QUESTIONS
REGARDING A FUGUE
 

from Siglind Bruhn
J.S. Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier
In-depth Analysis and Interpretation
 

2.1

What is the subject of this fugue like?

a)

How long is it?
How does it commence -- with a strong beat or an upbeat?
Where does it end?

b)

Is it made up of one indivisible phrase, or does it consist of several subphrases?

c)

What kind of pitch outline does it show?
Does it contain mainly small intervals, or many leaps?
Does it feature any special intervals,
i.e. intervals of particularly high tension?

d)

What is the rhythm within the subject?
Does it contain many different note values?
Are there dotted notes, tied notes, syncopations?
Are these rhythmic features also prevalent
throughout the entire fugue?

e)

What is the subject's harmonic background?

f)

Considering harmony, melody and rhythm, where is the climax within the subject and what kind of dynamic outline is expressed?

2.2

What is the importance of the subject in this fugue?

a)

How many subject statements does the fugue contain altogether?
In which part (or voice) and in which bars do they appear?

b)

Does the subject remain basically unchanged, or are there modifications, of detail, shape or length?

c)

Does the subject ever appear in stretto or parallel?

2.3

How many counter subjects does Bach use in this fugue?
Answer for each of them:

a)

How long is it?

b)

What is its phrase structure?

c)

Considering the melodic and rhythmic features,
where is the climax and
what kind of dynamic outline is expressed in the counter-subject?

d)

Can you draw a sketch showing the phrase structure and the dynamic outlines in both subject and counter-subject(s)?

 

2.4

What happens in the episodes of this fugue?

a)

How many subject-free passages are there? Where?

b)

What material is used?
Is any one of the episodes closely related to the subject?
Are there any significant episode motives? Which are these?
What is their character and dynamic outline?
Are any of the episodes in reality no more than cadential closes?

c)

What is the relationship between the episodes?
Is any of them a varied, transposed or otherwise altered repetition of another?

d)

What role in the development of the composition does each particular episode play?

2.5

For interpreters: Consider the main aspects of performance practice:

a)

What is the character expressed by the material of this fugue?
Look at each component of the material -- the subject, its counter subject(s) and the episode motive -- and consider the details of their appearance: Would you conclude that this fugue constitutes a rather lively or a rather calm basic character?

b)

What tempo and articulation are most appropriate for the material in this fugue?

c)

Which tempo proportion for the prelude and fugue seems most appropriate?
If the composition contains any ornaments, how are they to be executed?
Should any one of them be transferred to analogous notes which, in the score, appear unornamented?

2.6

What is the design of the fugue?

a)

Can you detect any indicators which would help reveal the structure of this piece?
Does the entering order of the voices show any obvious grouping?
Does any subject statement appear in reduced ensemble?
Which episodes seem to conclude a section?
Do any two stretches of the piece show analogous design?

b)

What is the harmonic outline of the whole piece?
In what progression of keys does the subject appear?
Which subject entries belong harmonically together?
Are there any significant cadential closes in the fugue?

c)

Can you draw a sketch showing

all the subject statements (S),
the counter subjects (CS1, CS2 etc.),
the silences in any voice
the episodes (E1, E2 etc.; special mention for "cadential close")?

2.7

What is the overall dynamic outline in this fugue?

a)

What kind of dynamic development can you detect in each of the sections you have found?

b)

How do the sections relate in this respect?