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Thread: Question about Fugue Exposition

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    Senior Member Igneous01's Avatar
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    Default Question about Fugue Exposition

    Have a quick question concerning the exposition of a fugue.

    First is - Does the subject need to be alone when it enters until it finishes? or can an answer be provided in an imitative counterpoint halfway through the subject?

    Second - Besides real and tonal answers, which is the subject but in either a different key or alteration of intervals in same key, is there anything else that can be used as an answer? is the counter subject acceptable as an answer?

    Lastly - The exposition completes when all voices have entered, does that mean it finishes when all voices have given an answer? and do all these voices need to come in by themselves? or can they be strung together?


    Some of the pages that i read dont really go into detail about this, and I would like to get some insight on these topics at hand here, because listeneing and comparing fugues (beethovens and bachs) there expositions are completely different, and some pieces (like the grosse fugue and the fugue from the hammerklavier) dont even have the subject enter by itself, and the answer ends up being by itself (like in the grosse fugue)

    so where do you draw the line for what accounts as being an exposition?

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    While there are no absolute rules, there is a standard. Suffice to say that you should learn to follow the rules before breaking them.

    Once you get to the exposition, all bets are off. Bach was always very strict because he had a philosophical stake in the structure. Beethoven was not a "good" composer of fugue but it doesn't matter. For yourself, it depends what you're doing. If you're creating something that could be called neo-Baroque, stick to the rules. If you have material that you think is best presented fugally, do so, but don't feel forced to hurt the music for the sake of sticking to fugue-style.

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