Sunday, December 20, 2015

Fugal Science, Volume 2, Number 3: Four-Voice Fugue, v1.0

Very happy to have the first version of Fugal Science, Volume 2 completed! Today's piece is Number 3, which is for string quartet. As an aside, I believe I'll arrange Number 2 for wind trio. The subject has two natural places for rests, and when they're augmented and then doubly-augmented, it should give the players plenty of breathing time. They keys are also coming into focus, as I think the guitar and orchestra pieces will be in A minor (No other possible key for guitar, and the oboe limits the orchestra to A minor as well), and then this one will be in g-minor, as the viola limits the piece to that level with a c-sharp to the dominant (I don't think I want the open c-string, but I'm not positive. F-sharp minor could be good too). Since I need flute, clarinet, and bassoon for the trio due to the wide range of the parts, That one may go down to f-minor. Not positive yet, though. Just thinking in writing here. The tempi are also coming into focus: 81 BPM for the guitar piece, 72 for the trio, and 63 for the quartet so far.

Here's the audio file for Fugue for String Quartet.

As usual, it's an AIFF file, so you'll need QuickTime activated in your browser, and opening it in another tab will allow you to follow the score while you listen.

This will be quick, as everything here is the same as the string trio.

At sixteen, we return with the episode version that has the lead line continuing up to prepare for the fourth thematic entry, just as in the five-part Ricercare.

Without the fifth entry, we are left on the dominant level, so the episode at twenty-five is unique in that respect, and it also has a unique voice arrangement, which is heard nowhere else in the cycle. Plus, it requires a fifth measure so it can modulate back to the tonic, and this is what I spent the most time coming up with. As is common for me, the solution came to me as I was drifting off to sleep. The chromatic triplet figure in the lead is very tasty.

This gets us to where we need to be at the interlude, back on the tonic level. In thirty-six, the middle entries start, and everything goes down to two voices, just as in the five-part Ricercare, only an octave higher (One reason I want this in g-minor is because how very high the parts get without the contrabass octave to work with). However, there is a voice-leading break after the cadence - perfectly acceptable, but not as smooth as all the other versions - so I'm still looking for a smoother transition.

This is the same music as in the five-part piece, but as you can see, it goes up to c-natural above the fifth line. G-minor will help, but f-sharp-minor is tempting. The violas could play the b-double-sharp with the open c-string, of course.

Another reason to lower the key is so that the c-natural in the exposition of the Ricercare is the highest note in the cycle.

Finally, these high, excruciating dissonances sound fantastic, but they would be less intimidating for the players a tad lower. F-sharp minor might be the right key.

Now that the three-part Musical Escher Morph has run its course, it's time for the four-voice section.

Besides the top voice, which descends to take over for violin two in the accompaniment, before its thematic entrance, this is all the same as the five-voice version.

The climax of this section - the clash between the cello and viola in measure 109 - is much more tart an octave higher, which is a feature I like a lot about this version.

So finally, we get the episode and interlude in their most normative forms.

Now comes the four-part version of the concluding perpetual canon/Musical Escher Morph, which is the same, other than not having a fifth entry.

This iteration is quite full sounding, and not much seems to be missing, as opposed to the three-part arrangement.

The conclusion over the ostinato is less satisfying than the five-voice finish, but the uninitiated listener won't know that, of course. I also used the chromatic triplet conclusion here, which is revealed for the first time. All voices in all four pieces end on the tonic, by the way.

There is only a five measure difference in the length of this from the five-part arrangement - 149.5 measures versus 154.5 measures - and I may edit this piece down a bit yet. We will see. Now, however, I want to get on the three-part fugue in Volume 1.


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