Wednesday, February 01, 2012

And Then There Were Three

When I wrote Imitation Study Number 1 back in 2010, it was the realization of my very first goal when I began learning counterpoint: I naively though writing in the two-part invention format would be a good place to start back in the late 80's, but it wasn't. First of all, I needed to develop basic counterpoint technique back then, secondly, I needed to learn fugue, and finally, I had to figure out a way to put it all on the guitar.

Now, I think I have completely changed my fugue writing technique to start with an octave fugue for the guitar first, and then develop further versions. This one now makes three that have reached states of balance, and I'm currently working on number four. In fact, I'm going back through all of the fugue subjects that I've ever composed, and realizing two-part invention format pieces for the guitar with them. If I can get most of them to work out - some really need answers at the fifth or fourth - that will be a nice collection of some ten odd pieces.

Aside from the fact that this two-part style is too ascetic for most musical tastes, there is also the fact that almost all of these pieces will end up in A minor or A major due to the idiomatic requirements of the guitar, nevertheless, I really like how these are turning out, and hey, that's really all that matters.

So, mere hours after the previous post, I tried the most obvious solution to presenting the second stretto I wanted to display - I just inserted the twelve measures of it - and it worked.

Here's the new ACC audio file: Imitation Study Number 3

No changes here except for formatting: There are now only three systems on this page, which are the exposition and first sequential episode.

The contrapuntal inversion of the subject, countersubject, and sequential episode - which is on the top two systems - is also unchanged. It's at 24 that the incised material begins, and this is a stretto at three measures of delay/two measures of overlap. Not only that, but this is also a perfect dovetail: The countersubject is unmodified until the point of interruption in the lead, and then it continues without modification in the bass at twenty-nine.

The way this works at twenty-six into twenty-seven is interesting: The final interval of twenty-six is B over C-sharp - a minor seventh - and this proceeds in parallel motion into a major sixth at the start of twenty-seven - A over C. Noticing these unequal-parallel opportunities is one of the things one learns in pursuit of contrapuntal understanding.

The end of the overlap in twenty-nine puts the music back to measure eight of the exposition...

... complete with the original version of the sequential episode. So, the sequential episode is stated in its original form, then contrapuntally inverted, and then back in the original: Nicely balanced, and it keeps with the extreme economy of expression I strive for in these initial fugal constructs.

From thirty-six on then, the piece is as before.

As I mentioned previously, this subject makes a five-voice canon with itself, but for this guitar version I had to avoid the version with three measures of overlap. The reason is because that version puts the dotted-quarter/eight figures of the third measure against the quarter/eighth-triplets of measure five: Those cross-rhythms are trivial for individual string players to execute, but nightmarish for a solo guitarist.

So, forty-eight measures and no modulations. The elements are subject, countersubject, sequential episode and coda. To make this a fugue with a real answer at the twelfth, I'll need to add an element, which will be a modulating interlude. No joy there yet, but I have other projects demanding attention now.

Before anything else, however, midnight marks Groundhog Day, and every year I watch the old Bill Murray comedy of the same name. It really is a comedic masterpiece, and the beer is chilled.


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