Counterpoint: Fugue

Part 4: Quarenghi and Counterpoint: FUGUE

What is a Fugue? And what are all the parts to a Fugue?In the most basic of explanations, per my own understanding so far, a fugue utilizes all elements and techniques in the contrapuntal arsenal.


The 5 Species
Of course, it is more involved and sophisticated than that so a further and more detailed definition is needed.

Again, from Baker’s Dict. of Music and Musicians:


The most highly developed form of contrapuntal imitation. [whereby] a theme proposed by one part is taken up in succession by all participating parts.
The word fugue is presumably derived from the Latin fugue, a flight, which aptly characterizes the chasing and changing of the subject through the several parts.
The Elements essential to every fugue are

  • Subject
  • Answer
  • Countersubject
  • To these [the previous four elements] are commonly added
  • Episode
  • The Subject is usually short and suggestive;
    After which it is taken up by the part next following as the answer
    at a different interval (usually a fifth higher or a fourth lower than the original one)
    being then accompanied by a contrasting counterpoint, the countersubject in the first part
    (There can be more than two parts, or voices, but for the sake of simplicity and to follow Quarenghi’s example of a cello duet, we will remain at only two parts.)
    After all the parts have entered, that initial section called the exposition, it is succeeded by an Episode.
    This section is usually derived from the subject and countersubject and modulates into related keys.
    The fugue may be concluded by a stretto in which the subject and answer overlap each other in consequence of following in closer succession; the stretto is frequently above a organ-point
    The CODA is a general finale or ending using a freer counterpoint.

Quarenghi wrote a FUGUE for cello Duet.

His great learning material for several reasons.

1. There are only two voices. (Simpler in concept)

2. Every entry of the subject is followed by the answer in closer succession.

3. There are three great Stretto events.

PODCAST: Forgotten Cello Music Episode 54

Listen to my podcast which takes a more thoughtful look at Fugue and Quarenghi’s own composition. I outline the basic form and structure of fugue. Quarenghi’s own fugue is explored to reveal the parts that are most useful to understand what this form is and how it functions. I also perform the entire fugue at the end of Episode 54.–Quarenghi-and-Counterpoint-FUGUE-e1qjejrEpisode 54: Quarenghi and the Fugue

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