Saturday, October 22, 2016

Fugal Science: Vol. 2, No. 2 - Three-Part Fugue for String Trio

EDIT: This is part 6 of 8. Here are the links to the entire series:

Index of Fugal Science, Volumes 1 and 2

Both the guitar fugue and this one adhere to the continuously-voiced method I used in volume one, but hereafter it is not like that. Also like the previous guitar fugue, this one does not modulate, except for the real answer on the dominant in the exposition; that will change for the next two fugues as well.

Here's today's audio file, which is again just the sound fonts I compose with.

Three-Part Fugue for String Trio

An AIFF file, so you'll need to use QuickTime.

We're a whole step lower than before at g-minor now, and the tempo has broadened from ninety to eighty-one BPM. With the real answer at measure six, we get the main counter-answer, which still includes the head of the subject in augmentation, but unlike the guitar fugue, this time we'll get to see some of what that portends. I use an alto, soprano, bass entry scheme, which is necessary to set up for not just the rest of this fugue, but the rest of the fugues in this volume.

The first appearance of the four measure episode happens at measure sixteen, and again, it has to be in this configuration.

For the first middle entries we get a remarkable three-voice mensural canon that leads into a perpetual canon. First, the subject in canon at two measures of delay/three measures of overlap does an Escher morph into itself in augmentation, which would be a single measure of delay in the original note values. Then, the augmented subject canon does an Escher morph into a doubly-augmented version of the subject, which has a diatonicised body, and no tail figure. This would be a half-measure of delay in the original note values.

During the doubly-augmented segment, we get some super-hot dissonances in which the bVI(M7) appears in voicings in which the root is above the major-seventh, yielding a sizzling minor ninth. The order of entry back at the beginning of this section - soprano, alto, bass - had to be that way to yield this wonderful chain of effects. Dissonance flow, as I call it. Again, any musical effect can be a resource, and yield a beautiful effect, if used in the right context with a compelling logic.

As the doubly-augmented statements leave the stage, they re-transition back to the augmented statements, creating a perpetual canon. The augmented statements do not work out to go back to the original note values, so the doubly-augmented version reenters to prove the perpetual canon, and then we get the second episode, in the same configuration as before, but now in augmentation. This is a unique feature of this particular fugue.

After the second episode, it's time for the one and only interlude, which is seven measures this time, as it comes to a full stop to introduce the recapitulation canon at one measure of delay. This is the same perpetual canon as before, but now starting out in the original note values.

After the recapitulation/perpetual canon has proven itself, the piece winds down over an ostinato of the tail figure. This is bad-to-the-bone cool, but it gets ever more impressive during the next two fugues. The ending is to a pluperfect resolution in which all of the voices - ti-do, sol-do, and re-do - converge on the tonic. Only the guitar fugue uses a minor tonic resolution, which is a logical idiomatic consideration. By the Ricercare, all five voices will resolve to the tonic. It is a major philosophical element of this volume.

I have to make a digital fair copy of the four-part fugue, so I'll be back in a few days with that.

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