U.K. Report

By MacDonald, Sarah | The American Organist, September 2010 | Go to article overview

U.K. Report


MacDonald, Sarah, The American Organist


THUS begins Glenn Gould's legendary work for SATB and piano, which I sang as a member of the Ontario Youth Choir many years ago. Gould demonstrates extraordinary technical wizardry and compositional skill in this epic piece, as well as the occasional lapse of good taste. As organists, we play a lot of fugues, but these days not many of us have the urge to write one.

As a teenager enjoying Gould's humorous pastiche, I certainly never envisioned myself writing a fugue. Upon arrival in Cambridge, however, where this traditional compositional skill was, and continues to be, a compulsory component of an undergraduate music degree, I soon found myself immersed in the study of this contrapuntal discipline. Now, many years later, I am on the other side, teaching and examining the current generations of students. As I write, we have just completed the examination season here, and I have spent the past few weeks assessing the fugues written by undergraduates. Inevitably, I was moved to brood upon the role and purpose of this archaic and perhaps antiquated art form, which for some reason we continue to consider a crucial part of a basic musical education.

Music students in Cambridge enjoy the luxury of weekly one-on-one lessons (called "supervisions") with a specialist counterpoint supervisor. In the first year of a threeyear degree, all undergraduates are taught fugai exposition. Their initial study includes a detailed review of dissonance and how to treat it correctly (suspensions, accented and unaccented passing notes, 6/4 chords, etc.); lengthy reflections on tonal and real answers; consideration of, and responses to, prominent dominants; negotiation with, and neutralization of, modulations; composition of invertible countersubjects and codettas; implementation of redundant entries; and so on. The students also undertake in-depth analysis of the Well-Tempered Clavier's expositions, although (if truth be told) JSB didn't always obey all the rules (see, for example, the F-sharp-minor fugue in Book One, where the exposition proceeds in the order Subject, Answer, Subject, Subject).

Having mastered the exposition, students go on in the second year to learn how to write the rest of a fugue. They scrutinize structure and overall shape; they learn to navigate sequential modulations through the circle of fifths (and other progressions) between middle entries of the subject in related keys; they discover the perils of modulating too far sharp-wards or flat-wards; they quickly ascertain the usefulness of triple-invertible counterpoint in spinning out the number of measures they are able to present to their supervisors. Once these more basic compositional skills are mastered, the real fun begins, as they begin to experiment with devices like augmentation, diminution, inversion, retrograde, stretto, pedal point, aposiopesis, and other such esoteric musical trickery. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

U.K. Report
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.