Fugue in A-flat Major

Joseph Kerman

in The Art of Fugue

Published by University of California Press

Published in print July 2005 | ISBN: 9780520243583
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520941397 | DOI:
Fugue in A-flat Major

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The fugue in A-flat Major, among the more concise pieces in The Well-Tempered Clavier, is much loved by players and admired in the literature. As the piece proceeds, one feels more and more that its basic material has to be the subject together with its answer, which may be called the “subject-pair.” The linkage is a consequence of the “open” ending of the subject, on the fifth degree, rather than on the more stable and much more common third degree or tonic, and of its rhythmic profile: entirely even, up to the point where it is firmly end-stopped. While the subject-pairs may be rudimentary and identical in rhythm, they are not identical or altogether simple in pitch content. Emotional range is another special feature of this short composition, all the more remarkable because of the overall tone of restraint.

Keywords: fugue; A-flat major; subject-pair; emotional range; linkage; rhythmic profile

Chapter.  1610 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Musicology and Music History

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