Sunday, November 30, 2014

Fuga Electronica: First Test Recordings

Once I got the recording stations repurposed, I decided to use the FS1R's to record test tracks of the entire Fuga Electronica album. These are just using Yamaha factory presets, and I only needed to use four different sounds to test the recording system, so there isn't a lot of variety, but they sure are light-years better than the MIDI-to-MP3 conversions I did with soundfonts. These are uncompressed CD-quality AIFF files, so enjoy!

1] Allegro

This is a sonata-process piece, and also a scherzo. It is based on the humorous musical phenomenon that if you take a two-measure fugue subject in 6/8 and double the note values, it ends up a four-measure subject in 3/4. So, the opening fugato is in 6/8, and the second theme is in 3/4, but it is just the first theme in augmentation. In the development section, the piece starts out with the same fugato, but now in 3/4 and augmentation, and in the relative major. The augmented subject and tonal answer also make a canon with two measures of delay and overlap, and the development section explores this possibility, with the "repeat" in the development exposing the full subject/subject/subject/answer four-part canon. This piece dates from 2011, so it is relatively new


2] Lament

Here we have the oldest piece in the set, which dates from 1990 when I was working on my MM degree. The subject is unusual in that it begins on the third degree, so it has to be accompanied at the beginning to establish the tonality. For this reason, it's what Bach would have called a Sinfonia, or a three-part invention, in modern terms. The answer is in inversion, which makes for a unique exposition and middle-entry series. It's quite emotional and dramatic.


3] Valse Macabre

This waltz is the only 3/4 piece in the set, and it is quite bizarre because the subject begins with a tritone and is a twelve-tone row: Do, Fi, Sol, Mi, Fa, Me, Le, La, Te, Ti, Re, Ra, (Do). The subject and real answer also make a canon at one measure of delay/three measures of overlap, which is at the very end, with the answer in the bass. Very gnarly. I composed this on back in 1995.

Valse Macabre

4] Andante

Originally for string quartet, this is the closest to Bach's late Musical Offering/Art of Fugue style that I ever got, and then I went off in another direction. The five measure subject makes a four-part canon at the octave, which is the recap, and a three part hyper-stretto where the rectus, inversus, and augmentationem versions all start simultaneously, which is the coda. It's from 1994 when I was working on a DMA at UNT.


5] Jubilate

This is a twelve-years-later take on the same type of approach as the Andante, - 2006 - but the canon here is between the subject and the answers. The answers in the canon aren't real or tonal, however, they're modal, as I didn't inflect what would be the secondary leading tone. This was a very valuable discovery, as it lead to some very nice dialog in the middle entries. There is again a hyper-stretto to end the piece.


6] Scherzo Comico

At exactly sixty seconds - I called it The Minute Fugue for a while - this piece from 2005 is the shortest duration of the set. It was originally for chamber orchestra, but there was a long and boring version for string trio from 1993 that I scrapped, so the subject goes way back. The concluding stretto between the subject and the tonal answer is the most difficult of all to compose: It's at a single beat of delay.

Scherzo Comico

7] Allegretto

This piece, also from 2005 - that was a good year for composing for me - was originally for solo guitar. There is a concluding stretto, but what makes this subject work for the guitar is that it lends itself to the use of suspension chains, which you'll hear throughout the middle entries: 4-3's, 7-6's, and 2-3's. The concluding stretto is unique as all voices enter on the same pitch - the open E-string of the guitar - and so the first voice ends up as the bass, the second in the middle, and the final voice on top.


8] Adagio

At 9:55, this is the big enchilada; a five-voice fugue with a five-measure subject that makes a five-part canon at the octave, so that, at the fifth entry, you hear all five measures of the subject simultaneously. Not only that, but it dovetails with itself in augmentation in three voices, and with a modified augmented form in five... and back again, so that there are three-voice and five-voice perpetual canons in the piece, with the five-voice canon at the end. I could do a full Art of Fugue style treatment with this subject, which I may do in my old age (I didn't even use any inverted forms, because they create too many possibilities!). I finished this in 2013, just last year, but the five-voice perpetual canon dates back to 2006, and I came up with the subject in 2003, so it took ten years for me to get to the bottom of this subject.


9] Finale

This is the most epic ricercare I've ever written, at 405 measures, but it's "only" 5:40 in duration due to it being in 2/4 and at 144 BPM. It's a free-voiced piece that was originally for solo guitar, believe it or not, but it would take a Yamashita to play it. It is based on the Sergi Taneiev concept of vertical-shifting counterpoint: Since there is only contrary and oblique motion between the subject and countersubject - no parallel motion at all - both melodic trajectories can be doubled in thirds (Or sixths, but not on guitar). I expose the full combination in the recap.


I was going to make quick-and-dirty Synclavier recording next, but the old floppy drives decided not to write, so I have to get that dealt with (I'll soon have spares to keep from getting sidetracked like this). So, I'm going to go ahead and start programming custom FS1R sounds, which was supposed to be the third thing on my to-do list. If I get far enough along with that, I may post some more "orchestrated" FS1R versions before the Synclavier stuff. In the final product, the Synclavier, 2xFS1R's, and the percussion in Logic Pro X will be combined into a digital orchestra. It's a long term production project, but I've been working on this since 1990 - twenty-four years! - so I'm not in a hurry.