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The Art of FugueBach Fugues for Keyboard, 1715-1750$
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Joseph Kerman

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780520243583

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520243583.001.0001

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Fugue in C-sharp Minor

Fugue in C-sharp Minor

The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 1

(p.23) Chapter 4 Fugue in C-sharp Minor
The Art of Fugue

Joseph Kerman

University of California Press

The fugue in C-sharp Minor ranks as the superstar—the shortest, the most constrained, and the most obsessive. The subject consists of only five notes, drawn from four consecutive pitches, and it holds to the tonic intently, setting down on C# twice and leaning on it by means of the slow cadential progression 2–1 (D#-C#). The subject's aggressively dissonant interval of a diminished stimulates expressive minor-mode harmonies throughout, sonorities enriched to the point of luxuriance in the passages that employ all of the five voice parts. This chapter treats the principal subject alone, and then combines it with two faster subjects or countersubjects. The fugue in C sharp Minor seems to provide an example: four appearances of a four-bar subject are pressed into a space of seven bars at a point not far from the end, and there are even more stretto appearances of the third subject.

Keywords:   C-sharp Minor, fugue, cadential progression, countersubjects, minor-mode harmonies

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