Monday, December 14, 2015

Fugal Science, Volume 2, Number 2: Three-Voice Fugue, v2.1

Unexpectedly, the three-part fugue for Volume 2 of Fugal Science came together over just the past three days. Version 1.0 was just the first page here, plus the last two pages: Exposition, episode one, interlude, and recapitulation; version 2.0 was exactly what we have here - with the three-voice Escher Morph and episode two added - but episode two was not in augmentation, as I now have it. That was the last thing I came up with, and it gives this fugue something unique, beyond the three-part version of the perpetual canon at the recap and coda.

If you've heard the five-voice Ricercare for Orchestra already, this version may not strike you as immediately as satisfying, but keeping in mind that it's meant to be heard after the two-part Fugue for Solo Guitar, it then becomes much more impressive. These pieces are a progressive revelation of the subject's possibilities.

Here is the audio file for the Three-Voice Fugue for String Trio, then.

As per usual, this is an AIFF file, so you'll need to have QuickTime activated in your browser, and I suggest opening the sound file in another tab, so you can listen and follow the score. Also, I used string choir sounds, as I never have found any solo string soundfonts that I can tolerate.

On the first three systems, we get the three-voice exposition, which is exactly like the first three entries in the five-part Ricercare, but coming from the two-voice guitar version, the listener won't know that. The answer is real, of course, and that's a new element revealed here. The c-natural in measure seven is the pitch climax of the piece - all of these fugues with an answer will have the highest note in the exposition - and the exposition also goes into the first episode in the same way as the orchestral arrangement. The episode is changed here, however, as the lead line drops an octave, versus continuing up to prepare for the fourth thematic entry/second answer appearance.

Having already finished the finale for the present volume, one of the decisions I had to make was just how much to reveal in this version. The former goes down to two voices at the beginning of the middle entries, but two factors kept me from doing that here: One, I didn't want to reveal that yet, and two, I wanted to maintain three continuous voices throughout. So what we get here is the three-part Musical Escher Morph that is on the dominant level in the Ricercare, but in the tonic here. The difference in effect due to the lower tessitura is quite pronounced, and that will be another feature unique to this version, as I've already decided to put it in the dominant for the string quartet (Which will also go to two parts at the beginning of the middle entries).

The Escher Morph plays out just as it did in the Ricercare otherwise, but at sixty-seven I had to do a new thing: Put the second episode in augmentation. This is the point where it goes up to four voices in the Ricercare (and as it will in the upcoming string quartet), but that had a direct modulation from the dominant to the tonic, as well as a new subject entry associated with it. The original version of the episode just didn't have the right effect, and the idea to put it in augmentation came to me quite quickly. This allows the quickness of the texture to accelerate more gradually and logically into the upcoming interlude.

Now that we've heard two versions of the episode, the third-time logic of the repeat scheme kicks in, and it's time for the interlude, which is the only time we need it in this piece, as the three-voice variant of the perpetual canon begins immediately afterwards, at measure eighty-two.

Keeping in mind that these perpetual canons/Escher Morphs will be new to the uninitiated listener - all the guitar could present was a dovetail stretto, and the rest of the ever-closer stretti - and you can see how familiarity with the five-part arrangement could be a disadvantage here, but after the guitar version, this piece will be quite nice. Familiarity with all four arrangements, however, will foster a greater appreciation for the thematic possibilities that are progressively revealed. Obviously, this is an amazing subject with myriad potentialities, some of which came as surprises to me after devising it. I just thought I was composing a five-part canonic stretto!

I think the string quartet version will now come together quickly, and I'll have the first version of Volume 2 completed! It's obvious to me now that Volume 1 will be the more problematic, but even that is beginning to come into focus.

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