Author Topic: In a Fugue State  (Read 1269 times)

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Offline Cato

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In a Fugue State
« on: July 23, 2017, 06:11:00 AM »
No, we will not be talking about Connecticut!  $:) ;)

For some reason this morning, the thought came up about the use of the word in "fugue" in psychology, where it describes either a dreamlike state of consciousness (where one "escapes" from reality to some degree) or even more severe conditions involving amnesia, i.e. one has escaped completely from reality.

(Fugio in Latin means to flee, giving us therefore the word "fugitive."

Perhaps the thought arose because recently I heard the Rachmaninoff First Symphony again, whose fugue in the opening movement might seem dutiful, i.e. "my professors said a symphony must have a fugue, so here it is," but the fugue to my ears does add to the conflict and drama in the movement.

So I thought it might be interesting to know your ideas on fugues: do you like the form in general, are you indifferent, or do you dislike it?  Are there works where you believe fugues are dynamic, expressive, even "dreamlike" (a la psychology), etc.  And are there works where you find the fugue(s) intrusive, even unnecessary, badly handled, etc?

Do particular works have fugues which you especially like?  Why?  Do they evoke certain memories, emotions, etc.?  Or are there fugues in works - or fugues which are  the work - which you dislike for some reason?

Here is a fun fugue!

<a href="https://www.youtube.com/v/YUTlp0ODS7s" target="_blank" class="new_win">https://www.youtube.com/v/YUTlp0ODS7s</a>
"Now who taught ye t' be playin' patty fingers in the holy water?"

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Offline BasilValentine

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Re: In a Fugue State
« Reply #1 on: July 23, 2017, 06:42:53 AM »
In my student days I showed my composition teacher the final installment of my first string quartet. He rolled his eyes and said with barely concealed exasperation: "Yes, when in doubt end with a fugue."

I think fugal writing can be a wonderfully effective way to approach unstable and developmental passages, as in the first and last movements of Bartok's Concerto for Orchestra, the first movement of MSPC, Shostakovich's Eighth Symphony or, crossed with passacaglia form, in the slow movement of his Sixth Quartet. Or, sticking with Rachmaninoff, the fugato in the scherzo of the Second Symphony or the excellent fugue in the finale of the Third. But I don't like the full, strict, academic variety — just do the interesting stretti and get on with it.

I like the Dragnet Fugue!  :laugh:
« Last Edit: July 23, 2017, 06:46:56 AM by BasilValentine »

Offline Cato

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Re: In a Fugue State
« Reply #2 on: July 23, 2017, 07:04:34 AM »
In my student days I showed my composition teacher the final installment of my first string quartet. He rolled his eyes and said with barely concealed exasperation: "Yes, when in doubt end with a fugue."

I think fugal writing can be a wonderfully effective way to approach unstable and developmental passages, as in the first and last movements of Bartok's Concerto for Orchestra, the first movement of MSPC, Shostakovich's Eighth Symphony or, crossed with passacaglia form, in the slow movement of his Sixth Quartet. Or, sticking with Rachmaninoff, the fugato in the scherzo of the Second Symphony or the excellent fugue in the finale of the Third. But I don't like the full, strict, academic variety — just do the interesting stretti and get on with it.

I like the Dragnet Fugue!
:laugh:

And so...were you "in doubt" about how to end your string quartet?  8)

And yes, the "Dragnet Fugue" is fun: the opening still needs a little work, but... ;)
"Now who taught ye t' be playin' patty fingers in the holy water?"

- Barry Fitzgerald to John Wayne in  The Quiet Man.

Offline Jo498

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Re: In a Fugue State
« Reply #3 on: July 23, 2017, 07:49:35 AM »
In German I have heard the phrase about supposedly clueless composers: "Und wenn er nicht mehr weiter kann, dann fängt er eine Fuge an." (And if he does not know how to continue, he begins a fugue) I do not know if this was originally about a particular piece or composer.
Struck by the sounds before the sun,
I knew the night had gone.
The morning breeze like a bugle blew
Against the drums of dawn.
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Offline BasilValentine

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Re: In a Fugue State
« Reply #4 on: July 23, 2017, 07:37:47 PM »
And so...were you "in doubt" about how to end your string quartet?  8)

And yes, the "Dragnet Fugue" is fun: the opening still needs a little work, but... ;)

Not in the least! Doubt is no match for youth and stupidity. There was a grand unifying plan. ;) Two earlier themes became subject and counter subject in the finale I think? But the phrasing in the fugue is too square and there are uncomfortable rhythmic gaps — like the tiles aren't quite cut right? That's how I remember it anyway. If I ever get morbidly curious I'll dig the manuscript out of a box in my basement.

Anyway, I use lots of imitative counterpoint later in life. Mostly because I like everyone having melody all the time.

Offline Brian

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Re: In a Fugue State
« Reply #5 on: July 24, 2017, 04:51:33 AM »
Are there works where you believe fugues are dynamic, expressive, even "dreamlike" (a la psychology), etc.

Reading this question, I immediately thought of Beethoven's second-to-last piano sonata, Op. 110, and the crucial expressive - and yeah, maybe dreamlike - role the two mirrored fugues have in the finale. It's not often that a fugue seems to play a role in a protagonist-composer finding an emotional, rather than compositional, solution and reaching for the transcendent.

Another example that comes to me now is Franck's Prelude, chorale, et fugue - in this one, I imagine the protagonist growing ever more desperate, unhinged, obsessed, and the beginning of the fugue seems to be akin to hurling oneself off a cliff, or a depressive saying, no, I'm not going to feel better today. Although, of course, that's not what happens.

I would like Gliere's Third Symphony a whole lot better without the overlong fugal finale. Russian romantics, in particular, seemed to have a deep symphonic insecurity which prompted the continual and clumsy use of fugues - see also Tchaikovsky and his otherwise marvelous "Winter Daydreams", and I think there might be a Kalinnikov fugue?

Offline Cato

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Re: In a Fugue State
« Reply #6 on: July 24, 2017, 05:21:16 AM »

Anyway, I use lots of imitative counterpoint later in life. Mostly because I like everyone having melody all the time.


Good for you!  "There should be no harmony, only counterpoint." - Gustav Mahler  ;)

Reading this question, I immediately thought of Beethoven's second-to-last piano sonata, Op. 110, and the crucial expressive - and yeah, maybe dreamlike - role the two mirrored fugues have in the finale. It's not often that a fugue seems to play a role in a protagonist-composer finding an emotional, rather than compositional, solution and reaching for the transcendent.

Another example that comes to me now is Franck's Prelude, chorale, et fugue - in this one, I imagine the protagonist growing ever more desperate, unhinged, obsessed, and the beginning of the fugue seems to be akin to hurling oneself off a cliff, or a depressive saying, no, I'm not going to feel better today. Although, of course, that's not what happens.

I would like Gliere's Third Symphony a whole lot better without the overlong fugal finale. Russian romantics, in particular, seemed to have a deep symphonic insecurity which prompted the continual and clumsy use of fugues - see also Tchaikovsky and his otherwise marvelous "Winter Daydreams", and I think there might be a Kalinnikov fugue?

Two excellent examples!  And your last comment on Russian romantics could be a whole separate topic!   ;)   Yes, the fugue in Tchaikovsky's First Symphony is not the best part: still it is a wonderful work!  One of my favorites!
"Now who taught ye t' be playin' patty fingers in the holy water?"

- Barry Fitzgerald to John Wayne in  The Quiet Man.

Offline BasilValentine

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Re: In a Fugue State
« Reply #7 on: July 24, 2017, 05:56:24 AM »
Good for you!  "There should be no harmony, only counterpoint." - Gustav Mahler  ;)

Two excellent examples!  And your last comment on Russian romantics could be a whole separate topic!   ;)   Yes, the fugue in Tchaikovsky's First Symphony is not the best part: still it is a wonderful work!  One of my favorites!

It's a defining feature of Shostakovich's style as well.

Offline k a rl h e nn i ng

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Re: In a Fugue State
« Reply #8 on: July 24, 2017, 06:07:44 AM »
It's a defining feature of Shostakovich's style as well.

The fuga del fuego in the Fourth Symphony, e.g.
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Offline Jo498

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Re: In a Fugue State
« Reply #9 on: July 24, 2017, 09:37:41 AM »
As far as I recall, Tchaikovsky did a nice "prelude & Fugue" style piece as the first movement of his first orchestral suite. This was written after/around the 4th symphony, so he was a mature composer but apparently in some doubt about how to stylistically continue and therefore wrote suites that were not as burdened by the traditional framework of the "grand symphony".

Struck by the sounds before the sun,
I knew the night had gone.
The morning breeze like a bugle blew
Against the drums of dawn.
(Bob Dylan)

Offline Mandryka

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Re: In a Fugue State
« Reply #10 on: July 24, 2017, 09:51:05 AM »


For some reason this morning, the thought came up about the use of the word in "fugue" in psychology, where it describes either a dreamlike state of consciousness (where one "escapes" from reality to some degree) or even more severe conditions involving amnesia, i.e. one has escaped completely from reality.



When you first posted this I tried to think of a fugue that had oneiric qualities but failed, the fugue form seemed too rigid to be dreamlike. I just thought of one though, by Beethoven, the first movement of op 131. There's a performance by Vlach Quartet which seems very dream like to me -- in fact I'm starting to think that the whole quartet is a musical dream really.
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Offline pjme

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Re: In a Fugue State
« Reply #11 on: July 25, 2017, 12:19:31 AM »
Fugues can be dramatic, effective and gloriously pompous.

This is a recent discovery:

<a href="https://www.youtube.com/v/ehwJ9Z9N5vI" target="_blank" class="new_win">https://www.youtube.com/v/ehwJ9Z9N5vI</a>

From The gramophone:

Anyone familiar with the Fugue from Schwanda will already know that, like Reger’s fugues, it builds to a gargantuan climax. Similarly Weinberger’s Passacaglia for organ and large orchestra included here is rich in Regerian allusions, especially the atmospheric passacaglia itself and the closing fugue.

As to the opening Intrada, Janáček springs more immediately to mind, specifically in the work’s introduction. Good sound keeps Weinberger’s often dense textures loud and clear and I’d say that anyone with a taste for the Romantic Czech masters, and for Reger as well of course, will be well catered for.

(cfr. "Pieces that (have) blow(n) you away" )

But for poetic refinement ,even mystery , I'll gladly listen to Bach and Weiss , Rameau...

<a href="https://www.youtube.com/v/UYSTHwAnvQA" target="_blank" class="new_win">https://www.youtube.com/v/UYSTHwAnvQA</a>

<a href="https://www.youtube.com/v/_Hw9wCPMfmI" target="_blank" class="new_win">https://www.youtube.com/v/_Hw9wCPMfmI</a>
« Last Edit: July 25, 2017, 02:26:10 AM by pjme »

Offline pjme

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Re: In a Fugue State
« Reply #12 on: July 25, 2017, 12:28:49 AM »
A longtime favorite:

From Koechlin's Le livre de la jungle
...

.. A gigantic fugue lies at the heart of Les Bandar-Log.

The premiere was given by Koechlin-champion Franz André leading the Brussels Radio Symphony Orchestra on December 13, 1946.

(http://www.allmusic.com/composition/les-bandar-log-scherzo-des-singes-symphonic-poem-for-orchestra-op-176-mc0002386673)

<a href="https://youtube.com/v/V2MEccJC5iw" target="_blank" class="new_win">https://youtube.com/v/V2MEccJC5iw</a>
P.

Offline king ubu

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Re: In a Fugue State
« Reply #13 on: July 25, 2017, 07:18:55 AM »
For the film buffs ... Agnès Varda's masterpiece "Le Bonheur" (1965) came to mind when reading the fugue and jumping off a cliff bit above ... the film is amazing with respect to what can be seen and what is told ... and music by Mozart, including Adagio and Fugue in C minor (KV 546) plays a most important role. For starters, just check out how images and music are intercut in the opening:

<a href="https://www.youtube.com/v/4rEcvmCEO08" target="_blank" class="new_win">https://www.youtube.com/v/4rEcvmCEO08</a>

And go here to read some more about it:
https://celluloidwickerman.com/2014/06/09/mozart-in-le-bonheur-1965-agnes-varda/


Also, the very first thing that came to mind when reading the title - can't be absent here:

<a href="https://www.youtube.com/v/QZM4yxbE0ZE" target="_blank" class="new_win">https://www.youtube.com/v/QZM4yxbE0ZE</a>
« Last Edit: July 25, 2017, 07:21:28 AM by king ubu »
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Offline Cato

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Re: In a Fugue State
« Reply #14 on: July 26, 2017, 06:36:36 AM »
Wow!!!  Many thanks to all for the suggestions: the pieces (by Weiss, Weinberger, Koechlin ) mentioned are all new to me, so I will need to find some time to explore those!

When you first posted this I tried to think of a fugue that had oneiric qualities but failed, the fugue form seemed too rigid to be dreamlike. I just thought of one though, by Beethoven, the first movement of op 131. There's a performance by Vlach Quartet which seems very dream like to me -- in fact I'm starting to think that the whole quartet is a musical dream really.


Another good example: I will look for that performance!
"Now who taught ye t' be playin' patty fingers in the holy water?"

- Barry Fitzgerald to John Wayne in  The Quiet Man.

Offline ritter

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Re: In a Fugue State
« Reply #15 on: July 27, 2017, 01:04:35 AM »
Two operatic fugues that are well worth mentioning. For me, they are highlights of two of my favourite works ever:

The end of Act 2 of Wagner's Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg...

<a href="https://www.youtube.com/v/l_XVtcnqhEw" target="_blank" class="new_win">https://www.youtube.com/v/l_XVtcnqhEw</a>

...and the finale of Verdi's Falstaff:

<a href="https://www.youtube.com/v/49oAEKQsdgc" target="_blank" class="new_win">https://www.youtube.com/v/49oAEKQsdgc</a>

Cheers,
« Last Edit: July 27, 2017, 01:07:40 AM by ritter »
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Offline opaquer

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Re: In a Fugue State
« Reply #16 on: July 27, 2017, 01:35:13 AM »
Bach - Art Of Fudge and A Musical Offering, unsuprisingly

The first movement of Bartok's monumental Music for Strings Percussion and celesta

The fugue sections of Mahler's 6th? (I think) and 9th


Me tired, no thinky but I's say:

Fugue is love, Canon is life  ;)

Offline Monsieur Croche

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Re: In a Fugue State
« Reply #17 on: July 27, 2017, 02:08:01 AM »

So I thought it might be interesting to know your ideas on fugues: do you like the form in general...

To be utterly pedantic, re: "do you like the form in general?"

Fugue is not a form:  Fugue is a process.

(Everyone who thinks / thought otherwise is off the hook:  there is plenty of casual misuse of calling fugue a form, all the way to the top in the elitist music theorist cabal, as well as the trickle down into all manner and levels of schools.)

I'm going to toss Stravinsky's Concerto per due pianoforti soli, final movement, into the much loved and admired fugues.  (If someone does not mention also -- or has not already mentioned -- his double inverted fugue movement from the Symphony of Psalms I'd be very surprised.)
Stravinsky made a slight but important revision when he consulted with pianists Ursula Oppens and Paul Jacobs when they were recording the work; he told them to leave off the final resolution, thinking it not needed, so to then stop on the penultimate chord in the score. (I'm in total agreement with this.  As legitimate a revision as any others by this composer, I doubt if this revision appears in any score.) This recording has that final resolution....
Preludio [15:06] Fuga [16:26]
<a href="https://www.youtube.com/v/RnJZX-BT1C4&amp;t=986s" target="_blank" class="new_win">https://www.youtube.com/v/RnJZX-BT1C4&amp;t=986s</a>

My favorite fugal ~ contrapuntal Stravinsky work just may be the freewheeling and spirited Bach / Stravinsky Vom Himmel Hoch variations
<a href="https://www.youtube.com/v/UNAmF6vQTZk" target="_blank" class="new_win">https://www.youtube.com/v/UNAmF6vQTZk</a>


Best regards
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Offline Monsieur Croche

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Re: In a Fugue State
« Reply #18 on: July 27, 2017, 02:11:12 AM »
But for poetic refinement ,even mystery , I'll gladly listen to... Rameau...

<a href="https://www.youtube.com/v/_Hw9wCPMfmI" target="_blank" class="new_win">https://www.youtube.com/v/_Hw9wCPMfmI</a>

Yes!
~ I'm all for personal expression; it just has to express something to me. ~

Offline pjme

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Re: In a Fugue State
« Reply #19 on: July 27, 2017, 02:21:02 AM »
Trinidad...

Version 1

<a href="https://www.youtube.com/v/uZfSolxrLWo" target="_blank" class="new_win">https://www.youtube.com/v/uZfSolxrLWo</a>

Version 2

<a href="https://www.youtube.com/v/xsDUxqRQctc" target="_blank" class="new_win">https://www.youtube.com/v/xsDUxqRQctc</a>

And many more on YT.

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