Thursday, April 07, 2005

Bach: Fugue in b minor, WTC Book I

This is the final fugue in the first book of the WTC and in my opinion is one of the most reverent pieces of music I have ever heard. Last night I went through and listened to all of the fugues and this last one seemed to bring everything together so well. It seems to me that b minor holds a special significance to Bach, since this piece appears to be so reverent, and also his most famous Mass is also in b minor. As for the analysis, the fugue has 4 voices and 13 full subjects. The subject line has this great cross motive, playing around with tones using sequential crosses (one note, then it's leading tone, then a leap and a repeat of the same motion). In this way it really draws together all the other works in the WTC, since this final subject has every single note of the chromatic scale. In the counter subject we have this descending scale of five quarter notes, which fall in line between each of the cross motives. Bach is so meticulous in his preparation that everything falls in line perfectly, not a single note seems out of place. I forgot to mention that the subject starts inside out, with the order going 2,3,4,1 (in order of voices), filling from the middle outwards. We have a few cadences in this piece, starting with measure 6. Actually every time we finish the subject we seem to end on a cadence. We also have a couple leading to the first development. At 17 and again at 21 we have cadences: the first in the minor dominant (f#) then a PAC in b minor signaling a return of the subject. We cadence at 30 in e minor to bring us to the second development. Halfway through the development we reach the key of D major. Measure 53 brings us back to the minor dominant of f#, finally beginning to bring this fugue to a close. Suddenly, we're in E Major as the bass puts in another subject. Back to b minor as we're hitting the terminative section. A final subject in e minor leads us to a f# final half cadence then a final B Major picardy third. I really love this piece, so serene, so moving, I actually teared up while writing this and listening. To recap out keys: b, f#, e, D, f#, E, b, e, B...weeeee

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