#1
Hey,so I decided to stop lurking and ask a question that I can't seem to find the answer to. I'm trying to write a fugue and I'm finding it rather difficult to maintain functional cord progression. For example, somtimes I can't find a way around going from vi to I or ii to I ect. because of the way the counterpiont plays out. What I was wondering is if chord progressions that follow "the rules" are of secondairy importance to the counterpiont. So, melody is more important than harmony. I was also wondering this because I've been working through Gradus ad Parnassum and the exercises don't seem to take harmony into account. Of course, the exercises in Gradus are modal, but I was wondering if when writing counterpiont in tonal stuff the melodic movement would still be more important then the harmonic movement. I also tried looking at some of Bach's fugues (what other fugues would I look at ) and it seemed to me that the harmony wasn't as important as the counterpiont. I think analizing Bach fugues is really a bit over my head at the moment however so I thought I'd ask the powers that reside here. Please bestow apon me youre know-how.

P.S Fugue 21 in Bb Major from book one is my fav
#2
Well, yes the subject is the most important part of the fugue, but you must use good voice-leading. The harmony must make sense, but it's not like you need to have ii V I in every measure. Don't worry too much about functional harmony, but it's good to have enough so that your tonal areas are clear.

It is an important consideration that the different elements of a composition fit so well together that they provide a beautifully unified effect - a consideration which is of particular importance in a fugue. Friedrich Wilhelm Marpurg

Fugue is an adornment of music governed by good taste alone. A thorough knowledge of harmony will certainly disclose all the avenues which can be explored in a given instance, but the choice among these avenues depends wholly on our taste. Jean-Philippe Rameau
#3
First of all, the Fux is modal counterpoint and Bach is tonal counterpoint. In modality functional harmony doesn't exist, so that's why he's not talking about harmony. A fugue must still have logical harmonic progressions as well as the subject being developed throughout most of this. As Harmosis said, you don't have to have ii-V-I all the time, but you also can't just have ii-I-vi-IV-vii-V-ii-iii-I-vi either. Bach reconciles this (sometimes) by essentially sequencing the subject and variations thereof to hell and back throughout his fugues. He will often just take an idea and sequence through the circle of fifths, which will almost automatically give you a logical progression.

Out of curiosity, where are you learning to write a fugue from? It's not really something you can just pick up without a lot of skilled analysis or a book/teacher (or, realistically, both).
#4
generally, in contrapuntal music, the harmony comes about only as coincidence between the melodies and their counterpoint. it should be logical, but it's created only by the interaction of the independent melodic lines.
Anfangen ist leicht, Beharren eine Kunst.
#5
Quote by AeolianWolf
generally, in contrapuntal music, the harmony comes about only as coincidence between the melodies and their counterpoint.


Coincidental? Is that true for all contrapuntal music? I've been learning several minuets/melodies etc. from Bach on piano and the harmony is generally simply stated and functional.
Nothing that is worthwhile in life will ever come easy.
#6
Quote by jazz_rock_feel
First of all, the Fux is modal counterpoint and Bach is tonal counterpoint. In modality functional harmony doesn't exist, so that's why he's not talking about harmony. A fugue must still have logical harmonic progressions as well as the subject being developed throughout most of this. As Harmosis said, you don't have to have ii-V-I all the time, but you also can't just have ii-I-vi-IV-vii-V-ii-iii-I-vi either. Bach reconciles this (sometimes) by essentially sequencing the subject and variations thereof to hell and back throughout his fugues. He will often just take an idea and sequence through the circle of fifths, which will almost automatically give you a logical progression.

Out of curiosity, where are you learning to write a fugue from? It's not really something you can just pick up without a lot of skilled analysis or a book/teacher (or, realistically, both).

Well, I have The Study of Fugue by Alfred Mann which includes several books (or excerpts from books) on fugal theory, but I suppose I'm really doing this on my own. Last year I tooks a class that covered harmony and voice leading, so like simple chorals. We were giong to do fugues but due to people being sick or not being able to make it to class we ran out of time. The person teaching it was a student attending the college near where I live so it wasn't really a formal class. More casual like a guitar lesson as opposed to school. He went India to study for the summer so it's kinda just been me winging it.

But back to my question. I didn't mean completly non-fuctional chords like ii-I-vi-IV-vii-V-ii-iii-I-vi (I'm going to have to play that just to see what it sounds like) I meant mostly following the rules but occasionally having like a vi-V-I or a ii-I or somthing odd like that. Thanks for the replies everyone.
#7
Quote by soviet_ska
Coincidental? Is that true for all contrapuntal music? I've been learning several minuets/melodies etc. from Bach on piano and the harmony is generally simply stated and functional.


very little of bach's minuets (i'm assuming you're using the little notebook for anna magdalena bach) actually have you playing a chord.

i don't mean coincidental in that bach didn't mean to compose it in such a way -- rather coincidental in the sense that the harmony, even when clear, is still implied.
Anfangen ist leicht, Beharren eine Kunst.
#8
That sort of is the, "Art of the fugue," if you will TS (I make myself laugh)

Creating a statement that lends itself well to many harmonic variations and overlappings, while still remaining pleasing to the ear both on its own and in these variations is where the difficulty of crafting a fugue lays

The harmony is coincidental, mostly, (as has been said) however, the melodic material is designed in a way that it lends itself easily to that coincidental harmony

If that makes any sense
Last edited by thebassiestbass at Jun 23, 2011,
#9
Quote by AeolianWolf
i don't mean coincidental in that bach didn't mean to compose it in such a way -- rather coincidental in the sense that the harmony, even when clear, is still implied.


That makes more sense, I see what you are saying now.
Nothing that is worthwhile in life will ever come easy.
#10
Quote by soviet_ska
That makes more sense, I see what you are saying now.


oh, yeah. bach knew EXACTLY what he was doing at all times. and that's not even sarcasm. that's the genius in his music.

the way i learned it, when composing counterpoint, you should bring about the harmony coincidentally (as the definition i just gave about implied harmonies), but you should be able to discern what the chord would/could be if you added more notes to explicitly state the harmony.
Anfangen ist leicht, Beharren eine Kunst.