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#41
Quote by Woffelz
I noticed how Xiaoxi's first couple of bars sound very similar to the real answer of Little Fugue in Gm.

Fugues are very logical, and there are often common solutions to common problems. This is why a lot of Bach's lines sound identical or very close in between works--it's the best solution at that moment. So yes, these things will sound very close to each other. The artistry part of it is still being able to maintain a distinct artistic sound and voice in the overall scheme of things.


I'll get to all the submissions soon.

...modes and scales are still useless.


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#42
Quote by 505088K

It worked alot better in terms of harmony but I often have trouble making the second line interesting in terms of melody if I can only use 3rds and 6ths :/
Well, again, you're not limited to 3rds and 6ths. It's just that your lines need to be approached and resolved by one of these consonant intervals. You can have b2nds, b5s/#4ths, etc etc. They all sound beautiful when done right in context.

And I thought it was ok to vary the subject in fugues just not in canons? But yeah you're right it certainly isn't a good idea to do especially in the beginning.
Professionally, that would be the composer's discretion. But in most cases, when we present a fugal idea, we are implying that we've thought of an idea that is logically sound and will have lots of potential for development. If we alter that idea later on because the original one doesn't work in that context, then we're kind of saying "oh wait, I change my mind." It just kind of shows a weakness in your technique. The fugue that I have in the OP is guilty of this. The melodic direction in that subject is such that it's very hard to move harmonically later on, and also presents a lot of counterpoint difficulties. So when I realized that, I just set it on fire and start with a new work

So it's a combination of thinking of something that'll work entirely from the beginning, and being able to maneuver the counterpoint later on to adapt to that subject. Masters like Bach can do the latter with almost any subject you throw at him, no matter how terrible or problematic. This was the case in The Musical Offering.

...modes and scales are still useless.


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Last edited by Xiaoxi at Jan 8, 2012,
#44
also, how much of a steadfast rule is it that the parts can never overlap (as in the soprano go lower than the alto)?
#45
I think the mods should band Xiaoxi until he writes a lesson on fugues.
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#46
Just handed in my composition coursework after a very stressful day. Getting drunk later and I'll make a start on this over the weekend
#47
DiminishedFifth:

Good start on the fugue, especially with the rhythmic balancing. I'm concerned that some of the rhythms are maybe too inconsistent and "wild" for this style of writing. There should be a more identifiable pattern in the rhythmic figures so that we can keep track of the voices and they can each stand on their own.

Harmonically, this is very ambiguous, and you should really slow it down when playing back and check if every harmonic implication is spelled out clearly enough. This is in large part due to the lack of proper resolutions.

For example:
-m.4: You have an Eb against Bb, and they ultimately meet again at F and G, which is a 7th. ie. no stepwise resolution to a 3rd/6th.
-m.6: In the very last beat of m.6, you have a D against a G which moves in parallel motion to E and A. It seems like a subtle thing but it really does screw with the harmonic clarity.

Here's my suggestions. Check out how I'm using the rhythmic figure in the tail of your subject beyond the initial subject because it's very identifiable. The bridge also imitates the 8th-quarter motifs from the upper part of the subject.

Your subject is a tricky one when considering its tail. I consider it to be an automatic transition into the answer, since it doesn't really give opportunity to modulate with a tonal answer, which is why I omitted it when going to the bridge.

http://soundcloud.com/xwanhosting/diminishedfifth-fugue


...modes and scales are still useless.


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Last edited by Xiaoxi at Feb 1, 2012,
#48
jazz_rock_feel:

Pretty good job with handling the intervals! You've really nailed down the concept of approaching and resolving things by 3rds/6ths. Here are a couple of counterpoint errors you've missed:
-m.4 alto: You're trying to tonicize A, with the F#'s and G#'s pointing to A. The problem is that we never hear that A, so it sounds like an unresolved tension.
-m.6: Soprano and bass have parallel 5ths

Now onto bigger picture stuff. Now, your lines are mostly technically correct, but they don't have their own distinction. This goes back to what some other people have pointed out: things sometimes sound awkward while worrying about proper intervals. Your next step is to make your lines sound organic and natural (while still retaining correct techniques). A good rule of thumb is that if it's awkward to sing, then it probably needs some work.

With that in mind, sing what you have in the alto when soprano comes in: E F B G# (awkward aug4th. It's not that aug4ths aren't good, but in context it's very weak). Or the next measure, 4th beat: D E F# C# (the F# never resolves and you essentially have 2 leading tones, the other being C#, which is disorienting melodically and harmonically).

Also, when your answer comes in, you've landed in the subdominant because the Soprano should have been: A D F etc etc, not A D E. The only thing that should be altered is the tonic D while everything else is a perfect 5th transposition. For the sake of strengthening your technique, you should recreate the countersubject faithfully when bass comes in.

Here are my suggestions. To me, this feels like the basis of motor rhythm should be 16th notes because of the dotted 8ths - 16th motif. You can stick to 8th if you don't feel comfortable. But notice how there is a consistency in the rhythmic and melodic material that I use, which will make everything sound more coherent and easy to follow.


http://soundcloud.com/xwanhosting/jrf-fugue


...modes and scales are still useless.


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Last edited by Xiaoxi at Feb 1, 2012,
#49
Ok, there goes my shot at it... It has been a couple of years since I've studied harmony or counterpoint in any serious manner, and I never really studied fugues, but I thought I might as well jump in and give it a try!
So probably it has quite a few mistakes, but I hope there's something good in it or at least a little potential! hehehe


http://soundcloud.com/mrkeka/fugue-in-g-major

Last edited by mrkeka at Jan 15, 2012,
#50
Slightly off-topic here, but say this was an assignment, would I lose marks for staying just in a natural minor scale?
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#51
Quote by Woffelz
Slightly off-topic here, but say this was an assignment, would I lose marks for staying just in a natural minor scale?


Probably yes, you should present you're theme in a major key in one of the middle entries.
If you decide not to do that you're teacher might think you were unable to transpose your material in a major key or that you had problems modulating there.

It might work fine (Earlier fugues used to stay mostly in the orginal tonality too I think ),
but if the assignment is "write a fugue in G minor with 3 voices for piano"
they are most likely wanting you to write a piece in the textbook model of a fugue,
which has the first middle entry in a major key.

And harmonic/melodic minor scales really help when modulating, so you shouldn't disregard them either.
#53
The problem with that is that the minor key dictates that you use #6 and #7 in a lot of situations, (dominant function, which is ubiquitous) so there's no real way you could write something 'Bach style' with just the natural minor scale.
#54
Quote by theknuckster
also, how much of a steadfast rule is it that the parts can never overlap (as in the soprano go lower than the alto)?

They can overlap, but I'd do it sparingly, otherwise it really obscures which line is which.

Quote by Woffelz
Slightly off-topic here, but say this was an assignment, would I lose marks for staying just in a natural minor scale?

I think you need to readjust your fundamental perception of how music can be written. You're asking from a vertical point of view, which is exactly what this and most classical writing avoids.

Like trying to come up with a 4-chord progression in rock, you're trying to assign a static set of parameters that could work cyclically, but not continuously. A fugue requires many tonic changes in order to further itself harmonically, tonally, and compositionally. To say you'll stay "in a natural minor scale" means you'll be stuck with those notes with no way of modulating or accommodating melodic alterations when it needs to happen. The only situation where I can see this kind of thinking as being useful is if you were trying to write an experimental piece using pan-diatonicism. Otherwise, scales on its own terms rarely has any significance or place in classical music and its analysis/writing.

Instead, you should abandon any sense of scalar definitions. You should treat each pitch in the music as it relates to what has come before and what needs to happen after. In this way, you can alter any pitch in a way that is logical, useful, and won't be cluttered by having to reference its place in a scale. Only then can you start to write this kind of music in an authentic manner.

...modes and scales are still useless.


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Last edited by Xiaoxi at Jan 16, 2012,
#55
Bump

also, can anyone explain what is going on in the beginning of this fugue:
(Bach, from 2nd Lute Suite bwv997)



The subject is 7 measures long, starting with a scale from a to e and then it jumps down and rises chromaticly.

the odd thing is just that the bass voice already enters in the second measure with the countersubject (which starts with the beginning of the main subject in reverse btw, very clever).

What's up with that?
Is that stretto?

And yeah then the top voice enters in the dominant as usual while the bass goes to countersubject 2.
so the bass gets to play the subject only in m17 after playing both countersubjects.
But that's not that unusual, is it?
#56
Great obsverations, man.

Yes, Bach does this sometimes, in which he introduces an accompanying voice before the very first subject has fully stated by itself. He often does this in the keyboard Sinfonias, and a few in WTC, and some in Art of Fugue.

I wouldn't say that the subject is 7 measures long even though the soprano doesn't come until the 7th measure. I think the actual subject is m.1-4. Notice for the rest of the fugue, the "7 measures" never gets stated again. What's happening in between is like mini-developments serving to modulate. You can also say they're bridges.

As you noted, the bass starts the countersubject right away. Essentially what this means is that all 3 voices in the exposition are accompanied by its countersubject, instead of the usual 2. When the bass states the subject, the soprano states the CS.

I wouldn't say there is a 2nd countersubject. Remember, countersubjects are figures that always occur with the subject. I don't see how this is repeated in here. It's more likely to be free material.

Just from a quick glance, I don't think this part has any strettos. A stretto is an overlap of subjects. If the soprano started somewhere in m.3 for example, then it would be a stretto, and Bach has a few stretto expositions, but it's rarer. If you want an example of an overabundance of strettos, check out fugue no.1 from WTC I.

...modes and scales are still useless.


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#57
thanks ^^

I was pretty uncertain about the term "stretto". I know it's called stretto if second voice starts playing a subject before the first one is done with the same subject. I was just wondering if it was also stretto if the second voice starts with a countersubject before the first one finished the statement, which doesn't seem to be the case.

And yeah I agree about the subject only being the first 4 bars long, I also had that assumption when I played the subject all by itself.

I havn't had a good look at the rest of the piece yet (it's really long), so I just guessed about the lenght of the subject and the free counterpoint in the bass being a countersubject.
#58
FINALLY finished my fugue. Will post it soon with analysis. And of course, feedbacks on ones I haven't gotten to yet.

...modes and scales are still useless.


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#59
505088K:

Kudos for moving onward after the exposition (what happened to everyone else?!). You definitely have the right idea in terms of how to develop the established material. I see that you're sort of sequentially using the counterpoint motifs in the first episode and trying to modulate. Good approach.

However, if you are suggesting a sequence, then you need to keep the sequence as consistent as possible, otherwise it sounds distracting and weak. The alto breaks the rhythmic pattern in the middle, which kind of weakens the momentum. When you get to the middle entry, you don't need to provide both the subject and answer, although an answer is used in some contexts. It's just not a mandatory thing. Also, be careful because you have a lot of parallel 8ths/5ths.

1st bar of ep.1 for example:
-Alto and bass from D to E. Although there is an F between these notes in the alto, it doesn't minimize the unwanted octave effect because the octave intervals occur at the same time.
-Soprano and alto octaves C to E in the 3rd beat.
-Next measure, soprano and alto D to F. It's not as obvious due to rhythmic displacement, but the parallel octave is still there.

Also, I notice that you guys tend to repeat notes in awkward spots, which should be avoided. For example, at the end of your exposition, the bass goes F - E - D, and then you start the next bar with that same D. It's not very stylistic to do something like this.

Harmony wise, it could be a little clearer, but good improvement!


Here are my suggestions:

Episode 1:
Alto and bass trade rhythmic figures derived from the subject while soprano uses material from countersubject.

Middle entry:
To answer your question, you don't need to copy what you did in the exposition. In fact, you shouldn't, otherwise the sections are too obvious. So yes, you should introduce new counterpoint material like I have here.

Episode 2:
Using the tail of the countersubject, I can sequence it, which is smooth transitioning out of the middle entry and blur the line between it and this episode. I've left the last bar for you to create another middle entry.

http://soundcloud.com/xwanhosting/5050-fugue

...modes and scales are still useless.


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Last edited by Xiaoxi at Feb 1, 2012,
#60
theknuckster:

Interesting and challenging subject. I hope these will help you get it further:

I feel that the subject itself needs some slight adjustment. The jump down to D from A is a little awkward. It's more idiomatic to jump 4th up. In the tail of your subject, there's no real reason why it should be a syncopated rhythm...everything before it has been very straightforward, so better just maintain that feel.

The hard part of this subject is that you have no room to adjust a tonal answer, since it goes up to its 5th and then a step down. With a tonal answer, that'd be up a 4th and then you have nowhere to go (or derail the whole thing to the subdominant key). Because of this, we need to add an instant modulator in the tail of your subject so we can transpose it perfectly as a real answer.

Your countersubject could be a little stronger. Running up a D scale is not very interesting like this. Also, I feel that this doesn't need to start the motor rhythm right away, you can take a little bit of time to let it warm up. Be careful of parallels. That D melodic minor has parallell octaves with your subject (D - A).

Also, I'd keep this simple and just use 3 parts, not 4.


My suggestions:

http://soundcloud.com/xwanhosting/knuckster-fugue

...modes and scales are still useless.


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Last edited by Xiaoxi at Feb 1, 2012,
#61
You're way to good man!

Can't wait to see how your fugue turned out because I'm once again totaly amazed about what you made out of mine
Last edited by 505088K at Jan 23, 2012,
#62
Quote by 505088K
You're way to good man!

Can't wait to see how your fugue turned out because I'm once again totaly amazed about what you made out of mine

Thanks man. It took a lot of years to get to where I am now. But you have a head start!

I'll have my stuff ready to post sometimes tomorrow.

...modes and scales are still useless.


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#63
Life Is Brutal, I can't review it right now, but looking forward to what you have so far. But please have it in Sibelius and get a decent screenshot. Don't worry if it's any good or not. I don't have Guitar Pro and it's too time consuming looking at GP rendered PDF's.

And for everyone, please RENDER the audio and put it on SoundCloud. Don't just upload Midi. Midi is not audio, it is data. When you upload a midi file for someone else to play, that file is subjected to a computer's unique interpretations based on its own parameters and banks, sometimes not playing at all.

...modes and scales are still useless.


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#64
Holy crap, I had no idea you could import MIDI directly into Sibelius! That was easy!

The only instrument it lets me export the audio with is a harpsichord like piano.

I dislike how the prominent treble line goes unnoticed towards the end with this audio, it worked well with general MIDI settings.

Anyway, heres the soundcloud, The voices bleed into each other around half way through, because I got carried away and began expanding too quickly. But, because each voice follows the original, they all ascend in unison so they really only start intersecting during the last 4-5 bars. I'll probably rewrite the last half of it, or start a new one, but this was good practice.

http://soundcloud.com/lifeisbrutal/fugue-in-db-minor

Last edited by Life Is Brutal at Jan 24, 2012,
#65
^^
Your second voice comes in as a tritone, was jarring, thought it was a midi error at first, but it's F# against C.

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#66
Quote by xxdarrenxx
^^
Your second voice comes in as a tritone, was jarring, thought it was a midi error at first, but it's F# against C.


Yeah, that was the point.

It adds some resolve to the start of the 5th bar. I think I might have a problem for liking too much dissonance/tension in pieces. I attribute the dissonant instances in this piece to an overuse of phrases involving half steps, such as Eb-E-Eb.

I believe that there's only one other really jarring harmony, and that's at 37 seconds/bar 12 beat 4, and that's a minor 2nd harmony that I really couldn't avoid without pressing the integrity of my original idea. There's one other at bar 15, beat 4, but its harder to detect and is resolved with the next 8th note.

Outside of that, there are some "Outside" harmonies, but nothing as extreme as above. And for a first semi-functioning example, I'm surprised I didn't have A LOT more dissonance.

I'm done posting for awhile, I feel as though I've congested this thread enough with my self examination/defense.

FUGUEDIT: Theres a new one on my Soundcloud, but its more me dinking around with stuff.
Last edited by Life Is Brutal at Jan 24, 2012,
#67
Alright, here's my complete fugue!

I wanted to give a detailed analysis in the hopes that you guys can extract my thought process and how you can apply it to your own processes. Even though there are a lot of specific details in here, it's not as important as understanding the overarching concept of what fugues are really about.

A couple of things to define first so that we're on the same page (not necessarily "official" terms):
-Exposition: the introduction of a fugue in which all voices address the subject in a methodical order
-Link: a short passage connecting one Middle Entry (see below) to another, like a bridge
-Episode: a passage that develop established ideas in fragments, often in a sequence. Different from a link because it's extensive.
-Middle Entry: a complete iteration of the subject, sometimes multiple iterations, in the body of the fugue
-Augmentation/Diminution: doubling/halving the rhythmic value of the subject. ie. Quarter note becomes half note through augmentation.
-SATB: Soprano (highest), Alto (2nd highest), Tenor, Bass…labels for the 4 voices

So as you see, there are a lot of labels on my analysis. But don't get bogged down in that and don't make it part of your thinking. This is more to make referencing easier. I had a hard time putting down a consistent label for things because my goal was to blur the line between things. I'll try to keep the verbal explanations as brief as possible:

The most important thing to realize through looking at the labels and brackets is that, at almost any given time, there is a tangible idea derived from the source material in the exposition. Whether it'd be the rhythmic feel/texture, fragments or whole of the subject or countersubject, or a continuation of sequential momentum, there is always a point which acts as the basis for continuation.

The beauty of fugues is that it demonstrates how a simple idea, even one as dull as this, can be used in various ways until it becomes something significant and compelling to hear how it's going to be used next. You'll notice that after the exposition, the subject is often not in its "true" tonic position, i.e. it's not necessarily starting on the 5th of the tonality of the moment. Also, the harmonies that surrounds the subject changes throughout the fugue, as well as the counterpoint material. The countersubject is basically abandoned as the fugue progresses because I wanted to show how far the subject can go from its home in the exposition. (although remnants of the countersubject sometimes shows up for familiarity).

I had a hard time labeling whether something should be a middle entry or an episode because the context of the subject is constantly evolving. I'm going by the definition that a middle entry is any complete iteration of the subject, but so many of these middle entries are also episodic in that they are very transitional in nature. I like this kind of fugue the best because the sections sounds more interwoven and things just transition smoothly in and out without attracting too much attention to the seams.

Some technical things to clarify: There is an "exposition 2" because I decided to introduce a new subject (subject 2) at that point which accompanies the original subject, making this a double fugue. In the exposition, subject 2 is connected to subject 1 but it's uneven (not a complete 4/4 setting), creating rhythmic displacement so we can take a break from the constant 4/4 head-on flow, which can become boring and stagnant. Notice that sometimes another iteration of the subject begins before the first one is finished, known as a stretto, or chaining together the subjects. And just like any other music, there are high points and low points, because even though this is a very problem-solving and technical kind of writing, it's still music and should have musical character. Anyways, here it is:

http://soundcloud.com/xiaoxiwan/fugue-in-f-minor

Clean Score PDF




...modes and scales are still useless.


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#68
That was great, man.

Quote by Xiaoxi


So when are you gonna start yours?



Figured it'd be better to answer here.

To be honest, I don't even have a clue on how to go about a fugue. I get the basic gist of it, but as far as composing anything, and making it as fluid and well done as that, I just couldn't do it.

I'm proud enough of a simple counter point line I wrote on Guitar Pro, and it's just two voices and probably would be laughed at in learned music circles.
Last edited by blake1221 at Jan 25, 2012,
#69
Thanks

And that simple 2 part counterpoint is all you need to get started

And it's not really about creating a great piece in here...it's just really to get a feel for a kind of approach to writing that most people have never considered.

...modes and scales are still useless.


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#70
Well if you wouldn't mind, I'll PM you sometime this weekend and if you could walk me through certain ins and outs on writing, that'd be great.
#72
you know, xiaoxi, your fugue is great music to hang myself to
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#73
Quote by Hail
you know, xiaoxi, your fugue is great music to hang myself to


I just realized that everything I had written prior is a just cluster **** of a canon, so I'm back to the drawing board.

BUT, I can't hang myself yet, because Xiaoxi just gave me what I needed to see.
#74
Quote by Hail
you know, xiaoxi, your fugue is great music to hang myself to




It's kind of interessting really, when you first read about fugues you might imagine a fast paced piece in a major key with 3 voices chasing and playing with each other like kids, exploring many different environments and getting closer to each other at the end.
(at least I did)

But for some reason, most of the really big and famous fugues are very much like Xiaoxi's:
Slow, in a minor key, rather long with many different counterpoint ideas, almost depressing but incredibly beautiful and detailed.
It's not so much the voices chasing each other down anymore, it's more about building up to a huge architectual piece that's being held together by a haunting theme that follows the listener, popping up in all kinds of places and variations.

Sometimes when I listen to something like the last Kontrapunkt of Kunst der Fuga I feel like I'm the one being chased, instead of being someone watching the chase.
#75
Quote by Hail
you know, xiaoxi, your fugue is great music to hang myself to

lol I'm honored.

Quote by Life Is Brutal
I just realized that everything I had written prior is a just cluster **** of a canon, so I'm back to the drawing board.

Try 3 voices instead of 4. It's all the same technique anyway. Also make sure the accidentals are correct, or it gets really confusing!

...modes and scales are still useless.


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Last edited by Xiaoxi at Jan 25, 2012,
#76
Quote by 505088K


It's kind of interessting really, when you first read about fugues you might imagine a fast paced piece in a major key with 3 voices chasing and playing with each other like kids, exploring many different environments and getting closer to each other at the end.
(at least I did)

But for some reason, most of the really big and famous fugues are very much like Xiaoxi's:
Slow, in a minor key, rather long with many different counterpoint ideas, almost depressing but incredibly beautiful and detailed.
It's not so much the voices chasing each other down anymore, it's more about building up to a huge architectual piece that's being held together by a haunting theme that follows the listener, popping up in all kinds of places and variations.

Sometimes when I listen to something like the last Kontrapunkt of Kunst der Fuga I feel like I'm the one being chased, instead of being someone watching the chase.
Fugues have all kinds of characters and qualities, as well as approaches and textures. The one I wrote is just happened to be what I like. But it's a very flexible technique and I don't want people to get the idea that it has to sound dark or slow or anything like that to be substantive.

One of my all time favorites, in fact, is this C# major, which is very bright and charming:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=Tw-0PRovMU8#t=66s

Or sweet and tender:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eOAIs1agapU

Or powerful and bold:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AxRnQO77rIs

Or quirky:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kK4p92ZIPjE

But if you want dark and introspective, there are plenty of those too:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fd9cmGtb5PI

...modes and scales are still useless.


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Last edited by Xiaoxi at Jan 25, 2012,
#77
Xiaoxi, before I start this, fancy taking a look at a bit of my canon? I wouldn't mind using the start of my canon for the first subject.
#78
Sure post it

...modes and scales are still useless.


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#80
I think I'm going to make myself write at least 12 bars of something a day. Hopefully the writing process will become easier.

Xiaoxi, I may have gotten a grip on this. A little bit, anyway.

Would you mind taking a look at Fugue in C Minor?

http://soundcloud.com/lifeisbrutal

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