Update #3: A Finished Fugue!

I set out at the beginning of this project to do an in-depth score analysis of the Bach organ fugues and then use what I have learned to compose my own organ fugue using a popular melody in the style of Bach. I am very pleased to be able to say that I achieved what I set out to do. Studying Bach’s music made me a better and more experienced student of music theory, and the many challenges I faced in composing this complex fugue have made me forever a better and more technically sound composer.

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Update #2: Choosing a Theme for My Composition

A major part of my project was choosing the pre-existing melody I would use as the subject for my fugue. Of all the parts of the project, this was the one that presented by far the most unexpected difficulties, because I had not taken into account the significant aesthetic differences in how we view music, and specifically the concept of melody, between Bach’s time and today. In this post, I will discuss two distinct aesthetic differences between Baroque and contemporary popular music that complicated my search for a theme, and how I eventually made a decision.

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Update #1: Collecting, Organizing, and Understanding Data from a Musical Score

My research is very clearly divided between time spent analyzing and collecting data on the Bach organ fugues, and later the time spent on composition for my own fugue based upon what I learned from Bach and his craft. Since I have finished the background analytical phase, I am now writing two update posts on the two most important things I have learned from my project so far. This post will focus on my process for studying the seventeen fugues that I ended up using as my data set from which to glean compositional techniques. Analyzing each fugue took somewhere between one and four hours, depending upon its length and complexity. I am hopeful that the considerable time and effort I invested into this phase of the project will transmit itself well as I attempt to compose using Bach’s musical idiom.

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Breaking Staff Notation (Sheet Music) to Reveal Its Presumptions About Music