally related keys: E minor, G major, and E minor again, while the upcoming repeat of the axial scheme presents the more remote relationships; E major, G-sharp minor, and E-flat major. Therefore, both the expository and developmental areas are bipartate in layout.


"Fastest man on earth." Great line. Too bad I won't have occasion to use it. I really love my Formac Studio TVR: It allows me to have a small TV screen in the lower right hand of my monitor at all times. I have my Satellite piped right into my computer. Anyway...


The second truncated version of the original first episode here accomplishes the modulation to G major, and that statement completes the fourth page.

The episode at the top of page five is a three-voice version of the third episode from the original exposition, and it re-modulates the fugue back to E minor for the first statement in which the open B-string zero axis is the third.

After that a three-voice version of the original second episode makes an appearance, and I put it over the open E pedal to increase the tension level as much as I could in preparation for the triumphant appearance of the main climaxes in E major/A major.

The E major version of the climax has countersubject two included in it, which was not in the minor mode version, and the A major version has an alternating E pedal to prefigure the final versions of the subject in the coda.

It's impossibe to describe the sonic athmospheres I created with these climaxes in this development section, but I'll post PDF and MIDI files on my FileShare page later tonight or tomorrow so you can listen to it if you want.

Page six begins with the truncated version of the original first episode that effects a modulation to G-sharp minor, where the B as third makes its second and final appearance. Then the three-voice version of the original third episode appears that takes the piece down for the E-flat major statement. This is a very strange passage. I dig it.

After the E-flat major thematic statement the second appearance of a variant of the fourth episode appears to bridge the gap between the end of the development and the recap. The C in this episode is the melodic peak of the piece in its current version, but I have some additional episodic passages in mind that will take the piece to the E above that C (At least).

The recap begins just as the varied exposition did, but with the statements now in E and A minor.

The final appearance of the A tonal level begins the next-to-last page, and it is followed by a truncated version of the original first episode which returns the piece to E minor for the beginning of the coda: Only the previous two thematic statements are recapitulated.

The guitar's low E string makes it's initial appearance here with a melodically inverted version of the subject with the zero as tonic, also for the first time. After the corresponding episode the high E-string answers - also being zero as tonic - (More orchestrated D minor fugue in The Aviator... too funny), and its episode changes mode and prefigures the conclusion of the fugue. Here the four bars are repeated once: At the end they will appear three times.


Amazing airplane crash scene! (Yup: Guy thing. Daring-do, massive destruction, and torrents of fire: How can you beat that?)


Last page (Whew!) Here we have the concluding E major statements which are otherwise just like the previous E minor statements, followed by the concluding episode which winds the piece down. Now...


I wimped out an put a lower saddle on the fretted Glissentar. It works! The higher tension B and E strings don't buzz like the stockers did. I can play it just fine now, so I'm going to play it at tomorrow's gig.

I need to practice some. Or, perhaps I'll watch some of the Olympics.

I love the Winter Olympics.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Axial Fugue II

This is quickly becoming my favorite piece of all time. I was awake for over thirty-six hours straight working on it, and that hasn't happened to me for over ten years; since I wrote my string quartet fugue. This fugue, like the previous one, has been directly inspired by Bach, but unlike the previous fugue, this is for the guitar, which I'm far more excited about since I'll be able to play it myself. Not to mention that it's an order of magnitude more advanced in both concept and execution. And size: It's at a fast tempo, so it won't be very long in duration, but as the plan stands now, it will end up being circa two-hundred-fifty measures in length. This is by far the largest piece I've ever written, though I've attempted and abandoned larger ones.

I have decided to treat this piece as a sonata-process one (Since this is a post-Haydn world, after all (That's a joke, by the way)), so the term "exposition" - as I'll be employing it - will refer to a section of the piece that extends beyond just the subject/answer area of a traditional fugue. Since it's a sonata-process piece, the radical selection of tonal regions it explores is actually a natural, and not an anomaly.

This fugue is tri-axial in its conception (Hey, I'll have to put that into the title: Tri-Axial Fugue), the three axes being the open E, B, and G strings of the guitar. As I stated previously, the zero-axis of a melody can be the root, third, or fifth of any given tonic major or minor triad. This would give a total of eighteen possibilities for thematic statements, and including key-overlap between the axes, would total thirteen different key regions. This embarrassment of riches has required me to make certain decisions to restrict the possibilities so as to keep this piece under control. What I have decided to do for the exposition, it's varied repeat, and the development areas is to restrict the possibilities to those resulting from the instances where the zero-axis functions as the third or fifth of the respective tonic triads. Doing this results in the reduction of the key possibilities from thirteen to nine. This is still quite a bit, and as you will see results in some interesting modulations.

For the recapitulation section, I may allow the zero-axis to functon as the root in those cases where it overlaps with the previous nine keys: That would be E major and E minor. Which brings up an interesting point: I have concieved of this piece as being in A minor, but I have a hunch it is going to end up in E minor. The subdominant relationships add an interesting flavor to it if I look at it that way. Whatever. ;^)

Interesting Battlestar Galactica tonight (As usual).

Cool: Sin City is on Encore. I love that movie. It's like a film noir comic book (Guy thing).

I have added a tempo indication: This is a quick little ditty, but 180 was pressing it just a tad. Once I got to the first climaxes in the development, I wanted them to boaden a bit so as to bask in the environments I had created. The initial subject/answer (Or, answer/subject) statements have not changed, but I have replaced the first episode with a new one that I came up with when I was writing in the development area. It has the desirable qualities of releasing tension (Especially necessary after the three and four voice statements (Oh yeah: It's got some four-voice areas in it now)), and it is also open-ended, which allows for modulations to almost anywhere.

After this new and improved (And shorter) episode, the bass get's the subject in A minor at measure nineteen, which spins off the next episode which modulates to the relative of C major. Previously, this was an octave inversion of the first episode, but now this is the first time it's heard. This is another improvement, because the next episode is an octave and an intevallic inversion of this one; hearing it only twice is one improvement, and combining the intervallic and octave inversions into one variation is another.

The first statement of the subject in C is also the first instance where the zero-axis functions as the third of the tonic triad of the moment. Following is the octave/intervallic version of the previous seven-bar episode, only this one does not modulate at all. I like the organic way all of the episodes spin out of the thematic statements.

At measure forty-seven, the second statement of the original form of the subject (Fifth as zero) in C appears in the lower voice, and with that, the exposition is over with. The episode that returns to the beginning (E minor) is unique (So far), and the way that the G and A at the end of measure fifty-three coverge on the G-sharp into fifty-four is really nice.

In bar sixty the varied repeat of the exposition starts, and the pattern of the original exposition is followed exactly, with only the temporary tonics being varied. After the E minor statement with the drone open E in the lead, the second countersubject is introduced in A minor at sixty-seven.

On top of page three the tension-releasing, open-ended episode makes its second appearance, and by adding as the only variation from the previous iteration the F-sharp in the last measure, a "modulation" to the parallel-major region of A is effected. The next thematic statement at seventy-eight is exactly like the statement in the original exposition, except with respect to gender. Having this in A major instead of A minor not only presents the new tinoc and ticks it off of the list, but it also makes the following modulation to C-sharm minor easier.

The episode at eighty-five is also exactly like the previous episode in the same position of the original exposition, except that it modulates to C-sharp minor instead of C major. This is just cool as all get out.

At ninety-two the C-sharp minor statement appears with the open E-string functioning as the minor third. I just absolutely love this. There is just such a nice level of tension going on here.

The next episode at ninety-nine is the real killer, though, as it modulates from C-sharp minor to C minor while remaining totally true to the original version. I get two sharps out of the way at 103, where it lands on a D major sonority, and two more are gone at 106, where it arrives on C. The following B-flat is just too cool for words, and the arpeggiated augmented triad leading into the next thematic statement is a great answer for the diminished and half-diminished seventh arpeggios which have gone before.

Bottom of the page is the statement in C minor, also exactly like the corresponding previous statement in C major in every way except for mode.

The episode at the top of page four is a little problematic. This is the place where, in the original exposition, the arpeggiated - and so far unique - episode bridged the joint between the end of the first exposition and the beginning of the varied repetition of it (Which we have come to the end of at this point). I couldn't use the same device as I did in the previous episode because from C minor there isn't a whole step for the notes to converge from. The semitone between A-flat and G at the end of 112 meant that G-sharp would have been an enharmonic. Needless to say, this experiments with that option did not work out very well. I have ended up using another variant of the first version of the seven-bar episode here - and it works perfectly - but I can't help but think that I need something which will work pluperfectly to introduce the first climaxes of the development section. This will just have to do for now.

At 120 the first climactic statement appears in E major with B as the zero of the subject, which allows for countersubject one to be played in the lead on the high E-string. The E pedal point is just the low E-string, so this is actually fairly easy to play. It reaches a level of sublimity I've never achieved on the guitar before. It's just really magnificent in its effect, if I do say so myself.

Though this statement corresponds in position to the previous two statements in E minor at the beginning of the exposition and its varied repeat, the exuberant nature of it required the tension-releasing, open-ended episode as a reprieve. This is, in fact, the point at which I wrote it: I then went back and replaced the original first episodes with simpler versions of it.

The A major statement at 131 uses countersubject two, and it too has a triumphant effect to it, and it too is played over open strings in the bass. This time the high E-string has the zero, of course.

After this statement's following episode, the piece returns to E major for a varied repetition of this climax. A Baroque or Classical composer probably wouldn't set a section up like this, but I am admittedly very highly influenced by many years of songwriting: I like repeats when the material is interesting.

When I got to 142, I actually had to pick up a guitar to see if the passage was feasable. After so many years of playing and writing for solo classical guitar, this hardly ever happens anymore. It's really only workable if the player uses the c-finger of the right hand. Since I've used my "c" since I started playing, I'll be able to manage it. I think.

Basically, this is the three voiced combination of the subject and the two countersubjects over a tonic pedal, so it's really only three voices, though the texture has five of the guitar's six strings singing simultaneously. It's bad-ass.

On top of page five is the required tension-releasing episode, after which the three/four/five-voice version of the A major statement appears. This is just so dense and rich.

During this statement's tension-releaser at 160, the development continues with a modulation to G major. At this statement, the open B-string functions as the third of the tonic of the moment for the first time. This is a cool statement, but is nicely at a lower level of riotous joy than the previous E major/A minor climaxes. This facilitates the return to a minor mode which the episode at 171 accomplishes. This is just like the second seven bar episodes from the expo and it's variant, but with a third voice added.

The re-arrival to E minor at 177 is quite dark after so long a time in major modes, but in a beautifully excruciating way. The final thematic statement that I've written (So far) at 178 has the G-axis/string functioning as the thrid for the first time, and I need a non-modulatory episode here to return to the climaxes, only this time they will be in the minor modes. I'm stuck.

What I am going to do now (Sin City is over, and there's nothing goo on... thankfully) is write that second climactic section out and see if any ideas come to me. Where we just had G major and E minor here, there will be G-sharp minor and E-flat major following the minor mode climaxes. Should be interesting.

Right now I'm thinking the piece will end in E minor or E major with the open high E-string functioning as the tonic for the first time, and the low open E-string prforming the same function, only this time with an inverted form of the subject. That will probably open a whole new can o' worms requiring a rather lengthy coda (sigh).

Whoever said, "The way to a man's heart is through his stomach" never met me.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Axial Fugue

J.S. Bach's fugue from the Tocatta and Fugue in D minor for organ inspired a set of eighteen Axial Studies for solo guitar that I wrote years ago. The way that happened was that Joseph Schillinger quoted the subject from that fugue in his System of Musical Composition as an example of a melody in which the zero axis was played, instead of being only implied. I realized that the repeated note zero axis would be a very idiomatic device for the guitar if I employed the open strings, and so I wrote those studies as a way to practice writing two voice counterpoint for the guitar. Since the zero axis can be the root, third, or fifth of the tonic major or minor triad, that gave six studies each for the open high E-string, the B-string, and the G-string. I wrote the first of those back in 1988 or 1989, and had them finished up by about 1990 or 1991. They are not immitative, but I consider them my guitarist's answer to the Two-part Inventions. They still comprise a significant part of my set to this day.

Over they years, as I have listened to Bach's original fugue more, I am beginning to thing dangerous thoughts about it. This may seem like heresy, but I don't think Bach wrote it, and if he did, I think it was originally written for the lute. The reason that it seems unlikely to me that he wrote it is that the subject's concept is very nice, but the execution is rather clumsy. As a result, it is not possible to write any countersubjects to it which have very much contrapuntal vigor. In fact, the solutions as they exist in the fugue consist of almost exclusively parallel movement in thirds and sixths or their compounds. This seems rather lame for Bach, but I'm certainly no musicologist.

I downloaded the music for it a few nights ago, and as I started to look at it closely it occured to me that transposed to the key of E minor it might transcribe nicely to the guitar. The fugue famously has the answer at a fourth above the initial statement of the subject, which is another reason I think this was originally a lute piece that Bach arranged for the organ: The open strings of the lute would make such a thing natural, and not peculiar in the least. And as I mentioned before, there is the fact that the technique used in the subject is completely idiomatic for plucked string instruments. So, I transcribed it for the guitar. All I had to do to make it "fit" was to lower the low E down to D and octave-transpose a few passages, and it really was no work at all. Piece of cake, in fact. So easy I can't believe that nobody has done this before.

Well, it's a serious virtuoso piece for solo guitar, and the clunky subject and lame counterpoint bothered me, so I just didn't think it would be a worthy investment of my time to learn it (Some of the episodes are very cool, and some of them totally bite). The problem is, the Baroque lute had, like, thirteen courses of strings, so it could play things that are just not even conceivable on the guitar. So, since I had written a "repaired" or "improved" version of the subject anyway - which allows for much more varied and interesting counterpoint - I decided to just write my own piece. It will be much more idiomatic for the guitar this way, and it will be... mine.

It's going to be a monster. Since I have done so many experiments with axes, I have a lot of ideas for it. Here's the first page:

I've seen various attempts to rationalize the answer at the fourth, but the way I'm writing this piece, it's in A minor, and the first statement of the subject is... the answer. I also changed the texture to eighth notes and the time signature to 2/4. You can see the differences between Bach's subject and mine easily enough. By using the growth series-related rotational figures I employed, I was able to write the subject so that in it's initial form, it modulates all on it's own and deposits the lowest voice on the real tonic.

That series of rotational figures also allowed for a countersubject in half notes that has a very interesting property to it: It has a very "hollow" sound. The initial intervals in evey measure are perfect - P11, P8, P5, P8, P5, P8, P11 - and they are palindromic as well. Only the very last quarter note has an imperfect interval on the attack. Some counterpoint books say you shouldn't alternate octaves and fifths, and those counterpoint books are full of shit: It's a cool sound. You just know this fugue is "going to get all medieval on yo' ass" when you hear it.

You may think this is going to be a two voice fugue. You would be wrong. It's going to be three voices, but the initial subject/countersubject combination is going to be presented in both octave inversions and both modes before the second countersubject appears (That's why I have it on two staves).

After the first two appearances of the subject (Which use the guitar's open B and E strings respectively), there is an episode of the same length as the thematic statements before the lower voice gets the subject again. It is important to note that I usually try to write subjects that are and odd number of measures in length, because the resulting fugue flows better that way. Even measure lengths for subjects often get you into that Tyrrany of Four bind, and the phrases end up sounding too regular.

The third statement at measure twenty-two does not have an open string for the zero axis, and as a result it's fairly difficult to execute. Any time the bass part moves fast on the guitar it's a problem, and this is moving quite briskly here (Quarter= 180). Both this statement and the following episode are octave-inverted from their original positions, and as a result the perfect fifths and perfect elevenths have exchanged places. This is just way freaking cool (Note: I treat the fourth as a consonance or a dissonance, depending.... just depending).

The end of the inverted first episode modulates the piece to the relative major, where I have a real cool trick waiting up my sleeve:

This is the subject, but it isn't in its original form: Originaly the fifth was the zero axis, but now it's the third that takes over that function. This not only allows me to use the open E-string again, but the first four measures now have imperfect intervals on the attacks - M9, M6, M3, m6 - before going back to the P5/P8 alternation. The countersubject is exactly the same until the end, where it turns the other direction so I can get a new episode spun out of it. That episode ends up being an intevallically inverted variant of the previous two episodes.

When the lower voice gets its statement in the relative, the subject is back in its original form, and this allows for the open G-string to be used. With that, the two-part presentation of the initial materials is completed, and so a fresh episode takes us back to the "beginning" - as it were - with the statement appearing under the B-axis. The repeated open E's above make a kind of inverted pedal, which increases the intensity level significantly after all of this time spent in two voices. Of course, they also prepare for the upcoming full three-voice statement of the subject and countersubjects one and two as well.

Countersubject two - which is the middle voice - crosses the subject a couple of times, but I was able to make it work out so that the only unison is on B, which is an open string, so it's perfectly playable (One of the reasons the guitar is in some ways better for counterpoint than a piano: Unisons). Anyway, I wrote in a concluding chord, but it's far from finished: I want to get inverted froms and use the tonic as zero too. This could end up over two-hundred measures easy.

Good Lord, it's light outside! I need to get some sleep.

I'm feeling artistic: give me that palette and I'll paint you. No, I'll paint you.