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On Why I Love to Compose Fugues

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I have always enjoyed every aspect of Counterpoint.   In our modern world awash in harmonically vertical oriented music from every hidden corner, the Fugue, the Fughetta and the Invention offer an escape from the ordinary.  The Fugue is an old art form that some believe reached its height in the Baroque (J.S. Bach being the obvious example).  Of course, a large number of the most revered Romantic and Impressionist Composers also wrote quality fugues.  In the 21st century however, where plurality and a rejection of formalism and objective standards is the normative, what place does the fugue have in the heart and mind of the modern composer?  In an age where anything goes, are the formal conventions and procedures involved in writing a fugue too limited and constraining?  I have found the very opposite to be true.  

For me, composing a fugue is a free, spontaneous and natural act.  The fugue can provide clarity to the composer in that the constraints and limitations placed upon the use and selection of materials can be liberating in the profoundest of ways.  Unlike other musical forms, an otherwise daunting blank stack of staff paper is no challenge or threat to a fugue and its composer companion.  The blank sheets instantly become a full and rich tapestry immediately upon composing only the first single note.  And even if a wrestling match breaks out in making the different lines of the fugue cooperate with one another, there is never a loser.  Every line wins equally and every line is appreciated, as does and is any composer who fully embraces counterpoint and the fugue in his/her heart.  And in our modern musical world without rules, nothing can be more satisfying now and then, than to have a few rules to rebel against and to break, even if those rules are the ones we knowingly place before our own eyes.  I feel it would be a shame for any dedicated composer to not experience such joy.

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© 2017 Chris Ludwig