WTC I/9 in E major – Prelude

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

I/9.1.1 The prelude-type

This prelude is composed in polyphonic style. Apart from a few missing rests and the not so unusual voice-splitting in the final bars, its three voices are presented in consistent part-writing. Prominent material within this prelude is based upon one motivic idea only. This composition can thus be regarded as being structurally built along the lines of an invention.

 

I/9.1.2 The overall design

The sections of this prelude are determined by harmonic patterns as well as by development of material. In addition, a striking structural analogy facilitates the recognition of a ternary form with coda.

The first harmonic progression ends on the downbeat of bar 3. It encompasses the following steps:

bar 1 = I - IV,

bar 2 = I - V7,

bar 3 = I.

This cadential close coincides with the end of the motive (see upper voice until bar 3 downbeat G#). For this reason, and also because the bass has so far not taken an active part in the polyphonic texture, this first cadential pattern cannot be regarded as a structurally self-sufficient unit.

The next harmonic progression concludes, after a modulation to the dominant, on the middle beat of bar 8. This cadence represents a much stronger close and serves as a structural caesura. The dominant key is actually reached for the first time in bar 4; in bar 5 it gives way to the dominant of the dominant (F# major) which, reinforced by sustained notes in the bass and repeated F# major chords in the upper voice, governs the three bars (bars 5-7) preceding the perfect cadence in B major.

There are altogether four structural sections in this prelude:

I

bars 1-8m

I-V

E major to B major

II

bars 8-13d

V-V/V

B major to F# minor

III

bars 13/14

V/V-V-I

stepwise return from F# via B to E which, however,turns out to serve as dominant to the ensuing A

IV

bars 15-24

IV-I

A major to E major, with an interrupted cadence in bar 22m, followed by a full cadence in bar 24


The first section recurs in the fourth (compare bars 1-8m with bars 15-22m). There are only two small deviations from a literal transposition:

-

melodically, the ornamented note on the downbeat of bar 4 is substituted by a eighth-notes note-group at the beginning of bar 18;

-

harmonically, the perfect cadence at the end of the first section is replaced by an interrupted cadence (see the C# minor chord in the middle of bar 22).

 

I/9.1.3 Practical considerations for performers

The choice of the basic character in this composition is ambivalent; however, the differences in articulation resulting from the two choices are only very small.

-

On the one hand, the interval structure in the motive which determines this prelude contains an entire broken chord. If, with regard to the rhythmic pattern, one focuses on the polyphonically involved voices and their frequent three-eighth-notes groups against dotted quarter-notes, one would have to interpret the rhythm as simple. The underlying simple rhythm, in conjunction with the melodic surface features, could then be read as indicating a rather lively basic character. In this case, the dotted quarter-notes and quarter-notes would have to be played non legato while the eighth-notes would be (quasi) legato.

-

On the other hand, one might read the melodic line in the first phrase as an elaborate hidden two-part structure based, after an initial rising sixth (E-C#), on the stepwise descent C#-B-A-G# which is accompanied in thirds (see M: A-G#-F#-E). In addition, one might consider the syncopations (see e.g. bar 3: U, bars 4/5: M) and the sixteenth-notes in the cadential figures and in "bridge" bar 14 as essential constituents of the rhythmic pattern. In this case, the piece would be interpreted as representing a rather calm basic character in which all melodic notes are to be played legato.


Before attempting to determine which notes would in fact sound differently in the two approaches, it seems crucial first to clarify that

-

inside the motive, the sequential structure implies phrasing after both E's;

-

cadential-bass notes (see bars 12 and 22/23) are non legato in any case;

-

melodic do-si-do (keynote / leading-note / keynote) formulas (see bars 2/3: L, bars 12/13: M and bars 23/24: U) must be legato in any case;

-

notes with tie-prolongation into a eighth-notes (see bars 1/2: M, bars 3, 4: U etc.) must be legato in any case.(What remains are the following notes, which are to be played
- legato in a rather calm, but
- non legato in a rather lively character:
U: none
M: bars 1: G#, 5: E, 6: A#, 10: all, 13: F#, 15: C#, 19: A, 20: D#
L: bars 6: F#, 7: G, 9: E#, 10: all, 14: B, 20: B, 21: C.)


The tempo for the prelude does not necessarily differ too much in the two approaches. The compound time signature should be read, as always in Baroque pieces, as indicating that the dotted quarter-notes and not the eighth-notes are to be perceived as the pulse of the piece. At the same time, the ornaments and the written-out sixteenth-notes runs must be accommodated. A combination of these two criteria limits the tempo choices to a moderate pulse, with gently flowing eighth-notes.

There are several ornaments in this prelude. The principal motive, in its first presentation (bars 1-3d) and its recapitulation (bars 15-17d), carries two mordents; these are dropped in all shorter developments of the motive throughout the prelude. Both mordents begin on the upper neighbor note and thus contain four notes, the first of which falls on the beat. (For a written-out version of the mordent in bar 1, refer to ex. 26a below.)

The mordent which adorns the preparation of the cadence (see bar 7m) is not derived from Bach's manuscript but from a copy, as the brackets indicate. Because it is very appropriately placed and embellishes the piece in an unpretentious way, playing this ornament is a good idea. The performer who settles for this mordent should, however, be sure to remain faithful to Bach's concept of analogy and integrate an equivalent mordent on the middle beat (D#) of bar 21 as well. In both cases, the ornament begins on the main note because it is approached stepwise, and comprises only three notes (see ex. 26 b).

Finally, the compound ornament in bar 4 is launched from the lower neighboring note, as the little convex curve preceding the mordent symbol designates. For a performer with good finger dexterity, a rendition with 8 ornamental thirty-second-notes sounds most convincing (see ex. 26c). A longer ornament might blur the lower-voice entry of the motive.

(ex. 26a)

(ex. 26b)

(ex. 26c)

 

I/9.1.4 What is happening in this prelude?

The initial phrase, which ends in a perfect cadence on the downbeat of bar 3, introduces the motive of this "invention". This motive has several outstanding features, some of which are transitorily lost in the development and only recur in the transposed recapitulation.

After a rising broken chord topped with a prolonged octave (see the written-out inverted mordent E-D#-E), a melodic descent links the strong-beat notes C#-B-A-G#. The first two of these melodically focussed notes repeat the inverted-mordent figure, enhancing this lyrical embellishment by additional virtuoso ornaments (see the two mordent signs), and returning in-between with an escape note to the octave E which thus serves as a "background" layer. The last two melodic notes are then linked by a free ornamental line.

While this hidden two-part structure describes what appear as two simultaneous horizontal layers, one could also regard this motive as consisting of head and tail: the head is represented by the broken chord, the original inverted-mordent figure decorating the octave, and a melodic step downwards which entails a harmonically active step away from the tonic but could be represented by different pitches. The tail then consists of the gradual melodic descent following the climax, accompanied by an equally gradual harmonic return to the tonic.

The original accompaniment of the main motive consists, in the lower voice, of a protracted do-si-do formula, and in the middle voice, as was already mentioned, of a – differently embellished – melodic parallel to the descent in the motive's tail (see M, on the strong beats of bars1-3: A-G#-F#-E).

The development of the motive uses only its head. It appears twice in the lower voice (bar 3 = tonic, bar 4 = dominant), before returning to the upper voice where it is heard twice on F# (V/V and V7/V respectively. Note that in these bars, the head of the motive continues into another broken chord. For a meaningful performance it is vital to distinguish between the original, active broken-chord rise, found here on the first beat of each bar, and the passive one which serves as a rhythmic extension to the melodic target note.) The remaining one and a half bars borrow the idea of gentle curves from the end of the original motive and close in bar 8 with a B major cadence.

Having observed that the original motive consists of "head" and "tail", it might be interesting to notice that, from a perspective of harmonic tension, the entire first section repeats this pattern on a larger scale. This large-scale "head" consists of the first phrase, firmly rooted in the tonic, followed in the partial imitation by an active harmonic step (see L: bar 3, the step from the E major chord to the inverted F#9 on the middle beat). The "tail" brings the gradual melodic descent (see the peak notes in U bars 3/4: G#, bar 5: F#-E, bar 6: E-D natural, complemented after a "lyrical ornament" in bar 8 with C#-B), accompanied by a gradual harmonic resolution onto the new tonic (see the F# major chord which is implied if not openly stated from the middle beat of bar 3 until the second beat of bar 8, and only then gives way to the new tonic B major).

The second section begins again with two statements of the motive (see L: bars 8/9 and U: bar 9, both on B). These two motive entries sum up the motivic developments so far: the lower-voice statement uses the shorter version from bars 3 and 4, while the upper-voice statement takes up the version with the broken chord extension (compare bar 9 with bars 5 and 6).

On a larger scale, these motive statements can again be regarded as a "head" comprising the double confirmation of the key B major and the active harmonic step to the inverted C#9 chord in the middle of bar 9, followed by a "tail" encompassing a gradual melodic descent (see the peak-note line in U: bars 9-12: B-A-G#, D-C#-B-A) accompanied by the gradual resolution onto the new tonic F# minor on the downbeat of bar 13.

The short portion which follows encompasses, in the lower voice of bar 13, two statements of the motive which are even more shortened than the previous ones. The sudden sixteenth-notes runs, launched by the right hand and later taken up by the left, add to set these bars apart from the remainder of the piece. Structurally, these two bars serve as a retransition to the recapitulation in bar 15, while harmonically leading to the function which, in Baroque compositions, traditionally opens a recapitulation: the subdominant (see bar 15: A major).

The fourth section repeats the design of the first one, but ends in an interrupted cadence instead. The ensuing coda (bars 22m-24) presents three shortened versions of the motive in the split middle voice, before it closes the composition with a final cadence in E major. This cadence is of particular interest as it is a hybrid between a plagal cadence (represented by the bass step A-E) and an authentic cadence (represented by D# and C natural which stand for third and ninth of the dominant chord).

The following graph attempts to visualize the above analysis.
(ex.27)

 

 

WTC I/9 in E major – Fugue

 

I/9.2.1 The subject

This subject is very short. It begins on a secondary upbeat (the upbeat to beat 3 in the first bar), and ends already on the downbeat of bar 2, thus encompassing only six notes and one rest. The dominant which, in a homophonically accompanied representation, would fall on beat 4 where the unaccompanied line has a rest, resolves onto the tonic represented by the keynote E. (It is possible to assume a "female ending", i.e. an unaccented extension without any modification of the harmonic pattern, which would include the four subsequent notes until the G# on beat 2 of bar 2. However, a thorough analysis proves that it makes much more sense to relate these four notes to the counter-subject where they form an essential part of the first subphrase.)

Despite the conspicuous rest after the two initial notes, the subject should be interpreted as consisting of one indivisible phrase. The rest represents an implied harmonic step from the subdominant to the dominant and thus, occurring at the very height of harmonic tension, does not allow for any breathing.

The pitch pattern in the subject consists of seconds and one fifth interval. While the first small interval may be regarded as melodic, the stepwise motion at the end of the phrase already reveals the significance of the ornamental structure. This will become all the more obvious in the wavy lines of the counter-subject. The interval jump is matched later by occasional patterns of leaps (as in bars 5/6, 13-16 etc).

The rhythmic pattern in the subject itself includes three different note values: a quarter-note, an eighth-notes and sixteenth-notes. A glance across the entire composition reveals that the prevailing rhythmic pattern remains simple, despite occasionally interspersed tied notes.

The harmonic background, as already mentioned above, is that of a simple cadence in which the subdominant harmony is replaced by a seventh chord on its relative minor:

(ex. 28)

The choice of the climax seems more than easy in this subject. The second note F# is both rhythmically prominent and harmonically enhanced by the subdominant function and the implied change of harmony on the rest – apart from being the undisputed peak of the pitch pattern. The rest after the climax sustains the tension which is then gradually released through the ensuing four sixteenth-notes.

 

I/9.2.2 The statements of the subject

The subject appears altogether twelve times in the course of this fugue.

1.

bars 1/2

M

5.

bars 7/8

M

9.

bars 20/21

U

2.

bars 2/3

U

6.

bars 9/10

L

10.

bars 21/22

M

3.

bars 3/4

L

7.

bars 16/17

M

11.

bars 25/26

U

4.

bars 6/7

U

8.

bars 19/20

L

12.

bar 28

L

(ex. 29)

Only two of the subject statements are varied.

-

The upper-voice entry in bars 20/21 includes an interesting octave displacement: a sixteenth-notes-group sets out from middle B. As this beginning is metrically one beat early, the extra time is filled with a figure which leads to the climax C# in the higher octave.

-

The final entry also commences on the wrong beat. This time, however, no "corrections" are made. Instead, this statement concludes in its metrically anticipated position and thus allows for a subsequent accented cadential-bass jump to the tonic at the end of the piece.

 

I/9.2.3 The counter-subject

The fugue contains only one counter-subject which is almost omnipresent. It is introduced in the middle voice where it is pitted against the second subject statement (see bar 2 second sixteenth-notes until bar 3 downbeat).

This counter-subject is considerably longer than the subject. It commences immediately after the downbeat and thus bridges the three-eighth-notes rest which precedes the first subject note. The counter-subject's pitch pattern and perfectly even rhythm confirm the ornamental nature and, thus, the basic character of this fugue.

Spiraling motion around a center note (see in bars 2/3: around E) and obvious lack of harmonic or melodic features which might enhance tension, are counter-productive to any explicit dynamic shaping other than a very soft rise at the beginning and a relaxation during the second half. For the same reasons and because of the very even rhythmic pattern, sub-phrasing is also unlikely.

Nevertheless, one can clearly distinguish two segments. They are of equal length (eight sixteenth-notes each, ending on a strong beat) which allows them to appear in various combinations. Separate or joined, they play an important role in the fugue.

-

The first segment, which will be referred to as CS-a, consists of a scale section (D# to B) followed by a broken chord (B-G#-E);

-

the second segment, named CS-b for this analysis, features an inverted turn (D#-E-F#-E) and its almost exact repetition (D#-E-F#-D#).


These segments appear both as companions to subject statements and as episode motives. It is therefore worth while to trace them in detail.

-

As a companion to the subject, the complete version of CS-a + CS-b appears only against the subject entries in bars 2/3, 7/8, 20/21 and, with a slight variation, that in bars 21/22. Other subject entries are accompanied by

*

CS-b + CS-b in sequential pattern (see bars 3/4, 25/26)

*

CS-b + CS-b in a two-part imitative setting (see bars 9/10)

*

a free figuration followed by CS-b (see bars 6/7)

*

CS-b dissolving into a free figuration (see bars 28/29)

*

no counter-subject material at all (see bars 16/17, 19/20).

-

Within the episodes, the segments may appear in the counter-subject order of CS-a + CS-b (see bars 4/5 L: D#-D#; bars 8/9 M: A#-A);

*

they may, in this order, build descending sequences
(see bars 11/12 and 12/13 L: G#-G# and E-E;
bars 13/14 and 14/15 U: B#-B and A#-A;
bars 17/18 and 18/19 M: B#-B and G#-G#;
bars 22/23, 23/24 and 24/25 M: D#-D#, C#-C# and B-B);

*

they may even incorporate small variations which change the harmonic outline (see bars 26/27 and 27-28 U: D#-G# and F#-B).

Or, the episodes may recall only one of the counter-subject segments,

*

either separately (see bar 3 first half U: A#-B)

*

or in ascending sequences of CS-a (see bars 5/6 L: C#-C#, bars 15/16 U: G#-G#)


In other words, there is not a single bar in the E major fugue which does not contain some kind of quotation of the counter-subject segments!

Because of its unusual nature which, as explained above, does not invite any explicit dynamic shaping, the counter-subject does not really challenge the subject's supremacy. Yet it is vital to distinguish different levels of intensity in its sixteenth-notes and a general tendency, particularly at the beginning: while the four ascending sixteenth-notes which end the subject constitute a strong diminuendo, the ensuing group of equally ascending sixteenth-notes represents an increase of tension (though a very mild one, due to the ornamental structure).

(ex. 30)

 

I/9.2.4 The episodes

There are seven subject-free passages in this fugue.

E1

= bar

3

E5

= bars

17 - 19m

E2

= bars

4m - 6

E6

= bars

22 - 25m

E3

= bars

8m - 9

E7

= bars

26 - 28d

E4

= bars

10m - 16m

None of the episodes in this fugue is related to the subject; but all, as has been shown above, feature at least one of the counter-subject segments. This consistency of material throughout all structural portions creates a strong impression of unity.

Besides the counter-subject segments, the episodes contain three motives. While inconsequential for the design of the composition, their dynamic impact for the episodes is nevertheless important:

M1

appears in the upper voice of bars 5/6 (B D# F# B); its broken chord pattern, immediately imitated in the middle voice but never recurring thereafter, describes a graceful increase in tension.

M2

is of greater importance. Consisting of a syncopated appoggiatura and its resolution, it is introduced in the middle voice of bars 13/14 (A#-G#) and followed by two descending sequences (bars 14/15 and 15/16), each representing a strongly emotional accent and relaxation. Its accompaniment, a non-melodic eighth-notes figure in the lower voice which is also sequenced twice, finds its climax on the middle beat of each bar, preceding the high-tension interval (see the minor seventh jumps A#-G#, G#-F#, F#-E).
M2 is taken up in E6 where its appoggiatura-resolution pattern appears in the upper voice (bars 22-25: C#-B, B-A, A-G#). The accompaniment, again in the lower voice, is also a non-melodic eighth-notes figure in similar dynamic design, albeit in a different pitch pattern.

M3

is presented in the upper voice of E5 (see bar 17, G# to tied note A) and sequenced once in the next bar; it never recurs thereafter (although U: bar 9 could perhaps be regarded as remotely related). With regard to tension it describes a curve with the climax on the first sixteenth-notes.


Further attention should be drawn to two unequivocal closing-formulas within the episodes, particularly as these do not always appear at the end of a subject-free passage and thus provide essential information for a deeper understanding of the nature of the above-mentioned seven episodes.

The first closing-formula occurs between the middle of bar 4 and the middle of bar 5; the upper voice above all features the typical do-si-do figure. This observation allows the conclusion that E2 in fact consists of two halves of entirely different structural importance: the first bar provides a cadence in the dominant key B major, while the second half introduces M1 and modulates back to the tonic (E major being re-established on beat 4 of bar 6).

The second closing-formula can be found in bar 12, with the cadential close in C# minor (relative minor to E major) completed on the downbeat of bar 13. Again it is the upper voice which presents one of the typical figures; and again this closing-formula appears in the middle of a subject-free passage. E4 is thus built similarly to E2; it also consists of two halves, of which the first provides the cadence while the second introduces a new motive: M2. (Speaking of closing formulas, it is interesting to observe that two other closing formulas appear in the context of subject statements. The first, with typical cadential steps in the lower voice, accompanies the middle-voice entry in bars 16/17; the second, with a similar lower-voice pattern and a keynote / leading note / keynote figure in the upper voice, supports the final entry in bars 28/29.)

Concerning structural analogies, E6 is definitely a variation of the second half of E4 (compare bars 13-16m with bars 22-25m). The role which the seven episodes play in the development of this fugue reveals a strikingly regular pattern:

E1

serves as a bridge between the second and third entries; it sustains the tension which has already been built up without sounding too important (lest it diminish the premonition of the next subject statement).

E2

brings a definite release of tension in its first half; after the cadence, the appearance of M1 provides a contrasting color with its own relaxing tendency.

E3

like E1, serves as a bridge between two entries, but it is more extended.

E4

like E2, brings a release of tension in the (also considerably extended) first half; after the cadence, the appearance of M2 provides an even more distinct contrast in shade. (M2 is more prominent than M1 both in length and further impact. It is also set more clearly apart from the mainly ornamental character of this fugue owing to the sudden melodic legato found in its appoggiatura-resolution figure.) The descending sequences of M2 also bring forth an overall dynamic relaxation.

E5

like E1 and E3, serves again as a bridge. Because of the motive it introduces, this bridge sounds more individual than the two before. Like its predecessors E1 and E3, it also appears in two-part texture, with the lower voice resting.

E6

repeats the color contrast and the overall relaxation of its model, the second half of E4.

E7

again sustains the tension between the two final subject statements.

 

I/9.2.5 Character, tempo, articulation, ornament realization

The basic character of the E major fugue is rather lively. This is determined above all by the rhythmic structure which, from the middle of the first subject statement onward, presents an unbroken continuity of sixteenth-notes, and the ornamental structure in the pitch pattern of the sixteenth-notes figures. Several broken-chord figures (M1, M3, M2 accompaniment, lower voice E7 etc.) confirm this choice of character.

The appropriate tempo of this fugue is very fluent, almost virtuoso, with a swiftness which does not permit any heaviness. The articulation contains many nuances:

-

an energetically bouncing non legato in the subject's upbeat,

-

a lighter non legato in the broken-chord patterns of M1 and M3 as well as in all other upper- and middle-voice eighth-notes,

-

a neutral, medium-length non legato in the M2 accompaniment and all other cadential-bass patterns;

-

a crisp quasi legato in the sixteenth-notes figures,

-

an ordinary legato in the melodic closing-formulas of the upper voice (bars 4/5, bars 12/13 and bars 28/29), and

-

a particularly intense legato in the appoggiatura-resolution pairs of M2.


The relative tempo between prelude and fugue also allows for two choices, depending on just how fluent – or more gently flowing – the prelude is taken.

-

If the prelude is played with a pulse of metronome 80 or above, the proportion can be a simple one:

one beat in the prelude

=

one beat in the fugue

(dotted quarter-notes)

(quarter-notes)

-

If the prelude is played in a considerably slower pulse, what works best is

eighth-notes

=

eighth-notes

(Approximate metronome settings:
[a] 96 for the dotted quarter-notes in the prelude and the quarter-notes in the fugue;
[b] 72 for the dotted quarter-notes in the prelude; 108 for the quarter-notes in the fugue.)

 

I/9.2.6 The design of the fugue

The paramount force determining the design is this fugue is to be found in the two explicit cadential formulas as well as in the structural analogies. Some of these correspondences were already mentioned above, some should be added here. Summing up, these are the factors determining the layout of the fugue:

a)

E2 and E4 both consist of two segments; the first segment in both episodes ends with a cadence emphasized by a closing-formula, while the second segment in both episodes creates a contrasting color by introducing a motive which is completely unrelated to the subject.

-

Interpreting these two analogous cadences as the ends of the first and second sections respectively, and looking backwards from these ends, one can observe that both are

*

preceded by the same pattern of two subject statements (on tonic and dominant),

*

followed by an episode which serves as a bridge,

*

and completed by another statement in the third voice;
(compare bars 1-4m with bars 6 (last eighth-notes)-11m).

-

What distinguishes the second section from the first one are extensions of roughly one bar's length each at both sides, i.e. additional episode bars both before the above-mentioned pattern (see bars 5/6) and after it (see bars 11/12).

b)

Another analogy occurs between the second half of E4 and E6. Both present almost exactly the same material (although in different keys and with the upper and middle voices inverted).

-

If the second half of E4 is regarded as the beginning of the third section in this fugue (which follows from what was said above), it would be logical to accept E6 as the beginning of the fourth section. Looking back again from the respective section endings one can detect the following analogy:
The three subject statements preceding the end of the third section recall those of the first section. Like them they are presented on the tonic, the dominant and the tonic; (compare bars 1-4m with bars 19m-22).

-

The episode which, in both the first and the second sections, served as a bridge inside this pattern, has moved and now connects the entire pattern with the additional subject statement earlier in the beginning of the third section.

-

While we found that the second section was extended in comparison to the first, we can now confirm that the third section continues this process of extension at least at the beginning;

*

the episode-segment which opens the section is longer
(compare bars 13-16m with bars 5m-6);

*

the linking episode inside the section is also longer
(compare bars 17-19m with bars 8m-9 and bar 3);

*

there is an additional subject statement.

c)

While the third section revealed itself as related to the first by the key of its three subject statements, the fourth section similarly recalls the second one. The two statements in the fourth section take up not only the keys of the first and last statement in the second section, they even appear in the same voices; compare bars 25/26 with bars 6/7 (statement in U on the tonic) and bars 28/29 with bars 9/10 (statement in L on the dominant).


The harmonic progression in this fugue remains for the most part in the realm of the tonic and the dominant of E major. The only subject statement which is presented in a differing key is the extra one towards the beginning of the third section. This key confirms our earlier interpretation of this statement as a structurally redundant one, occurring within the context of the extension. The tonal area of this additional subject statement, the relative minor (C# minor), is reached in the second cadential close of the fugue (see bar 12/13). The ensuing episode-segment begins in C# minor and ends in its dominant (see bar 16d, G#7). After the subject entry in C# minor, E5 sets out from this minor area but leads back to the tonic at the beginning of bar 19. (For a sketch showing the design of this fugue, refer to ex. 31)

 

 

I/9.2.7 The development of tension

When attempting to determine the dynamic design of this fugue, it is a good idea to recall both the features which are effectively outstanding in this work, and those features which, had Bach included them here, might have created distinct increases or decreases of tension.

On the one hand, the most conspicuous component of the material is the sixteenth-notes configuration of the counter-subject. As shown previously, this continuous flow of sixteenth-notes runs through the entire fugue, stringing subject entries and episodes closely together and creating the impression of overall unity above any small diversity. Furthermore, the ornamental character of these sixteenth-notes sets virtuosity above melodic intensity.

On the other hand, most of those features which typically create tension are missing; the fugue contains neither strettos nor any surprising variations or transformations of the subject, nor does it present truly independent contrapuntal material. Even harmonic progressions away from the tonic are kept to the minimum, with only a single statement sounding in a different mode. Finally, the occurring structural particularities do not create any build-ups. Although the analysis reveals a process of gradually increasing extension throughout the first half of the fugue (the three-statement pattern of the first section reappears in the second section preceded by an episode, in the third section preceded by episode / extra entry / episode), the relaxing tendency in each of these episodes does not contribute to creating greater tension.

The logical conclusion to be drawn from these observations is that striking curves of tension are not the objective of this fugue. Primary material (subject and counter-subject) as well as structural outline express simplicity and joyful liveliness. Slight increases in tension occur in each of the three-statement patterns, while each of the episodes provides decreases. The two related episodes (bars 13-16/22-25) present a color contrast caused by their appoggiatura motive; yet even this melodic element is presented before a background of incessant ornamental sixteenth-notes.