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Thread: Bach's Unfinished Fugue - The Art of the Fugue

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    Default Bach's Unfinished Fugue - The Art of the Fugue

    I am working on a novel where each of the chapters are inspired by unfinished works of art. This 'inspirational' work influences both the theme and the form of the chapters in question. I am currently working on a chapter inspired by The Art of the Fugue and what I would like to do is translate the three subjects in the final unfinished Contrapunctus 19 into three sentences which are repeated in different 'voices' throughout the text (ex. the Bass voice might be in caplock, whereas the Soprano voice might be in Italics).

    I think that it would be really cool to follow the exact format of the Contrapunctus 19 by introducing the subjects and voices in the same order, making small changes to the sentences if there is a tonal answer, any false entries, inversions (I've chosen sentences that make sense forwards or backwards), stretto, diminutions, augmentations, ect.

    My one problem is that I cannot read music. I have tried to discern these things and spent a lot of time looking at the score but for the life of me I can't figure it out. Because I think the concept is just so cool (translating music into language) I thought I would reach out to see if anyone knew someone who might be able to help.

    I am willing to pay someone to help, but I'm hoping to find someone who is willing to trade expertise (I have done a lot in my career and I have various freelancing gigs at the moment where I'm paid to do the following: tutor English, copywriting or editing, content marketing and SEO, fundraising consulting, resume reviews, and college applications and scholarship applications consulting). Let me know if you know of anyone who might be able to help or if you're interested! Thanks!

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    Senior Member Igneous01's Avatar
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    I believe that you do not even need to read the music to see the pattern in this case. The beginning of the fugue opens with the first subject and the shape is fairly distinct on the score as well. If you look ahead every few bars you see it pop up everywhere. Then it later comes inverted, but again you can see and hear this in the music when it goes inverted given its distinct shape.

    Then you apply the same with the second subject, after successive imitations it is bound with the first subject in both its normal form and later in its inverted form.

    Here is a very good youtube video of the Art of the Fugue being completed by Zoltan Gonc, which has a graph that shows all the permutations of the subjects, as well as his own ending to the fugue (which assumes 4 subjects that are all later inverted as well).




    This I think will help a lot in your quest
    Life really isn't a Beethoven's 5th "I conquered the world and defeated my fears by going from C minor to C major", it's really about compassion towards yourself.

    In this sense, the simple acceptance and honesty at the end of the Grosse Fugue (after the greatest expression of human suffering)... is quite an artistic achievement.

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    The only issue is that they aren't really analogous, music is sound waves and speech is meaningful. For example, how could you express the difference between imitation at the second and imitation at the octave? What about one voice imitating at the third with rhythmic values halved, the next at the sixth with rhythmic values doubled, etc. Bach did unbelievably complex things like that sometimes. Technically, I don't think counterpoint can provide much inspiration for speech, but I can think of some great dialogue that is - in an extremely loose sense - "contrapuntal" - like most of the dialogue in The Big Lebowski.

    It's a cool idea, however.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kelt View Post
    The only issue is that they aren't really analogous, music is sound waves and speech is meaningful. For example, how could you express the difference between imitation at the second and imitation at the octave? What about one voice imitating at the third with rhythmic values halved, the next at the sixth with rhythmic values doubled, etc. Bach did unbelievably complex things like that sometimes. Technically, I don't think counterpoint can provide much inspiration for speech, but I can think of some great dialogue that is - in an extremely loose sense - "contrapuntal" - like most of the dialogue in The Big Lebowski.

    It's a cool idea, however.
    I think she/he can still do it by having some musical understanding. I think it's possible as long as you aim for perfection in correlation (of language and the music) and not perfection in the translation (because there isn't).

    Understand the music harmonically/contrapuntally/melodically and see how it could relate to language. But I think it's key that you do understand those 3 things.

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