« AnteriorContinuar »
At one time they begin and close with every strophe of the Cantus firmus: then they form introductions, intervening and after-phrases, or as they are called in respect of the psalm,
Prelude, InterLUDE, AND AFTER-PLAY. In all these configurations the greatest variety of intention can be expressed.
In fine, figurations occur in which the Cantus firmus is not strictly observed; but on the contrary, is brought into another scale, and appears more or less changed by various additions, transformations, and augmentations in its original manner. Seb. Bach has changed the melody of the chorale, Wer nur den lieben Gott lässt walten,
into this figuration.340.
Another form of figuration was very much used by the old composers, especially by Handel and Seb. Bach. The bass begins with a short phrase of four, six, or eight bars alone, and then continues to repeat it, while the upper parts at every repetition perform a constantly richer and more powerfully devoloped figuration. The unity maintained by the continuous fundamental theme and the diversified song of universally polyphonic upper parts, produces a correspondingly varied effect upon the feelings. Here we give as an example, the beginning of such a figura
tion on a bass :
Here, the theme at A is repeated at B, and at this moment the three upper parts begin to intermingle: at C, the theme is renewed, and the song of the upper parts seems intended to become more flowing and variegated. A masterly application of this form is to be found in Handel's Alexander's Feast, in the chorus Weck' ihn auf aus seinem Schlummer. This obstinately repeating basso is called
(Basso ostinato), GROUND BASS,
and this name characterises the whole form. The richest, from which we have taken our example, will be found in Seb. Bach's Passecaglie.
In conclusion, we will mention another employground bass. The parts pursue their course, and ment of figuration, without eitheir Cantus firmus or move as it were alone, through a succession of chords or modulations, and so close without any manifest distinction as to principal or secondary. parts; when, at about the close, one part, generally the first, assumes the ascendancy, and leads off the melody. This form is chiefly used in preludes or introductions to larger compositions, and in studies or exercises for the piano or organ.
appears first in one part and then proceeds to another part, and forms the chief substance of the composition.
While a second part takes up the subject, the part which first had it, pursues its song, which being continued along with the subject, is called the COUNTER-SUBJECT.
After the second part has taken up the subject, a third, fourth, or more parts do the same. They then take up the counter-subject, and form altogether the GENERAL HARMONY.
But it would be too uniform if the subject were constantly produced by each part on the same degrees. Changes are therefore made in various ways. The most regular method is for the second part to reproduce in the scale of the dominant, what the first part has performed in the tonic. This is called the
to the subject.
In general, the answer is formed exactly, note for note, like the subject. Particular circumstances, however, admit of slight deviations in this respect, provided always that the subject be not so altered as to be difficult of recognition. Let us observe, first, a little fugue phrase, in which shortness and simplicity are more aimed at, than artistic effect:
interrupts the repetitions, leads us back conveniently to C major, where the subject is to begin, and diminishes the wearying effect of constant repetition. In the fourth and fifth bars, the bass and tenor are introduced with the subject and answer; and in the last bar, the sixth, we have again an episode.
Here we might bring our fugue to a close, since we had returned to C major from the last bar above, and had ended. It may, however, proceed further (and generally does so), and after the episode the theme may be repeated in any other part, and be answered by other parts.
Each passage of the subject through the parts is considered perfect, when it has appeared in all the parts, as in No. 342; imperfect, when it has not appeared in all; and more than perfect if it have appeared in one or some of the parts more than once. We recognise, therefore, that a fugue may consist of one or more repetitions, and at the same time we perceive the advantage of the episodes, which serve to separate the single passings of the subject, and thereby produce facility of inspection and variety into the whole composition.
But how do we recognise the subject of a fugue ? We see, indeed, its beginning in the first part; but where is its end and its point of separation from the counter-subject? In the first place, by seeking for the satisfactory end of the subject upon the general principles of melody. Secondly, by comparing together
the two beginning parts: so far as they correspond with each other, so long usually is the subject. In this comparison, however, trifling deviations, which are sometimes necessary in the course of the answer, need not be regarded.
Some peculiar changes of form in themes of fugues are worthy of remark. They are sometimes written IN AUGMENTATION,
that is to say, in notes of double value; as for example, in crotchets instead of quavers. Sometimes IN DIMINUTION,
that is, in notes of half their original value; for example, in semiquavers in lieu of quavers. Sometimes IN INVERSION,
that is, in such a manner that where a note should ascend, it is made, on the contrary, to descend; and vice versa. Here,—
we see the theme at (a) and (b) in the under part in direct motion, in the upper part inverted; at (c) in the under part in its proper motion and values, in the upper part inverted and at the same time diminished. It will be easily understood that these variations of form will produce a much greater effect in a real composition than here, where we give the smallest and most simple examples.
If any part should begin, while another part is proceeding in the subject, such a construction is called a
Nos. 343, 344 and 345, (b) and (c), are therefore strettos of two and three parts.
Of the many kinds of fugues, we mention those most in esteem only.
Fugues are named from the number of parts of which they consist.
Besides the parts properly constituting the fugue, other parts may be introduced merely as accompaniment, and they may proceed interweaving their course among the configurations of the fugue. The
we have the almost shortest possible beginning of a double fugue. The tenor introduces the first subject at (a). The bass begins the second subject at (b). At (c) the alto answers the first, and at (d) the treble answers the second subject. If this is to be thoroughly carried out, the bass must produce the first, the tenor must take up the second; moreover, the treble must perform the first, and the alto the second subject; so that each subject may have appeared in every part. That from (e) and (f) the two under parts form a counter-subject, is visible
from page 84. It will be clearly understood also, that in TRIPLE FUGUES,
and others of more parts, all the subjects must be carried through with each other in all the parts, as is done in double fugues with the two subjects. It is, however, seldom or never judged expedient to construct fugues upon more than three themes.
The double or triple fugues are governed, excepting in what results from the plurality of their subjects, exactly by the same rules as the single fugue. The two or more subjects must, according to custom, be carried through at least once together. They may, however, be taken through separately and singly. Often, indeed, double fugues begin with one subject only, and carry it through alone; then enters the second (so that the beginning resembles two different but combined fugues) in a separate course of passing through; after which only, both subjects proceed together, so that properly, the double fugue begins with this last procedure only. Of this construction is the Confiteor unum baptisma, in Seb. Bach's High Mass in B minor. Or, the first subject begins alone in one part, and when the second part answers in the same theme, the preceding part takes the second subject, as if it were a counter-subject; and so the first theme and the counter-subject (the second subject) run through all the parts. The fugue in G minor in Seb. Bach's Wohltemperirtem Klavier, Part 1, is an example of this construction. It is also customary in triple fugues, not to introduce the three subjects all at once, but two only at first, in order that they may be understood, and then to admit the third. The Kyrie, in Seb Bach's Mass in G major, is an instance of this observance. Another way is, as in the 1st Psalm of the author, to begin with one subject, and afterwards admit the two others. A fugue with only one subject is called, in contradistinction to a double or triple fugue,
A SINGLE FUGUE.
A composition approaching to the fugal form is called A FREE FUGUE,
in contradistinction to
A STRICT FUGUE,
in which the form and its laws are rigidly observed. A short phrase, worked as a kind of fugue, in an
extensive composition (as a sonata, symphony, &c.), is ginnings of canons, which may be imagined to be extended to any length ad libitum:
said to be
So much it is indeed but the essentially necessary, and the most general information on the most superabundantly rich and important form of fugue. Of the many combinations of this with other forms, two must especially be mentioned.
THE FUGUE TO A CORALE
is the accompaniment of a corale melody by a fugue, as we have formerly seen a similar melody accompanied by a simple figuration;
THE FUGAL CORALE
is a fugal construction of a whole corale, in which one strophe after the other is taken separately as the subject of the fugue, and is carried through.
Both forms are found abundantly in Seb. Bach's ecclesiastical music and compositions for the organ. The latter form is admirably employed in the composition Ein 'feste Burg ist unser Gott, and in the management of the corale, Aus tiefer Noth schrei ich zu dir.*
4. THE CANON.
In the fugue the subject was taken up by one part after the other, but in the counter-subject and intervening phrases each part had more or less its own melody, and the subject, even, did not continue entirely unchanged. If, now, we introduce two or more parts, the one after the other, which proceed together in equal time, and imitate, note by note, the succession of each other, so that each part have precisely the same melody as the other from beginning to end, we shall produce a canon.
A canon is therefore a composition in which one part performs not merely a particular phrase, or theme of another part, but performs the melody of the other part entirely, note for note, throughout. In this performance, the first part or sole melody may be followed by one single other part, or by two, three, or more parts; wherefore a canon is said to be in Two, THREE, FOUR, OR MORE PARTS. Moreover, the following parts may begin the melody on the same degree, and in the same octave. This is a
CANON IN UNISON,
we shall produce imitations of canon in the fifth above and ninth below, or in the fifth above and seventh above; other inversions may be sought at pleasure.
If in the construction of a canon, all the laws of this form be observed,-that is, if the first part be or in a higher or lower octave, and would then exactly re-echoed by the following, it is then called a be called a
But if the canon be not in perfect accordance with the rules, the melody of the first part not being followed throughout,f the canon is then called a
If we consider the plan of a canon, we shall perceive that, properly speaking, no close can take place of all the parts together; but that as they began, so must they cease, one after the other. But as this is essentially contrary to the nature of a work of art, which of necessity requires a marked and determined end, it is usual to choose arbitrarily any moment for the end of a canon, when all the parts
+ One kind of deviation from rule takes place of necessity in all canons excepting those in the unison or in the octave. They must all answer in the same scale or key, and consequently small intervals must at times become great, and great small. In No. 348. (C) for example, the first part, in the beginning, makes steps of a semitone, semitone, tone; the second, of three tones; the third, of twice a whole tone and then a semitone.
are in progress; or a free close is added to it, in which the form of a canon is no longer preserved. So, we might have added this close to the canon, No. 348, (C):
In this manner, however, the form of the canon would be maintained only as far as (a) in the second part, and that of the third only to (b) in the first part.
Since, as we have seen, every part in a canon has the same melody, although on different degrees, it is customary occasionally to write only one part, giving notice in how many parts it is to be repeated, and at what intervals. The point where each part is introduced is marked also over the notes. We might therefore have written the canon, No. 348, (C,) in this
The first part goes to G major; the second begins therefore in G major (in the fifth), and goes to D major. Here the third begins in the under fourth, and goes to A major. In the mean time, the first part has closed, and would begin again in the next bar in A major, in order to go to E; and so forth.
This form is most beautifully applied in the Christe eleison of Bach's Mass in A major.
FOURTH SECTION.-OF HOMOPHONIC AND
The first class of the forms we are about to bring forward, is usually included in the laws of polyphonic phrases. We might, therefore, have begun
by the consideration of the pure homophonic form. But on the one hand, this class will not detain us long; and on the other, it is also capable of assuming and containing polyphonic phrases. We will therefore consider it, unseparated from the mixed forms. Here we meet with the following classes :
1. THE SONG-FORM.
Under this form we comprehend all compositions, which consist of one principal phrase only, constructed either as an extended phrase, or as a subject (with opening and closing phrases), or as an interrupted subject, with first and second part, or with a first, second, and third part-in which latter case, the third part is generally a repetition of the first. Two or three of these constructions may be combined in a composition in the song-form; but then they have no closer connexion nor intermixture than the mere following of each other, as twice two, or three times two parts. The second couple of parts is called the
and the third couple is called the second trio, and is considered merely as an appendix. Such trios are usually written in another scale for the sake of variety, or in another mode, major or minor, as the case may require. After them, however, the principal part in its original scale is repeated, and thus a superficial unity is sought to be established in the whole composition.
In the song-form, songs (properly so called), dances, marches, and many studies and introductions, are written. Of all the species which belong to this form, there is only one of sufficient importance to be especially mentioned; that is, the
or more correctly, the theme and variations. A variation is the change of figure of a phrase by means of melody, harmony, counterpoint, and rhythm. The phrase used as a foundation is called the
This is generally varied in different ways several times, and then the theme and variations are considered as a whole, which is closed either by returning to the theme by a more richly ornate and extended variation, or by an appendix. At times, the separate variations hang together by slight transitions, but more frequently each marks its own termination; and the adhesion of the whole rests upon the unity of the theme, which is lying under all, and on the pervading intention of the composer, if, indeed, any such should be manifested.
In variations, the theme is diversified, not only by particular successions of tones, but also by the assumption of especial varieties of form, such as those of marches, dances, fugues, rondos, and others. It is a very profitable exercise for every one to go through many books of variations, and to endeavour to see and feel as clearly as possible, how and by what means each variation is constructed.
*Together with the modern dances, the old must be included, of which many are still used in our ballet music (for example, that of Glück), and those found in the works of Handel and Bach; the Gavot, Passacaglio, Corante, Saraband, Bourrée, Jig, Musette, Passepied, and also the Fandango, employed by Mozart in Figaro.