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J. S.

Bachs
Well-Tempered Clavier
In-depth Analysis and Interpretation

Siglind Bruhn

EDITION
Fachverlag fr

ORZ
eisteswissenschaften

Bruhn, Siglind.
J. S. Bachs Well-Tempered Clavier: In-depth Analysis and
Interpretation
Waldkirch: Edition Gorz, 2014.
kontakt@edition-gorz.de http://edition-gorz.de
Second, completely revised edition
(First edition Hong Kong: Mainer International Ltd., 1993)
ISBN 978-3-938095-19-5
Siglind Bruhn 2014. All rights reserved
No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form
or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying,
recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without
the written permission of the author, except where permitted by law.
Bibliographic information, including detailed bibliographic data,
are obtainable from the Deutsche Bibliothek under http://dnb.ddb.de
Printed in Germany by rombach digitale manufaktur, Freiburg

Table of Contents
How to use this book
Introduction
a) The Well-Tempered Scale
b) The Clavier
c) The Preludes in Bachs WTC
d) The Fugues in Bachs WTC
Questions Regarding a Prelude
Questions Regarding a Fugue
Additional Information

7
9
9
11
13
15
17
19
21

Considerations and Model Answers for Book I


WTC I/1 in C major
Prelude 49
WTC I/2 in C minor
Prelude 61
WTC I/3 in C major
Prelude 73
WTC I/4 in C minor
Prelude 87
WTC I/5 in D major
Prelude 101
WTC I/6 in D minor
Prelude 113
WTC I/7 in E major
Prelude 123
WTC I/8 in E /D minor
Prelude 135
WTC I/9 in E major
Prelude 147
WTC I/10 in E minor
Prelude 157
WTC I/11 in F major
Prelude 167
WTC I/12 in F minor
Prelude 175
WTC I/13 in F major
Prelude 189
WTC I/14 in F minor
Prelude 201
WTC I/15 in G major
Prelude 211
WTC I/16 in G minor
Prelude 223
WTC I/17 in A major
Prelude 233
WTC I/18 in G minor
Prelude 243
WTC I/19 in A major
Prelude 253
WTC I/20 in A minor
Prelude 267
WTC I/21 in B major
Prelude 281
WTC I/22 in B minor
Prelude 289
WTC I/23 in B major
Prelude 301
WTC I/24 in B minor
Prelude 311
5

Fugue
Fugue
Fugue
Fugue
Fugue
Fugue
Fugue
Fugue
Fugue
Fugue
Fugue
Fugue
Fugue
Fugue
Fugue
Fugue
Fugue
Fugue
Fugue
Fugue
Fugue
Fugue
Fugue
Fugue

47
52
66
77
91
105
116
129
139
150
161
169
180
192
204
214
226
235
246
256
270
283
292
303
315

6
Considerations and Model Answers for
WTC II/1 in C major
Prelude
WTC II/2 in C minor
Prelude
WTC II/3 in C major
Prelude
WTC II/4 in C minor
Prelude
WTC II/5 in D major
Prelude
WTC II/6 in D minor
Prelude
WTC II/7 in E major
Prelude
WTC II/8 in D minor
Prelude
WTC II/9 in E major
Prelude
WTC II/10 in E minor
Prelude
WTC II/11 in F major
Prelude
WTC II/12 in F minor
Prelude
WTC II/13 in F major
Prelude
WTC II/14 in F minor
Prelude
WTC II/15 in G major
Prelude
WTC II/16 in G minor
Prelude
WTC II/17 in A major
Prelude
WTC II/18 in G minor
Prelude
WTC II/19 in A major
Prelude
WTC II/20 in A minor
Prelude
WTC II/21 in B major
Prelude
WTC II/22 in B minor
Prelude
WTC II/23 in B major
Prelude
WTC II/24 in B minor
Prelude
Further Reading

Table of Contents
327
337
347
357
371
381
393
403
413
425
437
445
453
465
477
485
495
507
519
527
537
547
557
569

Fugue
Fugue
Fugue
Fugue
Fugue
Fugue
Fugue
Fugue
Fugue
Fugue
Fugue
Fugue
Fugue
Fugue
Fugue
Fugue
Fugue
Fugue
Fugue
Fugue
Fugue
Fugue
Fugue
Fugue

325
330
340
351
363
375
385
397
407
417
429
440
448
458
468
479
488
498
510
521
530
540
549
560
573
579

How to Use This Book


This book is not meant to be read through in one go. It aims to help
you, its reader, achieve a creative understanding and interpretation of
Bachs preludes and fugues by encouraging you to think for yourself.
After a brief introduction to the nature and origin of the Well-Tempered
Clavier, you will find three parts of very different length and emphasis:
I
II
III

questions to be pondered
additional information
discussions of possible answers to the questions
with regard to each of the 48 preludes and fugues

Before you approach the catalogue of questions, decide which prelude


or fugue you wish to embark on and open your score. This is because the
questions will only make sense if you have a particular piece in mind. The
best edition to use for a task like this and for any serious interpretation, for
that matter, is an Urtext, a score that is free of any particular editors
personal markings and contains only Bachs unaltered writing.
Now start working on the first question. Can you answer it right
away? If you have any doubts as to what exactly the question implies, or
what a particular term means, refer to the pages providing additional
information. They will give you a more general background to each of the
specific issues to be considered.
Proceed in the same way through all the questions. Be sure to take
notes on your own answers: there will be far too many details to keep in
your head. You can mark most of your answers directly into your score but
will need a few separate sheets of paper for some drawings.
Finally, when you have found all the answers, or when you feel that
you are stuck with a particular one, look up your piece in the section of
this book that gives an in-depth investigation into the work, and compare
the model answers with your own results. It is important to understand that
for quite a few questions, there are several possible solutions: while some
attitudes may be unwarranted, others are a matter of personal preference
and thus not a matter of right or wrong.
7

How to Use This Book

This book seeks to list alternative solutions and views wherever


possible, discussing the implications of each solution for the character and
interpretation of the piece. In some cases, however, it may not have been
possible or advisable to follow up on all of the alternatives. Using your
own mind you will surely have no problems drawing any additional
conclusions not mentioned here.
If, by the time you work on your third or fourth prelude and fugue,
you have become so independent as an analyst and interpreter that you
need only glance at the questions, if you can skip the information and
peruse the model answers merely to consolidate your ideasthen this
book has proved successful.

Abbreviations used:
SATB
UML
v1, v2, etc.

voices in four-part polyphony: soprano, alto, tenor, bass


voices in three-part polyphony: upper, middle, lower voice
voices in polyphonic works of five or more parts

S
CS
dux
comes
M
CM
rh
var
inv
E

subject: the principal thematic component in a fugue


counter-subject: its recurring companion
the subjects original form, launched from the tonic
the subjects answer, launched from the dominant
motif: a small, distinct, recurring thematic unit
(artificial term: the contrapuntal companion to a motif)
rhythm, rhythmic pattern, or rhythmic figure
varied, variation
inverted, inversion
episode

m. 51
mm. 13-31
TSD
T relative
t relative
I IV V
i iv V

the downbeat of measure 5


from the third beat of measure 1 to the downbeat of m. 3
tonic, subdominant, dominant in the major mode
the minor triad on the 6th scale degree of a major key
the major triad on the 3rd scale degree of a minor key
the main cadential steps in a major key
the main cadential steps in a minor key

r.h., l.h.

right hand (righ-hand part), left hand (left-hand part)

Questions Regarding a Prelude


1.1 Can you place your prelude in one of the following categories?
a) Harmonically determined
b) Motivically determined
c) Adhering to the principles of invention or fugue
d) Rhythmically determined
e) Metrically determined
1.2 What is the overall design of your prelude?
a) Where does the first harmonic progression conclude?
Has Bach composed this cadence as a structural break,
or does the flow of the piece continue uninterrupted?
b) Where does the next harmonic progression conclude?
Does this seem to coincide with a structural caesura?
c) How many such structural sections can you distinguish?
d) Does the prelude feature any structural analogies?
Does any passage recur, either repeated or varied?
Does any passage recur in transposition?
Does any passage show a structural progression that
corresponds to an earlier passage?
1.3 Practical considerations for performers:
a) What is the basic character of this prelude, and what tempo
and articulation are therefore most appropriate for the
material?
b) If the score shows any ornaments, how should they be
executed?
1.4 Answer those questions from the following selection that apply to
your prelude:

17

18

Questions Regarding a Prelude

1.4a

What is happening in your harmonically determined prelude?


What kind of dynamic development does the harmonic
progression represent?
Are there any secondary features?
How do they relate to the harmonic progression?

1.4b

What is happening in your motivically determined prelude?


What are the relevant motifs?
What is their basic character and their dynamic shape?
How are they developed?
What does the way in which they are developed express?
What is the overall dynamic outline in the prelude?

1.4c

What is happening in your fugue- or invention-type prelude?


What is the material on which Bach built this composition?
What is the design of the piece?

1.4d

What is happening in your rhythmically determined prelude?


What are the rhythmic patterns?
Are some of them interrelated?
In which melodic guises does each rhythmic pattern appear?
What means of motivic development does the composer
deploy when playing with these patterns?
What kind of dynamic build-ups and releases can you detect
in the single parts as well as in the whole piece?

1.4e

What is happening in your metrically determined prelude?


What is the predominant pulse?
What are the secondary features beyond this pulse?
Are there any dynamic build-ups?
If so, by what means are they created?

Questions Regarding a Fugue


2.1 What characterizes the subject of this fugue?
a) How long is it? Where does it end?
How does it begin: with a strong beat or an upbeat?
b) Is it made up of one indivisible phrase, or does it consist of
several subphrases?
c) What kind of pitch outline does it show?
Does it contain mainly small intervals, or many leaps?
Does it feature any intervals of particularly high tension?
d) What is the rhythm within the subject?
Does it contain many different note values?
Are there dotted notes, tied notes, and/or syncopations?
Are these rhythmic features also prevalent
throughout the entire fugue?
e) What is the subjects harmonic background?
f) Considering harmony, melody, and rhythm, where is the
climax within the subject, and what kind of dynamic outline
is expressed?
2.2 What is the importance of the subject in this fugue?
a) How many subject statements does the fugue comprise
altogether?
In which part (voice) and in which measures do they appear?
b) Does the subject remain basically unchanged, or are there
modifications of detail, of shape, or of length?
c) Does the subject ever appear in stretto or parallel?
2.3 How many counter-subjects does Bach invent for this fugue?
Answer for each of them:
a) How long is it?
b) What is its phrase structure?
c) Considering the melodic and rhythmic features, where is the
climax and what kind of dynamic outline is expressed in the
counter-subject?
d) Can you draw a sketch showing phrase structure and dynamic
outlines in the interplay of subject and counter-subject(s)?
19

20

Questions Regarding a Fugue

2.4 What happens in the episodes of this fugue?


a) How many subject-free passages are there? Where?
b) What material is used? Is any of the episodes related to the
subject? Are there any significant episode motifs? Which are
these? What is their character and dynamic outline?
Are any of the episodes no more than cadential closes?
c) What is the relationship between the episodes? Is any of them
a varied, transposed, or otherwise altered version of another?
d) What role in the development of the composition does each
episode play?
2.5 For interpreters: Consider the main aspects of performance practice:
a) What is the character expressed by the material of this fugue?
Consider the details of the subject, its counter subject(s), and
the episode motifs: Would you conclude that this fugue
constitutes a rather lively or a rather calm basic character?
b) What tempo and articulation are advisable for this material?
c) What tempo proportion for the prelude and fugue seems best?
d) If there are ornaments, how are they to be executed?
Should any of them be transferred to analogous notes that
appear unornamented in the score?
2.6 What is the design of the fugue?
a) Are there any indicators that reveal the structure of this piece?
Does the entering order of the voices show obvious grouping?
Does any subject statement appear in reduced ensemble?
Which episodes seem to conclude a section?
Do any two stretches of the piece show an analogous design?
b) What is the harmonic outline of the whole piece?
In what progression of keys does the subject appear?
Which subject entries belong harmonically together?
Are there any significant cadential closes in the fugue?
c) Can you draw a sketch of structure and texture?
It should show all the subject statements (mark them S),
the counter-subjects (CS1, CS2 etc.), the rests in any voice,
the episodes (mark them E1, E2, etc.)
2.7 What is the overall dynamic outline in this fugue?
a) What kind of dynamic development can you detect in each of
the sections you have found?
b) How do the sections relate in this respect?

Additional Information
1.1 What features in your piece help you
determine the prelude type?
Music is often defined as a sequence of sounds arranged chiefly on
three levels: the horizontal, the up and down in a tune, called pitch pattern;
the vertical, where several pitches coincide thus forming harmonies; and
the temporal, with longer or shorter, regular or irregular time spans from
the beginning of one tone to that of the next, called rhythm.
Each of these levels is usually carefully organized. The horizontal level
contains melodic units, phrases, and sections; this is what we are after
when analyzing structure. The vertical level distinguishes the ways in which
simultaneous tones relate to one another, defining harmony and texture.
Finally, on the level of time, the multitude of rhythmic values is packed
into measures of usually equal length in an orderly way, with a definite
hierarchy between their beats; this is called metric organization.
Although any piece of music will feature most if not all of these components, composers usually seek particular expression of their artistic idea
by molding these components so that a certain design is recognizable. For
such a design there is one basic choice to make: does he want to compose
along the lines of a standard model that can be recognized as such, or does
he prefer his piece to sound more like a spontaneous improvisation?
In the case of established structural models there are certain rules by
which composers must abide: dances are defined by certain metric and
rhythmic features, canons by a specific texture, sonata form by a particular
sequence of material, etc. In the case of a composition put together more
like an improvisation, they may choose one or two of the six components
mentioned above and shape their piece primarily according to these. In a
prelude, i.e., in a composition carrying a title that does not reveal anything
about the content of the piece, discovering this determining force is
therefore of vital importance for both listeners and interpreters.
a) Preludes determined mainly by harmonic processes
Whenever melody and rhythm are negligible or neutral, harmony is the
ruling factor. This rule of the thumb sounds simple enough. But are
melody and rhythm not always present?
21

22

Additional Information

Of course that is true. Yet, while rhythm is never actually absent, it


can be described as neutral if all rhythmic values are of the same length, or
if different note values in different voices are arranged in such a way that
their combined pattern amounts to completely regular motion. (This is
called complementary rhythm.)
Similarly, pitch will of course never be absent, but it does not necessarily form melodies. A broken-chord pattern, whether created by a single
line or jointly by complementary voices, is not primarily a melodic feature.
(It could turn out to be melodicas it often does in themes of the Viennese
Classical styleif it gives way soon enough to a more lyrical continuation.
However, if the same broken-chord pattern continues for many measures,
these will be judged as lacking genuine melodic features.)
b) Preludes determined mainly by motif or figure development
Motif is the term for a small melodic unit that is individual enough to
be immediately recognizable when it recurs. (By common consent, such a
unit is only called a motif if it does appear more than just once.)
Figure is the term preferred whenever such a unit is unsingable, i.e.,
with a rhythm so fast or a pitch pattern so unmelodious that, while we
might recognize it as a whole, we may not necessarily become aware of
each single detail contained in it.
We speak of development whenever such a unit is taken up repeatedly
and under varying circumstances, prompting it to adjust some of its features.
A composition should be described as determined mainly by motivic
development if its material relies predominantly on a (usually small)
number of motifs, i.e., if, in a major portion of a piece, there is always at
least one voice that derives from those melodic units.
c) Preludes adhering to the principles of invention or fugue
Both invention and fugue are standard structural models that commonly
appear bearing the corresponding headings. Yet a prelude, whose title
leaves it undeterminable in form and texture, can be composed in such a
way that it abides by the rules of either of these models.
How can we distinguish between motivic development and these
established forms?
Whenever a prelude is conceived as a strictly contrapuntal composition (i.e., in a texture of two or three voices all of which are independent from each other and all of which are continued consistently
throughout the piece); and whenever it relies mainly on one melodic
idea, then it is probably either an invention or a fugue.

Additional Information

23

If we wish to investigate further, how can we distinguish between


the two models? In both cases, the main idea may occur accompanied by a companion or counter idea; in both forms, the main
idea may retreat for a while and then return. We are therefore
looking for other features that might aid distinction.
If the main idea enters in all voices successively, and if these
imitations begin alternately from the tonic and the dominant, we can
speak of a fugue. This is particularly the case whenever there are
counter-subjects that, like the subject, wander through all voices.
(Where a prelude in the style of a fugue usually differs from a real
fugue is at the beginning: instead of setting out with an unaccompanied subject statement it will introduce its main idea surrounded
by a few harmonizing notes or chords.)
If none of the above-stated conditions is given, we can speak of an
invention. This is particularly the case whenever the main idea
appears not only in imitation but also in sequence.
d) Preludes determined mainly by rhythmic patterns
There are preludes that seem determined by a few small units of a
particular kind. These units retain their rhythm but constantly change pitch,
so that one may define the composition as being based on rhythmic
patterns. Consequently, it is this little repertoire of rhythmic models which
should find its way into the listeners memory.
e) Preludes determined mainly by metric organization
Whenever a piece appears determined mainly by its metric features, we
can be sure that it is meant to convey a certain undefinable atmosphere
rather than the impression of an intricate play with structures or material
development. In such a piece there will be a regular pulse (or any very
simple, fairly monotonous variation on this pulse) dominating everything
else.
Such music was traditionally used (and is still being used in this way in
many non-Western cultures) to instill in the audience a meditative mood,
if not to create a mesmerizing effect in the listeners mind. In the context
of western music, such a meditative piece often precedes a composition
that its author regards as too profound to be grasped by an unprepared
mind. The metrically-determined prelude thus serves to relax listeners and
empty their minds of too much activity.

24

Additional Information

1.2 What factors determine the overall design of a prelude?


Every piece of classical music is horizontally structured, i.e., it consists
of several sections, each of them determined by a completed harmonic
progression. Simple forms, like some dances and songs, are often made up
of two halves that are more or less analogous (binary). Others feature a
kind of frame around a contrasting center: A B A (ternary). Such pieces
characteristically show repeat marks indicating the boundary between A
and what follows. Conversely, preludes are more typically designed as a
chain of phrases. Their length tends to be more irregular than in simple
forms where patterns with an even number of measures are preferred.
a) Where does the first section end?
When trying to determine the first structurally relevant cadential close,
one is looking for a dominant (V) leading into a tonic (I). This combination
should be preceded somewhere by a chord on either IV or II. While the
dominant may sound with various additions to its triad (e.g., with a seventh
or a ninth) and may even sometimes appear without its root (vii7), the tonic
is less volatile: it never lacks its basis and is not normally spiced with
additional notes.
Whether the first cadence closes a separate structural section or serves
only as an introduction to a larger portion depends on the melodic design
up to this point. This can be easily determined by considering the following:
If the first cadential progression supports a single melodic unit that
is complemented by an answer in the following measures, a more
encompassing structural portion must be assumed.
If melodic design is either absent or arbitrary, the first cadence
qualifies for the closure of an independent structural section.
(Exception: In cases where one of the main voicesthe top line or
the bassfails to take part in this initial phrase, either by pausing or
by sounding a pedal note, and thus suspends the real beginning, a
larger context is also implied.)
b) The second cadential progression
The second cadential progression in a piece usually departs from the
works home key toward a new tonal center that will again be confirmed
by a perfect cadence. This modulating passage is nearly always more
prolonged than the initial harmonic progression. Its end usually marks the
conclusion of a structural section, irrespective of the function of the
previous cadence.

Additional Information

25

c) The sections
The number of structural sections in a prelude is theoretically not
restricted, although it is rare to find more than six. Their boundaries are
always delineated as described above: a conclusion in the harmonic progression coinciding with a conclusion in the melodic line if there is one.
d) What exactly constitutes a structural analogy?
Structural analogies recall the simpler binary and ternary designs and
are therefore a very popular building principle in preludes. Analogies may
consist of as little as two or three measures but may extend to the length of
a complete section that is in some way recapitulated.
The simplest, but also least frequent, manner of creating an analogy is
by literally repeating several measures. More ingenious and more widely
used are variation, transposition, and correspondence.
In variations, several measures recur with modified features. Various
details may be altered: One or several of the voices may be written
in a more elaborate pitch and/or rhythmic pattern, the leading line
may be given to another voice, or an accompanying voice may
change its pattern. The features that will always remain the same in
literal variations are the key, the overall harmonic progression, and
the length of the segments.
Transpositions in their simplest form keep all the original details
intact but merely transfer them to a new tonal environment. If there
are, in addition, more than arbitrary changes in the details, we would
speak of a varied transposition.
In correspondences, the structure recurs in principle rather than
literally. The surface changes may be so considerable as to make it
difficult to spot the analogy at first sight. For a good understanding
of the structure, however, correspondences are just as important as
other analogies, not least because they are much more frequent.
Imagine the following structural pattern in an early section: two-bar
model with sequence + modulation to a new key + cadential close with twobar closing formula. Let us assume that the segment recurs analogously at
a later stage of the piece, initiated by a different two-bar model with its
sequence, that the modulation takes an extra measure to get to where it is
heading, and that the closing formula, although of equal length, features a
different melodic design in the treble. This is a subtle way of creating correspondenceand very rewarding to detect. Understandably, such analogies
only make sense if the surface designpitch pattern, rhythm, and texture
is neutral enough to draw sufficient attention to structural processes.

26

Additional Information

1.3 How do you express the character of the prelude?


a) What features help in determining the preludes basic character?
The character of a composition (often called the basic character) is
conveyed through its material. Determining this basic character may at first
seem a difficult task since Bachs scores contain almost no indications of
dynamics, touch, articulation, or tempo. There are few exceptions in the
Well-Tempered Clavier. Single wedges and slurs occur occasionally (see
e.g., the subject of the D-minor fugue in vol. 1), and tempo is indicated
three times (both the B-minor fugue in vol. 1 and the G-minor prelude in
vol. II are marked Largo, while the B-minor prelude in vol. II is Allegro.)
In the absence of verbal hints we must assume that musicians of Bachs
era were capable of deducing the character from information contained in
the music itselfi.e., from rhythmic patterns and pitch design. If we try to
put ourselves in their shoes, we must therefore ask: what kind of rhythmic
and intervallic structure distinguishes a rather calm character from a rather
lively one? The answer is simple enough and worth remembering: In pitch,
a predominance of steps or leaps distinguishes the contrasting characters:
leaps are regarded as more energetic, stepwise motion as more emotional.
In rhythm, the distinction is between simple and complex features: a
complex rhythm requires time to unfold whereas a simple rhythm invites
virtuosity and might even sound less interesting if played too calmly. The
rule of thumb is therefore:
A predominance of stepwise motion and a complex rhythm
indicate a rather calm basic character.
Frequent leaps and a fairly simple rhythmic pattern
indicate a rather lively basic character.
Once you have established the basic character, you need to translate
this fairly abstract concept into practical performance features. Here are
some hints for conclusions to be drawn regarding tempo and articulation:
Whenever the material of a composition represents the rather calm
basic character, the tempo can be anywhere between moderate and
very slow. The general articulation is legato. Exception: cadentialbass patterns and consecutive leaps (i.e., more than one leap in a
row) require non legato.
Whenever the material of a composition represents the rather lively
basic character, the tempo can be anywhere between moderately
flowing and very fast. The appropriate articulation is a crisp legato
(also called quasi legato) for the shorter note values and non legato

Additional Information

27

for the longer values. The main exception in the longer values: an
appoggiatura is always inseparably linked to its resolution, and the
keynote / leading note / keynote (dosido) formula is always legato.
Longer notes in a rather lively piece need further specification
whenever we are dealing with notes prolonged by a dot or tie. While
these are certainly longer, they are detached only where the prolongation itself (i.e., the value of the dot or tie) is of longer
duration. If the time value of the prolongation equals one of the
shorter notes in this composition, the note will be linked to the
following one in quasi legato. Thus in a composition where non
legato quarter-notes and quasi legato eighth-notes are a rule, a
half-note prolonged by a dot or tied into a quarter-note would be
detached from the following note; but a note of any value prolonged
by an eighth-note tie would not be detached.
b) How do you make decisions regarding ornament realization?
Ornaments in polyphonic compositions of the Baroque era are, more
often than not, decisive features in the material they embellish. Their
convincing execution depends on a smooth beginning, a speed that relates
to the rest of the piece, and an appropriate ending.
The most common ornament in Bachs fugues is the long trill, indicated
by one of several symbols: the abbreviations or t, the mordent symbol,
or one of the signs for compound trills. Here is how the long trill is played:
In keeping with the basic rule for ornaments in this epoch, it begins on the
upper neighboring note. However, there is a very frequent exception:
Whenever the trilled note is approached stepwise, i.e., whenever the main
note is preceded by the interval of a second from above or below, the trill
begins on the main note. Another exception, albeit much less frequent,
applies whenever an ornament decorates the first note of a phrase (see e.g.,
the initial note of the G-minor prelude from vol. I). In this case, too, the
ornament begins on the main note. The speed of the shakes is related to the
general motion in the composition in such a way that the value of each
ornamental note is preferably twice as fast as that of the fastest note values
that do not qualify as written-out suffixes.
While trills beginning on the upper neighboring note enjoy regular
motion throughout, those launched from the main note and therefore comprising an uneven number of notes hold the first trill note for the duration
of each of the following two-note shakes, in such a way that all further
upper auxiliaries fall on the stronger pulses within the trill, thus evoking
the effect of a long appoggiatura.

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Whenever the note following the trill is its harmonic resolution and
falls on a strong beat, the end of the trill should be prepared (announced)
with a suffix, i.e., a turn to the lower neighboring note and back to the
main note. Conversely, no suffix is desirable if the resolution appears too
late, too early, or not at all. The first case happens if the trill is prolonged
with a tie; in this case the shakes must stop short on the last main note
before the bar line, so that the tie can be fully appreciated. The second case
occurs in dotted note patterns; here the shake ceases preferably shortly
before the dot. Finally, if the trill is succeeded by a rest or a leap not
providing harmonic resolution, the shake should continue up to the very
end of the ornamented note value, ending again on the last main note.
Any ornament appearing in the subject or one of the counter-subjects
must be regarded as integral to this component of the thematic material.
Regardless of whether or not the composer repeats the ornament symbol in
each recurrence of this component, the performer should retain such a trill
throughout the work (provided the subject or counter-subject does not
appear in drastically modified shape).

1.4a How do you deal with preludes


determined mainly by harmonic processes?
Harmonic progressions and the development of dynamic tension
When trying to find a valid interpretive concept in pieces determined
primarily by harmonic processes, the basic facts to be considered are the
tension generated by each of the chords and the dynamic process in consecutive chords. There is a simple rule for defining such relations:
The tension increases with every active step, i.e., with every step
moving away from the relevant tonic.
The tension decreases with every passive step, i.e., with every step
moving toward a resolution.
Thus, in the simple harmonic progression with a perfect cadence, the
subdominant chord (or its substitute) as the active step represents the
highest harmonic tension, the dominant chord with its clearly determined
tendency to resolve follows with less tension, and the tonic is most relaxed.
This natural design is enhanced whenever a function appears as a seventh
or ninth chord: a IV7 carries even more tension than the simple IV; a V7
tends even more strongly toward its resolution. Last but not least, the
degree by which the harmonic tension (and with it, the dynamic level that
depicts this tension) increases is related to the harmonic steps audacity.

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Secondary features
Beyond these basic considerations of chordal relationships there are
two secondary features that must be given special attention since they will
regularly repeal the rule mentioned above: the sequence and the pedal note.
The term sequence describes the process by which a modelthis can
be a melodic unit or, in the case of a harmonically-determined work, a
group of chordsis repeated once or several times on different pitch
levels. In such a case, the primary dynamic process is always established in
the model. The sequential groups must follow the same pattern, or else the
relationship would not be comprehensible. The model thus sets an example
that will be observed in each sequence, regardless of the actual harmonic
relationships there.
The pedal note also creates a law of its own. In the majority of cases,
it comes as a bass note, usually entering on the dominant of the home key,
which is sustained (or, more common on instruments other than the organ,
reiterated) for several measures while the harmonies made up by the other
voices sound reluctant to surrender to the truth that the piece is soon to
come to an end. Pedal notes have their roots in Baroque organ music. Yet
while a sustained or reiterated note on the organ will objectively maintain
a constant dynamic level, subjectively or psychologically it will work its
way ever deeper into the listeners consciousness. This is the reason why
a basically simple eventthat of a sustained or reiterated noteinsinuates
a gradual, smooth but persistent increase of tension.
Finally, any truly melodic event overrules the processes of chordal
tension in pieces determined by harmonic relationships. If a melodic unit,
however small, has enough character of its own, it may create motions that
are momentarily independent from the underlying harmonic process.

1.4b How do you deal with preludes


determined mainly by motivic elements?
The relevant motifs, their character and dynamic design
Finding the motifs on which a piece is built would seem fairly easy.
However, their scope should be determined carefully to guarantee a correct
idea of structure and phrasing.
Remember that the beginning of a motif may occasionally be varied in
subsequent entries. The ending may also include some pitfalls: on the one
hand, the final note may feature various versions that all belong, as a
rhythmically necessary element, to the motif; on the other hand, notes

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repeatedly succeeding the motif may be no more than an extensionand


thus not generate anything of their own. They may not belong to the motif
at all, and should then be clearly distinguished in color and/or phrasing.
The basic character of a motif results from the same characteristics as
in all other polyphonic compositions in this style: A predominance of
stepwise motion (interrupted, if at all, only by a high tension interval)
evokes a rather calm basic character; so does a complex rhythmic structure
with a variety of note values, including syncopations and/or dotted and tied
notes. Conversely, frequent leaps of a fourth or more and broken chords as
part of the motif indicate a rather lively basic character; so does a simple
rhythmic structure. Spelled-out ornaments are another indicator for lively
basic character.
Within each motif or figure, any of the following details can trigger a
rise in tension: an active harmonic step, an appoggiatura, a leading-note, a
high-tension interval, and a syncopation or other outstanding rhythmic
feature.
As far as the development of motifs or figures is concerned, the most
frequent processes are
the sequence (a unit is repeated on a different step of the scale,
usually with some of its intervals adjusted),
the imitation (a unit is repeated in another voice),
the inversion (a unit sounds upside down), and
the partial sequence, varied sequence, or extended sequence (the
original idea or a recognizable fragment of it recurs, changed in
shape and/or length).
The overall expressive value created by each of these processes can be
described by another rule of the thumb: Rising sequences usually cause an
increase of tension while falling sequences cause a decrease. Imitations,
variations and inversions have in themselves no influence on the increase or
decrease of intensity. Stretto formations and parallels represent heightened
emotional intensity. Abridged and extended sequences tend to represent a
loosening of the grip of tightly organized material, thus a relaxation.
The development of tension
For the overall dynamic design, you would consider similar factors as
in a fugue. The development of tension is determined above all by the
density of prominent material. This density can be achieved horizontally or
vertically. (For more details refer to the discussion under point 2.7 below.)
Another factor is the change of mode or, rarely, the change of character
owing to inversion.

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1.4c How do you deal with preludes


that follow the outlines of an invention or a fugue?
If you find that your prelude shows the determining features of a fugue,
please refer to the information provided below (paragraphs 2.1-2.7). Most
of the information found there also applies if your prelude is an invention.
However, the following differences between the two standard models exist,
in terminology and in design.
The main idea of an invention is commonly not called subject but
motifalthough any term will of course serve its purpose in furthering
your understanding. The rules concerning an expected order and grouping
of entries in a fugue do not apply to an invention. After the initial motif has
been stated at the outset of the composition (with or without any accompaniment), there will be a number of sequences and imitations. The motif
may subsequently be shortened to a less individual figure or modified to
engender new combinations of its two halves. It may or may not give way
to secondary motifs. In the course of this neutralizing process, it will
modulate to either its dominant or, if the home key is in the minor mode, to
its relative major key, and come to a transitory halt in a perfect cadence.
The second section of a prelude in the style of an invention will begin in
this new key, often re-exposing the material in a way similar to that heard
at the opening of the piece, but frequently by inverting the voices. After
this, almost any continuation seems acceptable in terms of structure if we
take Bachs own two- and three-part inventions as a guide. With regard to
the material accompanying the main motif, too, everything is possible
from notes or chords representing nothing but a harmonic pattern through
simple quasi-independent yet not very individual lines and up to countermotifs with all the characteristics of what would be the counter-subject in
a fugue. Even stretto imitations, although infrequent, may occur.

1.4d How do you deal with preludes


determined mainly by rhythmic patterns?
Rhythmic patterns can be thematic in a way similar to motifs: whenever a particular sequence of note values is significant enough to be easily
recognized, independent from other sequences, and repeatedly taken up,
we speak of a rhythmic pattern. It should usually come in varying pitch
arrangements or we might just as well identify it as a motif. Furthermore,
the sequence of note values combined to a rhythmic pattern is typically

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determined by two factors: by its metric position (i.e., it may begin on a


downbeat or be conceived as from a weak to a strong beat), and by its
length. If both the metric position and the length of two patterns within a
composition are identical, we call them interrelated.
The means of development that composers may use when playing with
these patterns are basically the same as those used for melodically determined motifs: variation of detail, inversion, abbreviation and extension,
augmentation and diminution, stretto and parallel. Tension build-ups and
relaxations are initiated mostly by either the pitch level of such sequences
(rising sequences increase tension, falling sequences diminish it) or by the
density of the texture. Moreover, dynamic climaxes can also be created by
features beyond the main rhythmic patterns, especially by an unusual
harmonic step.

1.4e How do you deal with preludes


determined mainly by metric organization?
Compositions perceived as determined by their metric organization
feature a dominant pulse. The dominant pulse can be any note value other
than the fastest one appearing in the piece. You can usually find it by
checking whether any of the other rhythmic values is omnipresent or at
least strikingly constant in one of the secondary voices, or whether it is
given additional emphasis by double stems. (Thus if the first note in each
group of four sixteenth-notes is stemmed in two directions indicating the
participation in a second voice, the pulse of the piece is most likely one of
quarter-notes.)
The secondary features beyond this pulse include, above all, melodic
lines, harmonic progressions, and texture. These are also the only elements
that can bring about tension buildups. Climaxes, however, tend to be fewer
and more gradually prepared than in other pieces, which it not surprising in
view of the meditative mood these compositions generally seek to convey.
Particularly in pieces with a quarter-note beyond 16th-note structure, as
described above, the ornamental nature often allows the piece to flow
without too many ups and downs in intensity.

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2.1 What exactly is a subject?


Subject is the term used for the leading idea of a fugue. This idea is
always introduced at the very beginning of the piece. At this opening, it
regularly appears unaccompanied, i.e., there are rests in the other voices so
that the listener can gain a distinct understanding of this most important
component of the thematic material. Throughout a fugue, the subject
sounds many times. These appearances are called statements, subject
entries, or entrances.
a) How long is the subject?
If we compare the musical language with the verbal idiom, as we do
when we talk about statements, the structure of a musical phrase would
have to meet a corresponding set of requirements as does a verbal phrase.
In any complete sentence, we expect a certain number of components
without which the message would appear incomplete. And while there are
many ways in which a clause may begin, we usually expect it to end with
a full stop. Corresponding processes determine a musical phrasehere: the
subject. A subject can begin at any point in a measure. When interpreting
a fugue it is worth establishing whether the beginning falls on a weak or
strong beat (or between beats) because this will influence the character of
the entire piece. While the melodic details in a subject abide by no rule
(just as the choice of words in a sentence is not prescribed), the functions
these melodic steps represent in terms of the harmonic progression follow
a certain order (as would the grammatical components of a clause). The
equivalent in music to a full stop in language is the perfect cadence. The
conclusion of a complete musical phrasesuch as the subject in a fugue
is therefore represented by the harmonic resolution from dominant to tonic
(from V to I). In addition, the metric position may play a certain role.
While the conclusion of a phrase could theoretically fall on any beat, subject
endings on a strong beat are strikingly more frequent than extensions into
weak beats.
If you have always determined the end of a subject by comparing its
first entry to two or three later ones (how many notes remain the same?),
you should know that this method is not entirely safe. The final note may
be varied in later entries, as happens frequently when an original ending on
the third degree is eventually replaced by a conclusion on the keynote.
Another pitfall: the notes immediately following the end of the subject
without actually belonging to it may appear similarly after some of the
later statements and thus mislead you.

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b) What is a phrase, and what are sub-phrases?


Continuing our comparison of a phrase in music with a clause in verbal
language, we can state: Just as a sentence may consist of a single clause or
contain sub-clauses of different order, so can a musical statement be of
simple or more complex structure.
The existence of sub-phrases can most often be detected by looking for
one of the following three features: sequences, changes in pitch level, and
changes in rhythmic pattern. It also helps to think of singers or wind
players. If they would breathe somewhere during the course of the subject,
then this is most likely the point of phrasing.
Whenever a subject consists of a single indivisible phrase, the musical
tension unfolds in a single, unbroken rise and fall. Whenever a subject
contains sub-phrases, its message is only correctly conveyed if the musical
line is structured.
Generally speaking, a fugal subject is always conceived as a unity: a
oneness. Thus even if it does consist of several subsidiary units, these
should not appear as equal in importance or as rivaling segments. Instead,
a subject will always have one predominant center: the focusing point or
climax. In a structured subject, this climax may either be reached in several
consecutive sweeps each of which brings about higher dynamic tension, or
the resolution of tension after the climax may occur in several gradually
descending curves. In other cases, a main clause is preceded or followed
by a prefacing thought or an afterthought.
c) When you report the subjects pitch outline, what are you looking for?
The pitch outline in Baroque polyphonic pieces usually fits in one of
two categories. There may be a predominance of small intervals combined
with only an occasional, single high tension leap. High-tension intervals
include the minor sixth, the minor seventh, the tritone (augmented fourth
/ diminished fifth), and the diminished fourth. Alternatively, the pitch
contour may feature a variety of intervals including several larger leaps
and occasional broken-chord patterns. In this context, groups of shorter
note values often represent written-out ornamental figures, particularly
mordents, turns, and inverted mordents.
d) When you analyze the rhythmic pattern, what are you looking for?
The rhythm of polyphonic compositions can be roughly grouped into
two categories: Its pattern may be simple, featuring two predominant note
values in the relevant material, or it may be more complex, including a
variety of note values, dotted and tied notes, and syncopations.

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e) What is most important in a harmonic progression?


When asked to examine a subjects harmonic background you can
proceed in two ways: you can either limit yourself to the essential details
you know to be relevant to the buildup and decline of dynamic tension, or
you can thoroughly analyze each harmonic step underlying the phrase. As
the second option is fairly complicated and needs some experience, let us
begin with the first. There are actually only two essential details in a
harmonic progression. Ask yourself: Where is the active harmonic step
that is the step from the tonic chord to the subdominant or its substitute,
i.e., IIV or Iii? Look out for any conspicuous fourth or sixth degrees of
the scale. (In C major, e.g., you would try to find any F or A falling on a
strong beat or on a syncopation.) Ask yourself further: Is this active step
followed directly by the passive step VI (dominanttonic), or is there a
modulation to another key? In the case of a modulating subject, you will
find a raising accidental suddenly cropping up, most often before the
fourth scale degree. If the initial, unaccompanied statement of your fugues
subject shows a sharpening accidental (i.e., an additional sharp in any key
signature with sharps, or a natural neutralizing the final flat in any key with
flats) then this is where the shift is taking place. In this situation, when
determining the end of the subject you are not looking for your original
tonic chord but for the tonic in the new key. (This is almost always the
dominant.)
In case you choose the second option and decide to undertake a more
detailed analysis, here is some help: Most subjects are built on the steps of
a simple progression, i.e., on tonic / subdominant / dominant / tonic in the
setting I IV (I) V I or I ii (I) V I; you would therefore do best to take note
of those chords first. (In C major, these would be: C-E-G, F-A-C or D-F-A,
G-B-D, C-E-G.) Now identify in your subject all those notes that fall
directly on a beat and determine their harmonic background. You will
realize that, apart from the first and fifth degrees of the scale (i.e., C and G
in C major), all notes can be clearly attributed to one of the harmonic steps.
The following peculiarities should be noted: The dominant often
appears as a seventh chord (e.g., G B D F). The basic progression may
appear harmonically ornamented; in this case, a function builds something
like a harmonic inverted mordent with the chord normally preceding it,
e.g.: [I-V-I]-IV-V-I or [I-IV-I]-IV-V-I. And in a minor key cadence, the
tonic and the subdominant (i + iv) are in the minor mode. The dominant,
however, uses the notes of the harmonic minor scale, particularly the
leading note. It is thus regularly a major chord and will therefore feature an
accidental (e.g., in C minor: C-E-G, F-A-C, G-B-D, C-E-G).

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f) Which are the features likely to increase tension within a phrase?


Several features in the three areas of harmony, melody, and rhythm
may contribute to heightened tension.
Active harmonic steps: these are above all the steps from the tonic to
the subdominant (I-IV) and from the tonic to the supertonic or the
relative minor of the subdominant (I-II or I-ii).
Appoggiaturas: these are notes that withhold or delay the
melodic resolution into the main harmonic step. Whenever the unaccompanied subject seems to imply a change of harmony on a weak
beat, it is wise to double check the harmonic background compared
with that in later subject statements. You will probably find that the
harmonic change occurs on the strong beat, but that a melodic note
is purposefully lagging behind, thus creating extra tension.
Leading-notes, particularly artificial ones: A natural leading-note is
a degree of the scale that is a semitone neighbor to a tonic-chord
note; it thus has a tendency to lead into it. (In a major scale the
leading-notes are: the seventh degree, leading up to the octave, and
the fourth degree, leading down to the third, e.g., B-C and F-E. In a
minor scale they are: the harmonically raised seventh, leading up to
the octave and the sixth degree leading down to the fifth, e.g., B-C
and A-G.) Artificial leading notes are semitones created with the
help of an accidental (e.g., in C major: F-G).
High-tension intervals: these include above all the minor sixth,
minor seventh, tritone, and diminished fourth.
Syncopations or other rhythmic prolongations: these are deliberate
distortions of the metric order in which a weak beat is prolonged (by
a dot, a longer note value, or a tie) in such a way that it ingests the
following stronger beat and with it, its accent.)

2.2 What is the importance of the subject in the fugue?


It has often been observed that it seems wrong to say a fugue has a
subject; one should rather state that there is a subject that has generated
a fugue. The perfect little musical entity we call subject is in fact at the
origin of the fugue. Its companions are dependent on it to the largest
imaginable extent: were the subject any different, they too would not be
what they are. The subject is responsible for the feelings of density and
relaxation in the fugue, and it is the main force in creating structure.
Whenever it rests for a while, its absence is distinctly felt.

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Although this basic truth is valid in all fugues, the degree of impact
exercised by the subject on its surroundings may vary slightly in each case.
Some of the common constellations are: the subject can be spread regularly
across the fugue and always be accompanied by other prominent musical
ideas. Thus, although leading, it will appear as one in a group. As the
subject retreats momentarily, other characteristic motifs may develop.
Thus, the subject may appear as the leader of one team that is contrasted
with another (admittedly less important) team representing a different
color. Last but not least, the subject may not have the same importance at
all times but, e.g., demand more and more attention as the fugue develops.
It may do so by presenting its statements in more powerful variations, or
by appearing in several voices almost at once.
a) When you discuss the subject statements, what are you looking for?
A fugue may contain any number of subject statements. The twentyfour entries in the opening fugue of the Well-Tempered Clavier represent
by no means the largest number. These statements are usually named after
the voice in which they sound. The following conventions are practical:
In a 4-part fugue, the established names for the voices are those of
the vocal ensemble: soprano, alto, tenor, bass (abbreviated S A T B).
In a 3-part fugue, using a selection from this 4-part combination
would seem arbitrary. A good solution is to refer to the voices as
upper voice, middle voice, and lower voice (abbreviated U M L).
In the few 5-part fugues, the least problematic solution is to count
them from v1 to v5 (i.e., from first or uppermost voice to the fifth or
lowest voice. The attempt made by some analysts to retain the vocal
terms by introducing alto I and alto II or tenor I and tenor II has led
to lengthy arguments among scholars. Such a quarrel seems somehow quite beside the point, and the v1-to-v5 option may prevent
further disputes.
b) What kind of changes can you expect to occur in the subject?
In the course of the fugue, the subject may appear in various guises.
This is important to remember when trying to locate all the statements.
One of its intervals may be modified to adjust to a different
harmonic background. In many fugues, this is the case in the second
and fourth entries, i.e., in the answer, the entries beginning on the
dominant. An entry with such an interval adjustment is called a
tonal answeras opposed to the real answer in which all
intervals remain unchanged.

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The end or the beginning of the subject (or both) may feature
variations in pitch and rhythm. The most frequent modifications are
prolonged or shortened first notes and delayed final resolutions.
The subject may appear partly or entirely in rhythmic variation (e.g.,
showing dotted-note figures where the original was in regular motion)
or in metric variation (e.g., beginning on a weak instead of a strong
beator vice versaand continuing slightly off beat).
The subject may appear upside down. This is called an inversion.
Finally, the speed may appear changed in such a way that all note
values are doubled and the subject is twice as long. This modification is called the augmentation. Also possible, although less
frequent, are entries in diminution where the time value of all
notes is decreased, usually by 50%, and the subject therefore takes
only half the time it did originally.

c) What are stretto and parallel?


There are certain rules dictating the way in which subject statements
follow one another. These are stricter at the beginning of the piece, perhaps
to guarantee the opportunity for the listener to distinguish all aspects of the
material. Thus in the first section of a fugue each voice is expected to wait
for the conclusion of the previous statement. Only then is it allowed to
launch a new entry. Later in the fugue, however, it may occur that a voice
becomes impatient and embarks on a subject statement while another is
still in the middle of it. This is called a stretto; it always indicates
heightened tension. Strettos may occur between two or more voices, and
between the original and varied statements of the subject.
As polyphonic compositions stress the independence of all voices, a
parallel where the subject sounds simultaneously in two voices is a very
special feature. If it does occur, a parallel statement indicates a very high
state of exaltation. Like the stretto, it can also involve different versions of
the subject.
Talking of grouped entries, a final means of intensification is the
repeated entry in which one voice, after having stated the subject, does
not give way to another voice but immediately launches the subject all
over again. It usually does so either on a different harmonic step or by
using any of the above-mentioned variationsas if to add a new side or
aspect to its argument.

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2.3 What exactly are counter-subjects?


A counter-subject is a more or less consistent companion to the
subject. It may enhance the character of its leader or rival it. But, like a
faithful companion, it is bound to the subject in such a way that it will not
usually appear in its entirety while the subject is resting. Note that there are
fugues in which a prominent musical idea is introduced only after one or
more sections have passed, but will then sound both against the subject and
on its own. In this case we are dealing with a second subject. Occasionally
you may even find a third subject. Fugues featuring more than one
subject are accordingly described as double fugue or triple fugue.
In a regularly built fugue with only one subject, the first countersubject will be introduced in the voice that launched the piece, accompany
ing the subsequent subject entry. Similarly, the second counter-subject (if
the fugue features such an additional companion) can be expected to enter
for the first time against the third subject entry. One possible beginning of
a four-part fugue is therefore (S = subject, CS = counter-subject):

soprano:

S
alto:

S
CS1
tenor:

S
CS1
CS2
bass:
S
CS1
CS2
CS3

There are some, though not many, fugues with no counter-subject at all.
This happens if the subject is so dominant that it does not accommodate
any rivaling ideas. In other cases, a counter-subject may accompany only
a few subject statements and then disappear, never to be heard again.
When trying to find out whether a line qualifies as a counter-subject,
you should ask yourself the following questions:
Does it recur? A melodic detail that only sounds once will not be
given a formal name.
Is it independent? A line that duplicates part of the subject in
either rhythm or pitch pattern is not regarded as independent.
Is it melodic? A neutral scale segment or a melodically meaningless group of notes would not be recognized even if it recurs.
a) How can you determine the length of a counter-subject?
The length of a counter-subject will always roughly correspond to that
of the subject. Where exactly it begins and ends can best be decided when
comparing it with later appearances.

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b) What phrase structure can you expect to find?


The phrase structure of a counter-subject can vary considerably. We
might find anything from an indivisible unit to multiple segments with
sequences or other combinations of sub-phrases. Note particularly that the
phrase structure of a counter-subject will often not coincide with that of the
subject in answer to the demand for independence.
c) When determining dynamic tension, what features are you looking for?
The development of tension represented in a particular counter-subject
can be initially determined along the same lines as that in the subject.
However, one important aspect to be kept in mind is that, given the request
for independence, the climax of one will, in most cases, not coincide with
that of the other. For performers, this is very important to remember. It is
vital to play each element with dynamic independence, despite the seeming
difficulty of the task. Parallel dynamic movements, although easier to
perform, often make it hard if not impossible for listeners to distinguish the
components in a polyphonic texture. This is a pity since helping the
audience understand is the essential task of an interpreter.
d) What should a sketch featuring the phrase structure and the dynamic
tension in the primary material of the fugue show?
Sketches, though certainly rather tedious to draw, are an invaluable
help for two reasons: designing them makes things clearer in your head,
and the visual image is a much better guide during the performance than
some intellectual concept.
Write out the subject juxtaposed with all its counter-subjects, using
a separate staff for each.
If any part of the material does not consist of a single unit, add a
little hook or tick after the last note of each sub-phrase.
Now draw underneath each staff the opening and closing hairpins
that in music represent the increase and decrease of tension.

2.4 How do you find the episodes in a fugue?


The measures in a fugue where the subject is temporarily resting are
called subject-free passages or episodes. A good way of marking them
is by numbering them throughout the fugue (E1, E2, etc.). Where their
range is to be remembered on paper, mm. 5-7 may sometimes be clear
enough, whereas in other cases you may wish to specify mm. 53-71.

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a) How many episodes can you expect?


The number of episodes in a fugue is not restricted. Theoretically,
there could be an episode after each subject entry, although this is not often
the case. Also, there are quite a few episodes that, as can be gleaned from
their material, consist of two or more distinct segments. In such cases
composers will often use episode patterns that have been established
earlier in the fugue. Whenever this occurs, special attention should be
given to these episodes as such subdivisions are frequently important in the
structural design of the piece.
b) When ascertaining the material of an episode, what are you looking for?
There are basically three types of episodes. The first type is directly
related to the subject in terms of the material on which it draws. It uses the
head, the tail, or another fragment of the subject, playing with it in
patterns of sequence (same voice, different pitch) or imitation (different
voice, any pitch). Such episodes are often closely linked to the preceding
or following subject entry.
The second episode type is characterized by one or more unique motifs
that set it distinctly apart from the main material. Such an episode motif is
usually a short melodic figure that recurs several times and is characteristic
enough to be easily recognizable. As with all material in a polyphonic
composition, it can move through all the voices and may even be varied or
inverted. The character of an episode motif is determined by the same
features as that of the subject and its counter-subjects: by its pitch contour
and rhythmic features. Motifs that are distinct in themselves and independent of the fugues primary thematic material should sound in a
coloring as different as possible from the main portions of the fugue.
The third episode type fulfills a different function. In some instances,
the stretch of music between the end of one subject entry and the beginning of the next merely extends the subjects cadential close or adds one in
another key. This type is often recognizable either by a typical cadentialbass pattern or a closing formula. Typical patterns for such formulas are:
treble
bass

42

Additional Information

c) In what way can one episode be related to another?


Episodes in analogous sections are often closely related. An episode
may take up the material of an earlier episode literally, varied, transposed,
or with inverted voices. It may add a voice to a thin texture, extend or
shorten the material of an earlier episode, or develop it freely.
d) What are the possible roles of an episode in the development of tension?
An episode can establish three crucial relationships to its surroundings:
it can link two subject statements by leading from one toward the next, it
can be conclusive by resolving tension that was built up during a preceding
subject statement, or it can represent a different register and serve as a color
contrast. The contrasting type may contain independent episode motifs or
motifs related to one of the counter-subjects.

2.5 Performance practice in Baroque polyphonic style


a) The basic character
The basic character of a fugue, just like that of a prelude, is conveyed
through its material and follows the same rule of thumb: a predominance
of stepwise motion and a complex rhythmic pattern indicate a rather calm
basic character, while frequent leaps and/or broken-chord patterns, possibly
combined with ornamental figures in the faster note values, and a fairly
simple rhythmic pattern indicate a rather lively basic character. (You have
already collected all the information needed under 2.1c and 2.1 d above.)
Let us assume that your performance already portrays most aspects of
structure. How do you express abstract aspects like character, mood, and
intensity in a way that every listener will be able to grasp? The predominant means by which a performer conveys character are: tempo, touch, and
articulation. All three work together in shaping and shading the character.
They may do so in different combinations but should obviously not set out
to contradict each other. While touch may enhance slightly different
nuances in each composition, tempo and articulation are directly connected
with the basic character of a piece and can thus be determined more
objectively.
b), d) Tempo, articulation, and ornament realization
For details regarding the adequate choice of articulation and the
execution of ornaments, please refer back to the information on these
aspects given in paragraph 1.3 on pp. 26-27 above.

Additional Information

43

c) How do you decide what relation to choose between the tempo of the
prelude and that of the fugue?
All through the Baroque and Classical era, pieces of music that jointly
form a larger work (i.e., the movements of a sonata or suite, or prelude and
fugue, prelude and toccata, etc.) were conceived as being related with
regard to their pulse. This concept is comparable to the much more familiar
demand of a rhythmic relationship in architecture. Imagine a group of
buildings constructed in the same style but to the order of different patrons
and therefore with unrelated measures (height and width, angle of roof,
pattern of windows and doors, etc.). Such buildings will appeal to the eye
as individual houses, each of them a unit in its own right. A complex of
related buildings, howevera castle, a temple district, or a similarly
structured ensemblewill display a subtle yet very definite relationship
between all its measurements.
As music unfolds in time, which is measured in pulsations, the
equivalent factor of a rhythmic relationship is created by proportions of
the pulses. For this purpose, any of the metric values in a piece of music
can be used as a point of reference: the actual metric value indicated in the
time signature, the larger unit of a half or whole measure, or the smallest
note value appearing in the piece.
A tempo proportion is then created in such a way that one note value of
the first piece relates to any value of the subsequent piece by being either
equally, half, or twice as fast (1:1 /1:2 / 2:1), or three times as fast or slow.
Even an implied but not actually sounding value, like the triplet fraction in
a piece not featuring triplets, can be related to a pulse in another movement. This kind of pulse translation may be preferable particularly in the
case of successive pieces of the same time signature and rhythmic organization, which might otherwise present too little distinction. To give a few
examples (out of many possible ones):
The quarter-note beat of a fugue may equal
a quarter-note in the prelude
an eighth-note in the prelude
a half-note in the prelude, etc.
an entire measure in the prelude
three eighth-notes / three quarter-notes / three sixteenth-notes in the
prelude
a virtual (imagined, not materializing) triplet eighth-note or triplet
quarter-note in the prelude.

44

Additional Information

2.6 What determines the design of a fugue?


As you will have already found out, the subject statements of a fugue
can appear immediately one after another, or they can be separated by
episodes. Whatever the pattern, obviously these elements do not simply
pass by as a shapeless, disorganized chain of events. On the contrary,
Bachs fugues are all constructed with carefully balanced sections. Since
this design or structural layout is slightly different in each fugue and of
vital importance for an understanding of the composition, it is useful to
develop some secure method of analysis.
a) Which of the structural features are basic traits of a fugue?
Which help to determine the particular design?
Remember the nursery explanation of the structure of a fugue?
Its like a conversation:
One speaker brings up a topic.
Friends pick it up one after another.
The first round ends once each person has added his or her
view. At most, one of them may add a summary remark.
(In a fugue, this is called a redundant entry.)
After a relaxation, with or without some contrasting talk,
the discussion of the main topic resumes.
In each consecutive round, these are the rules:
The minimum number of speakers is two. (A monologue is
no conversation!)
Nobody should speak twice unless summing up a round or
supporting another persons statement. (In intensifications,
an additional voice may reinforce another without making a
statement of its own. Thus stretto, parallel, or repeated
statement are counted as one group entry.)
The maximum number of speakers is again all plus one
(e.g., with four friends it is 4 + 1 = 5, one person being
allowed to comment twice).

This rule of thumb will almost always help to determine the length of
the first section (or exposition). It often even enlightens the entire plan
of the composition, with all its consecutive rounds. Concerning the number
of rounds, you can expect at least two. As for the maximum, there is no
established rule. (There was a time when people, influenced by theories of
the late nineteenth century, tried to detect a three-section structure in every
fugue. Despite the fact that this has long since been unmasked as a
misconception originating in sonata and ternary forms, these theories still
seem to linger in some minds.)

Additional Information

45

As soon as each voice in your fugue has entered with the subject, the
full ensemble is reached. However, while the musical debate relaxes (as
in an episode) or embarks on a fresh start (as at the beginning of a new
section), one of the voices often takes a rest. A subject statement that
sounds accompanied by less than the full ensemble may therefore indicate
the beginning of a new section.
Analogies in a fugue are not necessarily obvious at first sight, although
some are. What is required is that a sequence of events (like a number of
subject entries, accompanied by certain material, perhaps including an
episode) recurs later in the piece in the same or a very similar order. This
similarity does not refer to the position of the material in the ensemble; so
the order may be the same with different voices being used to present the
materialwhich is why some analogies are at first hard to find.
b) What do the harmonic features tell us about the design?
While a larger part of the piece will always appear closely related to
the main key, there are usually passages that show a harmonic digression
to either a different tonal area and/or to the opposite mode (to the minormode area in a major-mode fugue or vice versa).
To determine the harmonic background of a subject entry, it is best to
look at both its beginning (i.e., the first two or three notes, to avoid
misinterpretations in tonal answers) and its end. Subject entries within one
section often appear in tonic / dominant / tonic / dominant progression. A
change in this pattern is worth noting. Significant cadences are usually
those that appear as obvious formulas or cadential-bass patterns outside the
main material of the fugue.
c) How can you sketch the design of a fugue?
Such a design is usually sketched using a horizontal column for the
measure numbers, corresponding horizontal lines showing the material
sounded in each of the voices, and vertical columns for the juxtapositions.
In the colored graphs included in this book, bricks of different shade and
intensity represent subject and counter-subject entries, roughly like this:
mm. 1
S
A
T
B
S

S
CS1

5
S
CS1
CS2

7
8
S
CS1
CS2
CS3

10

episode
(rest)

etc.

46

Additional Information

2.7 Which factors determine the development of tension?


The development of tension is the way in which the intensity, density,
and dramatic vigor develop, between the first and the last note of the
composition. Some fugues begin by presenting their material in a very
condensed manner. Later, however, the subject takes frequent rests,
appears in a weaker mode or in weaker surroundings (e.g., with the other
voices resting or sounding neutral lines, instead of counter-subjects). In the
initial sections of other fugues, the material is introduced in more of a
matter-of-fact way. It is only after the exposition that more and more
intensity starts building up. Yet other fugues are conceived along symmetrical lines, etc.
a) What do you take into consideration when trying to decide whether or
not (and how much) the tension rises within a section?
The development of tension within any segment of the fugue is determined above all by the density of prominent material. This density can be
achieved horizontally or vertically. Horizontally, a group of subject statements in which the entries follow each other without delay will create
more urgency than scattered statements interrupted by episodes. Even
more so, both the rare but very effective repeated entry and the subject
augmentation invite special attention since the statement is doubled in
length. Vertically, a subject entry that comes accompanied by characteristic
counter-subjects in several voices creates more intensity than one that has
only one serious contestant, or one that is surrounded merely by neutral
lines. Particularly effective in the buildup of tension are strettos and
parallel entries; they create an effect of breathlessness or of forces joined
in battle.
b) When discussing how the sections of your fugue relate to each other in
terms of tension, what are the relevant factors?
The way in which the sections within the whole composition relate to
each other depends above all on the factors mentioned above: the density
of prominent material and the harmonic progression. Note, however, that
the minor mode does not always soften the character of the material, just as
the major mode does not necessarily convert an introverted atmosphere
into one more extroverted.

WTC I/1 in C major Prelude


The first prelude in Bachs Well-Tempered Clavier consists of nothing
but broken chords. It must therefore be described as determined purely by
processes of increasing and decreasing harmonic tension. Effects such as
creating an echo in every repeated chord or emphasizing the chords peaknotes and thus drawing attention to an imaginary melodic line divert from
the composers intention. They would misguide listeners and should thus
be avoided.
The sections are clearly discernible by their simple cadential patterns.
The first cadential closure is reached
in m. 4, the steps leading to it being:
6
m. 1 = I, m. 2 = ii2, m. 3 = V5 , m. 4 = I. Since all structural breaks in this
prelude are harmonically defined, this cadence must be interpreted as the
end of a first (short) section. The next harmonic progression concludes in
m. 11. As the sharps from m. 6 onward demonstrate, Bach now modulates
to G major. The final steps of this progression are: m. 9 = ii7 of G, m. 10 =
V7 of G, m. 11 = I of G. Once again, this harmonic close marks a structural
caesura.
There are altogether four sections in this prelude:
I
mm. 1-4
complete progression in C major
II
mm. 5-11
modulation to G major
III
mm. 12-19
modulation back to C major
IV
mm. 20-35
complex, extended cadence in C major
While no portion ever recurseither note for note or in variationthere is
a transposed passage that forms part of a structural analogy: mm. 15-19 are
an exact transposition of mm. 7-11 (see the progression I6, IV2, ii7, V7, I
in mm. 7-11 in G major, in mm. 15-19 in C major). In connection with this
transposition we also discover that mm. 7-8 are a sequence of mm. 5-6 and
mm. 14-15, a sequence of mm. 12-13. In both cases, a two-bar model is
repeated one diatonic step lower. The only structural divergence between
these two patterns results from the different amount of overlapping with
the transposed portion. We can thus confirm the following analogy:
section II (mm. 5-11) corresponds with section III (mm. 12-19);
both consist of
a model of two measures, a descending sequence,
and an analogous cadential close.
49

50

WTC I/1

All aspects of performance in this prelude reveal themselves by means


of this basic analysis. As the composition contains no melodic elements,
there are no open questions about articulation or single-voice phrasing; all
notes should be sustained for the exact length of their written value.
Phrasing between structural sections is best made transparent by varying
the degrees of tension. A performer who works on a modern piano will
achieve this through dynamic means. (The phrase-ending ritardando, so
essential on early keyboard instruments, can be restricted to a minimum on
instruments capable of expressing phrasing through dynamic shading.)
The dynamic development between consecutive notes poses the biggest problem. What should be heard in a piece determined by harmonic
processes is the relationship between chords, not that between 16th-notes;
the notes forming each chord must therefore sound as equal as is humanly
possible, and greatest care should be taken to avoid any emphasis on the
uppermost pitches.
A very important factor for any sensible performance of the C-major
prelude is tempo. This should again be chosen with a view to best convey
the harmonic processes. Too fast a rendition easily diverts the listeners
attention toward an apparent display of virtuosity; too slow a tempo makes
it difficult to hear more than just one chord at a time.
The only ornament in this prelude derives from an early copy. It appears
in m. 34 and serves to emphasize the final cadence by embellishing it. The
sign indicates a simple mordent that, since it is approached stepwise,
begins on the main note: E-F-E.
As was stated above, the C-major prelude derives its expression from
its harmonic progressions. There are, however, two instances in which
these are overshadowed by secondary processes. One case is owed to the
above-mentioned sequences, the other to a protracted pedal note. The
development of tension as represented by all features is as follows:
In the course of the first simple cadence (mm. 1-4), the subdominant
function commands the greatest tension. This tension subsequently finds a
stepwise resolution via the dominant toward the tonic. The dynamic analog
to this process may be described as p - mp + - mp - p.
The following section (mm. 5-11) brings a modulation to G major,
which is reached in m. 11. As the section opening contains a sequence, the
priority of mere harmonic relationships between consecutive chords is
temporarily suspended. Within the first two measures, the harmonic relationship between the inverted A minor and D7 chords (mm. 5, 6) constitutes
a rather strong decrease in tension. (This can easily be experienced when
listening to the two harmonies, preferably when played as block chords).

C major

51

In keeping with the law defining dynamics in sequences, the same relationship must apply to the following two chords, on a softer level because the
sequence descends. From the last chord of the sequential pattern onward
there follows a further gradual release of tension. The dynamic analog to
the process in this portion of the prelude may be expressed in these terms:
mf + - mp + - mf - mp - mp - p+ - p.
A similar development occurs in the third section. Like the preceding
one it starts with a sequence, and again, the relationship between the first
and the second chords in the model is one of relaxation. The release of
tension is even stronger here than in the earlier sequence as mm. 12 and 14
each consist of a diminished seventh chord resolving onto an inversion of
the supertonic (m. 13) and of the tonic itself (m. 15). At the end of this
sequence the harmonic tension therefore appears already abated to something very close to the softest shade used in this piece. The following four
measures, a transposition of mm. 8-11, should portray a dynamic outline
exactly like the one in the corresponding measures so as to assist listeners in
grasping this analogy. The concept of mm. 12-19 is thus approximately:
poco f - mp + - mf + - mp - mp - mp - p + - p.
The fourth section is almost as long as the first three sections together.
The emergence of the dominant pedal in m. 24 serves to divide it into two
subsections. The first of these subsections, from m. 20 to the downbeat of
m. 24, ends in an imperfect cadence. The harmonic development sets out
from the C-major seventh chord (m. 20) but then leads away from the tonic
in bold steps. The process includes two diminished-seventh chords; in
addition, there is a hint of an independent bass line, which enhances the
sense of urgency. Upon closer inspection, the end of this bass line reveals
a circular movement preparing the beginning of the pedal note by sounding
both the natural leading-note (from the semitone below) and the artificial
one (from the semitone above) to the dominant keynote G. The audacity of
these harmonic steps can best be conveyed in the following dynamic plan:
mp - mp + - mf + - poco f +.
After this forceful increase, the next subsection begins with a sudden
hush to a level hardly above piano. From here the pedal note takes effect. Its
typical gradual and smooth dynamic growth continues not only while the
bass remains on G but all the way to the end of the piece, thus closing the
prelude on something like a triumphant forte chord. The dynamic balance
in this section may therefore be represented quite convincingly as follows:
p + - mp - mp - mp + - mf - mf - mf +- poco f - poco f - poco f + - f - f.

52

WTC I/1
The graph attempts to show the processes determining this prelude.1

WTC I/1 in C major Fugue


The subject of this fugue is one and a half measures long. It begins
unaccented, after what can be called an implied breath on beat 1. This
creates the impression of a very long upbeat, in which the tension toward
the following downbeat is smooth and not very strong.
In its original statement the subject ends at m. 23 on E. That this E has
to be regarded as the final note of the subject becomes obvious when we
compare the first entry with later ones: they either end after this E or its
equivalent in another key (see, e.g., mm. 9-10, 10-12), or they continue in
a different way each time. The closure is further supported by the subjects
harmonic background: the dominant is reached at the beginning of m. 1
1

Carl Czerny added an extra measure. He argued that first, it seemed highly improbable, for
a composer as conscious of subtle numeric balancing as Bach was, to have written a piece
consisting of the uneven number of 35 measures; second, a bass line with a diminished third
such as the one in mm. 22-23 seemed melodically incorrect and would therefore require a
chromatic link. Czerny therefore inserted a tonic six-four chord to correct Bachs error,
and by doing so destroyed the forceful tension built up here with so much ingenuity.

C major

53

(on either D or G; the dominants point of arrival varies throughout the


fugue) and resolves onto the keynote-chord on this E. The fact that the first
statement is followed by an extension, made up of two sequences of the
last four notes, does not change its basic confines but serves to grant a
smooth transition from this first entry to the next.
Ten of the subjects thirteen intervals are seconds, and stepwise motion
also dominates the fugue as a whole. The few larger intervals, however,
confound the picture somewhat because of their particular nature. They do
not, as might normally be expected in the context of overall stepwise motion,
represent high-tension intervalsintervals whose expressive gesture is
regarded as blending particularly well with the character expressed by
stepwise motion. Instead, the three leaps interrupting the subjects smooth
line are two perfect fourths and a perfect fifth, i.e., leaps without particular
emotional content.
The rhythmic structure is complex. The subject features four different
note values: eighth-notes, dotted eighth-notes (or, in m. 2, the same value
written with tie prolongation), 16th-notes, and 32nd-notes. Syncopations
are a regular feature throughout the fugue; in fact the fugue comprises only
six measures not displaying at least one syncopation.
The question of phrasing in the subject allows for two competing
answers, both of which can be supported with evidence from within the
composition itself. The choice between them is thus one of individual conviction or interpretation: (a) The overall pitch pattern, showing ascending
steps at the beginning, descending steps at the end, and leaps in the middle,
supports the option that this subject is conceived as an indivisible phrase.
The absence of obvious melodic sequences confirms this view. (b) For
interpreters who feel that rhythm plays a crucial role in this subject, there
is a pattern that is repeated in slight variationa sequence-like process
revealing the subject as made up of two halves. The first half consists of
four eighth-notes moving upward in stepwise motion. They are followed,
after a rhythmic prolongation, by shorter note values leading downward.
The second half starts similarly with four eighth-notes that, this time, move
in jumps up and down but are also followed, after the same rhythmic
prolongation, by a group of shorter note values leading downward. The
phrased subject would thus be defined by the analogous rhythmic structure
of its two segments. This option finds support in a harmonic progression
that allowsalthough Bach does not
always compose thusfor two complete cadences coinciding with the two
V
rhythmically determined halves (see
V V I vi ii

54

WTC I/1

the harmonic progression underlying the subject statements in mm. 2-4 and
5-7). As far as the subtler harmonic progressions from one eighth-note to
the next are concerned, there are so many variations throughout this fugue
that it is not possible to state one unequivocal solution.
Ludwig Czaczkes in his analytical
book on Bachs WTC made his own
choice when he reconstructed in fourpart texture what he regarded as this
subjects harmonic basis.
When deciding on subtle dynamic
processes in the subject, the aspects to
be taken into particular consideration
are the two rhythmic phenomena and their respective harmonic functions:
the syncopation is rhythmically stronger, but it falls on the harmonically
rather weak tonic-to-dominant movement; the dotted eighth-note is rhythmically weaker but supported by the stronger harmony, the subdominant.
The preference of one climax over the other therefore rests on whether
interpreters feel the harmonic process more strongly than the rhythmical
one, or vice versa.
If a performer chooses option (a) for the phrase structure and reads the
subject as a unit that allows for no further subdivision, only one climax has
to be determined, which will come smoothly prepared by an increase in
tension and be followed by a relaxation. Performers perceiving the subject
as made up of two halves (b) have to decide which of them is stronger and,
consequently, which of the two shorter tension build-ups is more powerful.
In the latter case the subject would contain two releases, with the E at the
end of the first subphrase as a transitory solution, i.e., not quite as soft as
the final E.
The design of the C-major fugue has often been called programmatic:
as the first of a collection of twenty-four fugues it contains twenty-four
subject statements. These appear as follows:
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
8.

mm. 1- 2
mm. 2- 4
mm. 4- 5
mm. 5- 7
mm. 7- 8
mm. 7- 8
mm. 9-10
mm. 10-12

A
S
T
B
S
T
A
B

9. mm. 10-12
10. mm. 12-13
11. mm. 14-15
12. mm. 14-15
13. mm. 15-16
14. mm. 15-16
15. mm. 16-17
16. mm. 16-18

A
T
A
T
B
S
S
A

17.
18.
19.
20.
21.
22.
23.
24.

mm. 17-18
mm. 17-18
mm. 19-20
mm. 19-20
mm. 20-22
mm. 21-23
mm. 24-25
mm. 24-26

T
B
T
A
S
T
T
A

C major

55

Three of these subject statements are varied: The bass entry in m. 17


begins with a rhythmically doubled first note, annihilating the subjects
characteristic up-beat character. The tenor statement in mm.14-15 shows a
variation at the end, after the syncopation. The soprano entry in mm. 15-16
states only the subjects first half before giving way to a new beginning,
which now unfolds as a complete statement in this voice.
While parallels of the subject are not used in this fugue, stretto is a
prominent feature. After the first four entrances, i.e., as soon as each of the
voices participating in the fugue has entered, subject statements overlap
more often than not. The nine stretto combinations that Bach uses are listed
below. (The normal-sized capital distinguishes the respective group leader,
i.e., the voice that counts as building the round. The leader in a stretto
can be detected by asking the following three questions: which voice
presents the version that is more faithful to the original?, which serves to
establish a new key?, or simplyin the absence of other distinctions
which voice enters first?)
Strettos begin in measures
involving voices
7
10
ST, BA
14
15
16
17
AT, BS, SA, TB
19
20-21
TA, ST
24
TA
Interestingly, the first six stretto combinations give a complete account
of the six alliances possible between four voices: the soprano is paired with
the alto (entries 15-16), with the tenor (5-6), and with the bass (13-14); the
alto is further paired with the tenor (11-12) and with the bass (8-9); finally,
tenor and bass are also paired (17-18).
The C-major fugue does not feature any counter-subject. In view of the
immense density of material created by the twenty-four subject entries, this
will hardly come as a surprise. In the absence of counter-subjects, this
fugue claims full attention for its strettos. A sketch of the phrase structure
and the dynamic design should therefore depict the pattern created in such
group statements.
In the two examples below, the entries in mm. 14-16 are rendered in
alternative interpretations: the first suggestion shows what happens if the
subject is seen as an indivisible phrase climaxing on the syncopation; the
second excerpt interprets the subject as consisting of two subphrases, with
the climax of the first subphrase stronger than that of the second.

56

WTC I/1

Only twice is the density of the material in this fugue briefly interrupted. As the subject is absent in these measures, they qualify as episodes:
E 1 = m. 13 (last three eighth-notes) to m. 14 (first eighth-note),
E 2 = m. 23 (after the first 16th-note) to m. 24 (first eighth-note).
Furthermore, the fugue ends with two subject-free measures: the last
statement concludes on the first 16th-note of m. 26, thus: E3 mm. 26-27.
None of these subject-free measures is even remotely related to the subject;
neither are there any episode motifs. The two subject-free passages within
the fugue are both clearly identifiable as cadential closes. The second half
of m. 13 features typical closing formulas in all three sounding voices,
leaving no doubt that something is about to come to an end here. In mm.
23-24, soprano and bass once again present those typical patterns while the
inner voices join in neutral, quasi-chordal style.
Surprisingly, the ending of the composition avoids all these established
formulas. Two measures earlier Bach had already started a tonic pedal,
thus making it clear that the piece is approaching its end. Now he allows

C major

57

the other three voices to continue freely, with harmonic and melodic developments independent of both material bounds and pattern restrictions. One
after the other the voices then come to a halt: the tenor withdraws first,
upon which the alto becomes less eloquent. The soprano is the last to
remain active by running up to the high C.
The final note in the soprano, the high C, deserves a mention. This note
has not been previously reached in this composition. As is widely known,
it marks the upper limit of the keyboard instruments in Bachs time, just as
the preludes final low C marks the confines at the other extreme. These
two tiny details are another hint that Bach, in writing his twenty-four
preludes and fugues, aimed to demonstrate in full all that was possible on
this instrument.
The dynamic role each of the three subject-free passages plays in the
development of this fugue will have become apparent from what has been
said above. The two inner episodes serve as cadential closes and thus have
a relaxing tendency. The two final measures, on the contrary, succeed in
creating somethinghowever smallof their own, thus contributing to a
build-up toward a final climax.
Both the overall stepwise motion and the rhythmic structure with its
four different note values and frequent syncopations suggest that the basic
character of this composition is rather calm. Within the overall frame of
this character, the chain of three leaps in the subject adds an element of
contrast that should be feltand playedas such.
The most appropriate tempo is a calmly flowing one: flowing enough
so that the quarter-notes, rather than the eighth-notes, are felt as a pulse;
calm enough so that the 16th-notes still sound serene. Regarding the
relative tempo of the fugue to its prelude, retaining the beat would lead to
a somewhat dull result since both the time signature and the 16th-note
motion are the same in both pieces. Therefore, a proportion of 3:2 or 2:3
seems better suited. [Approximate metronome setting: prelude beat = 80 or
90, fugue beat = 60.]
The articulation in the fugue is mainly legato. One conspicuous (and
regular) exception occurs with the three leaps in the subject, which, being
consecutive jumps, must be detached. Similarly, leaps and cadential-bass
patterns in non-subject portions of any voice are also exempt from legato
articulation.
The fugue contains three ornaments, namely in mm. 13, 18, and 19.
The one in m. 18 is indicated in the Urtext as deriving from Bachs own
manuscript. It is a mordent that begins on the upper auxiliary note and
touches down twice on the main note, thus resulting in four regular notes

58

WTC I/1

A-G-A-G. The two other ornaments both embellish typical soprano closing
formulas. As the Urtext printing in brackets indicates they do not appear in
the autograph but were added in various early copies. Ornamenting this
characteristic dotted note in a cadential formula was common practice, and
performers should include some kind of embellishment in any case. The
simple mordent (as suggested in m. 19 by the symbol in brackets) is a more
likely solution in both cases than the compound ornament recommended
by the small-print version in m. 13 since an anticipation of the final note in
the soprano formula (see A-A mm. 13-14 and D-D m. 19) normally replaces
and thus precludesa trill with a suffix ending.
The design of the fugue is clearly laid out. Bach orders the voices
presenting the subject, and the sequence of single and stretto statements, in
a consistent pattern:
mm. 1-7
entries in all four voices, no stretto
mm. 7-14
entries in all four voices, two with stretto partners
mm. 14-19
entries in all four voices, all with stretto partners
mm. 19-27
two stretto pairs including three of the voices, followed
by one repeated (redundant) stretto pair in the coda.
Within these four groups, the coupling of voices in stretto also seems
to follow a plan: the second round joins the higher and the lower voices
in each register (S + T, A + B), the third round groups the adjacent and the
outer voices (S + A, A + T, T + B, B + S), the fourth round leaves out the
bass completely but uses the next lowest voice, the tenor, in all three
combinations.
The complete ensemble is built up four times: The first four entries
produce the regular assembling of all voices involved in the fugue (see
mm. 1-7: from one to four voices). The ensemble is consequently reduced
to three voices in the first stretto statement. In both the following alto entry
and the next stretto, one of the voices is resting, so that the full ensemble is
again reached at the fourth statement of this group (see mm. 7-13, from
three to four voices). After the cadential close in A minor, the ensemble is
momentarily reduced to only two voices. This marks the return to C major
as a genuine new beginning. The following three strettos then sound in full
ensemble (see mm. 14-19, two to four voices). Finally, the stretto in mm.
19-20 that overlaps with the closing formula has the soprano pausing. The
full ensemble is restored with the ensuing statement (see mm. 19-27, from
three to four voices).
The harmonic progression within this fugue leads first from C major
to its relative A minor, confirmed by the cadential close of mm. 13-14. A
new start in C major is diverted after four entry pairs to D minor. This key

C major

59

is again confirmed by a closing formula (m. 19), although the two outer
voices alone hold on to this tonal anchor while the two inner parts continue
with stretto statements of the subject. As can be seen from both the keys of
the stretto group-leaders and the prolonged bass notes (see mm. 19-20: D,
21-22: G, and 24-27: C), the fugue then reverts to the home key, which is
confirmed by a cadential close in C major in mm. 23-24. In terms of the
harmonic development, the last four measures thus appear as a coda, since
the final cadence has already taken place and the tonic bass note sounds as
an extended pedal note.

There are several interesting analogies within the four sections. Both
the first and the second sections feature a harmonic progression launched
from the tonic and followed by entries on the unusual repeated dominant.
mm. 1-5: A (I), S (V), A (V) mm. 7-12: S + T (I), A (V), B + A (V)
The first sections two initial entries relate to their counterparts in the
second section (counting again the strettos group leader as the relevant
voice) in inversion, as do the third and fourth entries of these two rounds.
mm. 1-7: A, S T, B
mm. 7-13: S, A B, T
The first stretto of the third section (mm. 14-15) is analogous to the
first stretto of the second section (mm. 7-8) insofar as both the pitch level
and the distance between the second entry and its leader (two eighth-notes)
are identical. The second stretto in the third round (mm. 15-16) appears as
an intensified variation of the corresponding second entry in the second
round (mm. 9-10), again with the same pitch level. Hence:
mm. 7-10:
mm. 14-16:
stretto (S + T, on C + G)
stretto (T + A, on C + G)
distance 2 eighth-notes
distance 2 eighth-notes
single entry (A) on G
stretto (B + S) leader on G

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WTC I/1

Finally, the fourth stretto of the third section (mm. 17-19) brings a
modulation into a new key, as does the fourth entry of the second section
(mm. 12-13); in addition, both the group leader here and the single entry
there sound in the dominant of the key of their destination.
mm. 12-13
mm. 17-19
fourth entry of section II
fourth stretto of section III
on V of A minor
leader on V of D minor
The first section shows a gradual, constant build-up of the ensemble
without any interruption by episodes. The tension rises steadily but, in the
absence of additional intensifying factors, reaches only medium level. The
second section, consisting of a twofold stretto-plus-single-entry sequence,
indicates a slight twofold relaxation. The first is supported at its end by the
closing formula (see soprano mm. 9-10: GF-G), while the second is
enhanced by the modulation to the minor key and the ensuing resolution
within the cadential close. The third section builds up tension from two to
four voices in the densest imaginable stretto setting. The dynamic processes are similar to those in the first section but considerably intensified.
Tension reaches its height at the end of this round; here the modulation
with its final turn to D major, the Picardy-third version of the expected D
minor, with the elaborate cadential formulas and the impatiently overlapping first stretto of the ensuing section create a supreme climax. The
fourth section resembles the second insofar as it appears made up of two
halves. After two entries that modulate back from D through G to C, thus
initiating a harmonic relaxation, the cadential measure 23 represents an
obvious caesura. The following coda replaces the expected stretto + single
entry with a stretto over an extended pedal note, but complements this with
two measures of subject-free development.
There are thus striking relationships between the two halves of the
fugue: The first section builds up tension. This build-up extends into the
beginning of the second section but is then not developed further, owing
both to the divided layout of this section and to the regressing harmonic
development. The third section builds up tension toward the overall climax
of the fugue. This elevated tension is continued into the overlapping beginning of the fourth section, after which it subsides gradually, both because
of the divided layout of this section and its softening modulation and
cadential close.

WTC I/2 in C minor Prelude


At first sight most remarkable in this prelude are the striking changes
in tempo, texture, and material. These unusual features are a result of
Bachs decision to upgrade a small C-minor prelude composed for his son
Wilhelm Friedemann. The contrasting sections found in the Well-Tempered
Clavier version represent the insertions the composer added later. In the
original version, the dominant-seventh chord in m. 25 leads directly into
two concluding measures above a tonic pedal.1
In its attitude and expressive aims, the C-minor prelude resembles the
preceding C-major prelude. Any attempt to render this piece as a display of
virtuosity would be counterproductive to the musical idea. Similarly, an
emphasis on the horizontal process in one or both of the voices would fail
to convey the essence of this composition. The main body of this prelude
represents the category of pieces determined by harmonic processes. Just
as in the C-major prelude, each measure stands for a harmonic step whose
relationship to the harmonic surroundings determines the message and
the dynamic representation.
The first harmonic progression ends in m. 4, the steps being:
m. 1 = i, m. 2 = iv64 , m. 3 = vii + C pedal, m. 4 = i.
Since structural breaks in this prelude are defined solely by harmonic
processes, this cadential close must be regarded as indicating the end of a
first (short) section. The next harmonic progressionand with it the next
structural sectionends in m. 14 where Bach concludes a modulation to
the relative key of E major. The final steps of the cadence in this new key
are: m. 10 = V2, m. 11 = I64 , m. 12 = IV6, m. 13 = V65 , m. 14 = I.
There are altogether four such structural sections in this prelude:
I
mm. 1-4
complete progression in C minor
II
mm. 5-14
modulation to E major
III
mm. 15-18
modulation back to C minor
IV
mm. 18-38
complex, extended cadence in C
1

A comparison of the shorter original version of this prelude with the C-major prelude
reveals many parallels: As in the C-major prelude, the first 24 measures of the C-minor
prelude all show a half-measure model followed by its repetition. The extension of the first
section, the chain of descending sequences in the modulating second section, and a
protracted dominant pedal in the final section are all identical in both pieces.

61

62

WTC I/2

As in the preceding prelude, this harmonically-determined piece does


not allow for any melodic articulation or single-voice phrasing since it is
not the melodic element that counts here: all notes are to be sustained for
the exact length of their written value. Phrasing between the structural
sections, i.e., between one closed harmonic progression and the next,
should be conveyed through tension curves. For performers on the modern
piano this is attained through dynamic modifications that correspond with
the harmonic development.
The dynamic relationship between consecutive notes may pose a
problem for many performers. The result one should be aiming for is to
convey a chordal progression behind the single 16th-notes. Thus the notes
forming each chord must sound as equal as possible, and greatest care
should be taken to avoid emphasis of the uppermost pitches.
Choosing the tempo is a complex matter because of the indications
Bach gave for the portions he added to the smaller piece composed for his
son. For the harmonically determined portion alone, the same holds true as
for the C-major prelude: the tempo should be chosen so as to best convey
the idea of harmonic processes. Too fast a performance easily diverts the
listeners attention by what appears as a display of virtuosity; too slow a
tempo makes it impossible to hear more than just one chord at a time.
Next, there is the question of a meaningful tempo balance between the
four sections. A reasonable assumption (and the choice of most musicians)
is to interpret the final Allegro as a return to the original tempo, thus giving
the prelude a rounded form. For the two tempos in between, the following
proportion works well:
Presto = 1 : 2
Adagio = 4 : 1
Allegro = 1 : 2

in mm. 1-27 = in mm. 28-33


in mm. 28-33 = in m. 34
in m. 34 = in mm. 35-38.

This option results in a well-balanced overall structure within the portion


of the prelude that abandons the initial two-part texture. This is what we
will hear:
six measures, on the dominant pedal and between pedals:
mm. 25-27
= 3 measures in the original tempo
+
mm. 28-33 in Presto = 3 measures in the original tempo
six measures, on the (actual or implied) tonic pedal:
m. 34 in Adagio
= 2 measures in the original tempo
+
mm. 35-38 in Allegro = 4 measures in the original tempo.

C minor

63

Another option assumes a 2:3 proportion between the outer sections on


the one hand and the PrestoAdagio on the other hand. While this option
does not maintain the balanced structure mentioned above, it allows for a
simpler transition into the fugue. Approximate metronome settings for both
options are as follows:
(a) beginning beat = 72, Presto = 144, Adagio = 36, Allegro = 72;
(b) beginning beat = 88, Presto = 132, Adagio = 66, Allegro = 88.
The tempo in the fugue is best chosen in complex proportion after a
simple tempo proportion within the prelude or in simple proportion after a
complex proportion within the prelude. This means: (a) 3:4, or prelude
beat = 72, fugue beat = 96, (b) 1:1, or prelude and fugue beats = 88.
Ornamentation in this prelude includes two inverted mordents: one
(contained in the autograph) in the middle of the Adagio measure; the other
(derived from an early copy) on the final note. The former is played with E,
in keeping with the harmony of this measure, while the latter is a whole-tone
ornament. In addition to these embellishments, the two arpeggios in the
Adagio need careful consideration. Is the upper note primarily part of the
(vertical) arpeggio, or is it above all part of a (horizontal) melodic line? If
one plays the note as the score seems to indicate, without any sophisticated
interpretation, then it would sound as the last note in a broken chord. In
Baroque style, such a broken chord would begin on the beat, which would
cause the uppermost note to fall after the beat. The question is therefore
whether melodic continuity would not be destroyed by such a rendition. In
the second arpeggio in particular, the rendition with F as an (after-beat)
target note would interrupt the melodic flow quite awkwardly. In this case
it is therefore preferable to interpret the melodic note as independent of the
chord, i.e., to play the F together with the bass note C on the beat and then
arpeggiate the remaining chord notes. Going back half a measure to the
beginning of the Adagio, the upper note E can probably be perceived in
two ways, either as a note in a chord or as a melodic component. A
rendition similar to that of the second arpeggio is therefore possible (and
perhaps beneficial to the symmetry in this measure) but not necessary for
its understanding.2
2

The practice described above was quite well-known in Baroque times. Performers were
expected to understand, from their immediate grasp of the musical sense, whether or not
an arpeggio included the upper note, and then play accordingly. The fact that there was
obviously no need to specify this in writing may indicate that musicians usually did
understandor, perhaps just as often, that they were keyboard players studying with the
composer and thus could be taught during the lesson.

64

WTC I/2

On two occasions, the harmonic patterns that determine the message


of this prelude are eclipsed by secondary processes: in one instance by
sequences, in the other by a bass pedal. The development of tension in the
entire prelude as created jointly by all these processes can be described as
follows:
In the course of the first simple cadence, the subdominant commands
the greatest tension; this tension subsequently finds a stepwise resolution
through the dominant toward the tonic. The dynamic equivalent to this
process is approximately p - mp + - mp - p.
The following section begins with a string of sequences. A first question
is therefore: what kind of relationship exists between the two measures of
the model. If, e.g., the step from the A-major chord in m. 5 toward the D7
chord in m. 6 is taken as active, this model sets the pattern that the next
two-bar combinations must followon a generally softer level because the
sequence is descending. The section is rounded off with a cadential close
in the relative key, E major. The dynamic outline may be expressed as
mf - mf + - mp + - mf - mp - mf - mp - mp - mp - p +.
After this extensive second section, the third section is surprisingly brief.
No sequences delay the return to the initial C-minor key; instead, the harmonic progression moves directly into the steps of the simple cadence in
the home key (mm. 15-18). The dynamic development of the four
measures should therefore appear more like an appendix to the preceding
section: mp - mp - p + - p.
The fourth section requires a more detailed description. In the WTC
version, it begins in the middle of m. 18, thus making this measure the
only one of those built on the same surface pattern that contains a change
of harmony.3 The bass-note transition from C to B converts the tonic
chord into an inverted V7/iv (dominant-seventh of the subdominant) and
thus triggers a new, active harmonic motion. This leads very soon (m. 21)
to a dominant pedal.
The gradual tension increase inherent in any prolonged pedal note is
enhanced here not only by the rising pitches of the chords (see mm. 21-24
and 25-28) but also by the sudden change, in the latter portion, to a more
3

In this matter it seems difficult to decide which of the two versions reflects the composers
true intention. The text of the initial Little Prelude shows m. 18 with two equal halves and
a repeated bass note, while the version preferred in todays Urtext editions of the WellTempered Clavier has a bass note B on the third beat of this measure. The latter version
certainly sounds harmonically more convincing, but it does so at the expense of continuity:
this measure diverges significantly from the pattern observed throughout the remainder of
this part of the piece.

C minor

65

virtuoso, toccata-style texture. This new surface pattern prepares the


intriguing inner expansion with which Bach enriched his original version
of this prelude when including it in the Well-Tempered Clavier.
The ensuing passages constitute not only a change in tempo but also a
surprise in the surface patterns. While the harmonic basis remains for a
while on the dominant pedal, the one-track, broken-chord texture gives
way to a virtuoso two-bar figure in Presto. This figure is imitated in stretto
by the lower voice, after one measure and thus overlapping for exactly one
measure. Both the model and its imitation are then sequenced, thus creating
a polyphonic structure that appears suddenly quite dense. The leading upper
voice adds a second, related but shorter figure (see mm. 32-331) that is also
imitated by the lower voice in the following measure. Within these six
measures with their two-part imitation, the harmonic change from the
dominant to the tonic pedal is carried out in such a subtle way (somewhere
between mm. 30 and 31, but with an absence of the actual bass note) that
the urge to come to a close seems as if suspended.
When the tonic pedal finally appears (m. 341), it marks the beginning
of yet another section, headed Adagio and featuring a recitative-style upper
voice over scarce, arpeggiated chords. These surface featuresthe changes
in tempo, texture, and characterare so intriguing that the tonic pedal
once again stands little chance of claiming attention for the impending end
of the piece. The third change reestablishes the texture that had determined
the last measures before this adventurous expansion (compare mm. 35-38
with mm. 25-27). Thus the bracket is finally closed.
Regarding the dynamic design in this final and largest section of the Cminor prelude, our observations permit the following conclusions:
The climax falls in the downbeat of m. 28: here, the last and longest
ringing of the dominant pedal coincides with the beginning of the
Presto and the change to the denser polyphonic texture. This climax
has been prepared in the continuous buildup begun at the end of the
last home-key cadence in m. 18.
After the climax, the overall tension diminishes in a twofold downward sweep. A (much smaller) second peak falls on the downbeat of
m. 34: here, the first appearance of the tonic pedal coincides with the
beginning of the Adagio and the first arpeggiated chord. The overall
decline of tension is then continued to the end of the piece.
This overall development of tension can be expressed in the following
dynamic terms. (pf stands for poco f. The spacing of the measures
see mm. 28, 30, 32, 34a, 34bdepicts the actual time of the musical
process in what might be the most desirable tempi.)

66

WTC I/2
mm. 21 22
mp + mf
mm. 28
f

30
pf

32
mf

23
mf

24
25
mf + pf

26 27
pf + f

28
f

34a 34b 35 36 37 38
pf mf + mf mp + mp p

The graph sums up the tension development throughout the entire prelude:

WTC I/2 in C minor Fugue


Launched on the second eighth-note of a 4/4 measure, the subject of
this fugue is two measures long. The initial notes are heard as an upbeat,
not so much to the downbeat of the following measure but to the middle of
m. 1. The E that falls on the first beat of m. 3 marks the end of the subject.
This fact, evident from a comparison with all later subject statements, is
supported by the harmonic background: the dominant in the form of a
ninth chord (G B D F A) is reached in the middle of m. 3 and resolves
onto the tonic on the following downbeat.
One of the remarkable melodic characteristics of this subject is that it
contains three identical note groups: the initial three-note figure C-B-C,
metrically placed as an upbeat, is repeated twice in metrically equivalent
position. These identical groups must be regarded as structurally corresponding; i.e., each of them initiates a separate little subphrase.

C minor

67

The subjects rhythm shows a fairly regular combination of 16th-notes


and eighth-notes, complemented by a single quarter-note shortly before the
end, featured as a syncopation. The pitch pattern comprises a mixture of
steps and leaps. Upon closer inspection, a much clearer picture emerges,
since almost all stepwise motions in 16th-note rhythm can be unmasked as
written-out ornaments: the figure C-B-C is a spelled-out inverted mordent
and the ascent F-G-A , a slide. Furthermore, none of the leaps is a hightension interval. The subjects main body thus represents neither a primarily
linear nor a highly emotional pitch progression. Were one to reduce the
subject to its unornamented line, this is what would remain: C-G-A,
C-D-G, C-D-AGFE or C-G-A, C-D-G, C-D-FGFE.
The harmonic background is that of a simple cadence. Bachs harmonizations in the course of this fugue feature only minor variations; see, e.g.,
the entry mm. 26-28 where iv is replaced by VI.

iv

i6

V9

The sequential structure is a determining factor in the subjects dynamic


outline. In the first subphrase (the head motif), the four initial notes remain
in the range of the tonic while the fifth note moves on to the subdominant.
This harmonic progression indicates an increase in tension within the first
subphrase. In a sequential pattern, the shaping in the subsequent subphrases
must follow the model, thus resulting in three similar dynamic increases.
When attempting to organize the three increases into a more encompassing
pattern, we find that there is more than one option for the overall
development of tension.
Performers choosing to stress the melodic aspect will emphasize the
peak-note descent to the keynote (A-G-F-E) with a consistent
diminuendo. Within this frame, the ascending three-note group in
the middle of m. 2 will sound as an extension of the note Fwhich
makes sense since there is no change of harmony at the emergence
of the syncopation. The tension decrease throughout the subject is
supported by the overall harmonic progression, which also climaxes
on the first peak notes subdominant.
Performers who prefer to focus on the rhythmic structure will draw
attention to the syncopation, interpreting each subphrase as more
intense than the preceding one, with the climaxes followed by a
release of tension only in the last three notes.

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WTC I/2
There are altogether eight subject statements in this fugue:
1. mm. 1-3
M
5. mm. 15-17
M
2. mm. 3-5
U
6. mm. 20-22
U
3. mm. 7-9
L
7. mm. 26-28
L
4. mm. 11-13 U
8. mm. 29-31
U

Apart from the interval adjustment in the tonal answer, the subject
appears unchanged throughout the fugue. Both the interval variation in the
major-mode statements and the Picardy third at the end of the last entry are
regular features. The fugue does not contain any strettos or parallel entries.
It features two counter-subjects, only the first of which is truly independent.
CS1 makes its first appearance immediately after the initial subject
statement; i.e., it stretches from the second 16th-note of m. 3 to
the downbeat of m. 5. The conspicuous change in the rhythmic
pattern (only 16th-notes in m. 3, only eighth-notes thereafter) and
the pitch level (see the tenth interval C1-E 2 in m. 3) reveal this
counter-subject as structurally conceived with two contrasting
subphrases. The first segment presents a descending scale that
describes a decrease of tension. The longer second segment also
moves essentially in falling direction, with its most likely interpretation being an even more distinct diminuendo. (Climaxes on
either the lower C, the target of the descending scale, or the
admittedly interesting F are inadvisable. As both notes coincide
with tension peaks in the subject, stressing them would counteract polyphonic clarity. The rhythmic evenness in the countersubjects second half already weakens its impact in the context
of simultaneous lines; an additional dynamic parallel would
offset the requirement of independence.)
CS2 is introduced against the next subject entry. It starts belatedly but
concludes together with the other components on m. 91. Rhythmically, CS2 is almost entirely attuned to CS1. Nor is its pitch
pattern, which undergoes several changes in the course of the
fugue, very significant. Thus the subjects second companion
stages little contrast of its own. The overall impression in the
fugue is of a dialogue between the subject and one countersubject with a homophonic accompaniment.
The following sketch shows the phrase structure and dynamic design
created in the combination of the subject and its two counter-subjects.

C minor

69

There are six subject-free passages in this fugue:


E1 mm. 5-7
E4 mm. 17-20
E2 mm. 9-12
E5 mm. 22-26
E3 mm. 13-15
E6 mm. 28-29
The material of E1, E2, E4, and E5 is closely related to the subject; at
least one voice constantly displays a variation of its head motif. In E2 and
E5, this subject-derived motif is extended: what was originally the final
eighth-note now sounds as a quarter-note, followed by an eighth-note rest
and two chromatically ascending eighth-notes. This longer version of the
head motif complements the dynamic design: the slight tension rise in the
subphrase is now rounded off with a relaxation throughout the extension.4
The first episode motif (M1) is introduced in E1. It consists of an
ascending scale that comes to a halt on a syncopated A. The two features,
the scalar motion and the syncopation, reveal M1 as related both to the first
counter-subject (which begins with a scale, though a descending one) and
to the subject (which contains the syncopation group F-G-A). Interpretation of the character and dynamic design in this motif depends on which of
these relationship one regards as more salient; M1 could be taken as a
relaxed scale in diminuendo (like the beginning of CS1) or as an upbeat to
a little climax (on F or on A, whichever your choice was in the subject).
M2 is brought forth in the lower voice of E2. It is a figure of one-bar
length made up of a descending one-octave scale that bends back for two
notes and is then followed by another descent down to the lower fifth. This
motif derives from the beginning of the first counter-subject and picks up
its character and tension decrease. As E3 shows, this motif can appear not
4

Note that in the stretto imitation used in these episodes, the [decreasing] chromatic ascent
of this extension coincides with the [increasing] regular eighth-notes that open the head motif.
This takes many performers unawares: they lose sight of which voice is leading and when.

70

WTC I/2

only in descending but also in ascending direction. The most consistent


(though not often heard) interpretive conclusion would be to retain both
the character and the diminuendo. (The implications of this interpretation
of E3 for the overall dynamic development are considerable and will be
dealt with later.)
The double-note motif that appears in the two lower voices of E3 but
is never again taken up in the fugue is least related to the primary material.
It merely bears a slight resemblance to the first three notes of CS2 that,
together with the same note-group in CS1, also forms descending parallels.
By far the shortest episode of this fugue is E6. Its harmonic progression
and melodic features leave no doubt that it is a typical cadential close. The
lower voice presents a cadential-bass pattern, the middle voice the characteristic closing formula with syncopation, and even the upper voice joins in by
displaying one of the established closing features, the keynote anticipation.
The relationships between the episodes of this fugue are as follows:
The first half of E4 (mm. 17-18) is a variation of E1: compare L in
E4 with U in E1, M in E4 with M in E1. U in E4 is new but in part
parallel to L.
The second half of E4 is a varied repetition of the first half of E4:
compare mm. 17-183 with mm. 183-201 (M + L in inverted voices).
The first half of E5 (mm. 22-24) is a variation of E2: compare U/M
in E5 with U/M in E2 (transposed) and L in E5 with L in E2
(metrically varied transposition).
Both E1 and the two halves of E4 are composed in ascending sequences.
They prepare the following entry by building up tension toward it. In the
case of E1, the tension is slightly abated at the very end of the episode.
By contrast, E2 and E5, both determined by falling sequences, create a
diminuendo. This seems only logical in the case of E2, which follows the
last of the three initial statements in this three-part fugue. With its decreasing tension it thus sets the so far uninterrupted tension rise apart from what
follows. The symmetrically beginning E5 seems intended also to give the
impression that the main statements in this round have already been made,
and lures listeners into expecting a redundant subject entry. But Bach
changes his mind; he extends this episode by adding an ascending, tensionincreasing second half (mm. 25-26) that leads to a statement in the lower
voice, thus completing the round. A similar process recurs in the final
episode: the cadential measures 28-29 seem to close this section in a mood
of relaxation, but Bach adds a further entryredundant this timein
homophonic texture above a tonic pedal.
The interpretation of E3 requires careful pondering:

C minor

71

If conceived as a crescendo, E3 appears as a link between the


preceding and the ensuing subject statements. As a result it strings
togetherby means of its dynamic direction entries that do not
belong to the same group.
If conceived as a diminuendo, E3 suggests an interpretation of the
fugue as composed in two halves. This is corroborated by the fact
that E3 is the only episode not at all related to the subject and
occurs close to the middle of the composition.
The leaps in the pitch pattern and the prevalence of two rhythmic
valueseighth-notes and 16th-notessuggest a lively basic character for
this composition. The ideal tempo is dictated by two essential details: the
dance-like character, created above all by the unusually regular phrase
structure in the subject, and the ornamental character of the initial figure
C-B-C. The most appropriate pace would therefore be one in which the
eighth-notes sound gracefully bouncing and the 16th-notes are swift
enough to be perceived as single notes.
Articulation in the fugue is a light quasi legato for all 16th-notes and a
not too heavy non legato for all eighth-notes and longer notes, with the
exception of syncopations. The Urtext of the fugue in C minor does not
contain any ornaments.
Design indicators are particularly eloquent in this fugue. The entering
order of the voices shows an exact repetition: middle voice, upper voice,
lower voice, and upper voice in both mm. 1-13 and 15-31. Moreover, there
is a striking symmetry between the linking episodes in both halves of the
fugue: E4 is a variation of E1, E5/1st half is a transposition of E2. This
twofold symmetry overlaps artfully insofar as the corresponding episodes
do not link corresponding voice entries. The result is a design that, on one
of the two levels, relates the unaccompanied first subject statement to the
homophonically accompanied last onea truly ingenious plan.
subject in M
subject in U

subject in M
E1
E4
subject in L

subject in U
E2
E5
subject in U

subject in L
E3
E6
subject in U
The harmonic progression in this fugue leads from C minor to the
relative major key, E major (in the fourth subject entry), but returns to the
home key very soon thereafter and never leaves it again.

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The last two-and-a-half measures appear as a coda: the final cadence


has already taken place, the bass is limited to an extended tonic pedal note,
and the middle voice does for once not take up the counter-subject or
sound any other polyphonically independent line but accompanies the final
statement in strict homophonic style. Moreover, these measures sound in
voice splitting, i.e., they abandon the original three-part setting and split
into an octave (L pedal) and into chords or double notes (M).
Here is a sketch showing the design of the C-minor fugue:

The dynamic tension curve in the first section shows a gradual increase
through the first three entries, caused by the buildup of the ensemble and
the increasing gesture of the first episode. There follows a slight decline
during the second episode and in the fourth entry, which is not only redundant but also sounds in the major mode, thus appearing more relaxed than
the original minor-mode version. As this fugue is not dramatic but rather
cheerful and dance-like, the rising and falling dynamic developments in
this first section are not particularly strong. The second section repeats this
dynamic pattern: the first three subject statements, including the episodes
linking them, increase very smoothly. (The second of these episodes, E5,
begins by decreasing tension before it realizes that this is premature and
that there is one more entry to come in the buildup.) The cadential close
after the second sections third entry brings the tension release, so that the
redundant entry, coinciding with the coda, sounds like a softer afterthought.
The relationship between the two sections is one of enhanced repetition.
The second section sets out in a more involved way with its first subject
statement accompanied by both counter-subjects. The episodes are longer,
thus creating a higher degree of anticipation for the next subject entry. The
final entry, in its detachment from the fugues polyphonic texture, may
depict more of a retreat than the last entry of the first section, which
appears lighter mainly because of its changed mode.

WTC I/3 in C major Prelude


This prelude is designed in two-part texture. It features two motifs.
Both of them are immediately imitated before they return to their original
register. The principal motif is conceived not as a one-dimensional melodic
line but in hidden two-part structure. Moreover, the secondary voice in this
motif is not polyphonically independent but a disguised parallel. Yet in its
development, the two lines create a brief play of genuine contrapuntal
juxtaposition. The second motif is designed in barely veiled homophony.

The first cadence ends at m. 71. This cadential close lies embedded in
a melodic flow that continues uninterrupted. A change of surface pattern
occurs in m. 8, where two melodic voices lead into the inverted-voice
texture of mm. 9-15. In this sense, this initial cadence is only an indirect
indication of a subordinate structural ending within a larger context. There
is, therefore, no caesura, and no cut after the reappearance of the tonic.
Exactly the same holds true for the following harmonic progression which,
now in the tonal realm of G major, draws to a cadential close at m. 151.
Here again, the melodic pattern continues through another measure before
giving way to a continuation in inverted voices that marks the beginning of
a new harmonic development.
Owing to the 3/8 time, the structural units determined by these cadences
appear short and, with their eight-measure extension, supremely regular.
The phrase in mm. 25-31 is the first not to be followed by such a voice73

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WTC I/3

swapping link. Instead, the second half of the cadential close serves as the
beginning of a new development. The following diagram shows the
phrases and their tonal areas in the entire prelude. The bridging measures
that link consecutive phrases by prolonging the tonic of a cadential close
before a renewed change of voices do not harmonically belong to either of
the closed progressions; they are thus deliberately omitted here. The
graphic arrangement tries to visualize the harmonic progressions.
1. mm. 1-7 C major
2. mm. 9-15 G major
3. mm. 17-23 D minor
4. mm. 25-31 A minor
5. mm. 31-35 A minor/D minor
6. mm. 35-39 D minor/G major
7. mm. 39-43 G major/C major
8. mm. 43-47 C major/F major
9. mm. 47-53 F major
10. mm. 55-61 C major
11. mm. 63-73 G pedal
12. mm. 75-83 C major
13. mm. 87-104 G pedal, resolving to C only in the final measure

The prelude features both identical and structurally analogous phrases.


There is a stretch of seven measures in the first half of the piece that recurs
untransposed (mm. 1-7 . 55-61); another span of ten measures in the
second half of the prelude is repeated a few measures later an octave lower
(mm. 63-72 . 87-96). The preludes opening phrase is taken up altogether
five times, both transposed and in inverted voices. While the first three
reappearances follow the model phrase and are therefore best named
imitation in inverted voices, a true recapitulation can be found after the
interspersed portion with its different patterns (see mm. 47- 62). These two
phrases in the middle of the piece sound reminiscent of the preludes very
beginning, particularly since they are conceived as mirror images of the
first two phrases.
Moreover, one can detect a large-scale structural analogy: the first half
of the prelude, visually distinct from the second by its uninterrupted flow
of 16th-notes in at least one of the voices, is designed in ternary form. So
is the second half (with the exception of the final line). Here is a scheme of
this preludes structure, drawing only on the architectonic patterns but not
yet on the motivic components:

C major

75

mm. 1-31 two-part pattern, voices interdependent


mm. 31-46 contrapuntal interplay
mm. 47-62 two-part pattern, voices interdependent
mm. 63-74 homophonic pattern
mm. 75-86 contrapuntal interplay
mm. 87-96 homophonic pattern
On a different scale, there is an analogy in the harmonic structure: the
first four phraseseight measures each, in dependent two-part pattern
move from the tonic through the dominant and the supertonic to the
relative minor. The following four phrasesfour measures each, in contrapuntal texturereverse this process and end on the tonic.
The time signature determines the tempo together the indirect melodic
pattern in the non-contrapuntal segments. As we know from other music
by Bach, 3/8 does not so much indicate a pulse in eighth-notes but rather
one in whole-measure beats. With these larger pulses in mind, it should not
be difficult to find the appropriate range for the tempo.
The articulation in a hidden two-part structure is a little more complex
than that in a one-track melodic texture. Here it is the hidden melodic
line that is to be articulated, not the progression from note to note as it
appears on the surface. In the secondary line of the main motifs model, i.e.,
the first seven measures, the left-hand lineC-D-E-F-E-D-C
should sound non legato in the context of this lively character. This non
legato effect is, however, naturally achieved by the interspersed repeated
pedal note. It would be counterproductive to separate the first C from its
octave and so forth, since by doing so one would obtain the opposite effect
and hear all notes as belonging to one line. In other words: In order to
achieve a melodically correct result in the hidden two-part structure,
some surface progressions must be played legato. The distinction in each
hand between melody and background is achieved above all by two
means: touch and intensity. The ideal shading of the texture consists of an
intense, dynamically molded melodic line sounding against an almost
neutral, dynamically more subdued background.
The performance of the motif derivatives in contrapuntal play must be
considered carefully. M1a and M1b develop from the principal motifs
link. After the fourth appearance of M1 in mm. 25-31, this link forms two
new thematic units: In the right hand the syncopation, followed by a
simplified version of what was originally the bridge to the next phrase, is
repeated in sequence and thus builds a four-bar motif (U: mm. 313-351). In
the left hand, another feature pertaining to the link, the turn figure from
U: m. 8, also brings about a little four-measure motif (L: mm. 31-351). Just

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WTC I/3

as M1 sounded four times in alternating voice inversions, so do these two


derivations. However, besides this similarity there are considerable differences: While in M1 each line is conceived in hidden two-part structure,
both M1a and M1b are designed as one-track developments. While M1
consists of two interdependent lines whose melodic components form
parallels, M1a and M1b are polyphonically independent. While in M1
there is only one rise and fall in tension tracing the parallel curve, M1a and
M1b show independent dynamic outlines: M1b creates a two-measure
crescendo followed by a two-measure diminuendo; the two halves of M1a
each feature and accented syncopation with subsequent relaxation.
M2 is introduced in mm. 63-73. It bears relationships with M1. Like
M1 it is designed in homophonic texture. Like M1 it contains a pedal note
in both hands (G). Like M1 it determines the main part of a ternary form.
Finally, like M1 it is followed by a link that, this time, does not connect
the model to its imitation but joins this motif to the next (see mm. 73-75).
On the surface, the motif may remind listeners of toccata style: the two
parts only meet on the downbeats, after which they move in complementary
rhythm. It is interesting to see that later, after its repetition an octave lower,
M2 develops into a different pattern, also in toccata style and also resting
on the pedal note G (see mm. 97-102).
M2a determines the middle section of this second ternary form in the
prelude. It features polyphonic texture, thus relating to the corresponding
section in the first half of the composition. Here, in mm. 75-83, the right
hand retains its complementary rhythm but ascends in a large sweep up to
B (almost the highest available note on Bachs keyboard). From there

C major

77

it moves in 16th-notes, gradually releasing the tension it previously built


up. The entire upper-voice motif is then repeated a tone lower (and slightly
softer). At the same time, the left hand describes a curve that sounds like a
simplified version of M2a. It begins with the descent, i.e., with the middle
of the motif, which falls over two measures from E to the lower-octave C.
Thereafter it follows the right hand in stretto imitation, rising over another
two measures before sequencing the figure.
The development of tension in this prelude relies mainly on two facts:
the harmonic progression (particularly in the first half) and the difference
of intensity between the homophonic and the polyphonic sections. The
diagram inserted above shows these progressions.

WTC I/3 in C major Fugue


This subject spans a little less than two measures. It begins after a 3/8note rest with what listeners experience as a secondary upbeat. Such an
upbeat, relating to the middle beat in quadruple time, is a fairly strong
impulse-giving feature, not least because we anticipate that it will shift to
a normal upbeat position in the course of the fugue.1 The ending of the first
subject statement falls on the downbeat of m. 3. The dominant harmony is
represented by the last two eighth-notes in m. 2, after which the expected
resolution onto the tonic is reached with the following keynote.
At first glance, the subjects melodic structure seems to comprise two
segments: sequencing leaps unite the last six notes, thus appearing to distinguish the second half of the phrase from the first. This first half would
then end after the written-out inverted mordent on the second beat of m. 2
(i.e. between F and D). However, the straightforward harmonic motion,
which describes a single progression throughout the whole subject, speaks
in favor of an interpretation as an indivisible phrase. This is supported by
the indirect descent throughout the whole phrase: GG-F-E-D-C.

6
4

Baroque polyphony, in contrast both to the contemporary dance types and also to the
music of the ensuing period, knew frequent metric shifts of its thematic material. This is
especially true in quadruple time where a subject or motif first introduced in the middle of
the measure could be placed at the beginning of a measure, and vice versa, in later
statements within the same piece.

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WTC I/3

There are only two rhythmic values: eighth-notes and 16th-notes. The
pitch pattern is characterized by leaps rather than steps; note the melodic
broken chord at the beginning (E-C-G) and the alternating sixth and
seventh intervals at the end. There are few steps; all can be identified as
written-out ornaments: a turn in m. 1 and an inverted mordent in m. 2. In
the subjects harmonic progression, the active step to the subdominant falls
on the downbeat of m. 2. An analysis of the underlying chord progressions
that Bach uses later in the fugue reveals the G in m. 2 as an appoggiatura
to the following F. These two notes, G and F, thus form a pair that may
under no circumstances be separated by either phrasing or articulation.
The climax in the subject occurs unmistakably on the downbeat of the
second measure. Here, two powerful tension-enhancing features coincide:
the appoggiatura and the active harmonic movement from the tonic to the
subdominant (or, more often in this piece, its relative minor on ii). The
peak note E (which may tempt all those who connect strong feelings with
high pitches) is in reality only part of a broken-chord pattern on the tonic
and therefore melodically and harmonically insignificant. The dynamic
curve in the subject thus begins with an energetic crescendo through the
first segment up to the downbeat G. This crescendo should develop evenly
and not burst out too early, so as to give the E and C enough impetus
toward the appoggiatura G. In the fairly abrupt tension decay that follows
from this appoggiatura to its resolution, approximately half of the tension
is lost. The remainder is then released gradually throughout the series of
leaps.
There are twelve subject statements in this fugue:
1. mm. 1-3 U
5. mm. 14-16 L
9. mm. 42-44 U
2. mm. 3-5 M
6. mm. 19-21 M
10. mm. 44-46 M
3. mm. 5-7 L
7. mm. 24-26 U
11. mm. 46-48 L
4. mm. 10-12 U
8. mm. 26-28 M
12. mm. 51-53 U

In three of the subject entries, nos. 4, 7, and 12, the upbeat eighth-note
is replaced by three 16th-notes, while in statement 10 it appears split into
two 16th-notes. Metric displacementsa beginning on the last eighth-note
of a baroccur in statements 7, 8, and 12. The subject does not appear in
either stretto or parallel but takes three counter-subjects. CS1 is introduced
against the subjects second entry (see mm. 3-5: U) and remains a faithful
companion ever thereafter. It is exactly two measures long, a little longer
than the subject, as it begins slightly earlier in the bar. In its full scope it

C major

79

begins with an inverted-mordent figure on the keynote, followed by a


five-note scalar ascent and a turn figure on the peak. From here to its end
there is a gradual descent in ornamental waves, interrupted only rhythmically by one prolonged note.
CS1 is thus conceived as a unit without subdivisions. If we consider
the dynamic development without taking into account the simultaneous
events in the subject, there are two possible interpretations, one based on
pitch, the other based on rhythmic features. The pitch pattern suggests a
climax on the highest note at the beginning of the turn figure, while the
rhythmic pattern seems to favor the longest (tied) note. As soon as we stop
regarding the counter-subject as an independent body and look at it as a
counterpart to the subject, the choice between these two options becomes
much easier. As the second solution would cause the climaxes of the
subject and its first companion to coincide, this option is contrary to the
polyphonic requirement of greatest possible independence of the voices.
Therefore, the first dynamic design is the more appropriate choice.2 In the
course of the fugue, the first counter-subject undergoes one significant
variation. The turn figure is sometimes written using the leading-note to the
fifth degree; in other instances it retains the context of the natural scale.
This results in inconsistencies in otherwise completely analogous portions
(see, e.g., U in mm. 3 and 44, M in mm. 10 and 52).
CS2 is heard six times in the course of the fugue. It is introduced at its
anticipated place, i.e., against the subjects third entry, and taken up again
in mm. 19-20, 25-26 (with a shortened beginning), 26-28, 44-46 (with a
varied beginning), and 46-48. Its rhythmic and harmonic features create a
distinct contrast to the two other components: Rhythmically, an initial upbeat precedes syncopations the first two of which are eight times (!) as
long as the so far prevalent 16th-notes. Harmonically, its beginning places
the first notes of the subject in a V7 context, while its ending omits the
resolution into the tonic (at least in the original statement; this is later
corrected). The tension layout is quite unequivocal: the first prolonged
syncopation builds the high-tension interval of a minor seventh over the
initial notes of both subject and CS1. It thus represents a natural climax,
with the ensuing descent providing the relaxation.
CS3, an unexpected further companion in a three-part fugue, appears
only twice. In mm. 10-12 it sounds against the fourth subject statement; in
mm. 51-53 against the last. Its characteristic features are the eighth-note
2

While the mind may easily accept this truth, the fingers seem more reluctant and often find
it difficult to resist stressing the longer note.

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WTC I/3

upbeat followed by a descent in longer note values. These features and the
long release of tension resulting from this melodic shape reveal its
relationship with CS2. This impression, however, is weakened both by the
harmonic progression and by the concluding cadential-bass steps.
The sketch shows the phrase structure and dynamic design in the
primary thematic material of this fugue:

The subject statements are interspersed six times with subject-free


passages; a seventh episode closes the fugue.
E1 mm. 7-102
E3 mm. 16-191
E6 mm. 48-514
E2 mm. 12-142
E4 mm. 21-244
E7 mm. 533-55
E5 mm. 283-422
Two of these episodes are related to the subject: In E4, the upper voice
recalls the first half of the subject twice (mm. 22-24); in E5, the upper
voice quotes the subjects first segment three times (mm. 34-37), after
which the lower voice imitates the threefold quotation of the subjects
initial segment (mm. 38-41).
E1 introduces an independent motif that plays a major role in the fugue
(see mm. 7/8 U: from G-E to tied note A). M1 is imitated in stretto, with
a slight interval adjustment, in the middle voice of the same bar. Both the
model and its imitation are then sequenced. In a second sequence, both
voices show a variation in the second half of the motif; moreover, the upper
voice is completed by means of an extension that provides the harmonic
resolution to its tied-note appoggiatura. In the original version, the dynamic
curve expressed in M1 is obvious: the jump upward creates a rise in tension
followed by a release in the falling broken chord. In the extended version,
the upward motion is enlarged. It would therefore seem logical that the rise

C major

81

in tension be also increased. Also in E1, the lower voice presents a motif
that can be traced back to the first counter-subject. It sets out with the same
inverted-mordent figure, followed by ornamental waves recalling the final
groups of CS1 in inversion. This motif is also frequently used within the
fugue and will be called M2. In terms of tension, M2 contains very little
active power. The short upbeat-like impulse in the inverted-mordent figure
is followed by a long, subdued drop in tension.
E2 is related to E1, but both M1 and M2 recur in considerable transformation. There are some significant changes that create an entirely different
character: In M1, the leader of the imitative pattern is now the middle
voice and the tie prolongations in the motif are replaced by rests, creating
a definite interruption of the tension. Moreover, the imitating voice does not
follow its leader but restates the second, relaxing half of the motif. Toward
the end of the episode, both voices abandon the motivic context altogether
and join in a cadential figure. M2 sounds in the upper voice where it no
longer appears as a sequencing one-bar figure, but is extended to a two-bar
curve. In free inversion, it is pushed upward to a slide-decorated peak; the
effect of this climax is enhanced by the fact that it sounds in a diminishedseventh interval to the C in the lower voice. The ensuing release ends in
a so-called female extension, a melodic tail after the harmonically resolved strong beat, on the fifth 16th-note of m. 14.
None of the subject-free passages serves exclusively as a cadential close.
But the final 2 measures (E7) and the first 1 measures of E4 both
present non-motivic material that leads to perfect cadences with distinct
closing formulas (see the cadential-bass patterns in L: mm. 21-22 and 55 as
well as the two typical melodic formulas in U: mm. 22 and 55). In the case
of E4, the cadential close divides the episode into two segments (E4a: mm.
21-223, E4b: mm. 223 -244). Another episode, E5, is subdivided even
further (E5a: mm. 283-303, E5b: mm. 303-344, E5c: mm. 344-422).
Finally, several episodes or their segments are varied repetitions of
earlier models. E1 recurs in three varied repetitions: E3 uses the tensionextended version of M1 from m. 9, E6 is closest to the model but begins
with a half-bar extension, and E5b appears most remote in its use of the
motivic material: the voices are exchanged, with the lower voice in the
lead, the middle voice reduced to a broken-chord figure, and the upper
voice recalling M2.3 E2 recurs once: E5a recalls it in inverted voices, with
3

Despite the varied beginning, the statements of M1 in the lower voice should nevertheless
retain the tension curve characteristic for this motif (with, e.g., a crescendo in mm. 304-311
followed by a diminuendo up to m. 31m), while the figure in the middle voice is too
removed from the original to take part in any subtle dynamic shaping.

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WTC I/3

the lower voice now featuring the dramatic ascent (a slide should be added
on the peak note in m. 29) while the upper voice, partly crossing over the
middle voice, recalls the developed version of M1 and the middle voice
just fills the texture. E5c, the last segment of the longest episode, features
an internal correspondence: U: mm. 35-38 (with 3/16 upbeat) are taken up,
voices inverted, in L: mm. 39-42 (with 3/16 upbeat). One may get a clearer
picture of what is happening in these episodes by completing the earlier
diagram as follows:
E1
E2
E3 (. E1)

E4a

E4b

E5 (. E2 + E1 + E4b)
E6 (. E1)
E7

The role these episodes and their segments play in the dynamic development that shapes the fugue as a whole is both relevant in each case and
significant with regard to the understanding of the overall structure. E1, as
it is determined by the introduction of new material, demands a change of
register or color (the same holds true for its three variations). Its sequences
progress downward, thus causing a relaxation and suggesting that a section
is drawing to its close. (In fact, all three voices have already stated the
subject.) The last sequence, however, extends the rise within M1 and reestablishes a higher level of tension, thus preparing the listener for more to
come: a redundant entry. E3, the first variation of E1, shows even more of
this extended rising. The ascending trend within the melodic units counterbalances the relaxation implied in the descending sequences and thus
defines this episode as one linking adjacent subject entries. By contrast, E5b,
the second variation of E1, stresses the decline. Its role in the overall
tension is one of announcing the forthcoming end of a section. E6, the third
variation of E1, returns to the pattern of the original: the smooth tension
decay in the descending sequential pattern is arrested at the last moment,
thus granting the following (redundant) subject entry to be perceived as
still being part of the section.
Both the original E2 and its variation in E5a are self-contained units. In
a color distinctly different from that of the subject-determined passages,
their dynamic outline runs in curves; within each of them, a rise to the
climax and a subsequent relaxation are concluded by a cadential close.
Compared to the relaxing E1 and the self-contained E2, E4b represents the
type of episode that conveys a preparation for a subsequent entry. The
incomplete subject statements serve to suspend the tension before the
ensuing full entry. This impression is further enhanced by three facts: this
episode segment sets off after a cadential close, it is presented in reduced
ensemble, and the secondary voice is confined to non-motivic material.

C major

83

E5c seems to repeat this pattern on a heightened level: It also begins


after a complete decline in tension, it is also presented in reduced ensemble
(this time it is the middle voice that is resting), and its secondary voice is
not only non-motivic but actually displays a barely disguised prelude-style
accompaniment pattern. This last fact especially sets this episode portion
furthest apart from the remainder of the fugue. Most of the active strength
and tension otherwise characterizing this work seem temporarily withheld.
Finally, the two cadential formulas in the episodes together with their
extended preparations form dynamic curves. In E4a, the climax falls on the
downbeat of m. 22. E7, the closing episode of the fugue, is launched from
the interrupted cadence at the end of the final subject statement and
describes an increase toward the dominant bass note G. Whether the very
ending, with its quotation from the subjects tail and its voice splitting, is
interpreted as a relaxation or as a triumphant close, remains at the individual performers discretion.
The basic character of this fugue is rather lively. Both the pitch pattern
with its many written-out ornaments, leaps, and broken chords and the
rhythmic pattern with its predominance of two note values support this
impression. The only component introducing a hint of contrast is the second
counter-subject with its long notes, chain of syncopations, and stepwise
motion. The overall tempo should be fast enough to allow the written-out
embellishments in the primary material to retain a touch of their ornamental characteri.e., the four notes of the turn at the subjects beginning
should be heard as an entity rather than as separate notes. The appropriate
articulation in this rather lively composition consists of non-legato eighthnotes and legato 16th-notes. It is possible and gives the fugue a lovely depth
(while admittedly increasing acrobatic demands) to play the contrasting
CS2 with the characteristics of a rather calm character, i.e., with legato
articulation and a singing touch. But it is obviously also possible to opt for
unity of character in all components of the material and play this countersubject with long but slightly detached notes.
A good tempo balance between the prelude and its fugue is reached by
transforming a triplet (i.e., three eighth-notes in the pulse of the prelude)
into a duplet (i.e., into two quarter-notes in the pace of the fugue). The
proportion thus reads:
1 measure
corresponds with
measure
in the prelude
in the fugue.
(Approximate metronome settings: 72-80 for one prelude bar, 108-120 for
one beat in the fugue.)

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The fugue features three ornaments: the slide in E2 (and, correspondingly, in E5a), the cadential mordent in U: m. 22 (not included in the fair
copy but deriving from a copy, presumably because Bach regarded this
conventional ornament as self-evident), and the compound ornament toward
the end of E5 (see U: m. 38). The slide often causes confusion, probably
because it is conventionally printed slightly to the left of the note head it
ornaments. Yet just like other Baroque embellishments, it also begins on
the beat. Thus in m. 13, the right-hand downbeat G falls on the left-hand
C. It is followed, in 32nd-notes or faster, by A and a B that is sustained for
the remainder of the note value. Correspondingly, in m. 29 the left hand
plays C-D-E with the C (not the E) coinciding with the middle-voice F.
The cadential ornament in m. 22 is a simple mordent, beginning on the
upper neighbor note and consisting of a double shake: E-D-E-D. The
symbol for the complex ornament in m. 38 asks for a turn progressing into
a trill. Because of its tied ending and delayed resolution, this trill should
conclude without a suffix. The result is, in 16th-note motion, an initial
A-G-F-G.4 This is followed by six A-G groups. (In order to further
enhance the suspension it is possible to play only five A-G groups and
stop a little earlier before the bar line.)
The most prominent feature of this fugue, in terms of design, is the
striking analogy of mm. 1-12 and mm. 42-53. Here are the details: The
order, position, and keys of the three initial entries recur identically. The
surrounding counter-subjects also correspond (although mm. 42-46 now
feature an additional voice, owing to the fact that the ensemble in a fugue
never drops back to a single voice). As has been shown above, the
subsequent episode, E6 in mm. 48-51, is a variation of E1, with its initial
half-measure extension serving to modulate. The subject entry that follows
also corresponds with the redundant entry in the first section although, as
a result of the modulation in the episode, mm. 51-53 now sound on the
tonic and not on the dominant as did mm. 10-12. However, the order and
position of the voices are the same. The analogy of these two entries is
additionally enhanced by the fact that they are the only ones in the entire
fugue to be accompanied by CS3. This prominent analogy defines the
major structural traits of the fugue. In addition, the episodes play an
important role in determining the design.
4

The pitch of the lower auxiliary needs a comment. The harmony underlying these
measures of retransition is normally interpreted as the dominant, represented by an
alternation of dominant-six-four (C major with G in the bass) and dominant-seventh
chords. If this interpretation is adopted, i.e., if G major acts as a dominant, its seventh is F
(heard repeatedly in these bars), whereas its leading note in ornaments should be F.

C major

85

There are three instances in the C-major fugue where the concluding
force of an episode sheds light on Bachs intention of partitioning the work
into sections. The first is the cadential close that ends E2 at the beginning
of m. 14. The second is the explicit cadence in the middle of m. 22, already
mentioned repeatedly. The third is more complex. In E5a, the variation of
E2 seems to conclude something in the middle of m. 30. However, this
cadential close is followed by the variation of E1 that, as has been shown,
makes no attempt to launch any kind of new development. Neither does the
ensuing segment in which the tension is suspended. To see these three
episode segments follow one another is already unusual enough. To see
them trying to surpass each other in tensionlessness is even stranger.
However, it is this very strangeness, this long retreat from the active
striving in the piece, which gives this portion its particular effect: as a
protracted buffer before the last section of the fugue it succeeds in
highlighting the symmetrical design.
Finally, looking for features that might indicate section beginnings we
find that two subject entries in this fugue appear in reduced ensemble.
They are the first minor mode statement in mm. 14-16 (which is thus triply
justified in being regarded as a section beginning) and the first entry in the
recapitulating final section.

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The harmonic outline confirms the other findings: The first four subject
statements remain in the home key of C major. The following two are in
minor modethe relative minor keys of the tonic and the dominant
respectively. E minor, the relative of the dominant G major, is also the
key in which Bach concludes this section with a cadential formula. The
episode segment E4b modulates back to C major, and all remaining
subject entries are presented in the home key, in the conventional
alternation of tonic and dominant.
The analogy of the first and last sections requires correspondences also
on the level of dynamics. Both times, the first three entries sound gaily
bouncing, with a slight increase caused by the growing number of voices.
The redundant fourth subject statements regain this mood after the very
timely pickup of tension at the end of the respective episodes. The second
section also shows a slight tension increase between its two subject statements, mainly because of the growth from two to three voices.
In the third section, however, the first of the two entries most probably
contains more tension than its successor. The main reasons are that it
appears at a point of heightened expectancy (after the two incomplete
subject statements) and that, in unmodified ensemble strength, the subject
appears in the upper voice, making it appear more powerful than the
following statements middle-voice position. This decreasing tendency is
then continued through the long string of episode segments that, as has
been shown above, become ever lighter.
Among the four sections of this fugue, the analogous outer ones take
the lead. The second section sounds softened, due both to its minor mode
and its shorter extension. In the third section, the four measures containing
the two subject statements return to the home (major) key but contain no
special features that would emphasize them in any way. While they may
sound more self-assured than the preceding minor-mode entries, this mood
is overshadowed by the nearly sixteen measures of surrounding episodic
material.

WTC I/4 in C minor Prelude


The C minor prelude is based on motivic development at different
levels, from faithful imitation and sequencing to partial quotation and
rather free adaptation. Its texture is polyphonic without strict part writing.
The beginning and the end are written in four voices, occasionally splitting
to five; however, large portions in between feature only three or even two
parts, without clearly definable exits and re-entries of the voices.
The first cadence is deceptive, with a conclusion on the downbeat of
m. 5: after the D7 harmony in mm. 3-4, the melodic progression in all
voices seems to announce the return to a tonic chord, which would consist
of C/E/G/C. However, the bass does not resolve but remains tied, and
the alto rises to A instead of remaining on G. The resulting chord is thus
a polytonal mixture of the tonic and the chord on step VI.1 The nature of
this chord makes it very unlikely that this cadential close is intended as a
structural caesura. The design of the left-hand part corroborates this by
featuring descending double sixths in mm. 5-7 as an extension of the sixth
in which the two lower voices ended the cadence.
The harmonic progression then modulates to the relative key E major
and draws to a close on the downbeat of m. 8. Although the feeling of a
structural close will be much stronger a few measures later owing to the
pronounced cadential formula there, this perfect resolution into the related
key has to be regarded as structurally relevant, particularly since it coincides with the completion of a melodic idea. The more obvious caesura
after the middle beat of m. 14 marks the close of the following structural
unit with a cadence in G minor. A shorter fourth section consists exclusively of three dominant-seventh chords and their resolutions: mm. 15-20 =
F7 / B major, G7 / C minor, C7 / F minor. This leads to the longest section
in this composition: a harmonic progression with several near-cadences
thwarted by last-minute deviations. As if in symmetry to the beginning
there is another deceptive cadence in m. 35, delaying the perfect cadence,
which materializes only in the preludes final measure.
The analogous harmonic structure of the two-measure subphrases in
mm. 15-20 apart, there are several structural correspondences in this
prelude: U: mm. 5-81 . 204-234 transposed a third lower, thus transforming
1

C E G + A C E. Note that this combination of pitches is exactly the same as that in the
final interrupted cadence of the C minor fuguecompare fugue m. 112 with prelude m. 5.

87

88

WTC I/4

the cadence in E major to one in C minor. This return to the tonic passes
almost unnoticed because of Bachs decision to continue and develop the
same melodic idea throughout the next measures. Moreover, mm. 8-10
recur in mm. 23-25, transposed and with the middle and lower voices
varied. (See also the remote resemblances in the following measures.)
The character of the piece is calm, yet the time signature might present
a pitfall in terms of tempo: the calm character expresses itself by means of
a half-measure pulse. (The harmonic tempo, proceeding exclusively in
half-measure steps, supports this pace.) While these pulses should convey
a generously swinging motion, the actual tempo of the quarter-notes is not
really slow. The appropriate articulation is an overall legato not even
interrupted for cadential-bass formulas since Bach writes all of them
explicitly with tied notes (see e.g. mm. 13, 34, and 38).
There are several ornaments. The opening phrase features arpeggiated
chords, grace-note groups, single grace notes, and a mordent. The arpeggios
and the grace-note pairs represent basically the same musical feature; both
are played on the beat and fast. The notes are sustained whenever they are
essential to fill the chord (as in mm. 1, 3, and 12); they sound equally fast
but unsustained whenever they contain pitches also provided for by other
voices (as in mm. 2, 4, and 8). The single grace-notes (see mm. 2 and 4)
are appoggiaturas since they represent harmonies different from the main
notes, and must be played with due weight. Appearing in the context of
imitating voices, in which case the rules of polyphony require the retreating voice to give way to the imitating one, these appoggiaturas are best
resolved after one quarter-note each. The mordent, approached stepwise by
the appoggiatura, begins on the main note and consists of a single
three-note shake. Both the grace-note (appoggiatura) and the mordent on
the main note (resolution) should be transferred to all recurrences of the
same motif, wherever harmonic and structural progressions allow this.2
The grace-notes in the second phrase are somewhat more problematic.
Harmonically, they represent appoggiaturas and thus require time. Melodically, they interrupt the smooth scalar motion and create note repetition.
Rhythmically, they would have to be played in 16th-notes. Perhaps most
importantly in terms of the impact on the character of the prelude: as this
splitting of an eighth-note falls on the final note of a motif, an impression
of congestion arises together with a blur of the phrasing. These reasons
combined suggest that it may be advisable to do without these ornaments.
2

Left hand m. 3 add grace-note A on beat 1, mordent on G beat 2, right hand m. 4 add
mordent on D, and left hand m. 9 add grace-note C, mordent on B.

C minor

89

The third phrase introduces a number of new ornaments. In m. 11, the


appoggiatura in the middle voice resolves on the second eighth-note; the
inverted mordent uses A-G-A. As the second half of the measure is a
sequence of the first half, one might consider adding the grace-note E
before the D. Whether Bach left it out purposefully to avoid the resulting
pitch progression E-D-E, or whether it is one of the many corresponding
segments in which ornamentation is optional, is hard to decide. In m. 13,
the grace-note is also one eighth-note long, and the turn should sound
B-A-G-A in regular 16th-notes.
Within the fourth phrase, the varied sequence mentioned above appears
without any of the ornaments that decorated the model. Performers may
wish to consider adding the three inverted mordents:
on C (U: m. 166, corresponding with that on B in m. 146),
on G (L: m. 174, corresponding with that on F in M: m. 154),
on C (L: m. 181, corresponding with that on B in L: m. 161).
In the fifth section, the eighth-note graces (U: mm. 21-23) should be
dealt with along the same lines as those in mm. 5-8. In mm. 26-28, two of
the three ascending lines in the bass end with an inverted mordent, and the
same ornament should probably be added on F in m. 28. In m. 29, the
compound symbol above the treble note B indicates a mordent preceded
by an appoggiatura (see the written-out example of the vertical stroke +
mordent that Bach gives in the Table of Ornaments, reprinted in all Urtext
editions). The appoggiatura C should be sustained for one eighth-note, the
ornamental notes B-C-B-C falling on the bass note E and the final B
on the lower-voice D.
There are two relevant motifs. They are introduced in the first and
second phrases of the prelude respectively. M1 is presented by the treble
voice in mm. 1-2. It begins and ends on the fifth degree of the C minor
scale. Its first half measure features the ornamented broken chord G-E-C
in eighth-note motion. Hardly is the keynote reached than it is propelled
suddenly and enhanced by an arpeggioup to the octave. In the motifs
second half, a stepwise descent in dotted rhythm leads to a long final note.
The character of this motif might be described as mild and graceful. As for
the dynamic design, the sudden octave jump offers itself as the obvious
climax toward which the tension in the first half measure rises and from
which it then descends. Within the preludes first phrase, M1 is imitated
(mm. 2-3) and sequenced on the dominant (mm. 3-4). In the imitation of
this sequence (mm. 4-5), the slight abbreviation at the end is due to the
phrasing in the right hand. For the same reason, grace-note and mordent
are not appropriate here.

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WTC I/4

The only other complete quotation of M1 occurs in mm. 8-9. There are,
however, quite a few developments, deriving mainly from the first half bar.
In mm. 9-10, the right-hands threefold use of this partial motif brings
about a rise in tension. The middle voice answers with a single quotation
that leaves out the octave leap (m. 10-11), and the lower voice continues
with its own little build-up in a twofold motion whose final steps point
downward (m. 11-12). A similar development of M1 can be witnessed in
mm. 24-28: the threefold rise in the right-hand line corresponds with that
in mm. 9-10, and the lower voice also answers with a twofold quotation of
the partial motif, which this time takes up the original octave leap. It is
then extended through two additional sequences with upturned endings,
resulting in a powerful increase toward the peak note F (m. 28m). All the
while the right hand uses the half-measure figure for a gradual descent. A
third development of this kind involves only the right hand: mm. 30-31
feature a fourfold rising motion that prepares a climax on the G at m. 321.
These developments aside, there are short quotations of thematic components that mainly serve to create overall unity. The partial motif frames
the end of the third phrase by appearing in m. 12 (twice) and in m. 14, it
wanders through the voices in the fourth phrase (see the almost continuous
motion from L: m. 15 to M: m. 18), and concludes this section (M: m. 20).
Two further quotations appear toward the end of the piece (L: m. 34 and
M: m. 37). The rhythmic figure from the center of M1 also occurs independently (mm. 9-11, 15, 17, 21-27, 30-31, 35, 36, and 38). Even the cadential
formulas in mm. 13-14 and 34-35 rely in their leading voices on this
rhythmic figure.
M2 is exactly one measure long. First presented in mm. 5-6, where it
begins after the downbeat and ends on the first eighth-note of the following
measure, it consists of an ascending broken chord that brings with it a
natural though soft increase in tension, and a falling scale that resolves this
tension. This motif only appears twice in the prelude: in mm. 5-7 where the
model is followed by two descending sequences, and in mm. 20-23 where
the same progressionmodel plus two descending sequencesis extended
through a fourth sequence whose end melts into the M1 development of
mm. 23-28.
The preludes overall dynamic level remains gentle. As the tension
rises slightly through the first phrase and falls through the descending
sequences of the second, there is an initial furtive climax in the middle of
m. 5. The second overall climax occurs in the third phrase. While it is
somewhat stronger than the first, it is weakened by the fact that the treble
reaches it in the middle of 10, the bass only on the downbeat of m. 12.

C minor

91

The fourth phrase features three dynamic curves in its three subphrases.
They gradually rise in intensity, yet none of them is important enough to
serve as an overall climax. The more significant peak follows at the beginning of the long section where, corresponding with the two initial phrases
of the piece, it falls on the first peak note of M2, at the end of m. 20.
The three most powerful climaxes in the prelude are thus:
right hand,
middle of m. 25,
left hand,
middle of m. 28,
both hands together, downbeat of m. 32.
Thereafter, the tension recedes (no accent on A in m. 33!). The final
passage, after the interrupted cadence in mm. 34-35, features an extremely
soft, subdued build-up through mm. 35-36 to the downbeat of m. 37.

WTC I/4 in C minor Fugue


The subject begins with a whole-note in m. 1 and ends four notes later
with a return to the keynote. The quarter-note C on the downbeat of m. 4
completes a full cadence, since the whole-note D in the third measure,
representing both the subdominant and the following dominant harmony
(for more details see below), finds its resolution onto the tonic on this C.

92

WTC I/4

With its length of a mere five notes,


this compact little unit is one of the
most condensed subjects in Bachs
Well-Tempered Clavier. The subjects
five notes define a single, indivisible
phrase. The pitch range is extremely limited: the keynote is surrounded by
only one note below and two notes above it. Three of the four intervals are
seconds. The remaining interval, however, makes all the difference. This
seemingly inconspicuous little curve features in m. 2 the rarest of hightension intervals, the diminished fourth between B and E.
With regard to the rhythmic pattern, it is necessary to look beyond this
subject at the other components of the thematic material. The subjects
three different note valueswhole-note, half-note, and quarter-noteare
later complemented by much rhythmic variety including eighth-notes and
frequent syncopations, particularly in the form of half-notes tied to a
quarter-note on the following downbeat.
In determining what kind of dynamic design may be expressed in the
brief five-note phrase with regard to its melodic make-up, rhythmic shape,
and implied harmonic progression, one finds that the subject of this fugue
allows for two rather different interpretations. The choice depends on how
the individual performer values the facts mentioned above:
Performers who perceive the specific power emanating from the
diminished fourth in m. 2 will interpret this striking interval as the
subjects center of tension. This concept requires a tempo slow
enough to allow for the melodic step to be fully savored.
Performers who, encouraged by the alla breve time signature, wish
to focus on rhythm, may feel that the long D in m. 3 carries the
climax. Harmonically, this also makes sense as the beginning of
this note represents the subdominant field within the cadence. This
concept, in order to sound consistent, implies a generally faster
tempo for the whole piece. There should also then be less emotional
emphasis on the climax than in the first interpretation.
The choice between these two approaches is so much a matter of
personal inclination that any academic reasoning would seem out of place.
However, one little warning for performers: avoid trying to serve two
masters at one time. An adherence to the second concept will necessarily
have to under-emphasize the interesting interval in favor of the rhythmic
pulse. Equally, an adherence to the first concept cannot, at the same time,
stress the rhythmic element. In either case the subject should convey great
calm together with a peculiarly intense, introverted excitement.

C minor

93

The subject appears twenty-nine times in this fugue. (As this is a


five-part fugue and fruitless discussions about whether there are two altos,
two tenors etc. should be avoided, v1, v2, v3, v4, v5 is here used to refer to
voice one, voice two etc.)
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
8.
9.
10.

m. 1-4
m. 4-7
m. 7-10
m. 12-15
m. 14-17
m. 19-22
m. 22-26
m. 25-29
m. 29-33
m. 32-35

v5
v4
v3
v2
v1
v4
v4
v3
v5
v3

11. m. 35-39 v4
12. m. 38-41 v3
13. m. 44-48 v2
14. m. 48-51 v1
15. m. 51-54 v4
16. m. 54-57 v2
17. m. 59-62 v1
18. m. 66-69 v1
19. m. 73-76 v5
20. m. 76-80 v1

21.
22.
23.
24.
25.
26.
27.
28.
29.

m. 81-84
m. 89-92
m. 94-96
m. 95-97
m. 96-98
m. 97-100
m. 100-102
m. 107-109
m. 112-115

v4
v1
v1
v2
v1
v5
v4
v1
v2

Modifications of the subject occur both rhythmically and melodically,


both at the beginning and at the end of the subject: At the beginning, the
interval adjustment characteristic for tonal answers occurs only once, in
mm. 12-13. More frequent are rhythmic alterations: the first note may be
shortenedoften to a half-note (m. 7), once even to an eighth-note (the
upbeat to m. 49). At the end, the resolving note appears in many guises. It
may come early, thus falling on an unaccented beat and sounding harmonically wrong (mm. 14-15). It may also be delayed (as in m. 46) or reached
indirectly (as in m. 41). It may fall on a beat so unlikely for a resolution
that it is not felt as such (as in mm. 50-51), or it may appear integrated into
another melodic unit (as in mm. 57 and 62). Finally, it may even be
completely missing (as in mm. 94-98).
A small but emotionally influential modification occurs in the middle
of the phrase. The diminished fourthan interval essentially characteristic
of the minor scalemay give way to a perfect fourth whenever the subject
is stated in the major mode (as in mm. 29-35 and 54-57). Whenever this
happens, the next interval, originally a semitone, is adjusted correspondingly to a whole-tone descent.3
3

The note group D C F E in v1 mm. 54-57, however, is not a subject entry. The combination of an initial major second with a perfect fourth is too unlikely, and assuming a
stretto at this early stage in the fugue would mean ignoring Bachs design, which seems so
consciously to reserve the stretto intensification for later.

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Summing up all these modifications we obtain an amazing result: the


only feature in this subject to remain unaltered throughout the fugue is the
rhythmic pattern of two half-notes in the subjects second measure. And
while parallel statements of the subject are not used, there are a few strettos
toward the end of the fugue (see entries 23 to 26 in mm. 94-99).
The C-minor fugue is widely known to be a triple fugue. This term
indicates that two of the prominent ideas beside the subject do not behave
as mere companions but lead lives of their own. Yet this does not necessarily exclude the existence of a counter-subject. And indeed, at the point
where one expects the first companion to enter, there appears a line that is
characteristic, independent, and recurs later (see v5 mm. 4-8 D to D). The
only detail of this counter-subject that is a bit confusing is its length: CS
surpasses the length of the subject it is supposedly accompanying. (Yet, as
the following will show, a different concept of phrase length is improbable.) CS is taken up, albeit without its first note, in voice 4 (see A in m. 7
to G in m. 11). Thereafter, it never appears again in its full range. There
are, however, several segments that qualify as separate building blocks in
this fugue. These shall be investigated briefly.
One immediately obvious segment to recur separately derives from the
end of CS. It consists of a syncopation (see mm. 6-7: F), sometimes approached with an upbeat (a quarter-note or two eighth-notes), and followed
by a stepwise descent ending in a smooth hook. This CS segment will be
called M1; its frequent appearances can be verified in the five-part sketch.
Note that M1 occurs with greatest density in the first section (mm. 1-221),
which is built in such a way that it generates a powerful dynamic increase,
brought about both by the rising order of statements and by the increasing
number of voices. Owing to its gesture of relaxation, the effect M1 exerts
in this context is one of soothing or balancing. The first segment of CS
also revolves around a syncopation, one that is followed by an inverted
mordent figure (see mm. 4-5). This figure is then dropped and forgotten for
a long time, but resurfaces in mm. 41-42 (v3) and in mm. 45-46 (v1)
before eventually turning out to have been a forerunner of the third subject
(see below). Because of this final relationship with the third subject, it is
here called M3. A last element deserving attention is the rising tetrachord
introduced in mm. 17-19 (see v5: G to C, B to E). It accompanies the
subject particularly between mm. 23 and 35 where, quite in contrast to the
effect of the above-mentioned M1, it reinforces the dynamically increasing
tendency. From m. 35 onward it turns into the upbeat of the fugues second
subject (see below). Because of this later integration, it shall be referred to
as M2.

C minor

95

After having identified the counter-subject as well as the smaller motifs


that, in part, derive from it, the stage is set for the other subjects in this triple
fugue. Their appearance is connected to, though not entirely corresponding
with, the fugues large-scale ternary design. Looking at the composition
without knowing much about it, one would be able to distinguish three
major parts: a first part featuring only occasional eighth-notes (mm. 1-35),
a second part displaying a constant flow of eighth-notes (mm. 36-93), and
a third part where the eighth-notes are again abandoned (mm. 94-115). The
second subject (S2) emerges at the outset of the second part, in the voice
that moves in eighth-notes. Just like the main subject, S2 appears with
various modifications. Trying to pinpoint its main features one finds an
upbeat (which, in its first statement, is the stepwise ascent of M2) followed
by an ornamental line of sequencing one-measure figures hiding a
whole-measure descent (see mm. 36-40: G, F, E, D, C). Both the exact
length, i.e., the number of measures expounding the ornamental figure, and
the exact metrical ending of the second subject remain open to constant
changes. The tension curve in this second subject, however, is quite
unmistakable: a short rise in the upbeat is followed by an extended release
in the descent. In comparison to the first subject, the intensity is considerably reduced. The character of S2 may be described as introverted
and relaxed.
The beginning of the fugues second large part also marks the resurrection of M3. As a pattern consisting of upbeat + syncopation + inverted
mordent, it can be detected already in mm. 36-38 (v5: G C B C) and,
even closer to the original, in mm. 39-41 (v4: B A G F E F G) and
mm. 45-46 (v1: D C B A B). When it finally discloses itself, the third
subject (S3) takes up the more outgoing variants among the traits of M3,
the leaping-fourth upbeat and the inverted mordent in eighth-note motion,
and adds, as a particular characteristic, the repeated-note splitting of the
syncopation. The third subjects character can be described as extroverted
and active. S3 plays a major role in this fugue, from its initiation in
mm. 49-51 (v3) to the end of
the composition. The dynamic
outline in S3 consists in a rise
toward the downbeat (i.e., to
the last of the repeated notes),
followed by a relaxation.

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Episodes are generally defined as subject-free passages. In a fugue


with three subjects, only those measures that do not feature any of the
subjects would therefore truly qualify. These are very few. In the first part
of the ternary design, before the entries of S2 and S3, there are only two
short stretches; these are matched later in the fugue by two more:
E1 mm. 102-122
E3 m. 88
E2 mm. 172-192
E4 mm. 1092 -1121
The most prominent feature in E1 is M1; the soothing quality of this
motif defines this first episode as a softening break that allows breathing
space before the plunge into the next span of tension build-up. E2 is
determined by M2. The role of this episode in the overall development of
tension is therefore that of a link continuing the tension increase. In E3, the
little M1 figure that seemed long forgotten is briefly recalled, thus giving
this episode again a calming quality.
Finally, E4 is conceived as a cadential close. Sounding as it does at the
end of a longer dominant pedal that had already provided the backdrop for
a tension increase, this cadence promises relief that it then withholds: its
final chord is an oddity and deserves more detailed discussion. Following
the dominant-seventh chord in m. 111 there are theoretically three different
resolutions listeners might expect: the tonic (C minor), the Picardy-third
modification of the tonic (C major), or the interrupted cadence with a
chord on step vi (A major). What Bach gives us is not one of these three
but a combinationand the oddest possible combination, for that matter.
The left hand in m. 112 plays the third A-C, representing the chord on vi,
while the right hand simultaneously intones the E-G-C of the Picardythird tonic. This results not only in a polytonal effect but also in an implied
clash between the implied fifth E of the A major chord and the sounding E
of the C major harmony. What Bach expresses by using this artful though
daring device seems to be this: the cadentially confirmed ending in the
home key at this moment still leaves so much unresolved tension that it
demands yet another pair of S1/S3 statements. Yet these should not sound
as a coda. Perhaps Bach created the incomplete harmonic resolution that
binds the final cadence as a necessary completion to the one in mm. 111112 in order to achieve this effect of belonging.
The complexity of the rhythmic pattern and the structural design in
conjunction with the predominance of stepwise motion in all but the S3
upbeat all favor the interpretation of this fugue as one of rather calm
character. Upon closer inspection of the emotional implications of this
character it becomes obvious that there is a distinct hierarchy within the
components of the thematic material: The main subject is defined by a

C minor

97

strong introverted urge, the second subject is generally lighter in its mood,
while the third subject shows a jolly, extroverted vivacity.
The three subjects appear in all possible combinations. Determining
what kind of mood or spirit results from each of these juxtapositions lays
a good foundation for an understanding of the entire composition.
The coupling of S1 + S2 brings about a quality that is more serene,
less urgent than that which determines the main subject when heard
alone (S1 introverted/intense + S2 introverted/relaxed).
In the S2 + S3 combination, all the darker drive has gone. What is
left is a momentarily intense quality, soon giving way to one of
relaxation (S2 introverted/relaxed + S3 extroverted/active).
Conversely, when S1 is paired with S3, two strong forces join,
expanding both inwardly and outwardly (S1 introverted/intense
+ S3 extroverted/active)
The range of tempo in this composition is confined on the one hand by
the basic character, which is rather calm, on the other hand by the time signature, which requires an alla breve pulse. Ideal is an eighth-note motion
that is unhurried but can nonetheless be clearly felt in half-measure groups.
The corresponding articulation requires legato for almost all melodic notes.
An exception can be made within the third subject where the first interval,
the ascending fourth, and the ensuing note repetitions may sound in a
bouncing non legato in order to give credit to the special outgoing mood
of this component of the material. The Urtext of this fugue does not
indicate any ornaments.
The relative tempo of the prelude to the fugue that does justice to their
characters sets larger metric units in proportion. Owing to the strong
half-measure feeling in both pieces, a good effect is achieved like this:
half a bar
corresponds with
one bar
in the prelude
in the fugue
(Approximate metronome settings: prelude beat = 100, fugue beat = 66.)
The fugues design is complex. Within the first large part, the full
ensemble of five voices is attained only transitorily in mm. 19-20; the fifth
entry and most of the redundant subject statement sound in still reduced
ensemble. After the ensuing cadence in mm. 21-22 the number of voices
drops to only three, a fact suggesting the beginning of a new round. This
second section ends in m. 35 in full ensemble and with a pronounced
cadence, followed again by a reduction of the ensemble to three voices.
The third section introduces the second subject, which sounds both
against the main subject and independently, both in its original shape and
in inversion (see mm. 41-44). In m. 49, the third subject enters for the first

98

WTC I/4

time. Its immediate combination with both S1 and S2 marks the beginning
of something new: the fourth section. From here to the end of the large
middle part, there are two structurally analogous progressions:
mm. 48-72
correspond with
mm. 73-93
5 three-subject juxtapositions : 4 three-subject juxtapositions
grouped 3 + 1 + 1
:
grouped 2 + 1 + 1
(mm. 48-57 / 59-62 / 66-69
:
mm. 73-79 / 81-84 / 89-92)
interspersed with two passages featuring only S2/S3
(mm. 57-58, mm. 62-64 : mm. 79-80, mm. 84-88)
rounded off by passages with distinct cadential-bass steps
(mm. 69-71
:
mm. 92-94)
After the end of these two sections, the fugues fourth and fifth, the second
subject is dropped. Instead of three-subject juxtapositions, the sixth section
begins with S1 and S3 in simultaneous stretto. All this together provides a
picture of six sections, with the following statements of the main subject:
S1:
I
mm. 1-22
v5, v4, v3, v2, v1, v4;
II
mm. 22-35
v4, v3, v5, v3;
III
mm. 35-48
v4, v3, v2;
IV
mm. 48-72
v1, v4, v2, v1-v1;
V
mm. 73-93
v5, v1, v4, v1;
VI
mm. 94-115
v1v2, v1v5, v4, v1, v2.
As both the second and the third subject enter considerably later, it is
to be expected that their own rounds do not entirely coincide with those
of the main subject. For the fifteen statements of the second subject, four
groups can be made out:
S2:
I
mm. 35-48
v1, v4, v5, v1;
II
mm. 49-65
v2, v3, v1, v2;
III
mm. 66-71
v5, v1;
IV
mm. 72-94
v3, v5, v2, v1, v4.
The third subject enters last but seems the strongest among its rivals. It
surpasses both the other subjects in the number of its statements. It catches
up with the second subject by already finishing its fourth round in m. 92;
and it equals the main subject insofar as it also builds a total of six rounds.
The 37 entries of the third subject are as follows:
S3:
I
mm. 49-64
v3, v1, v5, v2, v4, v1;
II
mm. 64-73
v3v5, v2, v3, v2;
III
mm. 74-84
v4, v2, v5, v3;
IV
mm. 84-92
v4v2, v5, v5;
V
mm. 92-101
v1v2, v4v3-v4v3, v2v4,v1, v5;
VI
mm. 102-115 v4v3, v2v4, v3+v2v4, v3.

C minor

99

The harmonic outline will here be described with reference to the main
subject. Its first six statements, all on the tonic or dominant of C minor,
are concluded with a cadential close in G minor in m. 21-22. The next
four entries effect a modulation to the relative major key, through F minor,
C minor, and B major to E major, with a cadential close in m. 34-35. The
third section finds S1 returned to the C minor field. It closes, interlocked
with the beginning of the next round, in C major at m. 491. The fourth
section begins firmly anchored in the subdominant, with two entries in F
minor and one in the relative key of A major. However, the last two S1
statements revert to C minor, with the repeated entry in the first voice
ending in a floating position on the dominant-seventh chord. The fifth
section confirms the return to the tonic by placing all its four S1 statements
on C itself and concluding this part with a cadential close in C minor
(mm. 93-94). The final section basically remains on the tonic. Stretto
entries occur on various pitch levels but all relating to an implied key of C
minor. From m. 105 onward the G pedal, giving way only momentarily to
its leading-note F, prepares the end of the composition, which is reached
with a final subject statement over a tonic pedal.

100

WTC I/4

Within the first section, a gradual rise in tension is brought about by


the increasing number of voices, enhanced by their rising entering order.
As has been mentioned above, there are forces that serve to hold the
tension back and prevent a premature full-fledged climax: the relaxing
tendency of M1 and the fact that this section, belying the obvious expectation for a fugal exposition, does not close in full ensemble.
The second section brings the modulation to the major mode and with
it a six-bar-long stretch in five voices. In addition, the calming influence of
M1 is replaced by the forward-pushing gesture of M2. Thus the second
tension increase is considerably stronger than the first. It creates the
impression that it means to unite the first two sections under one common
target. After this, the third section maintains a low tension profile as
there is neither an increase in the number of voices nor any harmonic or
structural device that might engender a rise.
The two analogous sections that follow describe analogous dynamic
curves. The climaxes fall at the respective beginnings, where three-subject
juxtapositions create a state of very high intensity that abates only very
gradually, through the interspersed S2/S3 paired statements, the following
entry group, and the final cadential-bass steps. Toward the end of the
fourth section, this tension decay is melodically supported by spans of
chromatic descent. An equivalent in the fifth section can be observed in the
unexpected re-emergence of the soothing M1.
At the beginning of the sixth section, the previously achieved intensity
of three simultaneous subject statements is surpassed by the combination
of the two stronger ones that, for several bars, now both sound in stretto.
(Whether such unheard-of density can actually be grasped by the human
ear and mindmost probably it cannotis beside the point, last but not
least because Bachs music was certainly to a large extent written For the
Greater Glory of God. But the effect of this immense density is undoubtedly stunning.)
The middle of this section then brings forth a sudden strong decline in
tension, enhanced by the chromatic descent in the uppermost voice (see
mm. 101-105). As this descent touches ground, it is met by the entry of the
dominant pedal. This gives new impetus to the tension, which rises again
much faster than it had previously fallen. A parallel statement of S3 tries to
surpass the earlier strettos in intensity and is supported by the harmonic
sidestep to the diminished seventh chord. Even the following cadence does
not yet bring about the deserved relief but instead a climax of yet different
means: the momentarily bitonal cadential close mentioned above.

WTC I/5 in D major Prelude


Underneath a virtuoso surface structure the D-major Prelude is entirely
determined by harmonic processes. Its 16th-note pattern does not develop
motifs. Any recurrences are transpositions that occur exclusively in connection with analogies in the harmonic development.
The first cadence ends at m. 31, after a harmonic progression from the
tonic (m. 1) via ii7 and V7 (m. 2) back to the tonic. This cadential close
comes with a subtle structural break. The next harmonic progression
modulates to the dominant. During this modulation, the right hands ornamental line resembles that of the first cadence (compare mm. 3 and 4 with
m. 2); its end in particular is an exact transposition of the previous end
(mm. 53-61 . 23-31). As before, this cadential close signifies the completion
of a structural unit. There are altogether eight closed harmonic progressions.
Note that each phrase begins with the second 16th-note in the right-hand
pattern. The upper/lower-case letters indicate major/minor keys:
mm. 1-31
DD
mm. 14-201 DG
mm. 3-61
DA
mm. 20-221 GG
mm. 6-121 Ae
mm. 22-251 GD
mm. 12-141 eD
mm. 25-35
DD
This prelude, like several others from the first volume of the WTC,
derives from a much shorter model in Bachs Note Book for Wilhelm
Friedemann. The original version comprises 22 measures. Of these, mm.
1-17 are retained unchanged, while mm. 19-20 can be found in mm. 27-28
of the WTC version. An interesting question is therefore whether the basic
binary form of the Wilhelm Friedemann version has only been extended,
or whether the addition of mm. 18-26 and 29-35 changes the structure.
No portion of the D-major prelude is repeated literally. There is, however, a striking five-measure analogy: the preludes beginning is restated in
the middle of the prelude in the subdominant key (mm. 1-61 . 20-251).
The modulation from tonic to dominant that takes place at the beginning of
the prelude thus serves, when launched from the subdominant, to return to
the home key in the manner of a typical Baroque recapitulation.
Furthermore, there are several smaller analogies: The end of the modulation in the second section recurs as a bracket in the subsequent section:
compare mm. 5-61 with mm. 6-71 and 10-111, and the beginning of this
101

102

WTC I/5

modulation then reappears with some interval adjustments at the outset of


the ensuing section: mm. 3-43 . 14-153. A further correspondence includes
2 measures built on a pedal note, followed by another 1 measures that
conclude the modulation (compare mm. 8-121 with mm. 16-201). The bass
line of these two passages differs slightly while the right-hand part is an
almost exact transposition, with only a tiny adjustment in the last half
measure.
The choice for the preludes tempo should be made after considering
the following two aspects: The bass line is composed as a hidden two-part
structure. This might indicate that an alla-breve pulse should be made
perceptible behind the given 4/4 time signature. The treble shows a pitch
pattern that is easily unmasked as an ornamentation of broken chords. A
melodious treatment of this line would mislead listeners into expecting a
true melody that then does not materialize. The appropriate tempo is therefore fairly fluent: fast enough to give the impression both of a half-measure
pulse and of a non-melodious, arabesque-like right-hand pattern. The
corresponding articulation is legato or, better still, quasi legato for the right
hand. The left hand plays non legato; because of the obvious rests in the
bass part, this indication affects the touch and coloring of the notes rather
than their actual duration.
Exceptions from the patterns established in m. 1 only begin with m. 27
and become more prominent from m. 32 onward. Here, a peak-note line in
the right hand is marked as a suddenly emerging melodious upper voice.
Owing to the features of this line, a syncopated rhythm and a dosido
formula, legato playing is indispensable here. (This can either be done by
fingering 45 on each of the three syncopations, or by playing these notes
with 454 right away). At the same time, the newly created tenor
should sound non legato. The same holds true for the second half of m. 34
where the soprano takes up the typical closing formula while the simultaneous quarter-notes in the left hand continue the non-legato touch.
The only ornaments appearing in this prelude are the two arpeggios in
mm. 33 and 34. They invite the same questions as the arpeggios in the
C-minor prelude: Is the top of the arpeggiated chord primarily a melodic
note, or is it primarily part of the chord, with no more melodic value than
any note in the chords middle register? The answer, as can easily be seen
from the score, will be different for the two cases. In m. 33, the treble D is
both an immediate continuation of the preceding melodic motion and the
point of departure for the continuing line. In m. 34, by contrast, the logical
target of the run in the preceding bar is the lowest note C, while the
upper-register B is only a chordal note. Admittedly, this B expresses high

D major

103

tension, representing the diminished seventh of this chord and moving up


chromatically to the B in the subsequent chord. Yet it is very important to
realize that neither peak note carries the melodic flow, which can rather be
traced like this:
mm. 32 . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33 . . . . . . . . . . . . 34 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35
F 2 E 2 D 2 C 2 D 2 . . . . . . . . . (D1) C 1 D 1 D 2 C 2 D 2
Recognizing this melodic progression is particularly vital for performers
as it will influence the execution of the two arpeggios: In the first arpeggio,
the melodic note D should sound on the beat, together with the bass note
A, while the remaining notes of the arpeggiated chord follow swiftly.
Conversely in the second arpeggio, the melodic target is the C at the base
of the chord. In keeping with the rules of Baroque ornamentation, it will at
any rate fall on the beat; the treble B sounds here at the end of the broken
chord, slightly after the actual downbeat.
The preludes initial two measures establish the D-major key with a
simple cadence. The harmonic curve contains no unexpected features; the
subdominant harmony, here represented by a ii7 chord, is reached in the
first half of m. 2, followed by the dominant and the resolution onto the
tonic. The ensuing modulation builds up slightly more tension toward a
climax, in the first half of m. 4, on the inverted seventh chord that brings
the shift from one key area to the next. After this harmony, the tension
subsides gradually until the resolution on the downbeat of m. 6.
mm. 1
2
3
4
5
6
p
mp p
mp + mp p
The next measures represent a transposition of the preceding ones, with
a similar climax in the first half of m. 7. The three final notes in m. 7 then
announce a change, which materializes in the F pedal extended for two
and a half measures. During these measures (mm. 8-9), the tension that had
just begun to decrease after the climax, rises again. This rise is more
gradual than the former increases because it is not triggered by an active
harmonic step but rather by the persistence of the pedal note. At the end of
the pedal, m. 10 is the transposition of m. 5. In keeping with this structural
analogy, the tension-decrease should end on the downbeat of m. 11 where
the target harmony of this modulation, the E-minor chord, is reached. Yet
Bach decides not to settle on this harmony. As if the target key had been
reached too suddenly after the build-up over the pedal, he adds another
measure confirming the E-minor tonality at m. 121. Then, with a swift turn,
he reverts to the key of D major, which is consolidated by an extra measure
on the tonic (m. 12 = modulation back to D, m. 13 = confirmation of D).

104

WTC I/5

These two measures, which in the harmonic development represent a


modulation of their own, thus appear more like an appendix to the previous
progression. The entire segment, expressed in terms of dynamics, will
appear somewhat like this:
mm. 6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14

+
p
mf
mp mf
mf
mp mp p
p
A process roughly similar to that described above occurs in the subsequent section. The first measure is yet another version of the active part of
the modulation. After a renewed climax in the first half of m. 15, the
tension begins to fall but is suspended in its descent by a pedal of 2
measures on B (mm. 16-18). Here, the hidden two-part structure that so far
characterizes the bass pattern is replaced briefly by a broken chord pattern,
thus giving these two measures the even larger frame of whole-measure
pulses. At the conclusion of the pedal, m. 18 seems to lead to a new key
(A minor). Yet again this key is not confirmed but passed through on the
way to G major. This time, however, there are no repetitions of the two
target harmonies. As in the corresponding measures discussed above, this
final small-scale modulation sounds like an appendix to what precedes it.
mm. 14
15
16
17
18
19
20
p
mp + mp mp + mf mp p
The recapitulation of the first five measures should, of course, retrace
the dynamic outline from the beginning of the prelude; in other words:
mm. 20
21
22
23
24
25
p
mp p
mp + mp p
The preludes last section begins with two measures that prepare the
final pedal on the dominant. Unlike similar final pedals in other preludes,
this dominant bass note is not preceded by its leading-tone. Here, instead,
this leading-tone is made up for in the middle of the pedal (m. 302-31)
where it combines with virtuoso peak notes in the right hand and thus
creates a strong emotional climax. After this interruption, the dominant
pedal continuespartly as a sustained note, partly implied under the
cadenza-like setting of the right hand in mm. 33-34and only resolves
onto the tonic in the very last measure.
For the dynamic design this means a steady increase, with only slight
inflections on the surface in those measures where the harmony seems to
come to a halt, i.e., mm. 30-31 and m. 33. The overall dynamic development in this section may be described as follows:
mm. 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35
p
mp mp mp + mf mf mf + pf pf
pf + f

D major

105

The following diagram attempts to capture the dynamic layout:

WTC I/5 in D major Fugue


This subject is roughly one measure long. It begins after a quarter-note
rest at m. 12, ends at m. 21, and consists of an indivisible phrase. Its pitch
pattern features a predominance of steps interrupted by one major-sixth
leap. This interval is not one of the so-called high-tension intervals. The
rhythmic pattern includes three kinds of considerably different note values:
the longest (dotted eighth-notes) are six times as long as the shortest (32ndnotes). Later in the fugue, quarter-notes are added. The rhythmic organization alludes to a specific musical genre: The almost constant presence of
the dotted-note pair, interspersed with fast ornamental groups, is typical of
the French overture. The fact that the fugue is modeled on such a distinct
character piece accounts for most of the particularities that would, without
this background, seem disconcerting in a polyphonic composition.

106

WTC I/5

The subjects harmonic background is that of a simple progression,


with the sequence T S D7 T. All musical aspects of the phrase unite in
favoring one note for the climax: the dotted B in the center. Harmonically
this B represents the active step (the subdominant), melodically it is
reached in the most expansive leap, and
rhythmically it represents a surprisingly
long note after a bustling beginning. While
the tension-rise before this climax sets out
from the keynote in complete relaxation
and escalates in almost no time, the subsequent resolution is much more
gradual. As the subject ends on the third (F), the tension does not entirely
fall back to the level of the beginning.
There are altogether 12 subject statements in this fugue:
1. mm. 1-21 B
5. mm. 7-81 B
9. mm. 13-141 S
2. mm. 2-31 T
6. mm. 8-91 S
10. mm. 14-151 T
3. mm. 4-51 A
7. mm. 11-121 S
11. mm. 15-161 B
4. mm. 5-61 S
8. mm. 12-131 A
12. mm. 24-251 B+S

This subject undergoes none of the modifications otherwise encountered in Bachs fugues: it is never inverted, augmented, or diminished, and
its pitch and rhythm patterns remain untouched. The only exception occurs
in the final statement (B: m. 24-25), which some scholars do not consider
equal to the other statements as it is extended in both directions. The
bustling 32nd-note group from m. 244 is preceded by three similar groups
that gradually ascend in fourths toward the tonic level (see the groups from
B, E, and A). Symmetrical to these anticipating figures, the subjects
second half is extended with sequences in m. 26: the original notes of this
half, G F E D, beginning here with an octave displacement, recur in a first
transposition a fifth down (C B A G), while a second sequence is modified
to accommodate the cadential-bass steps (F E D A). Moreover, while
there are no real strettos in this fugue, the final entry is partially set in
parallelsand as the parallel begins one beat (i.e., one whole figure) later,
the deceptive impression of a stretto does arise for a moment. To complete
this unusual entry, in its second half and throughout its sequences the three
upper voices move in rhythmic alignment but in contrary motion (see the
right-hand chords in mm. 25-26). The strong homophonic element in this
final, extended subject statement enhances the outsider position it occupies
in the design of the fugue.

D major

107

The counter-subjects are unusual. They confirm that the French overture,
an essentially homophonic genre, is indeed one of this fugues god-parents.
The contour appearing in continuation of the first subject statement and
against the second entry consists of the notes G-F-E-D-E-A. It meets the
three basic requirements of a counter-subject: to be easily recognizable,
independent, and taken up again later in the fugue. Nonetheless the term
counter-subject seems a little too big for this simple unit, not least because
it sounds very much like a cadential-bass pattern and does not wander from
voice to voice as a polyphonic unit should, but remains essentially at the
base of the texture. A close look at the two other counter-subjects comes to
similar conclusions: Although they are formally independent of the subject
and taken up repeatedly in the course of the fugue, the fact that they
resemble closing formulas prevents one from taking them too seriously as
counter-subjects.
Dynamic shaping in the contrapuntal components allows for but little
independence. The cadential-bass pattern of CS1 should logically approach
the note that represents the subdominant as its climaxa climax thus
coinciding with that of the subject. Similarly, CS3 with its quarter-note/
half-note/quarter-note rhythm will accent the half-note, which falls again on
the same beat as the other climaxes.
Only the syncopated CS2 could sound
in diminuendoif it were left alone;
but more often than not its first note
falls together with that of the subject
beginning (see mm. 4, 5, 8, and 13).
The dynamics of these four parts thus
give a distinctly homophonic result.
Five times are the subject entries
interspersed with episodes: E1 = mm. 3-4, E2 = mm. 6-7, E3 = mm. 9-11,
and E4 = mm. 16-23. Among the three motifs that make up the episodes,
one, appearing in four of the five episodes, uses the 32nd- note figure from
the subjects beginning. Moreover, E4b (mm. 17-23) is dominated by the
dotted rhythm of the subjects second half. Hence, most of the episodes in
this fugue are closely related to its subject.
The close relationship with the primary thematic material explains
some of the dynamic developments in the episodes. M1 is an ornamented
version of the unresolved second counter-subject (mm. 32-41 . A: 132-141),
a descending step in decreasing intensity. In analogy to the subjects
second half, M3 also proceeds in decrescendo. Conversely, M2 with its
relationship to the subject head seems at first to build up tension. Yet there

108

WTC I/5

are three reasons that speak against this rendition: on occasion of its first
entrance in mm. 6-7 the motif ends with the neutral interval of a fourth. In
all other episodes it is launched on a strong beat and ends on a weak one.
And above all: the fugues structure would become incomprehensible were
all M2 entries to sound at the energy level as the subject head.
The role played by the episodes in the course of the fugue is also
puzzling. E1 with its underlying lines of parallel syncopations links two
pairs of subject entries within the same section. Z2 has the same effect,
although it marks the opening of a new section. By creating this relaxing
effect in front of what should be a new impulse, Bach seems to thread the
first two sections closely together, so that the feeling of a structural ending
only arises when a new tonal sphere is reached, i.e., with the downbeat of
m. 9 that establishes B minor. E3 is the first episode to be self-contained.
It seems intended as a buffer between two larger portions of the piece.
The pattern of the subjects statements in mm. 9-16 (S, A, S, T, B) with
its twofold soprano lead suggests a subdivision into two rounds. The
surprising deceptive cadence at the end of the alto entry and the M2 variant
accompanying the concluding tone underline a caesura that is otherwise
hardly tangible. By contrast, the extensive final episode is subdivided in
itself: the brief first segment (E4a) is a cadential close and thus brings a
feeling of relaxation (mm. 16-171), while the longer second segment (E4b)
develops the material of E3 (mm. 17-19 + 21 . 9-11). After descending
sequences in mm. 17-20 it uses a dense web of imitations to rebuild tension
within a single measure. The subsequent cadential close with its soprano
ascent to the third does not allow a complete resolution. After another
measure with M3 in three-part homophonic texture Bach repeats the
cadential close, now with conventional formulas in the soprano and bass.
The character of this fugue is determined more by the mood of a French
overture than by the conventions it shares with other polyphonic compositions. It is stately, lively but not light. Articulation in French overtures is
an intricate affair: The 32nd-note groups are legatovirtuoso figures that
should never sound melodious, which gives an indication for a minimum
tempo. The dotted-note groups reflect the stately character of this piece
best if played in a rather heavy non legato. The longer note values in the
subjects companions require three slightly different types of articulations:
neutral non legato in the cadential figure of CS1, a more melodious non
legato in CS3, and true legato in the dosido formula of CS2.
Of the 16th-notes in the upper part of M3, the first threea written-out
inverted mordentshould be played legato, while the fourth 16th-note
may sound as non legato as the accompanying voices.

D major

109

As the prevalent features in this fugue and its prelude are so different,
a risk of monotony does not arise. The tempo proportion may therefore be
simple: a half measure (two quarter-notes) in the prelude corresponds with
one quarter-note in the fugue. (Approximate metronome settings: prelude
beat = 120, fugue beat = 60.)
The fugue features three ornaments that, based on their print size in the
Urtext edition, stem from Bachs own hand: the cadential ornaments in
mm. 20 and 22 and the grace-note in m. 10. The first, a mordent, should
consist of four notes (D-C-D-C), with a triplet of 64th-notes against the
first two 32nd-notes in the left hand. The symbol for the compound trill in
m. 22 indicates a turn + mordent figure: D-C-B-C-D-C-D-C must be
fitted into less than a dotted eighth-note as the anticipation should come
after a short stop. A brilliant 64th-note execution, with the final C on or
before the dot, is the solution. The grace-note in m. 10 represents an appoggiatura, held for only a 16th-note to avoid the D-C parallel with the bass.
If played, it must be transferred to S: mm. 11 and B: mm. 18, 19, 20
Other ornaments stem from copies. They may or may not go back to
the masters suggestions but are worth considering. The subject could be
played with ornaments on two of its dotted notes. The first is an inverted
mordent (to be played with a whole-tone neighbor in all cases apart from
mm. 8 and 15). The second is a mordent with three or, better still in overture style, five notes. Both ornaments must be either omitted or included in
each subject statement. The mordent in M1 (T: m. 3) seems inconsequential
but sounds pleasant. The inverted mordent in m. 15 may serve to enhance
the fact that this subject statement, unlike all others, ends unresolved. The
two cadential ornaments in mm. 16 and 26 are very typical. Both begin
with the main note, ascend twice to the upper neighbor note, and end in a
suffix. Their rhythmic realization depends on a decision that, unique to this
particular fugue, has an impact on the rendition in general: Performers who
wish to underline the French-overture character of the fugue will render
these ornaments in the corresponding style, i.e., as fast as possible, concluding them in the time span of a dotted eighth-note or less and leaving
ample room for a point darrt. Performers preferring to stress the fugue
over the genre piece will interpret the compound symbol as an indication
for a note-filling trill; they will therefore sustain the initial main note for a
16th-note, followed by three regular 32nd-note-pairs.
This brings us to a rhythmic feature to be mentioned in this context.
French overtures are known to feature over-dotted rhythms: some of the
notes written with single dots were traditionally played as if they were
double-dotted. Again: whether one wishes to play this composition in the

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style of a true French overture or regard it as after all, a fugue depends


on personal taste. In the first case, however, it is vital to know that the
over-dotting does not apply equally to all dotted notes but only to those
that are complemented by a single note, fall on one of the strong beats in a
bar, and are not accompanied by lines that indicate normal dotting. To give
an example: over-dotted eighth-notes are possible in mm. 13, 21, 23, 43, 51,
and 53. Conversely, in the episodes in mm. 3-4 and 6-7 the strong-beat notes
are complemented by three faster notes that must sound in their written
value. In mm. 9-10, the spelled-out ornament of the upper part indicates
that the parallel voices, too, are to be played as written. As a result, the
following is possible: Subject and CS1 can be double-dotted in their
middle; the subjects closing note can be double-dotted when followed by
another subject statement (mm. 2, 5, and 12) or a sequence (mm. 25-26),
but must be simply dotted when followed by a group of notes (mm. 8 and
14). All episodes in this fugue seem not to allow for double-dotting, except
perhaps for the notes in the cadential formulas (mm. 203 and 223).
There are a few indicators of structural design in the surface features.
The first subject statement to sound in reduced texture after the initial
ensemble buildup is that in m. 11. The two-part setting here constitutes a
dramatic reduction from the full ensemble of mm. 5 and 7-8. Furthermore,
as mentioned above, the fugue features only one episode that manifestly
concludes a section: that in mm. 15-171. We can thus deduce that there are
two partitions in this fugue: one in m. 11 and another in m. 17. However,
the assumed first section with its six entries contains one subject statement
more than it should. This section must, therefore, be further subdivided
below the surface. The same holds true for the second section: what
points to sub-grouping here is not so much the number of entries but the
fact that the soprano sounds both at the beginning (mm. 11-121) and in the
middle (mm. 13-141). The third section is unusual in a fugue for other
reasons. It consists mainly of an extensive episode that is twice interrupted
by a cadential formula reconfirming the return to the home key. Its last
portion finally leads into a subject statement that sounds quite different
from what one might expect: luxuriantly extended at both ends, with the
expected contrapuntal texture abandoned for parallel motion in the first
and homophonic chords in the second half.
These results are supported by the harmonic development. After five
entries in D major, the sixth is in the subdominant. This launches a modulation that passes through the relative key of B minor (m. 9) and returns to
the subdominant G major (m. 11). The point at which this new key is
established coincides with the subject statement in reduced ensemble and

D major

111

thus indicates the beginning of a second section. Moreover, although the


fifth entry (mm. 7-81) sounds in full four-part texture, it is accompanied by
only one of the contrapuntal figuresthe other two are substituted by
episode-style material. This statement is also the first in the fugue to end
not in a resolved root position but instead in an inverted seventh chord. It
is thus weakened in two respects, and the concluding D7 chord links it to
the target key, G major, of the subsequent modulation. Bach seems to create
two subtly distinct structural levels. The first ten measures consist of two
only slightly separated sections, one that presents the buildup of the
ensemble in ascending order and introduces the three contrapuntal figures
but is harmonically static, and one that begins with the subject bolstered
only by CS1 and two neutral lines in homophonic pattern, is harmonically
weakened by its resolution onto a seventh chord tending toward the key of
G, but followed by an entry that provides both the expected new key and
the four-part ensemble with all three contrapuntal figures.
The second part shows a similar sub-surface split into two sections.
Indicators appear once again in the harmonic development: The statement
in m. 11, in the new key of G major and in two-part texture, is followed by
an entry in three-part ensemble modulating to the relative minor key. This
relates it directly to the sixth entry, which brought about the same modulation. The next entry returns to D major; in addition, its resolution chord
contains the seventh (C) that relates this statement to the fifth entry in the
fugue (the second sections first statement). Furthermore, the three-part
texture is retained and not yet complemented with the missing fourth

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voice. The next entry sounds in full ensemble and in the expected G major;
but again, its resolution comes with a seventh (this time the major seventh).
The third entry in this group reaches E minor, the subdominant relative and
the key of the explicit cadence at the end of this part. The ensuing sevenbar episode is longer than any of the preceding sections; it is even longer
than the entire six-measure second part.
Within the first part, the four subject statements of the first section
bring forth an increase in texture. The increase in loudness, however, is
comparably small because already the first statement should have fully
declared the stately character of the piece. Throughout sections I and II, the
tension remains almost unchanged. The two similar episodesone within
the first section, the other between the two sectionscause slight but inconsequential relaxations. It is only the third episode, at the end of the first
part, which succeeds in conveying a more noticeable tension-decrease.
Within the second part, the buildup is again caused by the growing
number of voices. While among the two statements in three-part texture,
the alto statement in mm. 12-13 with its exposed pitch position sounds
more outgoing than the soprano statement in mm. 13-14, the ensuing tenor
statement in four-part texture and the last entry in the bass, accompanied
by a parallel of CS3 in the two middle voices, share in the climax. As the
end of this statement does not bring about the expected harmonic resolution but keeps the middle voices in suspension, the tension is allowed to
subside only very gradually in the subsequent cadential measure.
The long episode opening the third part begins with the material from
the tension-releasing third episode and thus creates a sense of continued
relaxation until m. 201. Immediately following this, the fourfold imitative
interplay of M2 propels the tension so high that even the cadential pattern
with its typical closing-formula mordent cannot dissipate it fast enough.
Another measure with M3 and the varied repetition of the cadential close,
this time without the stormy 32nd-note stretto, is required to achieve relaxation. The following measure with its descending tendency continues this
direction. As a result the final, unusually extended subject statement with
its powerful parallel motion begins from a relatively soft level, only to
unfold its tremendous buildup all the more forcefully.
The relationship between the three parts is obvious from all that has
been said above: the first two parts are similarly built, with rises both times
from about mf to a good f. The third part seems to delay the outbreak, and
when it finally allows its only subject statement to make its declaration,
this by far outranks that of all the previous entries.

WTC I/6 in D minor Prelude


This prelude begins in purely harmonic design. Against this backdrop,
melodic ideas gradually emerge, repeatedly emancipating themselves from
simple bass patterns. The prelude should therefore be analyzed under the
criteria of both harmony and motivic development.
The first harmonic progression ends with the lower D that serves as a
tonic pedal during the first five beats of the piece. (In the right hand, the
conclusion falls on the fifth triplet-16th-note of m. 2). Since this progression unfolds above a pedal-note bass, it conveys the impression that
the piece has not yet quite begun. This cadential close is thus not to be
regarded as structural, but as a first segment of a larger unit. The full first
section modulates to the relative key, F major. It closes in m. 6 (right hand:
on the eighth triplet-16th-note). The structural caesura is enhanced by a
distinct cadential-bass pattern in mm. 5-6. Regarded under harmonic
aspects alone, the sections of this prelude are as follows:
I mm. 1-6 tonic to tonic relative (D minor to F major)
II mm. 6-8 on to subdominant
(F major to G minor)
III mm. 8-10 on to dominant
(G minor to A minor)
IV mm. 10-15 back to tonic
(A minor to D minor)
V mm. 15-26 tonic confirmed
(D minor)
A close look at the melodic structure reveals that the three sections in
the center are closely interrelated: section II sets up a motif in the lower
voice, which is then sequenced one tone higher (L: mm. 6-8 . 8-10) and
taken up again after a short interruption (L: mm. 12-14). This time, the
expected cadence is delayed and appears only after an additional measure
in the lower octave. Moreover, the interruption just mentioned features
a short motif (see L: m. 10, A A G F) that is sequenced three times.
Extending the analyses to motivic development, the previous layout can
thus be condensed into three major sections:
I mm. 1-6
(D to F, no motif yet present )
II mm. 6-15 (F to D, two motifs and their development)
III mm. 15-26 (D to D, motifs 1 and 2 no longer present)
The sequential structure in the three harmonically closed progressions
in the central section apart, the prelude does not contain any transpositions,
variations, or other analogies. Only one very short correspondence should
113

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be mentioned as it will add to the understanding of the overall design:


m. 15 recurs in m. 23, transposed to the dominant and enriched by an
additional middle voice.
The continuous flow of broken-chord patterns in the right hand might
indicate an ideal tempo for the piece. As in preludes determined solely by
harmonic processes, these broken chords should sound fast enough to allow
listeners to perceive them as harmonic entities rather than melodic zigzag
lines. Neither should they appear as sparkling virtuoso figures, so as not to
divert listeners from grasping the inherent harmonic design. The articulation reflects the rather lively basic character with legato for the triplet
16th-notes and non legato for the eighth-notes. Within this non legato, color
shading distinguishing between neutral bass notes and more emotional
motivic notes is, of course, very much encouraged.
The first section in mm. 1-6 displays all the characteristics of a piece
determined solely by harmonic processes. Each eighth-note represents a
complete chord, and unlike the more complex progressions in the preludes
in C major, C minor, D major etc., most of these chords (up to the third
eighth-note in m. 4) appear in root position. Moreover, the secondary
processes that often occur in harmonically-determined pieces can both be
found here: a pedal and sequences. These processes are connected with the
following dynamic lines: Above the tonic pedal, a D-minor cadence
unfolds with the active step to the subdominant taking place at m. 13. The
tension-enhancing step is enhanced by an upward shift in the pitch level. A
complementing descent accompanies the tension-decrease toward the
resolution in m. 2: mm.1-21 = p mp p. After an octave leap that brings
about a sudden tension-increase, a model of four eighth-notes is introduced
and sequenced one step lower. In the model, the pitches and with them the
tension are again falling: mm. 22-31 = mf p + - mp + - p . In the next
measure, the density of sequential pattern and harmonic change doubles.
Each eighth-note now establishes a new chord, and the model to be
sequenced is only two eighth-notes long. (The sequences contain one slight
adaptation in the bass, which allows the left hand to move to the preferred
lower octave.) The model and its three sequences move upward, thus expressing a significant tension-increase: mm. 32-41 = mp mp+ mf mf.
The next measure provides a yet different pattern, with harmonic changes
now occurring on the quarter-note beats while the bass inserts non-harmonic
passing notes on each unaccented eighth-note. The two-eighth-note long
model is followed by three descending sequences. Here, the tension-release
is prolonged for an additional measure with a short cadential close:
mm. 42-62 = mf + p.

D minor

115

The second section is determined by its two motifs. The longer first
motif (M1), introduced as an independent melodic unit in the lower-voice
of mm. 6-8, is actually not completely new. Its stepwise descent recalls the
bass line in m. 4, and its ending is reminiscent of the cadential-bass pattern
in mm. 5-6. Some details, however, are new, and they are decisive: M1
begins on a pitch that is the seventh of its chord. This creates high melodic
tension right from the start of the motif. In its second half the line returns
once more to the same note, which is now redefined as the root of the
deceptive chord in the subsequent cadence. The tension created here is of
a harmonic nature. In the right hand, the uppermost chordal notes present
several short parallels to the left-hand line. Particularly the ascent in the
middle of m. 7 serves to enhance the impact of the deceptive chord. The
much shorter second motif (M2), introduced in m. 10, depicts a melodic
descent combined with a harmonic process of relaxation and thus counterbalances the gesture of M1. The dynamic processes in this section may be
described as follows:
M1
mm. 62-82
mf mp mf + p
sequence
mm. 82-101
mf + mp + pf p +
M2 + sequences mm. 101-122 mf mp + mp p +
M1 + extension mm. 122-151 pf mf pf mp mf + p
The third and concluding section combines various secondary melodic
processes of a different nature. The lower part sets out from the newlyfound keynote D. After a broken chord that propels it almost two octaves
upward, it splits into a hidden two-part structure with D as a pedal in the
lower part and a melodic descent in the upper notes, accompanied by a
peak-note line in the right-hand part. The anticipated release of all tension
is delayed when the peak-note line takes on a virtuoso form in mm. 18-19.
But, as this virtuosity seems to bear little effect against the decreasing
power of the bass line, the previous peak-note pattern is reinstated.
Soon after the bass descent has been concluded, the concealed two-part
structure of the left-hand part turns into a real one: an independent middle
voice evolves. As middle and lower voices proceed, two distinct tritone
intervals mark points of high tension at mm. 213 and 223. In the right-hand
part, the peak note line is taken over alternately by the top and bottom
notes of the broken chords. The overall impression is one of descent, so
that the downbeat of m. 23 is reached in a softness almost comparable to
that of its corresponding measure, m. 15.
From here, both hands are once again propelled up almost two octaves,
with the now firmly established middle voice adding extra drive. In an

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WTC I/6

unaccompanied cadenza-like treble line the ascent continues up to the high


B, from where diminished chords descend chromatically until the keynote
D is regainedand with it the beginning of a short, chordal-style final
cadence.

WTC I/6 in D minor Fugue


Beginning after an eighth-note rest and ending at m. 31, this subject
spans exactly two measures. Despite the sudden interruption of the sound
flow that is indicated by the wedge on the B and creates a tensionsustaining hiatus, the subject consists of one indivisible phrase. Its pitch
pattern features a predominance of steps and minor thirds. The single
larger leap in the middle of the phrase, a minor sixth, represents one of the
established high-tension intervals. The rhythmic pattern comprises four
different note values: 16th-notes, eighth-notes, quarter-notes and the tied
quarter-note (which, as will be seen later, does not belong entirely to the
subject but is nonetheless heard as a rhythmic unit).
As one compares the rhythm in the remainder of the piece with the
subject, if becomes obvious that there is only one additional note value in
the thematically active parts (i.e., not counting the longer values in the
cadential closes): a syncopated dotted eighth-note. As will become apparent,
this is the value with which the counter-subject implicitly opens.
The subjects harmonic background is that of a simple progression; the
tonic gives way to the subdominant on the second beat of m. 2, followed
on beat 3 by the dominant seventh, and
resolving onto the tonic at the beginning
of m. 3. The fact that the active harmonic
step takes place in the middle of m. 2
and not on one of the downbeats endows
the B with the quality of a syncopation. This impression is enhanced by
the rhythmic standstill (this is the feeling given by the quarter-note that
appears suddenly, after the initial eighth-note motion had developed into
16th-notes) and the interrupting wedge. This B is therefore the obvious
choice for a climax. Melodically reached in a high-tension leap, harmonically representing chord iv, further enhanced both by its suddenly larger
rhythmic value and by the unexpected articulation mark, and metrically
appearing as a quasi-syncopation, this note combines all possible features
that could characterize a climax.

D minor

117

The preparation and the resolution of this climax are slightly irregular.
The process of tension-growth leading up to the climax is called into
question by the three-note slur in m. 2, and after the climax there are only
two notes entrusted with resolving the rather powerful tension. Yet instead
of ending on one of the two melodically relaxed notes of the tonic chord,
F or D, the subject comes to a melodically incomplete-sounding halt on A,
the fifththe one scale degree that regularly fails to convey a satisfactory
feeling of resolution. The slur in the subject becomes more comprehensible
if we remember that articulation symbols in Baroque polyphonic music
derive from markings for string and wind players. Violinists approaching
an unmarked line would play each note with a separate bow movement.
They would thus be able to increase the tension through each note. But,
seeing the slur in the subject, they would combine the group of notes
comprised under it in one single bow movement. The dynamic effect is
that the initial note under the slur is active while the notes following it
sound passive and do not continue the tension. The slur thus creates a
two-leveled structure: the dynamic gesture leads through each of the notes
in the first measure to the first note
under the slur and from there implicitly on to the climactic B, after
which it breaks off and then
resolves through the trill into the
subjects ending note.
There are seventeen complete and seven incomplete but structurally
relevant statements (the latter are here marked with an asterisk):
1. mm. 1- 3 O
9. mm. 17-19 U
17. mm. 28-30 M
2. mm. 3- 5 M
10. mm. 18-20 M
18. mm. 29-31 U
3. mm. 6- 8 U
11. mm. 21-23 U
19. mm. 33-34 M*
4. mm. 8-10 O
12. mm. 22-24 O
20. mm. 34-36 U
5. mm. 12-13 M* 13. mm. 23-25 U
21. mm. 35-36 O*
6. mm. 13-15 O
14. mm. 25-26 M* 22. mm. 35-36 M*
7. mm. 14-16 M
15. mm. 26-27 U* 23. mm. 39-41 U
8. mm. 14-15 U*
16. mm. 27-29 O
24. mm. 40-42 M

Two kinds of changes can be observed in the complete statements of


the subject: Its ending may be varied (melodically to a rising fifth in mm.
22-23, or rhythmically with eighth-notes instead of the two quarter-notes

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WTC I/6

in mm. 35-36), or it may appear inverted (see entries nos. 5, 7, 12, 13, 14,
15, 16, 18, and 22). Moreover, there are two conspicuous strettos, both
involving complete entries appearing in the original shape (mm. 17-20 and
39-42). These are surpassed by a stretto sounding in a chain of three entries
two of which are inverted (mm. 21-25). Finally, there are several strettos
made up of a mixture of complete (2/2) and incomplete (1/2) statements, using both the original shape (O) and the inversion (I):
mm. 12-16: 1/2 I (M) + 2/2 O (U) + 1/2 O (L) + 2/2 I (M)
mm. 25-31: 1/2 I (M) + 1/2 I (L) + 2/2 I (U) + 2/2 O (M) + 2/2 I (L)
mm. 33-36: 1/2 O (M) + 2/2 O (L var) + 1/2 O (U) + 1/2 I (M)
Parallel statements do not occur. There are, however, two instances
where the (inverted) second entry of a stretto coincides with an incomplete
entry in the original shape: see mm. 14-15 M + L and mm. 35-36 U + M.
Bach invents only one counter-subject for this fugue. CS grows out of
the final note of the preceding subject statement. The fact that the subject
seems to ends in a tied note thus brings up the question of the note value
with which the counter-subject begins. To what proportion the A on the
downbeat of m. 3 is divided between the subject and its counter-subject
can be understood when comparing later counter-subject statements: the
few times when CS does not follow immediately after a subject statement,
it opens with a first note of dotted eighth-note duration (see, e.g., U: m. 6).
The counter-subject thus begins, like the subject, on the second eighth-note
of a measure and ends after two measures on the downbeat. It consists of
two subphrases. These are interrelated through their rhythmic structure.
Both set out with a syncopated dotted eighth-note (U: mm. 3 . 4) and
progress in regular 16th-note motion until the subsequent downbeat. Both
are structurally analogous: in the first subphrase, four descending 16thnotes are sequenced; in the second subphrase, the same happens to a turn
figure. The two subphrases are most clearly distinguished in mm. 6-8
where the first is allocated to the upper voice while the second follows in
the middle voice. Considering these features, each subphrase will find its
climax on the initial syncopation, after which the falling 16th-notes effect
a relaxation. These dynamic developments are very gentle. With regard to
the relationship between the
two subphrases, the second
subphrase expresses a higher
tension level than the first
both because of the shift upward and, more importantly,

D minor

119

because of the greater emphasis the real syncopation creates in comparison to the merely implied syncopation at the beginning of CS.
Determining the number of episodes in this fugue depends on how one
evaluates the incomplete subject statements. If one assumes that, as in
many other fugues, considerably shortened subject statements function as
episode material, then the number of episodes would amount to eight.
However, since the incomplete statements in this prelude often engage in
primary-level strettos with complete entries, the label episode seems illfitted for measures characterized by these shortened entries. The following
table lists all the episodes in this fugue, but places measures with
incomplete subject statements in brackets:
E1 mm. 5-61
[E5 mm. 25-271]
E2 mm. 10-121 [-131]
E6 mm. 31-331 [-341]
E3 mm. 16-171
E7 mm. 36-391
E4 mm. 20-211
E8 mm. 42-44
Almost all episode material in this fugue seems closely related to the
subject. This is particularly true for the first three episodes and their
analogs later in the piece: In E1, the upper voice imitates the subjects
second half (see m. 5) while the middle voice recalls the beginning of
CSincluding the way in which CS emerged out of the subjects ending
note (M: m. 5 . U: m. 3). In E2, both the upper and lower voices extend
the preceding entry in sequences (mm. 9-101 are sequenced in mm. 10-111
and 11-121). Only the middle voice gains some independence by creating
a motivic figure of one-bar length. In mm. 12-131, the first incomplete
entry in the middle voice is combined with the subjects second half in the
lower voice (as it appeared in E1) and a long note in the upper voice. E3 is
a varied sequence of the measure preceding it (mm. 16-171 . 15-161). By
contrast, E4 is a typical cadential close: the upper voice provides an
elaborately ornamented dosido formula, the middle voice contributes the
syncopated trill with resolution on the next downbeat that often appears in
closing formulas, and the lower voice plays a cadential-bass pattern. In E5,
two incomplete subject entries in the middle and lower voices combine
with a figure derived from the end of the counter-subjectextended and in
inversion. The three final episodes are related to three episodes in the first
half of the piece: For E6 see E2, although the voices are inverted and considerably varied (mm. 31-331 or 341 . 10-121 or 131). For E7 see E3, the
latter being an extended version of the former, with three bars similarly
continuing as a sequence of the preceding bar. For E8 see E4, as the first
measure of E8 is an exact transposition of E4 (mm. 42-431 . 20-211). This

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is followed by a 1-measure coda in which the three voices of the fugue


are split to six. The four inner voices of this new texture present a fourfold
parallel of the subjects first halfthe right-hand double thirds moving in
inversion, those of the left-hand in the original direction.
Not a single episode displays independent motifs, and none reaches the
level of a self-contained unit. One can, however, distinguish four different
ways in which these episodes behave within the dynamic design: The two
cadential closes (E4 and the first half of E8) create the most noticeable
relaxation. In the case of E8, this relaxation is soon counteracted by a
particularly powerful tension increase, but this falls already into the coda.
The episodes that appear as an extension of the previous development
create a gradual relaxation but never quite lose the color of the primary
material (see E1, E2, and E6). The episodes that extend the preceding
measure with sequences involving all voices (E3 and E7) serve to prolong
the tension of the subject entry; in both cases this impression is further
enhanced by incomplete statements balancing the resolving tendency in the
subjects second half (see L: mm. 15-161 and particularly U: mm. 35-361).
Finally, the episode appearing in brackets in the table above because of its
stretto of incomplete subject statements (E5) has the strongest drive of all.
It sets out from a point of complete relaxation and creates, in both its
incomplete stretto and the inverted (i.e., ascending) counter-subject figure,
a powerful increase preparing the subsequent complete-entry stretto.
Both the pitch pattern and the rhythm advocate a rather calm basic
character. Yet there is one detail that seems to support a character in which
the single notes carry less weight: it is the fact that, upon close inspection,
all 16th-note groups are turn-figures or scale segments ornamenting longer
notes (m. 3 = A-G ornamented). Taking into consideration both the main
constituents of the character and the ornamental structure of the 16th-notes,
the ideal tempo is one that creates a sense of calm within a rather fluent
quarter-note pulse. The corresponding articulation requires legato for all
melodic notes, with slightly less weight in the 16th-notes. Non legato is
reserved for cadential-bass notes (mm. 20 and 42) and obvious brokenchord patterns (as in L: mm. 31-32). The wedged note in the subject should
sound actively interrupted after about half its note value. (For performers
who like to work on shades: such an active interruption stands in contrast
to the passive ending of unmarked notes before a rest or phrase cut.)
The proportion of the preludes tempo to that of the fugue is simple: a
quarter-note in the prelude corresponds with a quarter-note in the fugue.
(Approximate metronome settings: 60 for all beats.)

D minor

121

For the ornament in the subject there are two possible solutions; they
depend on how one interprets the wedge on the climax. For performers
who feel that the wedge creates a sudden, rather dramatic halt in the
melodic flow and that the subsequent G comes in after something like a
phrasing, the trill should begin according to the rules for ornaments at
phrase beginnings, i.e., on the main note. For performers who feel that the
wedge creates articulation rather than phrasing and that the tension is
suspended throughout this interruption and picked up at an almost undiminished level in the G, the trill should begin according to the rules for
ornaments within a phrase, i.e., on the upper auxiliary note. In each case
the trill shakes in 32nd-notes and ends in the whole-tone suffix F-G.
There are several indicators that help to determine the design of this
fugue: A subject entry in reduced ensemble can be found at the beginning
of the four-measure passage with multiple strettos (mm. 212-251). This
reduction of voices occurs after the episode identified as a definite cadence
with strongly conclusive powers. The fugue is thus laid out in extended
structural correspondence. Working backward from the analogous cadences
one finds: mm. 20-211 . 42-431, mm. 17-191 . 39-411, mm. 12-(161) .
33-(381), mm. 9-111 . 30-321. Moreover, the subject statement following
the first distinctly cadencing episode, launching the four-bar phrase with
dual stretto (mm. 212-251), is set in reduced ensemble. If we accept that the
first four single entries in the fugues initial half (mm. 1-10) correspond to
the first two strettos in the latter half, the rest of the analogy falls into
place. The two passages form the first and third sections, concluding in
mm. 131 and 341 respectively. The two passages just ascertained as
analogous, mm. 9-21 and 30-43, constitute the second and fourth sections.

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WTC I/6

Harmonically, the three initial statements sound in D minor, the fourth


hovers between keys, and the subsequent episode modulates to the
dominant. The second section is anchored in A major/minor. In the fugues
second half the first stretto modulates back to the tonic, followed by statements that once again fluctuate between D minor and major. Interestingly,
the harmonic endings of the first and third sections overlap with the
incomplete first entries of the strettos with which the second and fourth
sections begin. Such an overlapping creates a particularly tight-knit linkage
between two consecutive sections, so that the main impression of the
design is one of two parts, each with two coupled sections.
Within the first section, the tension rises gradually owing to the growing number of voices. The descending sequences in the episode that ends
this section serve to dissipate this tension, so that the second section sets
out from a rather soft level. Its many strettos, however, create a powerful
buildup until immediately before the concluding cadence. Both sections
feature an episode in their middle that, as has been shown above, is so
closely related to the primary material that the loss of tension is negligible.
The third section begins in reduced ensemble on a soft level into which it
falls back in the return modulation (m. 25) after only very little increase
in-between. Yet from here on, all forces join in a stretto that reaches an
intensity considerably above that heard in the corresponding measures of
the first part. The fourth section begins again slightly softer than the third
section had endedbut more intensely than its equivalent in m. 13. After
the initial stretto, the tension-sustaining episode with its ascending
sequences is extended (compare E7 with E3) and thus leads to a final
statement pair that, once again, outranks the corresponding one in the first
half of the piece.
It can thus rightly be said that each of the two halves of the fugue is
composed as one long buildup of tension, interrupted only slightly at the
section ending in its middle. The second half combines several additional
intensifying features and thus appears, in terms of tension, as a heightened
variation of the first.

WTC I/7 in E major Prelude


The prelude in E major is long and complex. Its three segments are
visibly distinct in the use of material and the degree of virtuosity. The first
segment (mm. 1-10) is built along the lines of a prelude determined by
motivic development, ending with a virtuoso passage and a cadential
close. The second segment (mm. 10-25) displays a polyphonic texture in
which voices enter one after the other with a short motif. At first, this motif
is imitated in stretto; later the imitative pattern loses some of its density.
No indications for any of the well-known structural models (such as fugue
or invention) materialize: there is no cadential close in a second key
followed by a new beginning corresponding in any way to that in m. 10.
As a passage in free imitative style based on a single motif, this segment
may thus be referred to as a fugato. The third segment (mm. 25-70), by
far its longest, is also polyphonic, beginning with two contrapuntal voices
in complementary keys. As there are several definite cadences and new
presentations of the material after these cadences, this segment within the
E-major prelude qualifies as a fugue. To sum up, Bachs prelude in E
major is conceived as a through-composed three-movement composition
consisting of prelude, fugato, and fugue.
The first cadence concludes at m. 43. However, as the bass has not yet
begun to participate in the harmonic progression but remains locked in a
tonic pedal, this cadential close should not be regarded as structural. A
second reason is that the flow of the lines continues uninterrupted, without
even the slightest sign of phrasing. The next harmonic progression ends
again over a pedal noteat m. 101 in B major, the dominant of E. It
marks the end of the prelude in the prelude.
Within the fugato, similar circumstances prevail as in the prelude.
The only structurally relevant cadence, however, appears again at the end
of this segment, i.e., at m. 251 (once again in B major). Two earlier
cadential closes are worth mentioning because of the unusual way in which
the listeners expectations for a resolution are deceived in the first and
turned around in the second. Both cadences set out to close in the home
key of E major but are prevented from doing so. The first seems to draw
to a close in m. 15. Yet before the typical closing formula has reached the
resolution, three of the four voices proceed quite differently from what is
123

124

WTC I/7

anticipated.1 The second cadence is initiated in m. 18. The return to the


tonic seems almost achieved on m. 191, with only a soprano appoggiatura
lagging behind with its resolution upward to E. Yet when the uppermost
voice moves, it does not rise but fall. Soon thereafter, the other voices also
give up hope for a conclusion. After this second attempt at a resolution
onto E major, the section returns to the dominant tonality from which it
had set out.
Neither the prelude nor the fugato thus contain any structurally
relevant internal cadences. The fugue, however, is variously subdivided.
Its six sections bring the total of structural blocks in the E-major prelude
to eight, each of them individual and without any analogy. In the table
below, the tonality in brackets denotes with which cadential target each
section closes.
1. mm. 1-10 =
prelude
(B major)
2. mm. 10-25 =
fugato
(B major)
3. mm. 25-35 =
fugue, section I
(G minor)
4. mm. 35-41 =
fugue, section II
(C minor)
5. mm. 41-49 =
fugue, section III (B major)
6. mm. 49-58 =
fugue, section IV (A major)
7. mm. 58-68 =
fugue, section V
(E major)
8. mm. 68-70 =
fugue, coda
(E major)
The ideal tempo for this prelude is one that accommodates the character of each of the three movements without any need for an adjustment
of pace. To be specific, the tempo should allow the 32nd-notes of mm. 8-9
to sound fluent enough to give the impression of an ornamental rather than
a melodic line. At the same time, the quarter-notes of mm. 10-24 should
sound calm enough to express the basic character of this fugato.
The appropriate articulation for the entire piece is legato. While the
lively character in the prelude would require any eighth-notes and longer
values to be played non legato, there are no notes to which this applies:
virtually all longer values come with tie-prolongations, and the only
separate long notes (tenor mm. 7-10) form a do-si-do group that is legato
in any case. In the calm character of both the fugato and the fugue,
only cadential-bass notes and consecutive leaps are detached. This applies
to mm. 29-30: B-B-E , mm. 34-35: C-D-G, mm. 39-40: G-C-F, mm.
40-41: E A F G, and mm. 58-59: E A F B .
1

Try playing m. 15 as the penultimate measure of an E-major cadence. The soprano would
resolve onto E, the alto descend to G, the tenor to E, and the bass leap down to E. As m.
161 shows, this is not what happens: all voices except for the alto take unexpected turns.

E major

125

The only ornament in this prelude occurs in m. 9. It is a trill ending in


an anticipated resolution, i.e., in a point darrt. The motion should be
faster thanpreferably twice as fast asthe fastest regular note values in
the piece.2 The trill itself thus sets out in sixty-fourth-notes from the upper
auxiliary F, comes to a sudden halt (arrt)
on its main note and ends with the anticipated resolution. The following figure gives
a written-out version for the entire compound ornament.
The first segment of the composition, the prelude within the prelude,
is built entirely on an eighth-note motif. M1 is introduced in the upper
voice where it begins after a downbeat rest, describes a curve in 16th-notes,
and ends with a large leap upwards. This leap is written as a split in the
voice, thus emphasizing the interval it spans. Moreover, the impact of the
target note is enhanced by its duration, which exceeds that of the entire
preceding 16th-note group. M1 is immediately imitated but not copied in
the tenor of this four-part texture: the leap is much smaller and there is no
voice splitting. Instead, a pedal note E materializes in the bass. The
subsequent two measures feature ascending sequences of the pattern
established in m. 1 together with a corresponding tension-increase. After a
short resolution onto the home chord the right hand propels M1 up to the
peak C. At the same time, the left-hand part starts developing the motif: the
leap appears substituted by a note that is integrated into the 16th-note
figure both in pitch and in note value, and the prolongation is given up.
The result is a continuous run downward covering two octaves. In m. 6, a
descending scale in the right hand joins the left, and both voices reach a C
minor chordstep vi in E major, thus a chord with comparably high
tensionat m. 71. Two further statements of M1 are followed in the treble
by a continuous development similar to that previously heard in the lower
part (compare m. 8 right hand from C onward with mm. 4-6 left hand). The
prelude section ends with a freely virtuoso run and the above-mentioned
cadence in mm. 9-10.
The second segment, the fugato within the prelude, is also based on
a single motif. M2 originally spans five notes (mm. 10-11: B E D C B )
but soon drops its final resolution. In its four-note version it is strikingly
related to the main motif of the Prelude in B minor, also from Book I of
2

It need not, however, exceed the tempo of the spelled-out turn figure immediately preceding the trill, as closer inspection reveals that this figure is in fact part of a longer compound
ornament beginning on the tied eighth-note E.

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WTC I/7

Bachs Well-Tempered Clavier. As M2 is the one and only driving force of


the fugato, it seems important to identify all its statements:
1. m. 10
T
6. mm. 13-14 S**
2. mm. 10-11 B
7. mm. 14-15 T**
3. mm. 11-12 A*
8. mm. 16-17 B***
4. mm. 12-13 S***
9. mm. 17-18 S*
5. mm. 12-13 B**
10. mm. 19-21 S**3
While the four-note version is still very close to the original, later
modifications of M2 appear more and more transformed.4
The final segment of the fugato features only two rudimentary statements of M2 (see S and B: mm. 19-21). More influential here are the
descending lines in all voices: soprano mm. 20-25 = E down to D, alto
mm. 20-25 = D down to B, tenor mm. 22-24 = B down to E, and bass
mm. 20-23 = G down to A. Each of these descending lines comes in
diminuendo, so that the last five measures of this section describe a long
relaxation. Not only is the ending of the fugato section thus well prepared,
but, more importantly, the impending beginning of the third major
segment, the fugue, is strongly suggested.
This fugue turns out to be based on two leading ideas. As each of them
is later used quite independently, it seems appropriate to speak of two
subjects rather than of subject and counter-subject. In a proper double
fugue, these would be presented separately at considerable distance, each
determining a major portion of the fugue before being juxtaposed. Yet in
this fugue within a prelude, the two melodic ideas enter simultaneously.
S1 is introduced in the alto. It spans two measures, setting in on the second
16th-note in m. 25 and ending on the downbeat of m. 27. This subject is
closely related to M1 from which it borrows the first seven notes. S2 first
appears in the bass: it stretches from m. 251 to m. 271. This subject is
closely related to M2. The beginning recalls the first three notes of M2;
these are followed, after the third note has doubled as the beginning of a
sequence, by the entire four-note version of M2.
3

A missing accidental in the Urtext, found also in several other editions, should be carefully
considered: in m. 20, the tenor features B-A-B despite the A in both soprano (m. 19) and
alto (m. 20). As the soprano statement of M2 suggests B major for these measures, adding
a natural to the leading note seems essential.
4

The variations indicated by the asterisks above are: * The third note may be prolonged to
twice its value, delaying the fourth note to a weak beat where it follows usually as yet
another syncopation. ** The motif may sound with its first note lengthened to a syncopation. This may then be followed either by only the third note or by the two remaining notes.
*** The fourth note may bend back instead of leading downward.

E major

127

The dynamic design of the two subjects is, at least at the beginning,
determined by the motifs from which they are derived: S1 begins with a
tension-increase toward what was the final note of M1; the second, longer
subphrase begins anew and carries an even stronger crescendo through the
motifs varied sequence. The climax falls preferably on the quarter-note E
and is followed by the resolution through the subsequent do-si-do figure.
The dynamic shape of S2 reflects its evolution from the fugato motif: a
climax on the syncopation E
followed, after slight relaxation serving as a new start, by
a stronger second climax on
m. 21. The descent to the keynote of the target chord brings
the relaxation.
S1 appears twelve times in the course of the fugue and S2 twentytwo times. The following chart lists the statements of both subjects:
mm. 25-27
S1
A + S2
B
mm. 27-29
S1
S + S2
T
mm. 30-32
S1
B + S2
A
mm. 35-37
S2
A + S2 S
mm. 38-40
S2
S + S2 T
mm. 41-44
S2
A + S2 T + S1 S
mm. 46-49
S2
B + S2 T + S1 A
mm. 49-51
S1
A + S2
B
mm. 53-56
S1
S/B + S2
T + S2 A
mm. 56-58
S1
B + S2
A + S1 S
mm. 58-60
S1
A + S2
S
mm. 60-63
S1
S v S2
A + S2 B
mm. 64-67
S2
A + S2 S + S2 A
mm. 68-70
S1
A + S2
T
Both subjects appear with several irregularities and variations: S1 may
come without its final note (as in mm. 27-29) or even without the last two
notes (as in mm. 60 and 63). It may be deprived of its entire first subphrase

128

WTC I/7

(as in mm. 30-32), shortened in the middle so that the first subphrase leads
directly into the note repetition of the ending (as in B: mm. 56-57), or it
may, while shortened in the middle as described above, find its concluding
note repetition replaced by a single tied note (as in S: mm. 56-57). S2 may
come without its final note (as in mm. 27-29), it may have lost both its
final notes (as in mm. 30-32, 35-37, 38-40, etc.), or its beginning may
sound ornamented (as in m. 60).
S2 builds several strettos (see particularly mm. 35-49 and 64-67), the
last of which sounds briefly like a parallelalthough it is not. In addition,
there are a few interesting voice crossings: in m. 28 the tenor does not
descend directly after the two rising fourths of the S2 beginning. Instead it

M1

M1
M1

M1
M1

M1
M1

M2

M1

M1

M1

M1

M1

M2

M2 expanded

M2 expanded

M2
M2

M2

M2

M2

M1
M1
M1
M1
M1
M1
M1
M1

M1 S1
S1

S2
S2

M1

S2

M1

M1

S2
M1

S2
M1

M1
M1

M1
M1

S1

M1

S2
M1

S2
S2

S1
S2
S2
S1

M1

S2
S1
M1

S2

M1

S2
M1

M1
M1
S1
S2
S2

M1

M1

S2
M1
M1

M1

M1
M1

S1
M1
S2
M1
M1
S1
M1

S1
S2

M1

M1

S1
S2

S1

M1
S2
M1

M1

M2

S2

S1
S2

M1

M1
M1

E major

129

continues, using scattered M1 quotations, to climb as high as A (m. 29).


The alto with its statement of S2 thus begins underneath the tenor and only
regains its rightful position in m. 31. In mm. 41-43 the S2 entries in alto
and tenor rise high while the S1 entry in the soprano crosses below both of
them before it corrects its position with an octave adjustment. Finally, in
mm. 53-54 the S1 statement seems confused: it begins in the soprano
with a varied first subphrase, descends correctly to E (m. 541), after which
it switches to the bass! This, however, does not pick up the right pitch:
instead of the expected A-A-A-G-A we hear F-F-F-E-Ab.
As in any other fugue there are a number of subject-free passages:
E1 m. 29
E4 mm. 40-41
E7 m. 63
E2 mm. 32-34
E5 mm. 44-45
E8 m. 67
E3 mm. 37-38
E6 mm. 51-52
The material employed in these episodes derives mostly from M1; the
remainder is neutral. Features to be pointed out include typical cadential
patterns (see B: at the end of E2 and E8, and S: at the end of E3 and E4),
as well as particular pitch patterns that engineer a tension-rise in all voices,
thus preparing for the subsequent entries (as in E5 and E6). In contrast to
these six episodes with definite closures, E1 and E7 use fragments of the
first subject, thus serving merely as links.
Many indicators help in presenting an easy overview of the design of
this fugue: The four-part ensemble is built up gradually, from the initial
two voices (alto + bass) in m. 25, which are joined by the soprano in m. 26
and the bass in m. 30, to a first four-part cadence in mm. 34-35. A tonic
pedal in mm. 68-70 separates the coda from the fugues trunk. The
grouping of subject statements includes simple S1/S2 juxtapositions in
mm. 25-35, S2 strettos in mm. 35-41, S2 strettos with additional S1 statements in mm. 41-49, S1/S2 juxtapositions with irregular S1 entries in mm.
49-58, and merging entries / juxtaposition / S2 stretto in mm. 58-68.

WTC I/7 in E major Fugue


The subject of this fugue spans 1 measures. It begins on the initial
downbeat and ends at m. 23 on B. As indicated by the natural sign preceding the A at the end of m. 1, the subject features a modulation to the
key with only two flats: B major, the dominant of E major. A is not only
the leading-note to the new key but also part of a broken chord F-A-C-E
in mm. 1-2, the V7 chord of B major. The subject note B in the middle of
m. 2 represents the resolution onto the new tonic.

130

WTC I/7

There are two subphrases within this subject. This can be deduced not
only from the rest in its middle but much more from the varied partial
sequence with which the second subphrase begins: the two prominent
eighth-notes in the subjects second half sound like an elevated sequence
of the two eighth-notes before the rest, while the preceding groups of
16th-notes is shortened but made up for by the final strong-beat note.
The pitch pattern in the subject features mainly broken chords:
m. 11-2
= E-major chord (with auxiliary note)
m. 12-3
= A-major chord (with auxiliary note)
mm.14-22 = F7 chord (with passing note5)
A brief look at the remainder of the fugue shows that these and other
broken-chord patterns are prevalent throughout the piece. The rhythm in
the subject consists mainly of 16th-notes and eighth-notes, with the
exception of the quarter-note carrying the trill. The same predominance of
these note values can be detected in the entire piece.
The subjects harmonic background is determined by the modulation
within its confines. The active step (tonic to subdominant) occurs melodically immediately after the second beat, but is metrically confirmed only
on beat 3. This subdominant harmony is sustained even when the second
eighth-note of beat 3 returns to B (a note that, in its unaccompanied
melodic version, is necessarily heard
as a return to the tonic). The pivot
chord (V7/V) beginning melodically
with the A can be felt metrically
either in the rest at m. 14 or at m.21.
The E at m. 21 seems the obvious choice for a climax: it falls on a
downbeat, it represents the metrical place of the pivot chord that triggers
the modulation, and it is reached in the high-tension interval leap of a
minor seventh. Moreover, as mentioned above, it is conceived in varied
sequence to the process in the first subphrase that finds its climax on the C
at m. 13, the note that represents the subdominant harmony and sounds
rhythmically as the first halt after the opening 16th-notes.
The tension in the subject thus moves in two curves. The first begins
with a moderate crescendo and is complemented with a one-note relaxation
(C-B). A second crescendo then surpasses the first and is complemented
with a longer diminuendo for a more perfect resolution of the tension.
The subject appears altogether nine times in this fugue:
5

The use of the second eighth-note in m. 2 as a passing note is confirmed in Bachs harmonization of later subject statements; see, e.g., mm. 4, 7, and 18.

E major
1. mm. 1- 2
2. mm. 3- 4
3. mm. 6- 7

131
U
M
L

4. mm. 10-12 U
5. mm. 17-19 M
6. mm. 20-22 L

7. mm. 25-27 L
8. mm. 28-30 U
9. mm. 33-35 M

The subject always sounds in its complete length. Its last note appears
most often as a 16th-note but may be extended to an eighth-note (as in mm.
27 and 30) or even to a quarter-note (as in m. 35). Moreover, several
statements begin with a syncopated anticipation of the first note (see mm.
10-11, 25-26, 28-29, and 33-34). In addition to these small changes in the
appearance of the subject, interval adjustmentsbetween the first two
notes and across the restoccur in all tonal answers (see m. 3 etc.). No
stretto or parallel are used.
Bach has invented only one counter-subject for this fugue. CS is introduced in mm. 3-4 against the second subject statement, where it begins
slightly later than the subject with the eighth-note A and ends, together
with the subject, on the G at m. 43. This counter-subject appears as a
faithful companion to the subject in all but the initial and final entries,
featuring only one slight variation of its beginning in m. 20. It fulfills its
task of counter-balancing the subject in several ways: Against the brokenchord patterns dominating the first two-thirds of the subject, CS sets
stepwise motion, and against the stepwise motion at the end of the subject
it sets a broken dominant-seventh chord (see m. 42). While the subject is
made up of two subphrases, the counter-subject is conceived as one
indivisible line. And while the subject has two climaxesa softer one on
the third beat and a stronger one on the fifth beat after its beginningthe
counter-subject features a single
unbroken tension-curve. Its
climax falls either on the first
eighth-note, followed in this case

by a single long diminuendo, or


(more likely) on the syncopation
that coincides with the rest in the
subject.
In this fugue, the number of episodes equals that of the subject
statements:
E1 = mm. 2-3
E4 = mm. 12-17
E7 = mm. 27-28
E2 = mm. 4-5
E5 = mm. 19-20
E8 = mm. 30-33
E3 = mm. 7-10
E6 = mm. 22-25
E9 = mm. 35-37

132

WTC I/7

E6 is the only episode to show a relationship to the subject: its first two
measures quote a variation of the first subphrase in their upper voice. All
other episodes are entirely independent from the primary material. They
present a number of characteristic motifs that are used with great consistency: E1 introduces the half-measure motif M1 featuring two broken
chords, each with a subsequent step downward to the next beat (mm. 2-3:
F-D-B-A, F-D-A-G). This motif plays a leading role in all episodes of
this fugue, occasionally in an extended version with a final unaccented
jump upward as in E3 and E4. E2 combines a prolonged M1 in the middle
voice with M2, a figure in the upper voice that also consists of broken
chords, this time in ascending direction. Significant features are the long
syncopations. M2 also recurs, sometimes unchanged, at other times represented only by the accented upward leap in eighth-note rhythm. E3, the
first episode in three-part texture, introduces M3 (M: mm. 7-8: F-D-B-E ),
a third motif that is subtly related to the other two: like M1 it begins with
a descending broken chord, and like M2 it ends with an accented upward
leap. Yet as its rhythm is built exclusively from eighth-notes, it is at the
same time quite distinct. These three motifs appear in a variety of combinations (see particularly in E3, E4, E5, and E8). The second half of E6
then introduces a new pattern that recurs shortly afterward in E7. In it,
sequences of ascending eighth-notes in the bass and a 16th-note dialogue
with varied segments of M1 in the two higher voices create a pattern that
we shall call M4.
Several relationships exist among the episodes of this fugue: the shape
of E5 and E2 is similar although the hands are inverted (mm. 4-5 . 19-20),
E3, E4a, and E8 are analogous except for the inversion of voices (mm.
7-10 . 12-15 . 30-33), and the second half of E6 is taken up, as was
mentioned above, in E7. The only episode segments to remain without any
correspondence are the cadential close of E4b with its preparation in mm.
15-173), the first half of E6 (E6a = mm. 22-241), and the final episode E9.
As all episodes apart from E6a are conceived as independent in
material and character from the subject and counter-subject, they should
sound like self-contained units, in a color and intensity distinctly different
from those characterizing the subject and its counter-subject. The dynamic
gestures within this contrasting and much lighter color are as follows: In
E1 the descending sequences create a natural decline of tension. Similarly,
the final episode E9 sounds in manifold falling lines. E2 with its analog in
E5 and E3 with its analogs in E4 and E8 all show relaxing tendency in
descending sequences. The first half of E6 also features a pitch direction
that points downward; here again the dynamic tendency is decreasing. The

E major

133

second half of E6 and, correspondingly, E7 are the only episode segments


to engender dynamic build-ups. These are created both by the ascending
eighth-note lines in the bass and by the ascending sequences.
Both the steady rhythmic pattern with its predominance of 16th- and
eighth-note values and the pitch pattern with its high content of broken
chords characterize this fugue as rather lively. The tempo should be fast; a
conductor beating an energetic four-four meter may give a good orientation for the minimum tempo, with the tricky trills in mm. 21, 27, and 35
marking the upper limit. The articulation corresponding with the character
of this fugue requires a bouncing non legato for the eighth-notes and a
quasi legato bordering on leggiero for the 16th-notes. The only longer note
values that must be played legato appear in a dosido formula (U: m. 35
E-D-E ). Furthermore, legato is harmonically indicated in the two-part
version of M1 in U: mm. 27-28 (D-C and E-D) and in the chromatic
descent in the split-off upper part of the middle voice in the final measure
(D-C-C-B). The relative tempo of the E major prelude to the subsequent
fugue should best be kept simple: a quarter-note in the prelude becomes a
quarter-note in the fugue. (Approximate metronome settings: 84 for all
beats.)
The only ornament in this fugue is the trill in the subject. As it is
approached stepwise, it begins on the main note with a 16th-note, proceeds
in two pairs of 32nd-notes, and ends in a suffix. This trill must be retained
in every subject statement, even where it is not at all or only ambiguously
indicated in the score, as in m. U: 12, L: m. 27, and M: m. 35.6
The design of the fugue reveals itself from several features, all of
which are underlined by the harmonic development. The build-up of the
three-part ensemble is followed by a fourth statement that is to be considered as a redundant entry belonging to the first section since it remains in
the home key. The subsequent episode modulates to the relative key and
confirms it with a cadential close. The fifth statement sounds in reduced
ensemble and is linked to the sixth by way of the shared minor mode. The
next closure, bringing about a modulation back to the home key, appears in
E6a. The second half of E6 with its rising tendency not only prepares the
next statement but also recurs in variation immediately afterward, when it
6

Note that the trills in mm. 7, 12, 21, and 27 require a double note to be played in the
middle of the trill motion. This becomes much easier in m. 30 if the twofold middle-voice
E is taken by the right handwhich is more comfortable than one might think. In m. 35,
the trills main portion can be played with the right hand while the suffix sounds smoother if
taken by the left.

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WTC I/7

acts as a bridge to the subsequent subject entry. The remaining group of


subject entry + episode + subject entry is built in obvious symmetry to the
similar group in the fugues first section, encompassing the third entry +
the third episode + the redundant entry. This symmetry hints at a structural
analogy between the second to fourth entries of section I and the same
number of entries in section III. The final entry with its chromaticism and
deceptive cadence is harmonically the most daring.

Within the first and second sections, the tension-increase engendered


by the gradually growing ensemble appears constantly interrupted by the
regularly interspersed episodes of contrasting color. Thus each subsequent
entry sounds only slightly louder than the previous one. In the third section,
the preparation of entry no.7 creates more tension at the very beginning
(thus making up for the missing first statement in the recapitulation?).
This process is repeated before the next statement, so that the tensionincrease within this section is more pronounced than that in the exposition.
As the initial subject entry of the fugue expresses considerable strength
owing due to the subjects lively and bouncing character, the dynamic
equivalent to this tension-increase might be approximately mfpoco f.
Within the second section, the change of mode results in a considerably
less exuberant mood and, consequently, in a much softer touch. The third
section thus not only balances the first one but even exceeds it slightly.

WTC I/8 in E minor Prelude


The E-minor prelude is primarily determined by melodic processes.
These unfold in the context of an essentially homophonic accompaniment.
The two predominant melodic ideas are introduced in the treble line of
mm. 1-4 and 20-21 respectively. The former begins in the second half of
m. 1 and ends on the E in m. 4; the latter stretches from the high C in
m. 20 to the downbeat of m. 21. While subsequent developments of these
melodic ideas show a large degree of variation in the treatment of pitch
progressions, their rhythmic patterns remain consistent.
The first harmonic progression, a simple cadence with the subdominant
in m. 2 and vii7 (replacing V) in m. 3, concludes in m. 4. This cadential
close coincides with the end of the melodic entity and is thus of structural
relevance. However, as the subsequent development is composed as a
continuation with its own structure, phrasing at this point only marks a
smaller breathing within a larger unit. The next harmonic development
embarks on a progression of secondary dominants which each resolve into
their related tonics. Listeners thus repeatedly experience resolutions
without truly arriving at any new key.
mm. 5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
V7/vi vi
V7/iv iv
V9 I
V9/v v
The following twofold cadence in B minor in mm. 13-142-161 secures
the modulation to the minor dominant. Yet again, this new key is not
established with a truly convincing resolution. In m. 14 the new tonic is
reached in metrically unaccented position on the second half-note, and in
m. 16 the melodic ascent after the downbeat also creates a sense of
openness. The subsequent measures then modulate to the subdominant A
minor, which is established with a iv-V-i progression in mm. 19-20. The
point of completion of this cadence marks the end of the first larger section
of this prelude.
There are altogether four structural sections in the E-minor prelude:
I
mm. 1-4
(E minor) tonic confirmed
II
mm. 4-16 (B minor) modulation to the dominant
III
mm. 16-20 (A minor) modulation to the subdominant
IV
mm. 20-25 (E minor) modulation back to the tonic
V
mm. 25-40 (E minor) tonic confirmed
135

136

WTC I/8

The fifth section shows three subdivisionsnot only on the level of


melodic development but also on that of harmonic progressionsinsofar
as there are two deceptive cadences prior to the final perfect ending: In
mm. 25-29, the Neapolitan-sixth chord in m. 26 and the vii7 in m. 27 seem
to prepare a definite ending. This expectation is deceived on m. 291 by a
chord that combines features of the traditional deceptive-cadence VI
(which would read C E G) with the A of step iv, reached by way of an
appoggiatura B. The i6 of E major that follows in m. 30 is reached
plagally from iv6 and thus does not conclude this cadential progression
either. Similarly in mm. 31-37, the subdominant chord at m. 311 is redefined on beat 2 as yet another Neapolitan-sixth chord, the vii7 is extended
through four measures (mm. 32-35), and the preparation of the ending is
almost exactly the same as before (mm. 36 second half . 28 second half).
Once again an expectation is deceived, this time because the resolving
chord is topped by its minor seventh. As a V7/iv progression, this initiates
another iv-vii7-i progression that, above a four-measure tonic pedal, finally
leads to the resolution into the Picardy-third tonic.
The appropriate tempo in this prelude is determined by rhythm and
meter. On the one hand, the 16th-notes have to be calm enough to retain
their melodic expressiveness and at the same time to allow for 32nd-notes
in the trills. On the other hand, the time signature demands a tempo fast
enough to convey a pulse in half-notes.1
The articulation requires legato for all notes pertaining to the melodic
process; this can be achieved with the fingers alone and thus poses no
problems. The accompanying chords also sound best if smoothly linked.
Yet connection between chordsparticularly if they involve so many
repetitionsis not possible on the piano without the help of the sustaining
pedal.2
1

This is very important, particularly since the somewhat complex rhythmic structure in the
piece may tempt performers into a transitional stage of counting in quarter-notes. While
this may be essential during the process of preparation, it is equally vital that this stage be
ultimately overcome in favor of the larger swinging pulse with only three beats to a
measure.
2

The use of the pedal is a very delicate matter and may appear somewhat complicated
where 16th-note motion in one of the lines requires a clean and unblurred rendition. The
only solution is thus to pedal on or slightly after the last rhythmic value in a measure. As
every performer will aim at evenness in tone color throughout each measure and each
phrase, this means that the pedal cannot be depressed before the last 16th-note fraction of
each half-note. The only stretches that might do without any pedal are the beginning of the
second half (mm. 20-21) and the cadenza-like measure near the end (m. 35).

E minor/D minor

137

There are three kinds of ornaments: trills, arpeggios, and a grace-note.


The grace-note in m. 36 poses the easiest task. In keeping with the Baroque
rule of equal appoggiatura-resolution distribution in binary note values,
the A, played together with the notes in the other voices, is held for one
quarter-note, leaving the second quarter-note for the resolution G.
Although the trills are indicated by different symbols, and tr,
their execution is determined much more decisively by their context.3 The
desirable rendition can be found by addressing the nature of the resolution.
If the ornamented note resolves directly into a strong beat, the trill fills the
entire value, ending with a suffix immediately before the resolution. If,
however, the ornaments resolution occurs on an unaccented fraction of a
beat, or if it is preceded by written-out notes, the shakes obviously have to
stop before the written-out bridge. Also, if the ornamented note belongs to
the harmony of the subsequent pitch, which therefore does not provide an
actual resolution, the trill, short or even relatively long, must end on the
main note without a suffix. Since we know that Bach often wrote simple
mordent symbols for any length of trill including suffix-ended long ones,
these considerations take care of all ornaments. Regarding the onset, as
always in this era, a beginning from the main note is required only if the
ornament is approached in stepwise motion; in all other cases, it is
launched from the upper auxiliary.
The many arpeggios all begin with the lowest note on the beat. They
sound best if the rhythmic distance between the lowest and the highest note
remains constant, even though this may seem more difficult than retaining
the rhythmic distance between any two consecutive notes. As a result, the
long arpeggio at m. 61 should be considerably faster than the short threenote arpeggios at m. 62 and 63, etc. Another question is whether all notes of
a broken chord belong to the level of accompaniment, or whether the treble
or the bass form part of a melodic progression. Whenever the latter is the
case, performers must consider both the coloring (melodious vs. neutral)
and, in the event of a treble line, the metric placement of the melodic note.
The horizontal context would sound awkwardly distorted if such a note
appeared offbeatas it would if it were played as the end of a rolled
chord. One creative way of finding out what is appropriate in any given
context is to imagine the entire texture of this prelude rewritten for an
3

On the one hand, if the extended mordent in m. 4 is interpreted as a note-filling trill,


consistency requires that we play an ornament of similar duration in mm. 8, 10, and 12
where only the simple mordent sign appears. On the other hand, the tr in m. 15 decorates
a dotted-note figure and must therefore be executed with a point darrt ending.

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WTC I/8

ensemble of instrumentse.g., the oboe for melodic lines in the higher


register, the bassoon for melodic lines in the lower register, and the harp
for the accompanying chords. This aural image will greatly improve the
color pattern of keyboard performers. Questions like the following should
then be asked: Who plays
the bass-clef B at m. 51 as opposed to that at beat 2?
the treble-clef E at m. 61 as opposed to that at beat 2?
the treble-clef C-B-A at m. 81 and the notes at m. 82?
the treble-clef G-F-E at m. 41 and the high G at m. 42?
the treble-clef F at m. 122 and the G at m. 131?
the treble-clef G at m. 251 and the F at m. 261?
the treble-clef E-D in m. 28? (This measure might allow for two
equally meaningful solutions.)
A second question worth considering is whether the accompanying
chords following exactly the same pattern as the others but appearing without an arpeggio symbol should be treated in the same way. This applies to
the left-hand chords in mm. 29-30, the two-hand chord in m. 311 (with the
exception of the C continuing the oboe line), the right-hand chords in
mm. 32-34, possibly the chords in m. 362 + 3 (with the exception of the
melodic treble notes to be played on the beat, together with the root of the
arpeggio), and possibly the left-hand double notes in mm. 38-39.
As was already mentioned, the prelude contains two relevant motifs,
both of which undergo considerable changes in the course of the piece.
Furthermore, both motifs are determined much more by their rhythmic and
metric shapes than by their pitch patterns or the number of notes they
encompass. M1 rests on a figure that could be described as a question +
answer phrase with
two similar halves, each
consisting of an upbeat
of varying length, a
dotted-note group with
or without an ornament,
and a downbeat with or
without a female tail.
M1 is introduced as an extended four-measure phrase consisting of
three subphrases. (The upward stem of the B at m. 11 is confusing, yet
later statements leave no doubt about the motifs upbeat beginning.)
Dynamically, the first and second subphrases describe small crescendos
toward their successive climaxes and preferably no heavy accent in the
third subphrase. The motifs character is graceful and mild. This can be

E minor/D minor

139

heard particularly well after the completion of the first perfect cadence: the
first subphrase sounds in the lower melodic voice, leading harmonically to
a dominant-seventh chord, while its answer, given in the upper voice,
supplies the respective resolution. In mm. 12-14 the motif is freely developed in the upper voice, followed by a variant in what appears as a middle
voice (mm. 14-16). A last statement, presented in the lower voice in m. 16,
is extended and merges into the cadential-bass pattern that ends this
section. Yet another variant emerges in mm. 22-25. Finally, toward the end
of the prelude, M1 recurs stripped of its question + answer design in the
form of a chain and in different harmonic guise.
M2 is introduced in mm. 20-21, in the very center of the 40-measure
prelude. Spanning only one measure, it shares its rhythmic and metric
features with M1. After only one beat, the lower voice sets in, creating a
stretto. The whole imitative pattern is then sequenced. The tension curve is
quite different from that in M1, mainly because the entire figure expresses
a single harmony. The climax falls on the beginning, the character is
stately. M2 is developed once, in mm. 26-28, where it appears in a singlevoiced version without imitation. Owing to the harmonic change at the end
of the first of these statements and the inverted pitch pattern in the second,
the dynamic curve is also inverted, with a crescendo to the final note of the
motif.
The interpretation of this prelude is determined by its broadly swaying
basic character and its texture: a melodic dialogue before the backdrop of
softly arpeggiated chords. Large-scale dramatic buildups are not the aim in
this meditative composition.

WTC I/8 in D minor Fugue


With a little less than three measures, the phrase length of this subject
is not metrically oriented. The keynote D that falls on the middle beat of
m. 3 does not only act as a harmonic resolution of the dominant-seventh
chord represented by the G and E on the first two accented beats of m. 3,
it also marks the melodic return to the pitch from which the phrase set out.
While intuition tells us that the subject is made up of two subphrases, it
seems that there could be two equally valid solutions for phrasing. One
option is to view the complete curve from the initial D to the D in the
middle of m. 2 as an entity and thus as the main thought, with the scalar
descent from G onward as an afterthought. Another option is to regard
the leap D-G in m. 2 as a varied sequence of the opening D-A which

140

WTC I/8

makes sense rhythmically and metrically as each D is a quarter-note on a


strong beat leaping up to a syncopation of 3/8 length. Most performers
have fairly strong feelings as to which version they prefer. However, as it
turns out in the further course of the fugue, the choice is not really ours for
there are two statements that reveal what phrasing Bach himself had in
mind. The middle-voice entry in mm. 19-22 and the upper-voice entry in
mm. 20-22 both feature a rest within the phrase. This rest occurs after the
end of the curve; it cuts through the assumed sequential leap and thus
provides undeniable evidence for the phrasing into main thought and
afterthought, i.e., the first option described above.
The subjects pitch pattern contains two fifth intervals, at both ends of
the main thought; all else is stepwise motion. (As we know now that we
have understood the phrase structure, the step from D to G does not count
as an interval since the two notes do not belong to the same subphrase.)
Rhythmic features include eighth-notes, quarter-notes, and syncopated
dotted (or tied) quarter-notes. The harmonic background is that of a simple
cadence with an extended first chord. The complete curve of the main
through is rooted in the tonic, but interspersed with dominant chords that
quickly resolve back into D minor.
The syncopation at the beginning of
the afterthought represents the
subdominant, followed by a gradual
return to the home chord.
The shaping of tension within the subject leaves no room for doubt in
the second subphrase where a simple decrease after the syncopation is
certainly the only logical answer. In the first subphrase, however, it allows
for two slightly different interpretations, depending on the chosen tempo
and on individual preference for rhythmic versus melodic processes. Performers who feel that the rhythmic feature should take precedence over the
melodic one will place the main climax on the second note, the dotted A,
while performers who favor the pitch curve may wish to play a tension-rise
past this A to B, the (high-tension) minor-sixth degree, thus giving this
subject a very special emotional quality.
The D-minor fugue contains 35 subject statements: in this fugue, the
subject seems all-important. There are no rivaling counter-subjects or even
any transitorily prominent motifs. Instead, subject entries encompass an
unusually large portion of the composition, and the subject appears in so
many different shapes, distributed with such obvious determination and
purpose, that nothing else seems to matter.

E minor/D minor
1. mm. 1-3
2. mm. 3-6
3. mm. 8-10
4. mm. 12-14
5. mm. 19-22
6. mm. 20-22
7. mm. 24-26
8. mm. 24-26
9. mm. 26-29
10. mm. 27-30
11. mm. 30-32
12. mm. 36-38

M
U
L
L
M
U
U
M rh
U
M
U inv
M inv

141
13. mm. 39-41
14. mm. 44-47
15. mm. 45-47
16. mm. 47-50
17. mm. 47-50
18. mm. 52-53
19. mm. 52-53
20. mm. 52-53
21. mm. 54-55
22. mm. 54-55
23. mm. 54-55
24. mm. 57-60

L inv
L inv
U inv
M inv
U inv, rh,
L
M
U
L inv
M inv
U inv
U

25. mm. 61-64 M


26. mm. 62-67 L augm
27. mm. 64-67 U inv
28. mm. 67-69 L
29. mm. 67-72 M augm
30. mm. 69-72 U
31. mm. 72-75 M
32. mm. 77-79 L
33. mm. 77-80 M rh
34. mm. 77-83 U augm
35. mm. 80-83 M

Apart from the usual adjustments in the tonal answer, the most frequent
guise of the subject is the inversion (inv) in which all intervals appear
upside down. Augmentations (augm), i.e., statements in which each note
value is doubled, and rhythmic variations (rh) each occur three times. In
these variations, the dotted-quarter-note value of the subjects second note
also affects the fourth and sixth notes, thus stretching the first subphrase
in such a way that the second subphrase has to be shortened.4 Furthermore,
two-part and three-part strettos occur frequently.
Since this fugue does not feature any counter-subject, the intriguing
juxtapositions are those three-part strettos in which one of the voices
appears in augmentation. The example shows mm. 77-83:

Moreover, the first note is abridged in mm. 12 and 61, lengthened by anticipation in m. 26,
and ornamented in m. 39. The final note is omitted in m. 50, delayed in mm. 14 and 26, and
reached after an escape note in mm. 29 and 79 or after a chromatic passing note in mm. 6364. Finally, in the very dense three-part strettos of mm. 52-53 and 54-55, only the subjects
main thought can be tracked, but even this fragment contains irregularities at its end.

142

WTC I/8

There are ten subject-free passages. As can be seen from a cursory


glance at the music, these occur more often in sections where the subject
appears in separate statements, but episodes are scarceand shortwithin
the context of the strettos.
E1 mm. 6-7
E6 mm. 50-51
E2 mm. 103-111
E7 mm. 56-573
E3 mm. 14 -193
E8 mm. 60-613
E4 mm. 33 -35
E9 mm. 75-771
E5 mm. 413-443
E10 mm. 83-87
No episode material is related to the subject. The only subject-related
component between entries occurs in mm. 22-23 where the upper and
middle voices extend their respective subject statements by sequencing the
afterthought. These sequences, however, are inseparably linked to the
preceding entries. As they do not give the impression of a contrast between
statements, these measures are counted as a subject extension rather than as
an episode. There are no independent episode motifs, but a few note
groups that reappear occasionally.5 Comparing the measures featuring
these recurring note groups with the list of episodes drawn up above, one
finds that the only episodes to develop any melodically lasting figures are
E3, E5, and E10. These are not only the longest episodes in the fugue, but,
as will emerge later, indicators of important structural caesuras. Beyond
this correspondence on a higher level, there is no further remarkable
relationship between the episodes.
5

They should be mentioned not because of their thematic importance but because a
performer would wish to pay attention to shaping them consistently.
In mm. 14-16, the middle voice line C-F-E-D-C is imitated an octave higher (see
U: mm. 16-17 from C).
The same line may also be recognized, with a variation in the first interval and a cut
before the last, in mm. 18-19 (see M: C-B-A-G).
Also in mm. 17-18, the upper-voice line C-D-E-F-E-D-C is followed by a varied
sequence (see U: mm. 18-19 from D).
The same curve recurs in inversion twice in mm. 33-34 (see U: from E; M: from G varied), and six more times, in several slightly different variations, in mm. 41-44 (see U:
m. 41 from G, m. 42 from F, m. 43 from C; M: m. 42 from C, m. 43 from F, m. 44
from F).
In mm. 82-85, overlapping with the end of the preceding subject entry, the same curve
recurs three times in inversion (see M: m. 82 from A, m. 83 from A, m. 84 from F).
Also in mm. 82-85, the syncopated final note of the subject entry, together with the
subsequent falling broken chord, sets the model for a little curve that recurs twice (see U:
m. 83 from A, m. 84 from F.
Finally, all three voices are involved in stating a four-note scale segment as an upbeat
figure in mm. 85-87.

E minor/D minor

143

Almost all episodes serve as periods of relaxation between the measures


of tension built up by the subject statements. The only exception is E6,
where the tension seems to rise, both because of the unrelentingly driving
eighth-notes in all voices and because of the harmonic intensification
toward the A-major chord in m. 52.
Both the variety of note values (half-notes, quarter-notes, eighth-notes,
16th-notes, and various syncopations) and the predominantly stepwise
motion in the fugue indicate a rather calm basic character. The range of an
appropriate tempo is suggested by two inherent characteristics of the work:
The calm character requires a tempo slow enough to allow for each eighthnote to be felt with full melodic impact, while the augmented subject
statements require a tempo fluent enough to allow for the main thought
to be sung in one breath. The tempo proportion between prelude and fugue
may be simple: a half-note in the prelude equals half a measure in the fugue.
(Approximate metronome settings: prelude beat = 33 [quarter-note = 66],
fugue beat = 66.) The articulation that best expresses this character is an
overall legato, only interrupted by phrasing. These interruptions, which
occur frequently, should be gentle but distinct.
The only ornament, a complex trill in the lower voice of m. 74, seems
somewhat arbitrary. Proving neither structurally important (like the trills in
cadential closes) nor thematically consistent (like trills embellishing a note
in the subject or a counter-subject), it appears redundant if not outright
confusing. If played, it should consist of five notes: B-C-B-A-B.
The design of this fugue is obvious in the grouping of the material:
I The first section contains four subject statements: M U L / L. The
regular lower-voice entry (mm. 8-10) remains in the pitch range of
a tenor while the fourth (redundant) entry sounds like a bassthus
giving unsuspecting listeners the illusion of a four-part fugue.
II M. 19 introduces the first of three strettos, all of them using the
subjects original shape: MU UM UM. In the first stretto, the
imitation is at the octave at two quarter-notes distance, with both
voices equally faithful to the original. (The middle voice is in the
lead merely because it enters first.) In the second stretto, the subsequent voice enters after only a quarter-note but sounds in rhythmic
variation and with a shortened afterthought. In the third stretto, the
upper voice enters first but shows modifications at beginning and
end, while the middle voice gives a faithful rendition of the subject
and also relates more immediately to the target key of F major.
This is why the middle voice should be regarded as the leading
voice in this stretto.

144

WTC I/8
III

IV

VI

Section III begins in m. 30 with three statements of the inverted


subject: U inv M inv L inv. As has been shown above, the closing
episode of this section bears resemblance to the episode that
closes the first section (mm. 41-44 . 17-19), thus confirming
the structural analogy of these two sections.
M. 44 introduces two strettos comprised exclusively of subject
inversions: LU MU. In the first of these strettos (just as in the first
of the earlier strettos), the imitation is at the octave at two
quarter-notes distance, with both voices equally faithful to the
original. (The lower voice is leading since it enters first.) In the
second stretto (just as in the second of the earlier strettos) the
subsequent voice joins in after only a quarter-note but features
rhythmic variation and a shortened afterthought.
A new grouping is launched with three-part strettos and a return
to the subjects original shape after a long stretch of inversions.
The two strettos sum up and further expand the earlier developments. They sum them up in that they bring, in rapid succession,
the original subject and its inversion. The expansion is caused by
the increase in the number of entries in the strettos from two to
three. Both strettos show the lower voice in the lead, followed
by the middle voice and complemented by the upper voice. The
imitations are at the octave and separated by one quarter-note
each. All statements appear in a shortened version. After this
quite dramatic buildup, a single entry in the original shape (mm.
57-60) presents no new pattern but serves to release tension.
The final section is distinguished by an entirely new feature:
strettos with an augmented subject entry. From m. 61 onward
there are three such strettos: MLU inv, LMU, and L,MUM. In the first
two, the augmented entry imitates a normal-sized one at a
distance of two quarter-notes; another statement in original
values follows once the first is completed, i.e., halfway through
the augmented statement. All voices remain close to the original
shape. The second group is slightly extended in that the voice
carrying the augmented entry adds a repeated statementa
separate entry reminiscent of the similar one after the second
stretto in the fifth section. As before, this entry serves to release
tension before the impending greater climax. The last stretto is
the densest of all. The augmented leader is preceded by two
normal-sized entries, the second of them rhythmically varied,
and followed half-way through by a fourth entry.

E minor/D minor

145

There are few explicit cadential closes in this fugue. The work features
a twofold harmonic development, with a return to the tonic and a new
progression occurring roughly in the middle of the fugue. The first four
separate statements are in D minor, followed by a modulation to the
dominant (A minor; cadence in m. 19). The first stretto then modulates to
F major, which is reached in closing formulas at m. 301. After this, the
three separate inverted statements return to the home key of D minor. The
second stretto group sets out from the tonic and leads to the dominant on
m. 521, thus repeating the harmonic process observed in the first section.
Subsequently, the fifth section begins and ends in A, with a short detour
to F in the second three-part stretto. Similarly, the augmented-entry strettos
begin and end in A while the middle group touches several other transitory keys. It is left to the final episode to modulate back to the home key.
Owing to this harmonic device, the impressive fugue ends without a coda.

146

WTC I/8

Within the first section, there is a very gradual tension-rise supported


by the growing ensemble. At the same time, this growth in tension is
counteracted on various levels: by the strong tension-release in the subject
itself, by the lack of contrapuntal tension, and by the neutral character of
the episodes. In the second, third, and fourth sections, the dynamic increase between one entry or stretto and the next is negligible; emphasis
thus rests entirely on the contrast between subject-carrying passages and
episodes. The fifth and sixth sections allow us to distinguish three dynamic
levels: a level of extremely high tension in the strettos, a level of
drastically reduced, medium tension in the sudden separate statements
(mm. 57 and 72), and a level with a strong tendency toward relaxation in
the subject-free passages.
The overall dynamic development in this fugue shows the outlines of
continuous tension-growth, with two analogous departures and two small
internal relaxations. The steep drop or rise in tension between adjacent
sections is so pronounced that in comparison each section seems built on a
solid plateau. The only remarkable increase within a section occurs in the
sixth section. Here the final augmentation-led stretto is evidently conceived
as a climax outranking anything that preceded it.
The following simplified diagram shows the structural processes in
relation to the dynamic levels:
I

II
E

separate
entries
(original)
p-mp

III
E

two-part
strettos
(original)
dim

mf

separate
entries
(inverted)
dim

IV
E

V
E

two-part
strettos
(inverted)

p-mp dim

mf

VI
E

three-part
strettos
(orig/inv)

three-part
strettos
(w/augm.)

dim poco f dim f-ff

WTC I/9 in E major Prelude


This prelude is composed in polyphonic style. Apart from a few
missing rests and the not so unusual voice-splitting in the final measures,
its three voices are presented in consistent part-writing. Prominent material
within this prelude is based upon one motivic idea only. The composition
can thus be regarded as built along the lines of an invention. Sections are
determined by their harmonic patterns as well as by their development of
material. In addition, there is a striking structural analogy, revealing a
ternary form with coda.
The first harmonic progression ends at m. 31. Its steps are: m. 1 = I IV,
m. 2 = I V7, m. 3 = I. The cadential close coincides with the end of the
motif (G at U: m. 31). For this reason, and also because the bass has not
yet taken part in the polyphonic texture, these first measures do not
constitute a self-sufficient unit. The next harmonic progression concludes
in the middle of m. 8, after a modulation to the dominant. This cadence
represents a strong close and serves as a structural caesura. The dominant
key is first reached in m. 4. In m. 5 it gives way to its dominant (F major)
which, reinforced by sustained notes in the bass and several F-major
broken chords in the treble, governs the three measures preceding the
perfect cadence in B major.
Harmonic progressions indicate four structural sections: mm. 1-87
(E major to B major), mm. 8-131 (B major to F minor), mm. 13-14 (stepwise return from F via B to E, which serves here as dominant to A), and
mm. 15-24 (A major to E major, with an interrupted cadence in m. 227
followed by a full cadence in m. 24). The first section recurs in the fourth
(mm. 1-87 .15-227). There are only two small deviations from a literal
transposition: melodically, the ornamented note at m. 41 is substituted by
an eighth-note group at the beginning of m. 18, and harmonically, the
perfect cadence at the end of the first section is replaced by an interrupted
cadence (see the C-minor chord in the middle of m. 22).
The basic character in this composition is ambivalent, but the differences in articulation resulting from the two choices are small. On the one
hand, the interval structure in the principal motif features an entire broken
chord. If, with regard to the rhythmic pattern, one focuses on the polyphonically involved voices and their frequent three-eighth-note groups
147

148

WTC I/9

against dotted quarter-notes, one would have to interpret the rhythm as


simple. This underlying simple rhythm, in conjunction with the melodic
surface features, could then be read as indicating a rather lively basic
character. In this case, the dotted quarter-notes and quarter-notes would be
played non legato, the eighth-notes (quasi) legato. On the other hand, one
might read the melodic line in the first phrase as an elaborate hidden twopart structure based, after an initial rising sixth (E-C), on the stepwise
descent C-B-A-G set in double thirds, and consider the syncopations in
U: m. 3 and M: mm. 4 + 5 along with the 16th-notes in the cadential figures
and the bridging m. 14 as essential constituents of the rhythmic pattern.
In this case, the piece would be interpreted as representing a rather calm
basic character in which all melodic notes are to be played legato. In the
motif, the sequential structure implies phrasing after each E. In either character, cadential-bass notes (mm. 12 + 22-23) are non legato while dosido
formulas (L: mm. 2-3, M: mm. 12-13, and U: mm. 23-24) as well as notes
with tie-prolongation into an eighth-note (M: mm. 1-2, U: mm. 3, 4 etc.)
are legato. This leaves only very few notes that will be played legato in a
rather calm but non legato in a rather lively character.1
The preludes tempo, too, does not necessarily differ too much in the
two approaches. As always in Baroque pieces, the compound time signature indicates that the dotted quarter-notes and not the eighth-notes are to
be perceived as the pulse of the piece. At the same time, the ornaments and
the written-out 16th-note runs must be accommodated. A combination of
these two criteria limits the choices to a moderate pulse with gently flowing eighth-notes.
The prelude features several ornaments. The principal motif, in its first
presentation (mm. 1-31) and its recapitulation (mm. 15-171), carries two
mordents; these are dropped in all shorter developments of the motif. Both
mordents begin on the upper neighbor note and thus contain four notes, the
first of which falls on the beat. The mordent adorning the preparation of
the cadence in m. 7 is not derived from Bachs manuscript but from a
copy, as the brackets indicate. Because it is very appropriately placed and
embellishes the piece in an unpretentious way, playing it is a good idea.
(Consistency would then require integrating an equivalent mordent on the
middle beat of m. 21.) In both cases, the ornament begins on the main note
because it is approached stepwise. Finally, the compound ornament in m. 4
is launched from the lower neighboring note, as the little convex curve
1

These are: U: none; M: mm. 1: G, 5: E, 6: A, 10: all, 13: F, 15: C, 19: A, 20: D;
L: mm. 6: F, 7: G, 9: E, 10: all, 14: B, 20: B, 21: C.

E major

149

preceding the symbol designates. For performers with good finger dexterity,
a rendition with eight ornamental 32nd-notes sounds most convincing. A
longer ornament might blur the lower-voice entry of the motif.

m. 1

m. 7

m. 4

The initial phrase, which ends in a perfect cadence at m. 31, introduces


the motif of this invention. This motif has several outstanding features,
some of which are transitorily lost in the development and only recur in the
transposed recapitulation. As mentioned above, the line consists of a rising
broken chord whose octave is prolonged with a written-out inverted mordent
E-D-E and a melodic descent through the strong-beat notes C-B-A-G.
The first two of these melodic notes recall the inverted-mordent figure,
enhancing this lyrical embellishment by additional mordents and returning
in-between with an escape note to the octave E. This E thus serves as a
background layer in a hidden two-part structure. The last two melodic
notes are then linked by a free ornamental line. Horizontally, one could
regard the motif as consisting of head and body, the head comprising
the broken chord, the original inverted-mordent figure ornamenting the
octave, and the melodic step downward (which entails a harmonically
active movement), leading into a body in which the climax relaxes with a
gradual melodic descent and an equally gradual harmonic return to the
tonic. The motifs original accompaniment shows in the lower voice a protracted dosido formula and in the middle voice a (differently embellished) melodic parallel to the descent in the motifs body: A-G-F-E.
The development focuses on the motifs head, which appears twice in
the lower voice (m. 3 = tonic and m. 4 = dominant) before returning with
two statements on F (V/V and V7/V respectively) to the upper voice.2 The
remaining 1 measures borrow the idea of gentle curves from the end of
the original motif and close in m. 8 with a B-major cadence.
2

Note that in these measures, the motifs head carries on into another broken chord. For a
meaningful performance it is vital to distinguish between the original, active broken-chord
rise, found here on the first beat of each measure, and the passive one that serves as a
rhythmic extension to the melodic target note.

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WTC I/9

From a perspective of harmony, the first and second sections perform


the pattern of head and body on a larger scale. This large-scale head
the first phraseis firmly rooted in the tonic before its partial imitation
undertakes an active harmonic step (from the E-major chord to the inverted
F9 at m. 33). The gradual melodic descent of the body, begun in m. 3 with
G, continued in mm. 5-6 with F-E, E-D, and completed after a lyrical
ornament in m. 8 with C-B, ultimately resolves into a new tonic as the
F-major chord, implied from m. 33 to m. 82, finally gives way to B major.
In the second section, the imitation of mm. 8-9 with the active harmonic
step leading to an inversion of the C-major ninth chord represents the
structural head, followed here again by a sweeping descent (U: mm.
9-12: B-A-G, D-C-B-A) accompanied by the gradual resolution into the
tonic of F minor at m. 131.
The subsequent brief passage encompasses two statements of the motif
in the lower voice that are even shorter than the previous ones. The sudden
16th-note runs, launched by the right hand and later taken up by the left,
add to set these measures apart from the remainder of the piece. Structurally, these two measures serve as a retransition to the recapitulation in m.
15; harmonically they lead to the function that, in Baroque compositions,
commonly opens a recapitulation: the subdominant (m. 15: A major). The
fourth section repeats the design of the first but ends in an interrupted
cadence instead. The coda presents three shortened versions of the motif in
the split middle voice before it concludes the work with a final cadence in
E major. This cadence is of particular interest as it is a hybrid between a
plagal cadence (represented by the bass step A-E) and an authentic cadence
(represented by D and C , the third and the ninth of the dominant chord).

WTC I/9 in E major Fugue


The subject of this fugue is short. It begins between beats (on the
upbeat to m. 13) and ends already at m. 21, encompassing six notes and one
rest. The dominant, implied on beat 4 where the unaccompanied line
features a rest, resolves onto the tonic at the return to E.3 The harmonic
movement on the rest, i.e., in the step from the implied prolongation of the
3

It is possible to assume a female ending, i.e., an unaccented extension without any


modification of the harmonic pattern. This would include the four 16th-notes up to the G
at m. 22. However, an analysis of the whole fugue shows that it makes more sense to relate
these notes to the counter-subject where they form an essential part of the first subphrase.

E major

151

highest pitch and its subdominant function to the


dominant, underlines the indivisibility of the phrase.
The harmonic base is a simple cadence in which the
subdominant is replaced by a seventh chord on its
relative. The subjects pitch pattern comprises seconds and one fifth
interval. The rhythm includes three different note values: 16th-notes, one
eighth-note, and one quarter-note. Later in the fugue, this rhythmic pattern
is occasionally interspersed with tie-prolongations.
Identifying the climax is easy in this subject. The second note F is the
melodic peak, the rhythmic focus as a sudden halt, and harmonically enhanced by the subdominant function and the implied change of harmony
on the rest. The rest after the climax sustains the tension, which is then
gradually released through the ensuing four 16th-notes.
The subject appears altogether twelve times in the course of this fugue.
1. mm. 1-2 M
5. mm. 7-8 M
9. mm. 20-21 U
2. mm. 2-3 U
6. mm. 9-10 L
10. mm. 21-22 M
3. mm. 3-4 L
7. mm. 16-17 M
11. mm. 25-26 U
4. mm. 6-7 U
8. mm. 19-20 L
12. m. 28
L

Only two of the subject statements are varied. The upper-voice entry in
mm. 20-21 includes an interesting octave displacement: a 16th-note-group
sets out one beat early from middle B. The extra time created by this
metric shift is filled with a figure leading to the climax C in the higher
octave. Similarly, the final entry also begins on the wrong beat. This time,
however, no correction is made. Instead, this statement concludes in its
metrically anticipated position and thus makes room, as it were, for an
accented cadential-bass leap to the tonic at the end of the piece.
The fugue features only one counter-subject. Introduced in the middle
voice where it is pitted against the second subject statement (from the
second 16th-note in m. 2 up to m. 31), it is almost omnipresent. This
companion is thus considerably longer than the subject. As it begins immediately after the downbeat, it bridges the three-eighth-notes rest that
precedes the first subject note. The counter-subjects pitch pattern and
perfectly even rhythm confirm the ornamental nature and, by extension,
the basic character of this fugue. A spiraling motion around a central note
(mm. 2-3: around E) and an obvious lack of harmonic or melodic features
that might enhance tension discourage any explicit dynamic shaping other
than a very soft rise at the beginning and a relaxation during the second

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WTC I/9

half. For the same reasons and because of the very even rhythmic pattern,
subphrasing is also unlikely. Nevertheless, one can clearly distinguish two
segments. They are of equal length (each spans eight 16th-notes and ends
on a strong beat), which allows them to appear in various combinations.
Separate or joined, they play an important role in the fugue. The first
segment, CS-a, consists of a scale section from D to B followed by a
broken chord B-G-E. The second segment, CS-b, features the inverted turn
D-E-F-E and its varied repetition D-E-F-D. These segments appear
both as companions to subject entries and as episode motifs. They are
therefore worth being traced in detail.
As a companion to the subject, the complete version of CS-a + CS-b
appears only against the subject entries in mm. 2-3, 7-8, 20-21 and, with a
slight variation, in mm. 21-22. Other subject entries are accompanied by
1. CS-b + CS-b in sequential pattern (see mm. 3-4, 25-26)
2. CS-b + CS-b in a two-part imitative setting (see mm. 9-10)
3. a free figuration followed by CS-b (see mm. 6-7)
4. CS-b dissolving into a free figuration (see mm. 28-29)
5. no counter-subject material at all (see mm. 16-17, 19-20).
Within the episodes, the segments may appear in the counter-subject
order of CS-a + CS-b (mm. 4-5 L: D-D; mm. 8-9 M: A-A). In this order,
they may form descending sequences (mm. 11-12 and 12-13 L: G-G and
E-E; mm. 13-14 and 14-15 U: B-B and A-A; mm. 17-18 and 18-19 M:
B-B and G-G; mm. 22-23, 23-24 and 24-25 M: D-D, C-C and B-B).
They may even incorporate small variations that change the harmonic
outline (mm. 26-27 and 27-28 U: D-G and F-B). Or the episodes may
recall only one of the counter-subjects segments, either separately (m. 3
first half U: A-B) or in ascending sequences of CS-a (mm. 5-6 L: C-C,
mm. 15-16 U: G-G). In other words, there is not a single measure in the
E-major fugue without some quotation of the counter-subject segments.
Because of its unusual nature without any explicit dynamic shaping,
the counter-subject does not challenge the subjects supremacy. Yet one
must distinguish different levels of intensity in its 16th-notes and shape the
beginning carefully: while the
four ascending 16th-notes that
S
end the subject constitute a distinct diminuendo, the ensuing
group of ascending 16th-notes
represents a tension increase
(though a mild one owing to the
ornamental structure).

E major

153

There are seven subject-free passages in this fugue.


E1 = m. 3
E4 = mm.103-163
E6 = mm. 22-253
E2 = mm. 43-6
E5 = mm. 17-193
E7 = mm. 26-281
E3 = mm. 83-9
No episode is related to the subject, but all, as has been shown above,
feature at least one of the counter-subject segments. This consistency of
material throughout all structural portions creates a strong impression of
unity. In addition, the episodes contain three motifs. While inconsequential
for the design of the composition, their dynamic impact for the episodes is
important. M1 appears in the upper voice of mm. 5-6 (B D F B); its
broken chord pattern, immediately imitated in the middle voice but never
recurring thereafter, describes a graceful increase in tension. M2 is of
greater importance. Consisting of a syncopated appoggiatura and its
resolution, it is introduced in the middle voice of mm. 13-14 (A-G) and
followed by two descending sequences, each representing an emotional
accent and relaxation. Its accompaniment, a non-melodic eighth-notes
figure in the lower voice that is also sequenced twice, finds its climax on
the middle beat of each measure, preceding the high-tension interval (see
the minor seventh leaps A-G, G-F, F-E). M2 is taken up in E6 where
its appoggiatura-resolution pattern appears in the upper voice of mm. 22-25.
The accompaniment, again in the lower voice, is a non-melodic eighthnote figure in similar dynamic design, albeit in a different pitch pattern.
M3 is presented in the upper voice of E5 (see m. 17, G to tied note A) and
sequenced once in the next measure; it never recurs thereafter (although U:
m. 9 could perhaps be regarded as remotely related). It describes a tension
curve with the climax on the first 16th-note.
The episodes comprise two unequivocal closing formulas that are
structurally significant as they provide essential information for the understanding of the nature of the seven episodes. This is crucial in the case of
the first closing formula, which occurs in mm. 43-53, where the upper voice
features the typical dosido figure. E2 thus consists of two halves of very
different structural importance: the first measure provides a cadential close
in the dominant key of B major, while the continuation introduces M1 and
modulates back to the tonic, re-establishing E major in m. 64. The second
closing formula is found in m. 12, with the perfect cadence in C minor,
the tonic relative, completed at m. 131. Once again the upper voice presents
one of the typical figures, and once again this closing formula appears in
the middle of a subject-free passage. E4 is thus built similarly to E2; it also
consists of two segments, the first of which provides the cadential close
while the second introduces a new motif: M2. Two other closing formulas

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WTC I/9

appear in subject statements. The first, characterized with the typical


cadential steps in the lower voice, accompanies the middle-voice entry in
mm. 16-17; the second, with a similar lower-voice pattern and a do-si-do
figure in the upper voice, supports the final entry in mm. 28-29. Concerning structural analogies, E6 is a variation of E4b (mm. 13-163 .
22-253).
The role the seven episodes play in the development of this fugue
reveals a strikingly regular pattern: E1 provides a bridge between the
second and third entries; it sustains the tension that has already been built
up without sounding too important lest it diminish the premonition of the
next subject statement. E2 engenders a release of tension in its first half;
after the cadence, M1 introduces a contrasting color with its own relaxing
tendency. E3, like E1 though longer, serves as a bridge between two
entries. E4, like E2, injects a tension release into the (also considerably
extended) first segment; after the cadence, the appearance of M2 provides
an even more distinct color contrast.4 E5 like E1 and E3 serves as a bridge.
Like its predecessors E1 and E3, it also appears in two-part texture, with
the lower voice resting. Yet because of its unique motif, this bridge sounds
more individual than the two others. E6 repeats the color contrast and the
overall relaxation of its model, the second half of E4. E7 once again
sustains the tension between the two final subject statements.
The basic character of the E-major fugue is rather lively. This is
determined above all by the rhythmic structure that, from the middle of the
first subject statement onward, presents an unbroken continuity of 16thnotes, and by the ornamental nature of the 16th-notes. Several brokenchord figures (M1, M3, M2 accompaniment, lower voice E7 etc.) confirm
this choice of character. The appropriate tempo of this fugue is very fluent,
almost virtuoso, with a swiftness that avoids any heaviness. The articulation encourages many nuances: an energetically bouncing non legato in the
subjects upbeat, a lighter non legato in the broken-chord patterns of M1
and M3 as well as in all other upper- and middle-voice eighth-notes, a
neutral, medium-length non legato in the M2 accompaniment and all other
cadential-bass patterns, a crisp quasi legato in the 16th-notes figures, an
ordinary legato in the melodic closing formulas of the treble (mm. 4-5,
12-13, and 28-29), and an intense legato in the appoggiatura-resolution
pairs of M2.
4

M2 is more prominent than M1 both in length and in further impact. It is set more clearly
apart from the ornamental character of this fugue owing to the melodic legato found in its
appoggiatura-resolution figure, and its descending sequences effect an overall relaxation.

E major

155

The tempo proportion of prelude and fugue also allows for two
choices, depending on just how fluent or how gently flowing the prelude is
taken. If the prelude is played with a pulse of metronome 80 or above, the
proportion can be simple: a beat (dotted quarter-note) in the prelude
becomes a beat (quarter-note) in the fugue. If the prelude is played with a
considerably slower pulse, a translation of eighth-notes into eighth-notes
works best. (Approximate metronome settings: [a] 96 for the dotted quarternotes in the prelude and the quarter-notes in the fugue; [b] 72 for the dotted
quarter-notes in the prelude; 108 for the quarter-notes in the fugue.)
The paramount force determining the design is this fugue lies in the
two explicit cadential formulas as well as in the structural analogies. Some
of these correspondences were already mentioned above, some should be
added here. Summing up, these are the factors determining the layout of
the fugue: E2 and E4 both consist of two segments, the first ending with a
cadential close emphasized by a closing formula, the second creating a
color contrast by introducing a motif that is unrelated to the primary
thematic material. Interpreting these two analogous cadences as the ends of
the first and second sections respectively, and looking backward from
these ends, one can observe that both are preceded by the same pattern of
two subject statements (on tonic and dominant), followed by an episode
that serves as a bridge, and complemented by another statement in the third
voice (mm. 1-43 . 64-113). The second section differs from the first owing
to the extensions of roughly one measures length each at both sides, i.e.,
additional episode measures both before the above-mentioned pattern.
Another analogy occurs between the second segment of E4 and E6.
Both present almost exactly the same material, albeit in different keys and
with the upper and middle voices inverted. If the second segment of E4 is
regarded as the beginning of the third section in this fugue, which follows
from what was said above, it would be logical to accept E6 as the beginning of the fourth section. Looking back again from the respective section
endings one can detect the following analogy: The three subject statements
preceding the end of the third section recall those of the first section. Like
them they are presented on the tonic, the dominant, and the tonic (mm. 1-43
. 193-22). The episode that, in both the first and the second sections,
serves as a bridge inside this pattern, now connects the entire pattern with
the additional subject statement at the beginning of the third section. While
we found that the second section was extended in comparison to the first,
we can now confirm that the third section continues this process of
extension at least at the beginning: the episode-segment opening the
section is longer (mm. 13-163 . 53-6), the linking episode inside the

156

WTC I/9

section is also longer (mm. 17-193 . 83-9 . m. 3), and there is an additional subject statement.
While the third section reveals itself as related to the first by the key of
its three subject statements, the fourth section similarly recalls the second
one. The two statements in the fourth section take up not only the keys of
the first and last statement in the second section, they even appear in the
same voices (mm. 25-26 . 6-7: statement in U on the tonic, and mm.
28-29 . 9-10: statement in L on the dominant).

Owing to the ubiquitous presence of counter-subject segments and the


absence of intensifying modifications of the subject, large-scale dynamic
developments are not called for in this fugue. The overall impression
should emphasize the ornamental nature of the piece and the subjects
cheerfulness.

WTC I/10 in E minor Prelude


This is another prelude developed from a forerunner in the Notebook
for Wilhelm Friedemann. The original, only 23 measures long, displays a
16th-note bass line below block chords in recitativo style (1/8-note chords
followed by 3/8-note rests, sounded on the first and third beats of each
measure). In this earlier setting, the prelude is harmonically determined.
The version Bach developed for the Well-Tempered Clavier comprises 41
measures. The first 22 measures rest on an almost unchanged 16th-note
bass line.1 The recitativo-style block chords appear now in the middle layer
and are often reduced to only two notes. The two strands are topped by an
elaborate cantilena reminiscent of a violino-obbligato part in a baroque
oratorio aria. This line sounds so unique that it may make listeners overlook that it is only an ornamented variation of the treble in the original
block chords. In other words: in its initial half the E-minor prelude is a
harmonically determined piece luxuriantly adorned.
The preludes second half is marked Presto. Although the word hints
primarily at a changed pace of the prevalent pulse, it leads performers and
listeners alike into expecting entirely new material. It may then come as a
surprise that these 19 measures rest on a 16th-note figure that, on close
inspection, proves strikingly related to that of the first half. What is new is
that here, the right-hand part also appears in 16th-notes. For the most part,
these move in parallel motion to the bass, but they nevertheless create the
impression of ornamented broken chords. Although the final nine-measure
portion features several details that will deserve special mention later, we
can safely maintain that this part of the prelude is also, above all, harmonically determined.
1

The Wilhelm Friedemann version differs little from the Well-Tempered Clavier version:
The G in m. 91 avoids the seventh jump downward by appearing one octave higher; the line
is thus smoother, but the bass-note descent from m. 6 to m. 9 is less satisfactory without its
expected target in the lower octave. In m. 13, the re-sharpening of the F already occurs in
the second half of the measure and not, as in the later version, only in m. 14. In the second
half of m. 15, the original version features G-B-C-D-C-D-C-B, the harmonically logical
figure that, in the adaptation, is modified to G-A-B-C-B-C-B-A in favor of an assimilation
with the ensuing measures. Finally, mm. 21-22 were originally erected on a repeated tonic
pedal. As the reworked prelude for the Well-Tempered Clavier is destined to continue with
a weighty second half, these measures are changed to support the intended modulation.

157

158

WTC I/10

The first cadence ends in m. 4 (m. 1 = i, m. 2 = ii7, m. 3 = V9, m. 4 = I;


the chords on ii and V sound in inversion over a do-si-do bass line). The
close should be marked with a melodic caesura after m. 43. On the last
three eighth-notes of m. 4, a melodic upbeat prepares the beginning of the
ensuing phrase. The next harmonic progression modulates to the relative
key G major, which is reached at m. 93. This progression coincides again
with a melodic phrase.
Throughout the entire prelude one can distinguish 8 structural sections.
They are grouped in a proportion of 5:3 into two encompassing sections:
I = mm. 1-43 (E minor cadence), mm. 43-93, 93-151, and 153-211 (modulations to G major, on to A minor, and back to E minor), and mm. 213-231
(new modulation to A minor); II = mm. 23-263 (A minor cadence), mm.
263-281 (modulation back to E minor), and mm. 28-41 (E minor affirmed).
The initial four-measure cadence recurs, transposed to the subdominant, at
the beginning of the Presto with a corresponding bass line. The diatonically
descending bass line of mm. 14-17 is taken up in mm. 27-30, surrounded
by an analogous harmonic pattern. Moreover, the return modulation from
the end of the first half is used to close a phrase in the middle of the Presto
(mm. 19-21 . 31-33). In other words, the final eight measures aside, the
Presto presents a recapitulation in a chain, without links, of three separate
passages from the first half of the prelude: mm. 23-26 . 1-4, mm. 27-30
.14-17, and mm. 31-33 . 19-21.
The tempo should accommodate the change in the middle of the piece
in such a way that the second half develops naturally from the first. The
most balanced way of achieving this is to play the Prestos 16th-notes twice
as fast as the initial 16th-notes. With regard to the articulation one may
assume that the preludes first half, with its cantilena in highly complex
rhythm, represents a rather calm basic character. The 16th-notes should
therefore begin in legato and only change to a crisper touch in the Presto.
The melodic line in the first half is also legato (Bachs paired slurring in m.
3 and the uncommon interruptions of the trills just before the suffixes in
mm. 10 and 12 add variety). The original block chords in the middle strand
are separated by rests and best played in a neutral tone color. In the Presto,
as in any lively piece, longer note values would have to be detached. Yet
apart from the leap in U: m. 24 and the half-notes in M: mm. 36-37 and
U: 38-39, there are no notes to which this would apply.
The first half of the prelude features five ornaments. As all of them are
long trills, the paramount concern will be the tempo of the shake. The
immediate choice of performers familiar with the rules of ornamentation in
Baroque polyphonic music would be to shake in notes twice as fast as the

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159

shortest appearing values (i.e., with four notes to a 16th-note). For pianists
who find this technically too demanding or musically too congested, there
are, in this particular piece, indicators why a trill speed in slower values
might be not only acceptable but, some believe, even advisable: The fastest
occurring note values, the 32nd-notes, all appear in a strictly ornamental
context. These groups could thus be interpreted as spelled-out unaccented
ornaments and embellishments (see e.g., m. 1: an upbeat turn, m. 3: an
embellishment of the step A-G, etc.). It would therefore make sense to play
the ornaments appearing as symbols in the same motion. Moreover, four of
the five trills end in suffixes that are spelled out. This is either because an
interrupted trill is normally not expected to conclude with a suffix (as in
mm. 10 and 12), or because Bach desires a suffix differing from the
common shape (as in m. 14). Note, however, that the very regular suffix in
m. 1 is also written out. These suffixes appear in 32nd-note notes, a fact
that supports the rendition of the entire trills in 32nd-notes.
The four trills that are approached in note repetition (mm. 1, 10, 12,
and 20) start on the upper neighbor note. The fifth (m. 14), preceded by
stepwise motion, begins on the main (16th-) note. Regarding their ending,
only the trills in mm. 1 and 14 feature regular motion up to the written-out
suffix. The others are either interrupted by a sudden rest (cutting out one
32nd-note pair but leaving the remainder intact; see mm. 10 and 12), or
they end in an anticipated resolution, requiring a point darrt stop before
the anticipation (see m. 20). The example shows the complete rendition of
these trills in the slower of the two possible speeds.

The question of dynamic development in the preludes first half needs


to be addressed separately and in detail for the harmonic background and
the cantilena because of occasional contradictions of harmonic progression
and melodic features. Inside the completed cadences, the harmonic climax
falls on the beat that first manifests the subdominant harmony (in mm. 1-4
on m. 21, in mm. 23-26 on m. 241). In mm. 23-26, both hands support this
design. Conversely, in mm. 1-4 this is presented by the left-hand line and
the chords in the middle strand while the cantilena is headed independently
toward a melodic climax on the middle beat of m. 3.

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In passages where the original prelude featured sequences, separate


rules apply, which override those of the harmonic relationships. Such a
sequential pattern can be found in mm. 5-8 (B: E-D, D-C, C-B, B-A and
the paired pattern of the double thirds in the middle strand). In the model,
the chord in the first half of the measure relaxes toward the chord in the
second half (the inverted F7 resolves into the inverted B-minor chord).
Throughout the four-measure descent, this pattern of tension/resolution
should be repeated, each time on a slightly softer level. The final harmony
of this section, the G-major chord in m. 9, thus emerges as a soft ending.
The cantilena enhances this by preparing each of the seventh chords with
an elaborate upbeat while sustaining a long note into the ensuing moment
of resolution. Another succession of sequences appears in mm. 93-133.
Here the model is two measures long; the bass line G-G-F-E is sequenced
as E-E-D-C, and the harmonic progression of a modulation from G major
to E minor is sequenced as a move from E minor to C major. The climax
within the model falls on the step that actively leaves the momentary tonic,
i.e., on m. 101, after which the tension subsides gradually up to m. 113.
This dynamic pattern is then taken up in the sequence, where it sounds
slightly softer because of the generally descending direction. The cantilena
supports this pattern again by approaching these climax points in large
leaps (see mm. 9-10 = octave, mm. 11-12 = minor sixth).
Similarly, in passages where a bass-note pattern creates a line, this line
should outrank any small-scale increases and decreases in the harmonic
tension. In mm. 14-17 and mm. 27-30, the bass descends in diatonic halfmeasure steps. The superimposed harmonies suggest an increase, except
for one definite resolution at the respective ends of the short modulation
(onto A minor at m. 151, onto E minor at m. 281). The bass line Bach
composes reflects this break in the dynamic development by a break in the
straight pitch line (in m. 15 the A appears an octave higher than expected,
and in m. 28 the same holds true for the E.) The descent is prolonged with
chromatic steps that create an even stronger increase in tension as they
surpass the boundaries of the home key and bring about harmonies of high
tension. The resolution onto E minor then provides a relaxation.
The corresponding phrase in the Presto features an extension over a
diatonic bass line that reaches its climax on the chord corresponding to the
one mentioned above (i.e., that at m. 321). The ensuing relaxation is not
quite as complete, both because the dominant appears in minor mode (thus
lacking the leading-note) and because the A-minor chord in m. 33 is
inverted. In all these developments, however, the right-hand part supports
the general harmonic design.

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161

This leaves only the final measures of each half of the prelude to be
discussed. In the first half, mm. 21-22 modulate actively toward A minor,
thereby suggesting an increase in tension. In mm. 33-41, a rather abrupt
initial increase is followed by the considerably softer beginning of the
pedal note B. For the duration of this pedal (mm. 343-39), the dynamic
growth is smooth and gradual. However, it manifests itself here not only in
the obstinate repetition of the bass note but also in an intensification of the
texture from three to four voices (compare m. 34 with m. 38. Note that this
increase of texture does not change the essential figures in the least). The
logical target for this crescendo is the interrupted cadence in m. 40, after
which the tonic of the home-key is approached in an overall diminuendo.
The simplified outline of the prelude in E minor given in the following
music example tries to capture these processes.

WTC I/10 in E minor Fugue


This is the only two-part fugue in the Well-Tempered Clavier. As its
subject modulates a fifth up to B minor, the closing cadence sets out with
the dominant of this target key, i.e., the F-A-C in the latter part of m. 2.
Harmonically, the resolution falls on the first beat of m. 3. Structurally
however, the subjects indivisible phrase ends properly only on the second
eighth-note of m. 3. The reason why this second eighth-note must be

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regarded as the final note, thus creating an unusual overlapping of the end
of the first subject statement with the beginning of the subsequent entry,
lies in the subjects melodic structure. The pitch pattern is unusual in that
it is composed in hidden two-part structure. In an attempt to determine
which notes belong to the melodic strand and which to the harmonic background, the following layers can be revealed: The melodic strand comprises an initial E (represented by either or both of the key notes in the first
chord), followed by a chromatic descent to the B on the downbeat of m. 2.
The end of the line is then provided by the A on the second beat in m. 2
and the two upbeat groups
G-F-G and F-E-D. The harmonic background is represented first by the third and
fifth of the tonic and then by
a keynote pedal in an offbeat
repeated-note pattern. This
segment of the backdrop is concluded by the ornamented keynote pedal
(E-D-E) after the downbeat of m. 2. The modulation to B minor manifests
in this strand with the offbeat notes C and A in m. 2. And these find their
resolution onto the target key on the equally offbeat B in m. 3. The example
above spells out this hidden
two-part structure. Consecutive notes hardly ever belong
to the same strand, thereby
transcending the concept of
intervals.
The rhythm in the subject comprises only 16th-notes and eighth-notes.
These two basic values remain predominant throughout the composition,
and even the third rhythmic unit, the tied-over quarter-note in the countersubject, does not change the fundamentally simple rhythmic pattern. The
subjects harmonic progression, too, is very simple. Aside from the initial
tonic and the two chords representing the modulation it only contains a
rudimentary subdominant in m. 13.
The swift motion permits no emotional involvement in melodic details.
At the same time, neither the simplicity of the harmonic design nor the
rhythmic pattern in uninterrupted 16th-notes offers any climax. Therefore,
the only feature capable of influencing the development of tension in this
subject is the descent in the melodic part of the structure. This leaves the
subject with a very straightforward dynamic gesture: an energetic beginning followed by a gradual decrease in tension.

E minor

163

The eight complete entries of the subject appear as follows:


1. mm. 1-3
U
5. mm. 20-22
L
2. mm. 3-5
L
6. mm. 22-24
U
3. mm. 11-13
U
7. mm. 30-32
L
4. mm. 13-15
L
8. mm. 32-34
U

The only modification the subject undergoes is the omission of the


unaccented second eighth-note at the end; this shortened form (in which
the background strand thus does not resolve) occurs in L: mm. 13-15 and
in U: mm. 32-34, i.e., in the fourth and eighth statements.
There is only one counter-subject. It is introduced against the second
subject statement but is shorter at both ends, beginning after m. 32 and
ending at m. 51. Its predominant note value is again the 16th-note. The
only longer note is a quarter-note on the downbeat tied to an additional
16th-note on beat 2. The counter-subject is not composed in hidden twopart structure but in a contour consisting of various ornamental figures.
Each four-note group comprises three neighboring notes, one of which is
repeated as an axis. All figures differ from one another. The placement of
the climax poses no problem: it falls on the sudden long note value that, in
addition, highlights a strong metric position. The two sketches show the
phrase structure and dynamic design in the E-minor fugue.

The first represents the


two-part result as it is
apparent in the written
version.

The second is a more


accurate depiction of the
effect created in a
listener.

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The eight subject statements in this fugue are very neatly grouped in
four pairs, each of which is followed by a subject-free passage.
E1 mm. 5-10
E3
mm. 24-29
E2 mm. 15-19
E4
mm. 34-42
The second half of E4 recalls subject segments (compare U: m. 39 and
L: m. 40 with the first subject measure, as well as U: mm. 41-42 with the
second half of the subject). E1 and E3 quote the counter-subject, with the
expected final note replaced by a large leap downward that is followed by
the rising sixth with which the subject concludes. One might describe this
hybrid figure as counter-subject body with subject tail. Its companion is
the first genuine, i.e., independent episode motif (see U: mm. 5-7). M1
consists of two rising broken chords followed by a four-note ornament, a
descending scale, and a long closing note. Two dynamic designs are
possible in this episode motif. The climax can fall either on the peak note
of the broken-chord sequence (e.g., the G in m. 5) or on the rhythmically
exposed tied note (e.g., the D in m. 6). The first rendition underscores the
motifs independence while the second, owing to the analogous length of
the climax note with that in the counter-subject, makes it sound like a free
imitation of the other voice. E2 and E4 provide two more motifs. The
lower voice in mm. 15-16 introduces M2, which is characterized by a
simple broken chord in eighth-note motion complemented by the repetition
of the chords third and octave. The upper voice contrasts this with M3,
which consists of two descending scale segments in an uninterrupted
16th-note pattern. With these two motifs Bach achieves a very balanced
effect by subtle means: the two ascents in M2 are contrasted in M3 by two
descents, and while in M2 the four-note broken chord was followed by the
shorter two-note leap, M3 begins with the shorter scale segment that is
then followed by the longer one.
The combination of M1 and the hybrid motif described above as a
counter-subject body with subject tail is followed by a descending
sequence and rounded off by two measures of almost completely parallel
structure in the two voices (see mm. 9-11 and 28-30). Similarly, the combination of M2 and M3, covering only a single measure, is followed by a
double imitation and a descending sequence before this episode-type, too,
is rounded off by a parallel motion of the two voices (see mm. 19-20 and
38-39). The relationship between the episodes is thus very straightforward:
E1 recurs in E3 in inverted voices. Similarly, E2 is recapitulated in
inversion in the first half of E4 (mm. 15-19 . 34-38).
The role the episodes play in the development of the composition is
only slightly more complex. E2 and the first half of E4, consisting entirely

E minor

165

of material not related to the subject or its counter-subject, provide a


certain color contrast. This is enhanced by the fact that M2 is the only
component in this fugue to appear in a longer succession of eighth-notes.
The descending direction of the sequences and the ensuing twofold descent
in the parallel-motion measure create a distinct relaxation. E1 and E3 are
more closely related to the primary material of the fugue and thus create
less contrast. The descending sequence suggests a tension release, but the
ensuing parallel-motion measures build a powerful curve that brings about
its own virtuoso climax. Hence this episode type ends on a level similar to
that from which it begins. The fugues three final measures serve as a
relaxing coda, owing not only to the decrease in the subject that is partially
quoted here, but also to the softening shift toward the conclusion in the
major mode and to the graceful ornamental arpeggio that replaces the more
austere sixth leap originally ending the subject.
The simplicity of the rhythm, combined with the ornamental structure
in the 16th-notes and the leaps and broken chords in the eighth-notes,
suggest a lively basic character for this fugue. The tempo requires moderate beats in 3/4 time, so that the eighth-notes will sound swift and the
16th-notes truly ornamental. (Ornaments indicated by symbols do not
occur in this fugue.) The articulation encompasses few non-legato notes.
These include the final leap in the subject and the equivalent in the hybrid
episode figure, the eighth-notes in M2, and the left-hand eighth-notes in
the penultimate measure. All 16th-notes as well as the quarter-notes tied to
a 16th-note are quasi legato, i.e., played with a technique of basic legato
but with crisp fingers. The tempo proportion between the prelude and the
fugue is best determined by the continuity of the 16th-note motion. As the
character of the fugue allows for a fairly swift tempo, the pulse of the
preludes Presto section can be continued directly into the pulse of the
fugue. In other words: an eighth-note in the preludes initial tempo equals
a quarter-note in the preludes Presto and a quarter-note in the fugue.
(Approximate metronome settings: prelude basic beats = 60, Presto beats =
120; fugue beats = 120.)
The design of the E-minor fugue is reflected unequivocally in its
analogies. The analogy of E1 with E3 and of E2 with E4 has already been
expounded in detail. In addition, the first two pairs of subject statements
are faithfully recapitulated, in inverted voices and different keys, in the last
two pairs. This perfectly symmetrical structure with two corresponding
sections (mm. 1-19 . mm. 20-38) is then complemented by the threemeasure coda that, as has been shown above, was the only episode portion
to state larger segments of the subject.

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The harmonic outline of this fugue comprises a very active movement


from one tonal area to another. This is caused by two facts: the subject
itself is modulating, and the answer is conceived as a real (not a tonal) one,
thus modulating further away from the original tonic. As the modulation in
each entry pair thus invariably leads two fifths up, one wonders how and
when the music can smoothly find the way back to the home key. Bach
solves this ingeniously by launching the two subject pairs in the second
half of the fugue from the subdominant (one fifth down) and the double
subdominant (two fifths down) respectively, so that the modulations will
logically return to the tonic at the end of the very last entry.
The tonal areas as represented by the subject entries are as follows:
mm. 1-3 (E minor to B minor), mm. 3-5 (B minor to F major),
mm. 11-13 (G major to D major), mm. 13-15 (D major to A major),
mm. 20-22 (A minor to E minor), mm. 22-24 (E minor to B major),
mm. 30-32 (D minor to A minor), mm. 32-34 (A minor to E major).

The dynamic outline follows the large-scale analogy with two gradual
build-ups. The tension continues to increase through the bridging episodes
E1 and E3 and is released in the concluding episodes of each half.

WTC I/11 in F major Prelude


This prelude, written in almost consistent two-part texture, is determined by a figure of consecutive broken chords with occasional auxiliary
and passing notes. With 16th-notes in the compound time of 12/8, this
figure dominates the entire composition without a single interruption.
The first cadence appears at the end of the figures first statement,
shortly before the end of m. 2. It thus defines the thematic component and
not a structural section. The next harmonic progression effects a modulation to the relative minor key, which is reached in the middle of m. 6.
Contrary to the first cadential close, this one indicates the completion of a
structural process.
There are altogether three sections:
1. mm. 1-67
F major to D minor
2. mm. 6-127
D minor to G minor
3. mm.12-18
G minor back to F major
The prelude comprises a striking symmetry in its first two sections:
mm.1-27 . 67-81 (transposed, voices inverted)
mm.3-67 . 9-127 (transposed only)
As the entire prelude consists of broken-chord patternsboth in its
16th-note figures and in their eighth-note accompanimentand does not
feature any truly melodic passages, a swift tempo is indicated. An ideal
rendition is one that allows listeners to feel the four-beats-to-a-measure
meter implicit behind the written compound-time designation. The articulation requires a light non legato for the eighth- and quarter-notes and a
leggiero-style touch for the 16th-notes.
The most noticeable ornaments in this prelude are the compound trills
on the half-notes in mm. 3, 4, 9, 10, 12, and 13. The long trill in mm. 14-15
may be included here as it fulfills basically the same function. The
execution is as follows: the speed of all these ornaments is in 32nd-notes.
Each of them ends with a suffix (the ones in U: mm. 4 and 9 including the
raised lower neighbor notes B and F respectively). The onset is as visually
indicated: concave curves signify a beginning with the four-note group of
upper neighbor/main note/lower neighbor/main note followed by the usual
trill motion, whereas convex curves indicate a launch with the inverted
shape of lower neighbor/main note/upper neighbor/main note followed by
167

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the complementing number of two-note shakes.1 The ornament in the final


measure is a point darrt trill, consisting only of four notes followed by a
stop before the final sweep. The same applies to the ornament in U: m. 17,
which should stop well before the end of the dotted quarter-note because
the resolution is delayed by a tie-prolongation. The example below gives
the execution for one representative of each ornament-type.

There is only one relevant figure, the


broken-chord in 16th-notes introduced
in the upper voice in mm. 1-2. It can
easily be reduced to the harmonic progression shown. This figure describes
a sequence in which a harmony when
inverted is expanded with its seventh,
then resolves, only to find the resolution itself turning into another seventh
chord and resolving again.
The dynamic development equivalent to this harmonic process is twofold:
the slight waves of tension-increase and relaxation appear under the
umbrella of an overall diminuendo, either from the beginning of the entire
figure to the return to the tonic (as in mm. 1-2) or, in the shorter versions
later on, only through a single chord/seventh-chord/resolution group. In its
development, the figure is shortened and complemented by a trill. As such,
it occurs in stretto imitation (see mm. 3-4). As the harmonic progression
departs from the tonic, the expected resolution is repeatedly substituted by
an entirely foreign note (see the C-major seventh chord followed by C in
m. 5etc.) without changing the basic pattern.
The dynamic outline of the first section presents an S-curve. After a
fairly assertive beginning and the two-measure decrease mentioned above,
1

In other words, the ornaments begin with the following notes:


m. 3: U on A and L on D m. 4: U on D and L on E,
m. 9: U on A and L on B
m. 10: U on E and L on A m. 12: U on A
m. 13: M on F
m. 14: L on C.
It is interesting to observe that Bachs basic idea seems to be that of a trill from below;
but wherever such beginning from the lower neighbor note would clash with a pitch just
heard before, he substitutes this beginning for the opposite one; see e.g., in U: m. 4, a
beginning on the lower neighboring note B would clash with the B in the preceding figure;
in U: m. 9, a beginning on F would sound wrong after the recent F.

F major

169

the modulation to D minor features an increase, with each figure in the


stretto beginning slightly louder than the preceding one. This leads to a
climax (which should, however, be gentle enough not to rival the section
opening) followed by a gradual decrease up to the end of the section.
The second section begins similarly with a two-measure decrease. The
passage featuring the development of the figure is preceded by an extra
measure (m. 8) that initiates the increase of tension, although it does not
contribute to the subsequent modulation. From the middle of m. 10 onward,
a gradual relaxation leads to the end of the second section.
The third section sets out with two stretches of 1-measure extension
each. Both feature continuous ornamental motion in one hand and a new
development of the figure in the other, and in both cases the harmonic
progression moves in active steps (i.e., in a pattern of ascending fourths;
see mm. 127-13: g7-C-F-B, mm. 14-157: d7-g7-C7-F). These developments
engender a dynamic rise much stronger than any of the previous ones, with
the preludes climax falling on the middle beat of m. 15. In the final descent,
the false imitation beginning in L: m. 167 may be given extra emphasis,
but neither the trills nor the eighth-notes in mm. 17-18 should interrupt the
gradual relaxation that continues through to the last measure. The prelude
ends in a gentle hue.

WTC I/11 in F major Fugue


The subject of the F-major fugue is slightly less than four measures
long. It begins with an eighth-note upbeat and ends at m. 41 where, after
the dominant harmony of m. 3, the A represents the resolution onto the
tonic. The subject includes two features that indicate subphrasing, both
occurring in m. 2 after the downbeat: a change in the rhythmic pattern (the
continuous eighth-notes give way to 16th-note runs with eighth-notes only
at their ends), and a considerable shift in the pitch level (a major sixth
below the earlier slow turn around the C). Thus the 16th-note run sounds
almost like a new beginning.
The rhythmic pattern is simple, consisting only of eighth-notes and
16th-notes. The interval structure contains no surprises either; apart from
the above-mentioned leap, all the subjects intervals are seconds. However,
there is a hidden superimposed line, created by the downbeats of the four
measures in the subject: D-C-B-A. Harmonically, the steps of this line
represent the steps of a simple cadence.

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The dynamic outline of the subject is determined by three criteria: the


shape of the two subphrases, their intensity relation, and the influence of
the superimposed four-note descent. Within the first subphrase, the D in
m. 1 is metrically supported by falling on a strong beat and harmonically
by representing the subdominant, and as no rivaling melodic or rhythmic
features claim attention, this D is the obvious choice for a climax. Within
the second subphrase, the eighth-note B represents the dominant-seventh
chord. It is also the only longer note value and, because of the ascending
scale leading to it, the note with the greatest melodic emphasis. The combination of the two subphrases results in two structurally very similar curves.
The first is more exposed both harmonically (the step to the subdominant
being more active than that to the V7) and rhythmically (the eighth-notes
sounding more forceful than the ornamental or scalar 16th-notes). Considering the line created by the four downbeats, the concept will be modified
slightly to accommodate the continuity
behind the two-subphrase structure. This
means that the C in m. 2 is no longer the
almost complete relaxation it would be if
seen only as the end of the first subphrase,
but appears integrated into the superimposed diminuendo D-C-B-A.
There are fourteen subject statements:
1. mm. 0-4 M
6. mm. 25-29 L
11. mm. 46-50 L
2. mm. 4-8 U
7. mm. 27-31 M
12. mm. 48-52 M
3. mm. 9-13 L
8. mm. 36-40 U
13. mm. 50-54 U
4. mm. 17-21 U
9. mm. 38-42 M
14. mm. 64-68 U
5. mm. 21-25 M
10. mm. 40-44 L

Besides the adjustment of the initial interval in the answer, which


occurs only once (U: mm. 4-5), the subject undergoes two other variations.
Both are introduced toward the end of the work. Three statements feature a
fill-up 16th-note immediately after the second climax (mm. 49-53: L, M, U).
As a result, the second subphrase consists exclusively of 16th-notes, reinforcing the contrast with the all-eighth-note first subphrase. The final
statement, substituting the four eighth-notes in the upbeat and the first
measure with an ornamental line, comprises even more 16th-notes.

F major

171

On three occasions, statements follow one another with considerable


overlap (see statements nos. 6-7, 8-10, and 11-13). In the latter two groups,
the third statement is not strictly in stretto with the first. However, the fact
that the two consecutive voices in each compressed group repeat the
leading statement literally on the same scalar step and with the same
variation supports a stretto-group interpretation. Parallel subject entries do
not occur.
There is only one companion to the subject, and it is not particularly
faithful. It is introduced in the middle voice against the second subject
statement (m. 4, second 16th-note G, to m. 81 C). Already when accompanying the third subject statement in mm. 9-13, CS appears shortened at
its beginning. The fourth statement finds a considerably distorted version
of CS shared between two voices (see M: mm. 18-19, complemented by L:
mm. 19-21, from C onward). The fifth statement is once again accompanied by the complete counter-subject. The two subsequent statements,
which build the first stretto, are surrounded by the second half of CS (see
U: mm. 26-29). Hereafter, the counter-subject is dropped for good.
As the sequence found in the first two measures is ornamental in
nature, the counter-subject should be regarded as an indivisible unit. With
regard to dynamic shape,
the swift 3/8 time favors
the downbeats. In the
absence of any other
features likely to enhance
tension, the climax falls
on the downbeat that is
highest in pitch, i.e., on E
in m. 6, etc.
There are altogether six subject-free passages in this fugue:
E1 mm. 8-9
E4
mm. 44-46
E2 mm. 13-17
E5
mm. 54-64
E3 mm. 31-36
E6
mm. 68-72
None of the subject-free passages is related to the subject. By contrast,
the counter-subject is quoted partially or even in its entirety (see E1, where
the first measure from CS is anticipated in the upper and middle voices,
and E2, lower voice). No genuine episode motifs are presented, but short
sequence-models gain local importance: In E2, the model established in m.
13: U + M is sequenced in mm. 14 and 15. In E3, the complementary
model introduced in mm. 31-32: U + M, which picks up the end of S/CS, is
sequenced in mm. 33-34. And in E5, the little one-measure figure from

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M: mm. 56-57 is imitated through all voices in mm. 57-61 and 63-64. By
contrast, E4 consists of nothing but a cadential close, as does the first
segment of E5, which repeats this cadence in varied transposition. The
final episode, too, is only a slightly more elaborate cadential formula. This
structural equivalence of the cadential closes aside, the episodes in this
fugue show neither analogies nor other relevant patterns.
The role each episode plays in the development of this composition can
be easily deduced from what has been observed so far:
E1, anticipating the ensuing counter-subject appearance, links two
statements, as does E2, quoting the entire counter-subject against
rising sequences.
E3 with its descending sequences brings a slight release in tension.
E4, acting as a cadential close, represents a definite relaxation.
E5a creates the same effect of relaxation, whereas E5b, determined
by its ascending eighth-note scales, creates the impression of an
increase in tension.
E6 sets out with the same ascending eighth-notes but then relaxes in
the final cadence.
The simple rhythmic pattern in conjunction with the scalar or ornamental structure of the 16th-notes indicates a rather lively basic character.
The tempo should be fast enough to reflect the bouncing mood of the
eighth-notes and the ornamental nature of the 16th-notes. The appropriate
articulation is quasi legato for the 16th-notes and non legato for all eighthnotes except for those in appoggiaturas and closing formulas.2
The relative tempo of the prelude to the fugue poses a problem because
of the inherent triple meter in both movements. The simple proportion, in
which an eighth-note in the prelude corresponds with an eighth-note in the
fugue, is possible. It strings the two pieces so firmly together as to almost
blur the confines of each. Moreover, there is the danger of monotony in
two consecutive pieces both based on mainly two note values in exactly
the same speed (dotted quarter-notes = 63). I propose another proportion,
which may seem more complicated but has the advantage of giving a
livelier, more interesting result. In it, an artifical group of three 16th-notes
in the prelude corresponds with an eighth-note in the fugue. (Approximate
metronome settings: dotted quarter-notes in the prelude = 72, eighth-notes
in the fugue = 144.) The different speed helps to differentiate touch and
color in the fugues heavier eighth-notes from the preludes lighter ones.
2

In mm. 45, 55, and 71, the ornamented notes in the upper voice are not detached from the
notes that follow. Likewise in the middle voice, the do-si-do figure in mm. 55-56 is legato.

F major

173

The fugue features mainly two kinds of ornaments: a long trill on the
penultimate note of the counter-subject and mordents in the typical closing
formulas. The trill in the counter-subject abides by the same rules that
would apply to a similar trill in the subject: it is approached stepwise and
thus begins on the main note, its speed is in 32nd-notes as these are twice
as fast as the shorter written-out note values, and it ends in a suffix before
resolving stepwise. The ornaments in the closing formulas (mm. 45, 55,
and 71) are short since their resolutions are in each case anticipated and
fall before the next strong beat, thus demanding a point darrt. They all
begin on the upper neighbor note and move in 32nd-notes or slightly
faster. In the two cases with dotted-note rhythmic figures, the ornament
stops short before the third eighth-note beat. The ornament in m. 28 is a
variation of the long trill mentioned above since the upper voice in mm.
26-29 features a variation of CS. Although shorter here, its beginning,
speed, and end should match the long trill. Finally, the mordent at m. 481
begins on the upper neighbor note and fills the note value with four swift
sixty-fourth-notes.3
Several features in this fugue provide indications for its design. The
subject statements beginning in mm. 21 and 46 both sound in reduced
ensemble and should be earmarked for possible section beginnings. In a
third instance, the stretto launched in m. 36 is accompanied by a sustained
pedal and thus also creates the effect of not actively involving all three
voices. The episodes between the second and third statements (E1) and
between the third and fourth ones (E2) are both related to the primary
material insofar as they quote the counter-subject. They thus suggest a link
between entries belonging to a single structural section. Furthermore, both
episodes have an ascending pitch outline. E3, by contrast, serves as a kind
of extension to the preceding subject statement and shows a descending
pitch line. The triple stretto + closing formula in mm. 36-46 is structurally
analogous to the triple stretto + closing formula in mm. 46-56. The final
cadential close is built along the same pattern as the two preceding ones
(compare particularly mm. 71-72 with mm. 45-46).
Harmonically, the fugue remains rooted in F major until m. 31. The
subsequent measures undertake a shift to D minor (see m. 32, reinforced
by its dominant, the A-major chord in mm. 34 and 36), which becomes the
basis of the triple stretto from m. 36 onward. A cadence in this relativeminor key closes this segment in m. 46. The following measures pick up
3

As this ornament seems somewhat out of keeping with the remainder of the piece, it may
be worth considering whether one might ignore the indication.

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the triple stretto in inverse order of entering voices and in G minor, the
relative minor to the subdominant. This key is confirmed with an explicit
cadence in m. 56. Two measures after this cadence the fugue is back in the
home key of F major, in which the final, varied subject statement appears.
This is again rounded off with a cadential formula similar to the two
previous ones.
The design that becomes apparent from these observations is unusual
insofar as it reveals a fugue consisting of parts rather than sections.
The first part, encompassing two sections, is united by the home key; its
two sections are glued together by the bridging power of E2 (which does
not allow for phrasing before the fourth statement, although the entering
order would suggest this) and by the density of material immediately afterward (which does not allow for phrasing after the fourth statement either,
although the reduced texture would suggest this). This part is rounded
off by E3, the relaxing episode in descending sequences that introduces the
modulation. Although the second part does not literally encompass
several sections, the explicit closing formulas in E4 and E5a give the
impression of three segments.

The first half of the fugue, welded together of two sections, describes
a gradual increase of tension. In the second half, each of the three segments
begins with a climax in mighty intensification followed by an episode
concluding in complete relaxation.

WTC I/12 in F minor Prelude


This prelude is truly intriguing. There are, or so performing pianists try
to convince us, three quite different approaches to its interpretation.
a) The melodic intensity in
the 16th-note lines may
compel concentration on
them as primary features
of the composition.
b) The almost uninterrupted
quarter-note pulse may
elicit an interpretation of
the piece as a metrically
determined composition
conveying a meditative
character.
c) The frequent recurrence of the figure
introduced in m.1
in the soprano and
the near-consistent
4-part writing hint
at an invention.
The examples above give an idea of what exactly is at stake. In view of
these choices, performers obviously face a host of interesting decisions:
melodic intensity, texture, coloring, and tempo, to name just a few, will be
different in each of the three cases.
The first harmonic progression concludes at m. 23. In it, the subdominant as an inverted seventh chord falls on m. 21 and the dominant, as an
inverted ninth chord, on m. 22. In terms of an invention, this cadence
coincides with the end of the motif, which has been presented over a bass
pedal, and thus does not define a structural section. The larger harmonic
progression ends at m. 91 in A major, the relative major key. An explicit
closing formula in mm. 8-9 suggests a significant caesura.
175

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There are altogether four sections in this prelude:


I
mm. 1-9
i - III
F minor to A major
II mm. 9-12
III - V A major to C major
III mm. 13-163
V-I
C major to F minor, ending with an
interrupted cadence on a D bass
IV mm. 16-22
I
confirmation of F minor
Three of the sections constitute closed harmonic progressions while the
fourth ends in an interrupted cadence that can only be ascertained as structurally relevant because of its obvious correspondence: the beginning of
the prelude recurs as a seeming recapitulation that then turns elsewhere
(mm. 1-23 . 163-17). This is the only structural analogy in the prelude.
The choice of tempo, dynamics, and articulation depends largely on the
performers interpretation of the prelude type.
a) Performers who feel that the message of the composition is conveyed primarily by the 16th-notes will want to play in a tempo slow
enough to allow these note values to develop full melodic power. In
this case, the main concern is with the arabesque-like lines winding
through all voices. They will require careful and expressive shaping
endowed with all shades of emotional quality. Care must be taken
to ensure the constant flow of one voice into the next. As for the
articulation, the calm character requires that notes contributing on
any level to the melodic fabric be played legato, and only cadentialbass patterns and consecutive leaps be non legato. However, since
the first note in several of the leaps is at the same time a quarternote in another voice and therefore cannot be shortened (see, e.g.,
the notes in B: mm. 41-2 and 51-2), the few eighth-notes that actually
sound detached appear above all in the context of cadential
formulas (B: mm. 6, 8-9, and 11-12) or in similar bass lines (B:
mm. 9-10, 13).
b) Performers who wish to express a meditative character by focusing
on the continuous quarter-note pulse will want to choose a faster
tempo so as to gear the listeners attention to the metric feature
rather than the surface details. In this case, all emphasis will be on
the four beats in each measure, which will then be perceived as a
regular rocking motion with a rather low-key melodic intensity.
The 16th-notes (and to a lesser degree the eighth-notes) will be
treated as purely ornamental and played with an extremely light
touch, like delicate lace-work behind a more solid lattice work. As
for the articulation, all quarter-notes and eighth-notes will have to
be gently detached.

F minor

177

c) Performers who decide to draw on the inherent structural features


and interpret the prelude as an invention can choose any tempo as
long as this allows for the thematic figures to be perceived as units.
In this case, the interpretation will emphasize a dynamic shading
that distinguishes clearly between the different components of the
material, giving most intensity to the main motif and its possible
companion, less to any other recurring figures, and least to all other
passages. In terms of the articulation, either of the two approaches
explained above is possible, depending on whether the 16th-notes
are regarded, and played, (a) as essentially melodic or (b) as
ornamental figurations.
There are four kinds of ornaments, all appearing within the first ten
measures. The symbol embellishing the counter-motif (i.e., the main motifs
regular contrapuntal companion as introduced in S: mm. 2-3) denotes a
long trill that begins on the upper neighboring note, moves in 32nd-notes,
and ends in the suffix as indicated by Bach. This ornament recurs three
times in the course of the prelude, on the fourth beats of mm. 3, 4, and 10.
The symbol in m. 5 also designates a note-filling ornament. It begins on
the main note and, including a suffix its five notes, appears like a turn. The
trill in m. 8 lacks a resolutionboth rhythmically (since it does not fill the
time up to the next strong beat) and with regard to pitch (since the resolution note A does not materialize until after three intermittent notes). This
is thus a short ornament, a mordent that, launched from the upper neighbor, comprises one double shake. Similarly, the trill on the middle beat of
m. 10 is a point darrt trill. Approached stepwise and thus starting on
the main note, it comprises five notes, stopping with noticeable separation
from the following 16th-note.
As any description of a composition sets out from a premise as to what
the distinguishing features are, the F-minor prelude allows for three fairly
different descriptions, depending on the three choices outlined above.
a) If the prelude is regarded as a melodically oriented piece, the
features that determine the performance will all be sought in the
16th-note lines. Within the first nine-measure section there is an
initial curve in which the focus is entirely on the upper pitches and
the climax falls on the prolonged D on the downbeat of m. 2, with
a subsequent diminuendo up to the middle beat of the same measure.
This curve is followed by the first of many embellished parallels
(see mm. 23-3, S: A-B-C and T + B: F-G-A). These parallel
ascents, different in detail but joined in their general outline, are
sequenced twice (see mm. 33-4 and 43-5) and create a gradual

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WTC I/12
crescendo. In mm. 5-63, the tension decreases slightly as all melodic
figures point downward (see in the soprano the central notes C-B,
in the alto the descending sequence, and in the bass the target notes
B, preceded by its leading-note A, and A, preceded by cadential
steps). The extended parallel ascent in mm. 63-73, in which all four
voices participate, then provides an even more intense increase of
tension, which peaks on the syncopated high F, relaxing afterward
toward the cadential close on m. 91.
The second section is distinguished from the first by a much higher
portion of highly emotional intervals. The recurrence of the hidden
parallels (mm. 10-11) prepares the ascent to the climax in m. 113,
after which the successive pairs of leading-note + resolution in
m. 12 bring about a prompt relaxation (see alto: B-C, F-G; tenor:
B-C; alto: F-E; tenor: F-E). The ensuing 3 measures of the third
section contain two tension-curves: a gentle one in mm. 13-14 and
a slightly steeper one beginning with the last 16th-notes in m. 14,
climaxing in m. 152, and ending in the interrupted cadence. The
fourth section begins with a dynamic curve identical to that at the
beginning of the piece. Its descent, however, is extended all the
way to the end of m. 18. A final curve (short increase and longer
decrease) concludes the prelude on a soft note.
In the overall design, the moments of highest tension are at the end
of the first section (where the drive is greatest in the extended
parallel) and at the beginning of the second section (where the
interval intensity is highest). As this interpretation renders the 16thnote motion as an uninterrupted line to which all voices contribute
in complementing manner, no melodic phrasing occurs.
b) If the prelude is regarded as a metrically oriented piece, the features
determining the performance will be sought in the quarter-notes.
The focus in the texture now tends toward the lower voices, and all
dynamic inflections are of a delicate nature. Within the initial
section, a first gentle curve with a climax in the middle of m. 1 is
followed by sequencing one-measure groups. As the bass in these
groups falls ever further, a gradual diminuendo results. This leads
to a state of floating weightlessness in the measure where the
quarter-note motion is temporarily suspended (see mm. 53-63). The
subsequent extended ascent leads to a slightly more pronounced
climax on the downbeat of m. 8, followed by a relaxation through
the cadential close.

F minor

179

The two sections that build the middle of the composition are less
regular in their pulse, featuring several passages in which quarternotes are interspersed with half-note beats (see the first halves of
mm. 9, 10, and 12 as well as the second half of m. 14). This impairs
the effect of meditative calm that prevails in the outer sections.
The soothing continuity of the quarter-note beats is restored with
the interrupted cadence and not broken again before the prelude
ends. Dynamic increases and decreases are even more subdued in
this section than in the preceding ones, concluding the composition
in a state of complete calm.
c) If the prelude is regarded as a structurally oriented piece with the
outline of an invention, the focus will be on the components of the
thematic material. These components are introduced within the
initial two measures. The example shows the components, in the
order of their importance in the composition, with their inherent
dynamic shape:
the main motif

the relaxing link

its regular companion

the syncopated figure

The main motif appears eleven times, more often than not with
a variation of its end. These are its statements: (ext = extended, var
= varied; inv = inverted)
m.
1 S
mm. 6-7 ext T
mm. 13-14 var T
mm. 2-3 T
mm. 9-10 var T
mm. 15-16 inv B
mm. 3-4 T
mm. 10-11
T
mm. 16-17
S
mm. 4-5 T
m. 13 var
S
In four of these eleven statements (mm. 2-3, 3-4, 4-5, and 10-11),
the motif is accompanied by its regular companion. On two other
occasions (mm. 6-7 and, in inversion, mm. 15-16), it comes with a
varied version of the stepwise ascent characterizing the companion.
The syncopated figure (mm. 2, 4, 5, 6, 11, and 17) and the relaxing
link (mm. 2, 3, 5, 5-6, 12, 15, 17, 18 [2x]), 19 [2x]), and 21 [2x])
account for much of the remainder of the piece.

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WTC I/12
The first section is thematically dense, with main-motif entrances in
almost every measure and, after a short relaxation in mm. 5-6, an
extended quotation of the motif in the left-hand part. The two
sections that form the preludes center feature thematic measures
interspersed with cadential or imperfect closes. The final section
provides a liquidation of the thematic material. In this structurally
oriented interpretation, this liquidation together with the extended
pedal bass determines this last section as an overall relaxation in
which the pitch curve in mm. 19-20 plays only a subordinate role.

WTC I/12 in F minor Fugue


The subject of this fugue spans three measures. It begins on the second
beat of a 4/4 measure with three quarter-notes suggesting a long upbeat. Its
ending is defined by the return to the keynote after the half-note G that
represents the dominant. With regard to phrase structure, two views are
theoretically possible: The subject can be regarded as a single phrase or as
consisting of a main body (comprising the first six quarter-notes) followed
by an afterthought (the descent from B to F). As this mostly chromatic
afterthought may not appear quite substantial enough to represent a
subphrase of its own, the most convincing concept is a combination of the
two ideas. In it, the paramount buildup and decline of tension take place
within the first six notes, followed by a mere extension of the dynamic
decrease in the remaining descent.
The pitch outline is most intriguing. Beginning from the elevated
position of the fifth scale degree, the stepwise motion touches first the
natural leading-note above C (i.e., the minor sixth D), then the artificial
leading-note below C (i.e., the raised fourth B). This triggers an unusual
step: not only is the expected resolution to the leading-note omitted, but
what is more, the interval that follows, while looking like nothing more
special than a perfect fourth, is in fact located entirely outside the F-minor
scale. To top it all, its target is yet another leading-note (the raised seventh
leading up to the keynote) followed by its resolution F. The ensuing
descent seems to pick up from the recently heard B and continues through
three chromatic steps before falling onto the lower F.
Within the subject itself, the rhythm consists only of quarter-notes and
one half-note. However, a cursory glance beyond the boundaries of the
first subject statement reveals that throughout the fugue, eighth-notes and
16th-notes abound, as do tie prolongations.

F minor

181

The subjects harmonic background is unusual in that it sets off from


the dominant, reaches the tonic for the first time in the middle of m. 2 and
only then continues in an ordinary subdominant/dominant/tonic progression. Another extraordinary feature in the harmonic outline is the fact that
the first steps (the ones melodically approaching the leading-notes to C)
are both composed as interrupted cadences: the dominant (i.e., the implicit
harmony below the initial C) proceeds not to the tonic F minor but to D
major; the ensuing F7 chord (i.e., the implicit harmony below the next C),
which one expects to move into B minor, leads instead into a G7 chord.
In his very thorough two-volume work Analyse des Wohltemperierten
Klaviers, Ludwig Czaczkes takes into account all transitory harmonies
created by the counter-subjects. Here is the full harmonization of the
subject as Czaczkes conceived it, followed by a Roman-numeral analysis:

The dynamic outline should mirror the melodic and harmonic particularities. Beginning on the exposed fifth degree requires a slightly elevated
tension in the first note. The ensuing steps toward the natural leading-note
and on to the artificial leading-note create a powerful increase. Next, the
extra-scalar fourth interval that reaches the third leading-note represents
the apex of this dynamic curve. (For any wind or string instrument, the
climax would be between the two notes B and Ea solution that is not,
unfortunately, open to keyboard players.) The resolution onto the keynote
F brings such a relief after all these daring harmonic twists that it involves
an almost complete decrease of tension. What little is left will abate
gradually through the chromatic descent.
The 58-measure fugue comprises only ten subject statements:
1. mm. 1-4
T
6. mm. 27-30
B
2. mm. 4-7
A
7. mm. 34-37
A
3. mm. 7-10
B
8. mm. 40-43
T
4. mm. 13-16
S
9. mm. 47-50
S
5. mm. 19-22
T
10. mm. 53-56
B

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The subject undergoes only minimal variations. The adjustment of the


initial interval in the tonal answer occurs only once, and the final note is
only once delayed by a tie-prolongation. No parallels or strettos are used.
However, Bach invents three counter-subjects of very distinct character.
CS1 is introduced against the second subject entry in mm. 4-7. It
consists of five subphrases, thus creating the greatest possible structural
contrast to the subject. The predominant note value is the 16th-note, another
major contrast to the subject and its prevailing quarter-notes. The first
subphrase of CS1 (see T m. 4: F-G-AA-B-C) presents a slight increase
in tension. This is separated from the remainder of the counter-subject by
a leap of a minor ninth, thus launching a completely new rise in tension.
The second to fifth subphrases follow as sequences ascending toward a peak
(and dynamic climax) on the syncopated C.
CS2 is first heard against the third subject statement in mm. 7-10. The
first of its three subphrases comprises four eighth-notes, with a gentle
climax on C. The second begins almost like a partial sequence (F-E-D in
mm. 7-8 can be heard as a sequence of C-B-A in m. 7), with the stronger
climax on its first note F and an extended descent to the lower F (the rest is
tension-sustaining and does not indicate phrasing, as in CS1). A third small
subphrase ascends to a mild climax on the dotted B before relaxing
throughout the last three notes.
CS3 only manifests twice. First heard in its expected place against the
fourth subject entry, it begins later than any of the other counter-subjects
(see the upbeat to m. 14), ascends in a gradual sweep interspersed with
tension-sustaining eighth-note rests, climaxes on D, and resolves shortly
thereafter. The music example shows the contrapuntal play of the primary
thematic material as it is found in mm. 13-16:

S
CS3
CS2

CS1

F minor

183

The further development of the counter-subjects includes several irregularities that may make a convincing rendition of their phrase structure and
dynamic design difficult. The two most confusing details are the crossover
of voices1 and the swapping of sub-phrases.2
The F-minor fugue contains eight subject-free passages.
E1 mm. 10-13
E5 mm. 37-40
E2 mm. 16-19
E6 mm. 43-47
E3 mm. 22-27
E7 mm. 50-53
E4 mm. 30-34
E8 mm. 56-58
No episode is related to the subject. Instead, all seem to derive, in one
way or another, from the first counter-subject. It is helpful to distinguish
two main types of episode in this fugue: E1 is dominated by a motif that
uses the first subphrase of CS1 and continues with a segment from CS2 (A
mm. 103-11 . T mm. 83-91: a quarter-note followed after a 16th-note tie or
rest by a descent in 16th-notes). The CS1-segment is imitated in the bass
with a new ending, partly doubled by the tenor. The ensuing measures
sound like descending sequences.3 This episode recurs in exchanged voices
and with some variation in E4. Here, the bass is the leading voice, imitated
by the tenor, while the soprano adds an extended parallel to the descent.
1

After the middle beat in m. 7, the tenor interval A-F crosses over the descending alto leap
F-E; they regain their normal position in the middle of m. 8. In m. 13 immediately after the
middle beat, the same tenor interval moves the voice into what seems like alto position;
when the alto comes in with the upbeat to m. 14, it does so considerably lower than the
tenor; they recoup their ordinary places with the fourth beat of m. 14. In mm. 292-303,
soprano and alto cross. In mm. 47-48, there is such a gap between soprano and alto that one
easily mistakes the alto for a lower voice. When the tenor comes in an octave above the
alto, the confusion is complete. However, the voices disentangle on the last beat of m. 48.
2

In m. 19, the alto begins with the first subphrase of CS1 but carries on with the remainder
of CS2 (which, on top of everything else, involves an octave displacement on m. 212). At
the same time, the soprano (after having set off, in m. 19, with notes not belonging to the
primary material) takes over CS1, which the alto had abandoned, and concludes it properly.
In mm. 27-30, the tenor quotes CS1 but reduces its ninth leap to a simple second. The alto
presents the first subphrase of CS2 (see G-C-B-A), continues with notes aping the large
leap missed out by the tenor, and from the middle beat onward finds itself in CS3. The
soprano, after three non-consequential notes, completes the interrupted CS2. In mm. 34-37,
the first subphrase of CS1 is heard in inversion in the tenor, while the remainder sounds in
the soprano. The final trill is prevented by a tied note, the resolution avoided altogether. In
mm. 47-50, CS2 appears in the (alto-positioned) tenor, deprived of its first subphrase and
with a varied ending. Similarly, the CS1 statement beginning in the alto is allowed neither
its ninth leap nor its final trill, which is substituted by a written-out figure-work.
3

There is no way to make the actual notation heard, which has alto and tenor inverted; this
fact would therefore appear inconsequential for the interpretation.

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E6 also relies on the same material; this time, the alto takes the lead. (Here
Bach strings the motif to its sequence by filling the phrasing space with an
additional 16th-note; see the D after the middle beat of m. 44.) The imitation is presented in the bass, with soprano and tenor accompanying.
A second episode-type is established in E2. Here the initial impulse is
given in the soprano by a three-note figure that quotes only half of the first
CS1 subphrase. A counterpart enters with the bass, which derives its figure
from the inversion of the same first CS1 subphrase (the extension bends
back upward). The texture is completed by the imitation of the bass figure,
sounding in the alto, with the extension of the inverted CS1 subphrase
continuing downward. As in the first episode-type, this one-measure model
is also sequenced twice (mm. 16-17 . 17-18 . 18-19). This episode recurs
in the first half of E3 (mm. 16-19 . 22-25). Here, the leading voice is the
alto (which is not at all easy to convey under the parallel soprano). Its main
counterpart sounds in the tenor, with the imitation in the soprano. The
second half of this episode is based on the same material but uses it freely.
E7 is another episode to follow the model of this second episode-type. The
texture is very similar to that found in E2; the soprano is in the lead, while
the lowest voice, here the tenor, sounds the counterpart and its imitation
appears in the alto (mm. 16-19 ~ 50-53).
The two remaining episodes, E5 and E8, do not follow either of these
models. E5 features a figure derived from the first subphrase of CS1 (see
bass m. 37, sequenced in m. 38, and m. 39, sequenced in 40). The other
two voices involved in this episode recall the tied-quarter-note-plus-3/16note figure from CS2, matched here with free extensions. E8 features a
measure presenting nothing but this CS2 segment in four-part texture,
followed by two cadential measures.
The role played by each episode in the dynamic outline of this fugue is
determined mainly by their ascending or descending sequence patterns.
Descending sequences are found in E1, E4, and E8. Episodes that embark
on a relaxation before suddenly turning into a final crescendo are E3, E5,
and E6, while in both E2 and E7, the ascending motion dominates.
Both the complexity of the rhythmic pattern in this fugue and the high
degree of intensity expressed in the interval structure indicate a rather calm
basic character. The tempo is confined by features inherent in the composition. On the one hand, the 16th-notes must be calm enough to allow for
the expression of melodic intensity; on the other hand, the quarter-notes
must convey the impression of stringent movement in order to be felt as
the relevant pulse (instead of surrendering this task, as often happens, to
the eighth-notes).

F minor

185

The articulation that corresponds with this character requires legato in


all melodic parts. With regard to the components of the thematic material
this means: All notes in the subject and its three counter-subjects are legato.
Exceptions occur only where phrasing separates a note from the beginning
of the next subphrase (this happens particularly in CS1 and CS2 after the
first subphrases respectively). Non-thematic passages may feature consecutive skips or cadential-bass patterns, as in mm. 34-35, 40-41, and 43 (bass);
these must be taken non legato. In the episodes, octave leaps and cadential
steps in the lower part should be detached (see the bass in E1: C, C, D
etc.; similarly in E6; also in E3).
The relative tempo of the prelude to the fugue depends on which view
is adopted regarding the prelude-type. (a) Performers who feel that the
preludes message is conveyed primarily by the 16th-notes may choose a
simple proportion in which a quarter-note in the prelude corresponds to a
quarter-note in the fugue. (b) Performers who wish to express a meditative
character by focusing on the quarter-note pulse should choose the more
complex proportion of 3:2, where three quarter-note beats in the prelude
correspond to a half-note in the fugue, or six eighth-notes in the prelude
equal a quarter-note in the fugue. (c) For performers who decide to draw
on the inherent structural features and interpret the prelude as an invention,
either of the two proportions is possible, depending again on how one
perceives the prelude 16th-notes.
A last comment on this matter of tempo choice: One should not neglect
that the tempo of the fugue, too, may vary depending on the character of
the preceding prelude. Thus after a metrically oriented prelude in which
the shortest note values served as mere lace-work, performers may want to
give extra weight and melodic quality to the fugues 16th-notes, playing it
slightly more slowly than after a rendition of the prelude in which the short
values were granted full expressive power. (Approximate metronome
settings: (a) all beats = 66; (b) prelude beats = 84, fugue beats = 56.)
The fugue features two kinds of ornaments. One is part of the thematic
material, marking the end of CS1. The others are cadential ornaments
embellishing the final closing formula in mm. 57-58. The trill at the end of
the counter-subject abides by the rules that apply to a trill in a primary
component. As the note it ornaments resolves timely into the subsequent
downbeat, this is a note-filling ornament. Having been approached in
stepwise motion it begins on the main note, shakes in 32nd-notes, and ends
with a suffix. As an integral part of the counter-subject, this trill must be
transferred to mm. 9 (S), 30 (T), 15 (B), 55 (S), and 21 (S).

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The two cadential ornaments are also note-filling trills. The one on the
sopranos E begins on the main note, while the compound ornament in the
tenor begins as indicated from below. Both then move in 32nd-notes and
end in parallel suffixes.
The episodes in this fugue end in unusual ways. All of them close on
an imperfect cadence, and several even present these as unresolved chords
(see E1 in m. 13: F is suspended into a chord on C; similarly E2 in m. 19
and E3 in m. 27). This makes the episodes appear ill-suited as section
endings. By contrast, a cadential pattern that conveys structural closure
occurs in the context of a subject statement, at the end of the tenor entry in
mm. 40-43. These observations suggest that in this composition, episodes
are not conceived to round off preceding statements but rather to prepare
ensuing ones. A further factor that may give hints regarding the structure
of this fugue is Bachs use of the ensemble. Two subject statements appear
in reduced ensemble (T: mm. 19-22 and S: mm. 47-50) and are therefore
likely to mark section beginnings.
The harmonic progress through the subject statements is straightforward. The first six statements sound in the tonic area; four of them begin
like the first entry on C, only two in the dominant position on F (tonal
answer, m. 4) or G (real answer, m. 19). The seventh and eighth statements
relate harmonically to the area of the relative major. The former (mm. 34-37)
represents the tonic position of A major but is harmonized with reference
to F minor; the latter reads like the dominant of A and ends accordingly.
In the detailed steps of their harmonic progression, however, both are not
in keeping with the subjects original harmonization. The two final subject
statements return to the F-minor key, representing the dominant and tonic
positions respectively.
The design of the fugue thus presents itself as follows: The two statements in reduced ensemble must be regarded as first statements in their
respective sections. These two sections therefore begin with E2 (in m. 16)
and with E6 (in m. 43). The latter section-beginning is confirmed by the
explicit cadential-bass pattern at the end of the preceding statement. The
two statements harmonically referring to the relative major belong together
and form a section of their own. This section begins with E4 and ends with
the cadential-bass steps in m. 43. Its two entries are further united by their
harmonization of the subject, which deviates from the pattern established
earlier in the fugue, and by the fact that the subject appears abandoned by
its counter-subjects: CS2 and CS3 are entirely missing in both statements
while CS1 occurs only against the first of these entries and is varied at both
ends (see S: mm. 34-37).

F minor

187

Within the first section, the tension rises steadily from one subject
entry to the next. An increasing density of the material, up to a texture that
confronts the subject with three counter-subjects, supports an equally
growing intensity. The episode preceding the fourth statement grants a
transitory change of color along with a short relaxation, which is cut short
by the full force of four thematic voices. The end of the section seems
somewhat unresolved since a suspended G mars the final F-minor chord in
m. 16. This creates an effect as if this section was strung, if only by a thin
thread, to the subsequent one.
The second section begins with an episode of rising tension, causing its
first statement to enter already on a somewhat elevated level. The ensuing
episode generates a decrease of tension in its first half (up to the transitory

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cadence to A major in m. 25) but then turns around and prepares for the
next subject statement with a dynamic increase in mm. 26-27. This statement equals the final statement of the first section in the density of its
material and, consequently, in its intensity. Its ending furnishes the longexpected perfect cadence in F minor which, this time, sounds unimpaired
by any suspended voice.
The episode opening section III provides a more drastic change of
color owing to the position of its material: the two motivic parts are in the
bass and tenor, the alto pauses, and the soprano contributes only a parallel,
without independent force of its own. This darker color is enhanced in the
descending sequences. The episode linking this sections two entries is
built similarly to that linking the two statements in the second section. Its
first measures feature descending sequences, followed after a transitory
cadence in E major (m. 39) by a last-minute preparation for the ensuing
subject entry. The two statements themselves create much less tension than
those in preceding sections: with regard to texture, because of the much
lower density in thematic material; with regard to melody, because of the
major sixth that is more neutral in its tendency than the strong minor sixth;
and with regard to harmony, because their dissimilar harmonization omits
all the most striking steps. The second entryand with it the section
closes, as was mentioned before, in a definite cadence.
The fourth section begins with a four-part episode presenting three
measures of high material intensity. This comes as a surprise after the
preceding subject statement, which generated so little thematic motion
around it. The sequences, and with them the tension, descend toward the
middle of m. 46 but are followed by a most powerful, partly chromatic
ascent in the three lower voices. To fulfill the expectations raised in this
sudden crescendo, the soprano with the ensuing subject entry and the tenor
with CS2 begin almost two octaves higher than they ended a little earlier.
With the bass pausing, this creates a most striking shift and propels the
tension up immediately. The linking episode in the middle of this section
combines rising and falling tendencies, leaving the final subject entry as
unprepared as was the last statement in the first section. This statement
returns to the register in the center of the keyboard and to four-part texture
but replaces two of its counter-subjects with syncopated appoggiaturas (see
T mm. 53-54: C-B, A-G and A mm. 54-55: D-C, G-F). At the closure of
this fugue, Bach thus substitutes thematic density with emotional urgency
and creates a new kind of climax. The final episode can do nothing but
gently resolve this cumulated tension.

WTC I/13 in F major Prelude


This prelude is determined by two features: one rhythmic, the other
thematic. The rhythmic pattern is established in m. 2 and continues, with
only minor interruptions, through the entire piece. Its significant trait is a
syncopated right hand figure omitting the beats given by the left hand line
and thus creating a complementary rhythm. The thematic material is based
on three components: (1) a six-note broken-chord figure ending in an
iambic note repetition and regularly followed by an imitation, (2) a treble
figure over a falling bass in the above-mentioned complementary rhythm,
and (3) a cadential bass matched by a rhythmically varied closing formula
in the upper voice (first heard in mm. 57-67). These thematic components
follow one another but never oppose each other contrapuntally, as would
be the case in a motivically determined piece of this period. In fact, the
second and third components are presented exclusively in homophonic
settings. Only the first component is polyphonic in nature.
The first cadence concludes on the downbeat of m. 4, with the lines
continuing in both hands. The subsequent harmonic progression ends on
the middle beat of m. 6. It encompasses a modulation to the dominant key,
which is announced with the first appearance of the B in m. 4. The cadence
comes with an explicit cadential-bass pattern and an embellished version
of a typical closing formula in the upper voice (see the ornamented version
of CB-C in U: mm. 5-6). This close marks the end of the first section.
The F-major prelude comprises six sections:
tonic to dominant
I mm. 1-67
II mm. 67-121
modulation to the tonic relative
III mm. 12-157
modulation to the dominant relative
IV mm. 157-187 modulation to the subdominant relative
V mm. 187-247 modulation back to the tonic
VI mm. 247-30
tonic confirmed
As there are only three components of thematic material in this piece,
several portions sound reminiscent of one another. Genuine analogies,
however, do not occur.
The choice of tempo is based on the understanding that the compound
time signature does not designate the number of beats in a measure but
only aims at facilitating reading. The pulse is in fact felt in 4/8 time, with
189

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continuous triplets in each eighth-note. This eighth-note pulse should be


moderately flowing. There are two equally possible solutions for the corresponding articulation. Under the assumption that the flowing quality
prevails over the moderate mood, the non-syncopated longer values (i.e.,
the dotted eighth-notes) would be taken in gentle non legato while all other
notes sound quasi legato. Conversely, performers who feel that this composition exudes calm beneath its ornate surface would want to play mainly
legato. (This second option proves slightly more listener-friendly.) Both
options demand a precise distinction between dotted eighth-notes forming
part of the melodic bass line and others belonging to a cadential-bass
pattern. Moreover, careful phrasing, particularly in the complementaryrhythm patterns, is essential to assure that lines breathe.1
In the right hand, phrasing requires attention primarily in the passages
in complementary rhythm. As each subphrase in these passages ends with
a momentary interruption of the syncopated rhythm, the points of phrasing
are not difficult to spot. But since the final note of these patterns often
overlaps with the beginning of a closing formula, there are instances where
no cut may be possible between the two components.2
The prelude features one regular ornament in connection with the first
thematic component, the broken-chord figure ending in a note repetition.
This ornament is indicated by different symbols throughout the fugue. It
might, however, be preferable to decide in favor of one version and retain
this in all cases. Transferring the trill to structurally analogous notes that
appear unornamented is not appropriate in this piece since the notes to
which this might apply (e.g., m. 21) double as new beginnings. At any rate,
the trill is not note-filling since its resolution does not fall on the strong
1

From these two requirements results the following articulation in the bass line:
legato
mm. 1-3 (E); phrasing before C; legato mm. 3-5 (C-C)
non legato
in the cadential pattern mm. 5-6
legato
mm. 7-10 (E); phrasing before D; legato mm. 10-11 (D-D)
non legato
in the cadential pattern mm. 11-12
legato
mm. 12-14 (A); non legato mm. 14 (A)-15
legato
mm. 16 (first half); non legato mm. 16 (C)-17
legato
mm. 19-20 (F); phrasing before B
legato
mm. 20 (B)-21 (C), phrasing
legato
mm. 21 (D)-22 (G); legato mm. 22 (F)-23 (F) (non legato also possible)
non legato
in the cadential pattern mm. 23 (A)-24 (F)
legato
mm. 24 (F)-27 (tied C); non legato up to the end.
2

The treble is phrased as follows: m. 4, after downbeat A, m. 8, after middle beat F,


m. 10, after downbeat G, m. 21, after middle beat F, m. 29, after downbeat A.

F major

191

beat but is always both delayed and approached indirectly. This thematic
ornament can be rendered as a mordent (as indicated in m. 1), in which
case it includes four orbettersix notes whenever it begins on the upper
neighbor note, as in all cases of note repetition, and five notes when it
begins on the main note as in m. 121, or as a compound ornament (as indicated in m. 7), in which case it comprises eight notes, beginning always on
the upper note, describing a turn to the lower neighbor and back to the
main note, and ending with two trill pairs. The appropriate rhythmic
position of this interrupted ornament is such that the point of interruption
avoids any beat. The example shows two possible solutions for each version:

The initial section features all three thematic components. The brokenchord figure begins in the upper voice and is imitated in the lower voice.
The complementary-rhythm figure consists of two segments with overlapping phrase endings (phrasing in U after m. 41, in L already after the third
dotted eighth-note in m. 3). The closing formula begins in the right-hand
part on the middle beat of m. 5, in the left-hand part on the second dotted
eighth-note of the same measure. Harmonically this section describes a
modulation from F major to the dominant C major.
In the second section, the three components appear with different emphasis. The broken-chord figure is merely transposed; the complementaryrhythm figure much extended. Two descending subphrases in the treble
(see mm. 78-87, mm. 88-101) are accompanied in the lower voice by a single
unphrased descent followed by an additional curve. The closing formula,
however, is only represented by its bass part while the upper voice
continues in the complementary-rhythm pattern. The harmonic progression
leads from C major to D minor, the relative minor key of the tonic.
The third section is considerably shorter but features all components in
compressed versions. It begins at m. 121 with the broken-chord figure in
the bass, imitated in the treble before returning once more to the bass. The
bass then gives way almost directly to an extended cadential pattern. In the
treble, a little link precedes a very condensed complementary-rhythm figure
followed by the complete closing formula. The structure of the fourth
section is similar but even more compressed.

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WTC I/13

The fifth section begins with an extended imitative pattern of the


broken-chord figure recalling the third section. This leads to an extended
complementary-rhythm figure. This segment is reminiscent of the second
section, especially in the ensuing cadential pattern in which the closing
formula of the upper voice is omitted. The section returns to F major, the
preludes home key.
The final section confirms the home key. The broken-chord figure is
stripped here of both its ornament and its polyphonic reply. Instead, after
a short quotation of the complementary-rhythm component, the brokenchord element is restated (L: m. 26) and followed by a short dominant
pedal with non-thematic figures in the right hand part. The composition
ends with the two subphrases of the complementary-rhythm figure over a
non-melodic bass and the original closing formula, completed in the upper
voice by a graceful, unaccented F-major-chord descent.

WTC I/13 in F major - Fugue


The subject of this fugue spans exactly two measures. It begins in m. 1
after an eighth-note rest and ends at m. 31. This downbeat marks the return
to the tonic after the dominant-seventh chord represented by B, G, and C
in the second half of m. 2. The subjects pitch outline is near symmetrical.
While the first and last intervals are leaps, all notes in between move in
steps. In the subject itself, the rhythmic pattern features eighth-notes, 16thnotes, 32nd-notes in the trill and its written-out suffix, and a quarter-note.
Counter-subjects and episode motifs later add several types of syncopation.
The overall effect is one of considerable variety in note values. The way in
which the various rhythmic values in the subject are introduced is interesting to observe. The initial eighth-notes give way first to 16th-notes and
then to the 32nd-notes of the trill. After this continuous acceleration, there
is a sudden stop on the quarter-notea halt that is even prolonged by the
restbefore the initial eighth-notes return.
This rest in the center raises a question: does the gap in the sound flow
signify an interruption of the tension or is the tension carried through the
silence? The harmonic development reaches its climax at m. 21, which also
marks the center in the symmetric patterns of pitch and rhythm. One may
surmise that the comparatively long note value, enhanced by the ensuing
rest, serves to sustain this climax before the subsequent stepwise descent.
The subject thus consists of a single indivisible phrase.

F major

193

Although the harmonizations of the subject occurring throughout the


fugue feature a number of intricate and varying progressions, it can be said
that in its main steps, the harmonic background of the phrase is that of a
simple cadential progression. The active step from the tonic to the subdominant (or, more frequently,
its relative minor) takes place at
m. 21, followed by the dominant
i
I V I
in the second half of m. 2 and
the tonic on the final note.
The subjects climax is thus ideally supported in all parameters:
representing the subdominant harmony and a sudden rhythmic stop, it is
composed as a kind of axis in a largely symmetric contour where the
preceding pitches emphasize two rises (see the first leap C-F and the step
from the trill C to D), while the ensuing tones perform two descents (see
the falling line D-C-B-A-G and the final skip C-A).
The fugue comprises eight subject statements.
1. mm. 1-3
U
5. mm. 15-17 M
2. mm. 3-5
M
6. mm. 20-22 L
3. mm. 5-7
L
7. mm. 28-30 M
4. mm. 11-13 U
8. mm. 31-33 U

The only modifications in the subject, both very common ones, occur
at its beginning and end. The initial interval is adjusted in the first answer
but never again thereafter, and the final interval is on two occasions (mm.
6-7 and 21-22) enlarged to a fifth to include a drop to the keynote. No
stretto or parallel statements of the subject appear.
The two counter-subjects are of very different character and importance.
CS1 is introduced against the second subject statement (see U: mm. 3-5).
The first of its two subphrases begins with an ascending octave followed
by a circling figure and a halt on a syncopation. The second subphrase is
an extended transposition of the first, beginning with a longer preparation
and closing with an additional dosido formula.3 The climaxes in the two
subphrases could fall either on the analogous syncopations (this results in
a somewhat saucy expression) or on the bottom of the curve before (on E
and A respectively), thereby underpinning the tender mood of the countersubject. The second subphrase, lower than the first, is softer overall.
3

Cf. m. 3: F-E-F-G-D-E-F-G with mm. 3-4: D-C-D-E-B...A-B-C.)

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Although CS1 is an almost constant companion to the subject, it undergoes significant modifications on its way through the fugue. Its initial
interval, originally an assertive octave leap, becomes gradually smoother:
reduced first to a seventh (m. 5: C-B), then substituted by a three-note
figure beginning with a fifth (m. 11: G-C-B), it is finally leveled to a
stepwise figure (m. 15: A-G-F; similarly in mm. 20 and 31). Moreover,
CS1 also loses momentum at its end. In mm. 11-13, the last syncopated
figure is replaced by a quarter-note and an appoggiatura that resolves
belatedly after a tie suspension. In mm. 15-17 and 31-33, the second subphrase turns into a cadential-bass pattern, in mm. 20-21, CS1 is shortened
to its first subphrase, and in mm. 28-29, it is entirely omitted.
The second counter-subject is normally expected as a companion to the
third subject statement. However, the line appearing in the upper voice of
mm. 5-7 turns into a rhythmic parallel of the subject. It is thus necessary to
look further, to the ensuing subject entry in mm. 12-13, in order to find the
true second counter-subject. CS2 begins belatedly half a measure after the
subject. It is characterized by a rising scale interspersed with pairs of the
repeated keynote. In keeping with this straight gesture in the ascent, the
development of tension also depicts only a single direction: no subphrasing
interrupts the continuous crescendo to the upper F. This counter-subject is
heard only three times altogether: after its introduction it recurs in U: mm.
20-22 and in U: mm. 28-30.
Another line that accompanies the subject twice and might, at a first
glance, appear as a counter-subject occurs in U: mm. 15-17 and in M: mm.
31-33. Upon closer inspection one detects that its end is composed as a
complement to the CS1 turned cadential bass, is actually making up, in
free style, for the omitted syncopated figure at the end of the first countersubject. This note group should therefore not be regarded as a primary
component in its own right. The following sketch shows the phrase structure
and dynamic design in the thematic material of this fugue.

F major

195

The F-major fugue comprises six subject-free passages:


E1 mm. 7-113
E4 mm. 22-281
E2 mm. 133-151
E5 mm. 30-313
E3 mm. 17-201
E6 mm. 333-35
The cadential close in mm. 22-231 partitions E4, separating a short E4a
from a much longer E4b. Of the remaining episodes, none is further subdivided. The material employed features components of the subject and of
the counter-subjects as well as an independent episode motif.
The subject appears, complete or represented by a segment, in all
six episodes. It is quoted most completely in E2 and E5. In the
upper voice of E2, the first four notes are a transposition of the
subjects head, the fourth note has the value of a quarter-note
followed by an eighth-note rest and is thus reminiscent of the
climax in the subject, and the ensuing six eighth-notes constitute a
free inversion of the subjects second half. The middle voice in this
episode sets out as an imitation, then omits the climax portion and
joins the end of the upper voice figure in parallel thirds. E5 is a
transposition of E2, with the upper and middle voices inverted.
Here the middle voice carries the more complete version of the
subject and is thus leading, while the upper voice is second in importance (which is not easy to play). Another quotation of subject
material appears as a bracket around the first episode: The head
motif opens this episode in the lower voice, stating a rearrangement
of the original pitches but retaining the eighth-note rhythm. The
middle voice concludes this episode with the subjects second half,
retained almost exactly in the shape of the original. The opening
segment in its particular rearrangement of pitches recurs twice in the
fugue: at the beginning of E3 (where it is sequenced; see L: mm.
17-18) and at the beginning of E6, where it is taken up faithfully.
Finally, the subjects head alone in its original shape reigns in the
largest portion of E4 where it is presented first in an imitative
texture of upper and middle voice, then in a pattern of descending
sequences in the lower voice.
Mcs2, a figure derived from CS2, is also found in all six episodes.
However, while CS2 is characterized by a hidden two-part structure consisting of a complete ascending scale over a repeated pedal, the episode
figure mostly plays with two moving lines and creates distinct little
gestures of varying length. Mcs2 occurs as follows:

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WTC I/13

in E1 (U: m. 7, L: mm. 7-8, M: m. 8, L: mm. 83-10),4


in E2 (L: mm. 13-14),
in E3 (M: m. 17, U: mm. 17-18, L: mm. 18-20),
in E4 (L: mm. 23-253, M: mm. 25-26, U: mm. 26-27, L: m. 28),5
in E5 (L: m. 30), and
in E6 (U: mm. 33-34, L: m. 34, M: mm. 34-35).
M1 is an independent episode motif that occurs only in E1, E3, and E6,
and only ever in the upper voice. It is made up of an ascending fourth leap
followed by syncopated notes in various guises that, more often than not,
feature a descent. M1 is introduced in E1 (mm. 7-8 C-F-E-D-C-B). It
is then sequenced freely in m. 8 (D-G...) to m. 10 (...B) and again in
mm. 10-11 where the syncopations accommodate the dosido closing
formula. In its second version it reappears in E3 (mm. 18-19). Its shortened
third version is taken up in E6 (mm. 34-35).
The two episodes that, as was mentioned above, appear as corresponding owing to their fairly complete quotation of the subject (E2 and E5),
share a further feature: both are interwoven with the ensuing subject statement by an anticipation of the CS1 beginning. At the end of E2 (see L:
mm. 143-151), the note group from G to G anticipates the subsequent
group from A to A; the same recurs at the end of E5, in the first half of
m. 31. Finally, cadential-bass patterns occur at the ends of E1 and E6
respectively, as well as in E4athe only episode segment in this fugue
clearly serving as nothing but a cadential close. While in E1 and E6 the
formulas appear embedded in episode material, E4a features none of the
above-mentioned components or motifs. Instead, both the upper and lower
voices present obvious closing formulas, thus underpinning the concluding
gesture of this measure.
As has surely become obvious from the above analysis, several relationships exist between the episodes of this fugue. E2 corresponds directly
with E5. E1 is related to E3, which presents a shortened version, and to E6,
which repeats its beginning literally. E4b features analogies within itself;
the segment in mm. 23-26 corresponds largely with that in mm. 26-28.
The details unraveled above allow us to discern between three types of
episodes. One type, represented by E2 and E5, is very closely related to the
primary material, as it quotes the largest portion of the subject and is intertwined with the ensuing subject statement through its CS1 anticipation.
4

Interestingly, Mcs2 actually appears earlier than the counter-subject from which it stems.

L: m. 28 belongs to this episode in view of its material, although there is an overlap with
the beginning of the next subject entry.

F major

197

This type serves as a bridge. Another type, represented by E1, E3, and E6,
gains limited independence by using a distinct episode motif. In both E1
and E6, a cadential close is present, whereas this more definite ending is
missing at the tail of E3.6 This episode type provides a color contrast to the
primary material and conveys the impression of structural closure. The
third type is represented exclusively by the five measures of E4b. Utilizing
only segments from subject and CS2 and carrying these through various
harmonic steps, this episode seems purposefully to postpone the ensuing
subject statement.7 The message of this episode type is therefore neither
bridging nor closing but delaying.
The material of this fugue does not express a single character. In the
subject, the first counter-subject, the episode figures derived from these,
and the independent episode motif M1, the complex rhythmic pattern and
the overall stepwise motion clearly indicate a rather calm basic character.
By contrast, the second counter-subject and the episode figure derived
from it (Mcs2) feature a simple rhythmic structure and a pitch pattern consisting exclusively of skips, thus suggesting a rather lively basic character.
The conclusion to be drawn from these observations should accommodate
both facts. The tempo is moderately flowing; swift enough to convey
liveliness in the 16th-notes of CS2, but moderate enough to convey calm in
those of CS1. The articulation should take into account the differing
characters represented by the material. In the subject and the motifs
derived from it as well as in CS1 and M1, all notes are legato, whereas in
CS2 and Mcs2, all notes are quasi legato.8 Non legato articulation is
appropriate in the cadential-bass notes of mm. 11, 16, 22, 33, and 34 as
well as in the octave leap of m. 25.
The relative tempo of the prelude to the fugue is ideally represented by
the compound relationship of 3:2. This translates as follows: three dotted
eighth-notes in the prelude equal two quarter-notes (half a measure) in the
fugue. Approximate metronome settings: prelude beats (dotted eighthnotes) = 96, fugue beats = 63.)
6

It may not seem too farfetched to speculate that this missing close of E3 is made up for by
E4a which, as was shown, presents an explicit cadential formula.
7

It reminds one faintly of that episode portion in the C-major fugue that serves as something like the development section in a sonata form fugue. The reader may wish to
refer back to the chapter on WTC I/3.
8

For the sound balance within these components it is of greatest importance that the
frequent note repetitions do not sound with a greater degree of detachment than the other
intervals; any effect of slurring should be carefully avoided.

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The composition comprises two ornaments. The first embellishes the


subject. It should be transferred to all subsequent subject entries, slight
technical inconvenience being no excuse. The difference of symbols in
mm. 1, 3, and 15 should probably not be taken to indicate different executions. In each case, the trill is note-filling. It begins on the main note
since it is approached stepwise, moves in 32nd-notes, and ends with the
suffix that, in all cases but one, is written out. The other ornament appears
in the cadential measure of E4a. It is a mordent launched from the upper
neighbor note G and then touching down on F twice. Its shakes may be in
32nd-notes or slightly faster.
As has been shown above, the fugue features two explicit cadential formulas. One of them marks the end of the first episode. The other, following
the sixth subject statement, was identified as the only subject-free segment
devoid of all the components characterizing the material of the other
episodes, i.e., a typical cadential close. While these cadential formulas
already provide an important clue for the design of the fugue, earlier
observations regarding the episodes and their role in the development of
the composition also contribute to the understanding of structure. E2 and
E5 have been acknowledged as bridging episodes, each stringing together
two statements belonging to the same section. E1 and E6 were found to
exert concluding power, while E3 showed a similar tendency but lacked a
final closure (to be complemented by E4a). Finally, E4b was shown to be
neither bridging nor concluding; one might therefore assume that its
position is neither in the middle nor at the end of a section.
Having said all this, it is time to state one noteworthy analogy in the
fugue. Three separate facts have already been recognized: the correspondence of E2 and E5, the relationship in material of E3 and E6, and the
correspondence of the subject entries in mm. 15-17 and 31-33 (both are
accompanied by a variant of CS1 in which the end appears substituted by
a cadential-bass pattern, and by a third voice that in its second half makes
up for the abandoned tail of CS1, at least in its rhythmic idea). To sum up:
mm. 11m-18
correspond with
mm. 28-35
subject statement + CS2
subject statement + CS2
bridging episode
bridging episode
subject statement
subject statement
with CS1 irregularity
with CS1 irregularity
E3
E6
The overall harmonic development begins after three statements in the
realm of F major with a modulation to the dominant and leads to a close
with a C-major cadence at the end of the first episode. After an immediate

F major

199

return to the home key, the third episode modulates from C major to the
tonic relative minor that, after a subject entry in D minor in mm. 20-22, is
confirmed in the cadential close of m. 22-23. E4b undertakes the return to
the home key before the next subject entry. Thus all but one of the subject
statements appear in F major, either on its tonic or on its dominant.
The following conclusions may be drawn from what has been observed:
The first section encompasses three subject statements and one episode,
with the cadential formula at the end of E1 concluding this section. The
second episode comprises two statements that appear strung together by
the bridging E2, followed by the episode type that, elsewhere in this fugue,
concludes a segment but here lacks the final cadential close. The ensuing
statement appears thus almost as redundant, an impression enhanced by the
fact that it is the only one in the minor mode. The cadential measure of E4a
concludes this second section in m. 231. The third section begins with an
opening (delaying) episode followed by the passage that was recognized
as structurally analogous to the second section without its quasi redundant
final entry. In this section, the third subject statement is now completely
stripped off.

Within the first section, the tension grows from the first to the second
subject entry along with both the growth of the ensemble and the emergence
of the contrasting first counter-subject. However, from here to the third

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entry, there is almost no increase as the upper voice does not contribute
independent material but runs a rhythmic parallel to the subject. The
ensuing episode begins with a distinct color contrast. It then allows for a
slight increase of tension as M1 comes in and is sequenced upward, only to
give way to the relaxing cadential close that concludes both the episode
and the first section.
The beginning of the second section can be regarded as the climax not
only of this section but of the entire fugue because the juxtaposition of the
subject with its two counter-subjects creates the greatest degree of polyphonic contrast. The bridging episode sounds softer than the surrounding
subject statements but not necessarily as different in color as did E1. It is
followed by an entry that makes no use of the newly introduced CS2 and
thus sounds less assertive than the preceding one. The ensuing episode
begins again with a color contrast and a slight increase of tension in connection with M1. Its relaxation is interrupted by the quasi redundant entry
that is the most subdued both in this section and in the fugue.
The third section sets off in an almost floating atmosphere. The remaining two subject entries and two episodes repeat the development of
the second section, omitting, however, both the climax and the anticlimax.
The first subject statement of this section is accompanied by CS2 but not
CS1 and thus sounds less polyphonically exciting, and the quasi redundant
final entry is dropped entirely.

WTC I/14 in F minor Prelude


With the exception of very few measures, this prelude exhibits strict
two-part polyphony. The opening idea is imitated in the lower voice and
also recurs constantly in the course of the piece. As the initial imitation is
placed on the fifth, the composition can be identified as composed in
accordance with the principles of a fugue.
The first harmonic progression concludes at m. 21. As it coincides with
the initial statement of the subject, this cadence does not indicate a
section ending. Conspicuous cadential formulas outside subject statements
occur in mm. 12, 18-19, and 21-22. The first and third are perfect
cadences, one in the dominant, the other in the tonic. The third presents an
imperfect cadence (with the subdominant and dominant of F minor).
Structurally relevant analogies are scarce in this prelude. Only the two
measures immediately following the above-mentioned perfect cadences are
composed alike (mm. 123-143 . 221-241, transposed from C to F). Their
three-part texture with a sustained note in one voice and eighth-note + rest
figures in another refers to the beginning of the piece (mm. 12-13 and 22
. m. 1).
The basic character of this prelude is rather lively. This follows both
from the simple rhythmic pattern consisting predominantly of 16th- and
eighth-notes in a straightforward setting, and from the pitch pattern
featuring leaps in the eighth-notes and a mixture of ornamental figures and
broken chords in the 16th-notes. In fact there seem to be hardly any notes
that would require emotional depth; so the tempo, reflecting truth, should
be quite swift. Articulation demands a light quasi-legato touch for the
16th-notes and an effortless non legato for the eighth-notes.
The three ornaments (mm. 12, 18, and 21) in the prelude embellish cadential closes. All appear in a pattern typical for Baroque closing formulas,
a dotted note followed by the anticipated resolution, and are therefore point
darrt trills: they stop short considerably before the succeeding 16th-note,
preferably on the half-beat eighth-note or slightly before. The trills in m.
12 and m. 18 both begin on the upper auxiliary and, moving in 32nd-notes,
comprise four notes. The ornament in m. 21, as it is approached stepwise,
is launched from the main note and features only three notes: two
32nd-notes and a syncopated eighth-note.
201

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Since the prelude in F minor is being analyzed under the assumption


that it is built along the lines of a two-part fugue, a crucial question is: how
strict a fugue it is, and where does it deviate from the fugal pattern? The
subject is established in the upper voice.1 This initial subject statement
brings about the first deviance from the modela deviance that is common
in preludes composed as fugues: it is not presented as an unaccompanied
line but comes with two companions. One of these voices moves in
eighth-notes interrupted by eighth-note rests and doubles the peak notes of
the subject in parallel compound thirds, while the other consists of a
sustained tonic keynote and its final octave displacement. In the course of
the fugue the two structurally analogous statements, those after the perfect
cadences in mm. 12-13 and 22-23, are also presented in a sudden three-part
texture, each time with one voice acting as a pedal and the other moving in
parallels to the subject peak notes. (For reference, this line of parallel
eighth-notes will here be called C for companion.)
The following two subject statements allow for two fake countersubjects to make their appearance. Both, as will be shown, derive from the
companion. C1 is introduced in the expected position against the second
subject entry in mm. 2-3. It consists of leaping eighth-notes and, if regarded
as a hidden two-part structure, describes in its lower part the same parallel
in compound thirds to the subjects peak notes as the companion of the
opening entry. (This can be seen most clearly in mm. 9-10.) C2 makes its
first appearance in mm. 4-5 against the third subject statement. It is characterized by broken chords that are filled each with an additional passing
note. The line built by the lowest notes of these chords is, once again, a
parallel to the subjects peak notes.
The example shows the relationship between the subject and its three
companions. In light of the two following regular counter-subjects, the
eighth-notes in m. 1 are revealed as a feature to be taken seriously since
both derive strikingly from it. For easier comparison, all passages are
transposed to the
tonic and reprinted
with the subject in
the upper voice.
harmonizing
companion
1

C1

C2

Whether the A on the downbeat of m. 2 or the third 16th-note F constitute the intended
melodic ending is almost impossible to decide.

F minor

203

A third companion to the subject is added in the second half of the


composition. This companion appears in block chords that strike in eighthnotes separated by eighth-note rests. Its rhythmic pattern is thus that of the
first-measure companion, and its scalar descent derives equally from the
compound-third parallel to the subjects peak notes (see, in the right-hand
part of mm. 14-15, the lowest notes E-D-C-B). This figure thus continues
the development we have so far witnessed, leading from one mutation of
the companion to the next in a logical way, from single notes via hidden
two-part structure and broken chords to block chords. As these chords
make no attempt whatsoever to establish any melodic line, one would not
normally give name them a counter-subject. However, for the sake of
easier identification and because of their striking analogy with the other
companions these chords shall here be referred to as C3. What is truly
surprising is that the inversion of the subject is invariably accompanied by
this C3, which then does not build the usual parallel. As a consequence, the
ensuing subject entry in mm. 15-16, also an inversion, is accompanied by
a compromise: one descending (originally parallel) and one ascending
(now parallel) line. Finally in mm. 19-20, things appear upside down in
that the subject is here returned to its original shape but the scale in the
accompanying chords rises.2 The fourth and final step in the development
of the companion is the explicit parallel in compound thirds. This parallel
occurs in mm. 20-21 but never again.
The subject entries in this fugue and their respective companions thus
present the following picture (Sinv, Spar = subject inversion or parallel):
mm.
U
L

1
S
C

2
3
C1
S

4
5
C2
S

mm.
U
L

12 13 14 15 16
S
C2 C3 S inv
C S
S inv C3

6
7
S
C2
C2 S

9
10
S
C1

11

12

17

19 20 21
C3 S
S
S par

22
S
C

23 24
C2
S

18

The few subject-free passages in this fugue are episodes in the usual
sense. Some take their material directly from the primary features; see,
e.g., the episodes in mm. 3-4 and 5-6, which display a motif (in imitation)
composed of the subjects turn figure and a leap that recalls C1. The lower
voice in mm. 8-9, the upper voice in mm. 10-11, and the lower voice in
mm. 16-17 use the same motif, while mm. 11-12 and 17-19 constitute
2

See in m. 19 the upper notes of the right-hand part. The immediate relationship between
these chords and the chords in mm. 14-15 becomes apparent when one compares the lower
notes here with the uppermost pitches there.

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motivically free extended closing formulas. Shorter cadential formulas are


found in the two remaining passages (mm. 21-22 and m. 24).
An attempt to define the structure in this fugue by grouping the
subject statements into sections would probably carry the exercise too far.
The only relevant structural caesuras in this highly virtuoso piece occur at
the cadential closures. Thus performers should try to convey a polyphonic
composition in two halves followed by a coda, and not the (theoretically
possible) six fugal rounds.

WTC I/14 in F minor Fugue


The subject of the F-minor fugue spans four measures. It begins after
a rest with the second quarter-note of the 6/4 measure, thus conveying the
impression of an extended upbeat. Its conclusion is reached at m. 41 where
the melodic line returns to the keynote F after an ornamented G representing the dominant harmony. The length of the final note is exceptional
in m. 4; some later subject statements end with only an eighth-note.
The pitch pattern in the subject and in the entire fugue features mostly
stepwise motion. The rhythm is highly varied, comprising eighth-notes,
quarter-notes, dotted quarter-notes, etc. up to the subjects tied 4/4-note.
Syncopations appear frequently, two of them in the subject itself.
Phrasing in the subject permits two options, which create quite different
effects. On a small scale, there are three similar note groups that can be
interpreted as varied sequences: F-G-A is sequenced in contracted note
values in G-A-B, and sequenced again (after an additional A-G pair) in
A-B-C. It is therefore possible to view the subject as consisting of three
consecutive ascents the last of which is complemented with a descending
motion. In this case, subtle subphrasing after the long notes ending the first
two ascents (i.e., after A and B in m. 2) is adequate. On a larger scale, it is
also possible to imagine that these notes combine to a single gesture: an
ascent through F-G-ABC (or even F-G-A-A-B-B-C). In this
case, the long notes are directed forward instead of serving as transitional
endings, and the tension between one long note and the next is further
enhanced by additional artificial leading notes (A, later B). If this is what
a performer feels, the subject should not be broken into smaller units but
conceived as a single curve. (By the way, the short instances of backtracking during the ascent find their equivalent in the descent, which also
falls in two sweeps.)

F minor

205

The subjects harmonic layout is simple in its large steps but fairly
complex in the small ones. This is caused both by the artificial leading
notes in the subject and by the high degree of chromaticism throughout the
fugue. The main steps of the simple progression are represented by the
three long notes, with A (m. 1) for the tonic, B (m. 2) for the subdominant,
both C and the ornamented G (m. 3) for the dominant and the final F
(m. 4) for the return to the tonic. The more complex harmonic progression,
which Bach uses, e.g., in mm. 15-18, is shown in the example below. The
Roman numerals reveal how Bach in his harmonization of the subject
actually passes through the keys of B minor and C majorthe subdominant and dominant keys of F minor:

The C at m. 31 provides the climax. The highest pitch, it is the goal of


the ascending sequences or, in the alternative interpretation, the target of
the powerful ascent with its enhancing chromaticism. The preparation of
the climax and with it the degree of urgency expressed in the subject is
different in both concepts. In one scenario, the climax is reached in consecutive sweeps each of which begins newly in a relatively relaxed way.
(A string or wind player would decrease volume on the long notes.) In the
second case, the tension grows constantly and thus more powerfully through
all notes. (A string or wind player would increase volume during the long
notes so as to incorporate them into the long crescendo. Keyboard players
can only imagine this.) The character expressed in the two different interpretations has a considerably different impact.
There are nine entries in the course of the fugue:
1. mm. 1-4 T
4. mm. 15-18 S
7. mm. 29-32 T
2. mm. 4-7 A
5. mm. 20-23 A
8. mm. 32-35 B
3. mm. 8-11 B
6. mm. 25-28 S
9. mm. 37-40 S

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The subject undergoes hardly any modification. The answer is real,


with all intervals kept intact, and only in one statement is the beginning
slightly varied (see in m. 25 the 3/8 upbeat C-F-D instead of the simpler
2/4 approach C-D). However, a more significant modification, the
inversion of the subject, does occur twice. It is heard in the context of the
alto entry in mm. 20-23 and recurs in the bass statement in mm. 32-35.
Neither stretto nor parallel are found in this piece.
There are two counter-subjects. One is conceived as a fairly regular
companion to the subject, the other materializes only twice. CS1 is introduced against the second subject statement, in mm. 4-7 (tenor). It consists
of two clearly distinct halves. The second segment presents the extended
version of a closing formula (see the typical leaps D-G-C and the
do-si-do figure with its classic syncopated rhythm), while the first half is
characterized by frequent note repetition. On closer inspection one detects
that the pattern actually consists of note pairs: C-B, B-A, A-B, and so on.
The pairs are harmonically conceived either as main note + anticipation
(mm. 4-5 and 13-14) or as appoggiatura + resolution (see, e.g., mm. 8-9).
Whichever their harmonic background, these patterns are well known in
Bachs music under the name of sigh figures. In this counter-subject it is
vital to distinguish between pairs that constitute genuine sighs and others
that do not and should therefore sound different.3 Dynamically, the first
subphrase represents a gradual diminuendo to G. The second subphrase
builds a crescendo up to the half-note C and ends with a final relaxation.
CS2 first appears against the third subject statement, i.e., in mm. 8-11
(tenor). It begins on the second quarter-note (C) and consists of three
subphrases. The first ends on the dotted half-note B. Its ending is then
sequenced in diminution, after which the third subphrase sets out from the
syncopated C with an ascending portion of the melodic F-minor scale
followed by a descent in natural F minor. This subphrase, and with it the
entire counter-subject, should regularly end with the resolution on the
downbeat of the final measure. In this first appearance, however, the resolution note A is delayed. Several dynamic representations are possible for
this counter-subject. The climaxes of the first and second subphrases could
fall either on the long B and on the F in the diminished partial sequence,
3

The two notes in a true sigh are usually neighbor notes; they always represent different
harmonic steps. Leaps, especially if they occur within a single harmony, are therefore not
sighs and should not be played as pairs. Notes that appear in the context of sigh figures
but do not belong are: the octave leap in m. 15 where the lower F is the end of one subphrase, the higher F the beginning of the actual CS1; similarly in mm. 19, 22, 29, and 32.

F minor

207

or on the initial notes in these subphrases. In the third segment, the


syncopated C competes for the climax with the highest pitch of this
subphrase, F. This counter-subject recurs only once in its entire length,
and even then it is heavily varied (compare A: mm. 29-32 with T: mm.
8-11). As if to make up, the third subphrase of CS2 appears separately in
mm. 16-18 (tenor). The example below shows the phrase structure and
dynamic design in the subject and its two counter-subjects:

The F-minor fugue comprises six subject-free passages:


E1 mm. 7-8
E3 mm. 18-20
E5 mm. 28-29
E2 mm. 11-15 E4 mm. 23-25
E6 mm. 35-37
We can distinguish three episode motifs, two of them remotely related
to the primary material: M1 in its simple shape of four ascending notes is
the most prominent episode motif in this fugue. Both its rhythmic gesture,
which consists of three eighth-notes followed by a three eighth-note value,
and its pitch pattern, which contains artificial leading notes, recalls a segment from the center of the subject (compare E1: E-F-G-A, F-G-A-B
and B-C-D-E, C-D-E-F with mm. 2-3: G-A-B-C). The dynamic
shape of M1 is a crescendo. M2, consisting of the first six notes of CS1
with their upbeat, two sighs, and a final note, is prevalent in E3, E4, and
E6. Dynamically this motif takes up the subtle groupings from the countersubject, albeit within an overall diminuendo. M3 appears exclusively in E2
and is only vaguely defined. One could describe it as a concave curve with
the climax in the center, at or close to the lowest point of the curve.

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The fourth episode stands out as different from the others because it
emerges from the preceding subject statement without any clear beginning.
The soprano in mm. 23-24 continues the descent in syncopations begun
toward the end of the subject entry (see mm. 22-23 F E, continued in mm.
23-25: D-C-B). At the same time, the bass presents sequences of the
variation of the CS1 beginning that accompanied the end of the inverted
subject (mm. 22-23: D A . 23-24: B-F and, shorter, . 24-25: G-E).
Similarly, the alto also extends the end of the subject statement in varied
sequences (compare m. 23: G-A-B-C with the ensuing groups F-B and
E-F-G-A). This entire episode can thus best be regarded as an extension
of the preceding subject statement.
The structure of the episodes and their interrelationship is interesting.
E1 recurs faithfully (except for the octave displacement) in E5 and thus
creates a distinct symmetry. E1 also reappears, slightly varied and with an
accompanying voice, as the first segment of E2 (see T + B: mm. 11-12) and
of E3 (see S + B: mm. 18-19). The second segment of E3 features a parallel
presentation of M2 in the outer voices (soprano and bass) followed by
imitation, also in parallel (in what seems like the inner voices but is actually
the alto and the bass after an octave displacement, since the tenor is
resting). This pattern is taken up in E6: see m. 35 with a sequence in m. 36.
This creates a second structural analogy.
Finally, there are two cadential formulas apart from the one in the final
measure. One appears in m. 20 where the key of C minor is confirmed in
a perfect cadence. The other formula, with a dangerously similar-looking
bass line, marks the end of the above-mentioned subject extension (see
m. 25). This one, however, is not only an imperfect cadence, but it also
overlaps with the beginning of a new subject statement in the soprano. It
thus does not qualify as a structural caesura.
The features described above also determine the role played by each
episode in the dynamic development of the composition. E1 and E5 both
begin slightly softer than the end of the preceding subject entry, after
which they prepare the subsequent entry in a twofold crescendo. E2 sets
out with a similar buildup. This is followed by a gradual release generated
by the overall descending direction of the M3 appearances. A complete
relaxation is held at bay by the frequent quotations of the outgoing M1 in
the bass of mm. 13-14. E3 begins with the same active gesture followed by
a gradual diminuendo in m. 19 and a complete relaxation in the perfect
cadence. E6 picks up the gradual release. It is a bridge to the subsequent
entry. Finally, E4 continues the diminuendo in the subject ending and thus,
at a moment of particularly low tension, creates an anticlimax.

F minor

209

Both the fugues pitch pattern with its prevalence of stepwise motion
and the rhythmic organization with its variety of note values are unequivocal in determining the basic character of this fugue as rather calm. The
frame for the tempo is set on the one hand by the required tranquility of
character, and on the other hand by the rather long note values, which still
need to be perceived as alive. In other words, the eighth-notes must be
slow enough to convey serenity, but not so slow as to impede the listener
from taking the entire subject on one breath, and thus cause the subject to
fall into pieces. The articulation is generally legato. Only the first half of
the first counter-subject as well as the episode motif derived from it feature
slurring in pairs, following the pattern of the sigh figures. The only notes
to be played non legato are the consecutive leaps in the second half of the
counter-subject (e.g., m. 6: D-G-C) and the cadential-bass patterns in
mm. 20, 25, and 39-40. For the relative tempo of the prelude to the fugue,
a good and feasible solution is: one measure in the prelude corresponds
with half a measure in the fugue. (Approximate metronome settings:
prelude beats = 112, fugue beats = 84.)
The only ornament in this composition is the trill in the subject. As it
is complemented by a resolution, it is note-filling. Approached in stepwise
motion it begins on the main note sustained for the duration of an eighthnote and then shakes in 16th-notes, ending with a suffix. This trill, being
an integral part of the subject, must be transferred to the D in m. 6 and to
the Gs in mm. 10 (where it is indicated in brackets), 17, and 31, i.e., to the
second-to-last notes of all original-shape entries,4 as well as to the B in m.
23 and the E in m. 34, i.e., to the second-to-last note of inverted entries.5
The entering order of the voices and their respective surrounding
texture, in conjunction with the explicit cadence at the end of E3, define
the fugues binary structure: The full ensemble of four voices is reached in
the fourth statement. In the middle of m. 20, a cadential formula closes this
section in C minor, the minor dominant of the home key. The subsequent
entries manifest a protracted suspension before the full ensemble is reached
once again:
4

In the subjects final statement, the Picardy third of the ending impedes execution of the
trill. The ordinary trill on G would shake with A as its upper note. This A, however,
clashes with the A in the middle voice. A trill with A is obviously also out of the question
because of the preceding A. This subject ending must therefore remain unornamented.
5

Students sometimes ask whether trills are also upside down in inverted statements. The
answer is: no, ornaments are not inverted.

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inversion, 3 voices, no CS (mm. 20-23),


original, 3 voices, with CS1 (mm. 25-28),
original, 3 voices, with CS1, CS2 (mm. 29-32),
inversion, 4 voices, no CS (mm. 32-35), and only then
original, 4 voices, with CS1 (mm. 37-40).
The two halves of this fugue are largely analogous: both begin with a
subject entry without thematic companion followed by an entry accompanied by CS1 and rounded off by an episode with only M1. Both continue
with a third statement accompanied by CS1 + CS2. Only the ending of the
two halves differs.
The harmonic outline is straightforward. The four subject statements of
the first section are all in F minor (on the tonic, dominant, tonic, and tonic
respectively). The episode concluding this section modulates to the key of
the dominant. The five statements in the second section are again all in F
minor (on the tonic, dominant, tonic, subdominant, and tonic respectively).
In other words, the harmonic succession is the same in both sections, with
only the additional statement in section II on an unprecedented step.

In both sections of this symmetrically built fugue, the tension rises


gradually but constantly from entry to entry. The episodes E1 and E5 have
bridging function within a forward-thrusting direction, while E2 and E6
convey a receding direction, and E4 is conceived as an extension of the
preceding statement without any explicit change of color. Only E3 with its
cadential formula has concluding character.

WTC I/15 in G major Prelude


In the G-major prelude, the overall picture is dominated by 16th-notes.
They appear in triplet groups, with eight such groups to each 4/4 measure.
(Bachs twofold time signature in the first measure makes things look more
complicated and treacherous than they really are since it is obviously not
the treble part alone that features the triplets.)
These 16th-note triplets appear in three different grades of melodic
quality, providing indicators for the basic interpretation of the prelude. A
large portion displays broken chord patterns (see mm. 1-3 and 6-8 as well
as the bass part from m. 11 onward), suggesting a harmonically determined
composition. In other instances, they present a hidden two-part structure
(see mm. 4-5 and 9-10) from which melodically rather neutral peak note
lines emerge. In yet other measures, the 16th-notes appear in one-track
lines that are at least partially melodic (see the treble part from m. 11
onward). These measures allow small motifs to surface. The prelude thus
cannot be described with a single term. It sets out as a harmonically
determined piece from which tentative melodic features soon arise, developing more and more into independent entities.
The first harmonic progression concludes in the second half of m. 2.
As the pattern continues uninterrupted, this cadence should not be regarded
as indicating the end of the first section. This is reached with the subsequent abrupt modulation to the dominant, which brings with it a noticeable
change of pattern from m. 4 onward. (The caesura occurs only in U: m. 3.
The lower part crosses a section boundary at the end of the measure without phrasing). In the second section, a first miniature cadence resolving in
m. 5 does not interrupt the progression of the material, but the subsequent
harmonic close confirms the dominant key on the downbeat of m. 11. The
prelude comprises four structural sections altogether:
I
mm. 1-3
tonic confirmed, modulation to the dominant
II
mm. 4-111 dominant
III
mm. 11-131 dominant
IV
mm. 132-19 return to the tonic
No larger segment of the music recurs. Although the eye is caught by
the obvious similarity between m. 5 and its transposition in m. 9, the position of both measures in the structural context is entirely different: m. 5 is
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the second in a pair of measures in hidden two-part structure and represents a harmonic resolution, while m. 9 is the harmonically active first in
a pair.
The basic character is easy to determine as rather lively: This is
unambiguously suggested both by the simple rhythmic pattern with only
two note values and by the frequent broken chords (in the triplets) and
leaps (in the eighth-notes). Like the fugue it precedes, the prelude is downright virtuoso and should be played accordingly, in a very brisk pace. It
does not feature any ornaments. With regard to articulation one should
differentiate between the coarse level of simple contrastnon legato for
the eighth-notes and legato for the 16th-notesand the level of subtler
shades. These include: non legato in a light, neutral touch for the accompanying eighth-note leaps, a more expressive non legato for eighth-notes in
hidden two-part structure (where they move predominantly stepwise), quasi
legato with a crisp touch for the 16th-notes in the broken chords, legato in
a moderately expressive touch for the 16th-notes in hidden two-part
structure, legato with some melodic expression in the 16th-notes forming
motivic figures, and legato with melodic intensity for the eighth-notes in
U: mm. 11-13 representing appoggiatura-resolution pairs.
The G-major prelude can be regarded as consisting of two halves. Each
embodies a shorter introduction followed by a longer portion that develops
and complements the material established before. The first half spans mm.
1-111. It is based on a harmonic idea presented in the right hand with
virtuoso broken-chord patterns, accompanied by a rhythmicized pedal note
with octave displacement. In the first simple cadence (mm. 1-2), the
descending pitch direction of the broken-chord pattern is so dominant that
it overruns all considerations for shaping along harmonic lines. In character with this virtuoso figure, the prelude thus begins with a rather energetic
tone color followed by a diminuendo through two measures. The third
measure is composed as a harmonic sequence; it takes up the V7-I pair
from m. 2 and relocates it to D major. The equivalent to this feature in
performance is a sequence also in the dynamic process, i.e., a repetition of
the second half of the previous diminuendo. The question whether the
dynamic level in m. 3 is generally higher or lower than that in m. 2 can be
solved with the help of three observations: the pitch level is slightly lower
in the second half of m. 3 than in the second half of m. 2, the second half
of m. 3 features rests in the right hand part, the thinner texture adding to
the effect of decreasing intensity, and m. 3 was recognized as the end of
the first short section. A definite relaxation serves to underscore this fact in
performance.

G major

213

A new pattern arises from the last eighth-note beat of m. 3 onward.


Retaining the virtuoso quality of the beginning, mm. 4-5 change the
texture into that of a hidden two-part structure. In U: m. 4, a line with
stepwise motion in eighth-note rhythm builds the melodic foreground,
while the background consists of a pedal on D (the tonic of the newly
established key) ornamented regularly by its leading note C. In m. 5, the
foreground line continues while the background figure is transferred to the
left hand. (There should ideally be no audible difference between the two
measures.) The melodic part is further paralleled in the left hand. The subsequent measures return to the texture and material of the first measures
but vary it. Harmonically, mm. 6-7 and 8-9 recall the earlier sequences
with their V7-I. The chords appear extended to whole-measure durations
and feature varied accompaniment figures. It is important for the performance of this section to understand that the harmonic functions in the
leading measures of these pairs represent a sudden and powerful increase
in tension: the chord in m. 6 is vii7 of A (the dominant in D major), the one
in m. 8 follows as vii7 of E (the relative minor to the subdominant). The
next measures, mm. 9-10, return to the hidden two-part structure. The
pedal-note change between the two measures reveals the cadential steps:
E-A or steps ii-V of D major. The melodic parts of both voices set out in
parallels and only separate in the second half of m. 10.
The dynamic equivalent to the processes described above for the first
half of the prelude could be rendered somewhat like this:
mm. 1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10 11
+
+
+
+

f -mf mp -p mp p mp mp
pf
mf f
mp mp + mp
The second half of the piece, covering the remaining nine measures, is
based on motivic treble figures that introduce a new expressive quality.
Beginning with the first little motif (see m. 112-3, with three sequences up
to the E-D on m. 131), the melodically conceived 16th-notes followed by
the appoggiatura-resolution pair in the eighth-notes add charm and grace to
the prelude. (Note the dynamic shaping with U: crescendo to the appoggiatura, L: diminuendo from each strong beat onward. Dynamic imitations
would be ill-advised here.) The second motif (mm. 132-142) presents a
development of the first. It is twice as long, more elaborate in its triplet
figures, and the appoggiatura is now indirect (D-E embedded in D-E-F-E).
This motif also spawns sequences (mm. 142-152 and 152-162.) The accompaniment, which had contained old material in the first motif, combining
the broken-chord figure and the octave leap from mm. 1-4, is now much
more intricate as it sets out with the varied broken-chord figure from m. 6
and continues it freely, albeit in virtuoso fashion.

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The section ends with a figure of only one quarter-note length (see U:
m. 163), complemented in the left hand by a unit that, because of its
rhythm, has to be regarded as overlapping (m. 163-4 C-A-F-D etc.). Both
figures are sequenced many times, the treble right through to the end,
whereas the bass figure gives way to a cadential-bass pattern in m. 18.
The development of tension in this second half is determined entirely
by the direction of the sequences. Thus the first motif, which begins in
something like mf, is followed in its descending sequences by a diminuendo.
The second motif, which sets out with more vigor anyway, undergoes a
further crescendo in its ascending development. As if to compensate this
outburst, the third little figure, launched from a climax of less melodic
intensity than its predecessors, describes a continuous relaxation up to the
end of the prelude.

WTC I/15 in G major Fugue


The subject of this fugue appears confusing with regard to its length.
Asked where it ends one might find three possible answers, yet for one
reason or another, each of them is not entirely convincing. Performers who
regard the return to the keynote G (and with it, possibly, to the tonic
harmony) on the last 16th-note of m. 4 as the end of the subject must admit
that this conclusion is metrically not satisfactory. For performers who
decide to include the downbeat of m. 5, the subject ends with an imperfect
cadence, a solution that is harmonically uncommon. Performers who
interpret the subject as concluding on the downbeat of m. 4 will find it
both harmonically incomplete as it lacks the essential subdominant step
that, substituted here by its relative minor, materializes only in m. 4, and
melodically unconvincing as it ends on the fifth scale degree. Only in the
inversion does this choice of a subject ending sound very persuasive. Bach
must have felt the same, since he states the inversion repeatedly in this
shortened scope (see below).
With this complex answer and no simple solution at hand, it will prove
necessary to give each subphrase a name tag and then state very clearly
which of them appear in the statements of this fugue. With regard to the
first and second of the three concepts mentioned above, three subphrases
must be distinguished. The first subphrase [a] consists of the ascending
turn figures in m. 1, the subsequent eighth-note descent and the syncopated
seventh leap in m. 2. The second subphrase [b], confined to m. 3, features

G major

215

a varied partial sequence of the first subphrase: the eighth-note descent and
the syncopated seventh leap recur, but they are linked by a smaller interval
than before. The third subphrase [c] then consists of the downbeat
eighth-note in m. 4 and the twofold scalar descent (with or without the note
in m. 51). If one follows the third of the above-mentioned concepts and
assumes the closure of the subject already on the downbeat of m. 4, there
would only be two subphrases, [a] and [b], with [b] complemented by a
resolution.
The pitch pattern consists primarily of stepwise motion, with only three
leaps: two in m. 2, one in m. 3. Two of the leaps appear as consecutive
intervals (m. 2: G-D-C). Among the seconds, the longer note values, i.e.,
the eighth-notes in mm. 2-3, have melodic value while the shorter are
either ornamental, as is the case in the two turn figures at the beginning, or
constitute scalar passages, as happens in the two five-note groups at the
end of the subject.
In terms of its rhythm, the subject features three values: 16th-notes,
eighth-notes and (syncopated) quarter-notes. The same three note values
also constitute the predominant rhythmic pattern throughout the entire
composition. A particular attribute of the rhythmic pattern in this subject is
that it displays perfect symmetry in mm. 1-4. Were one to give a name tag
to the rhythmic patterns of each measure, the result would read x-y-y-x.
When analyzing the subjects harmonic background it seems worth
anticipating an important trait of this fugue, i.e., that the subject frequently
appears in inversion. The harmonic outline of this inversion is considerably
different from that underlying the original shape. The following examples
demonstrate this with harmonizations taken from mm. 11-15 and 20-24.

up to this point without subdominant

half cadence

perfect cadence

In our search for the intended climax we may thus not be able to rely
on harmonic features. However, both the rhythmic pattern and the pitch
outline provide congruous guidelines. Concerning the rhythm, the two

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WTC I/15

syncopations obviously capture special tension. As both of them coincide


with high-tension leaps, there can be no doubt that the quarter-note C in m.
2 represents the climax of the first and the quarter-note E in m. 3 that of the
second subphrase. Between the two, the second is stronger than the first
because it is composed in an ascending sequence. After these two energetic
climaxes, the third subphrase appears as little more than an afterthought.
This may be one of the reasons why the doubt whether or not it belongs
survives. The dynamic tendency follows the descending motion; thus the
D at the outset of this subphrase is the beginning of a decrescendo.
The fugue comprises sixteen subject statements:
1. mm. 1-51
U
9. mm. 51-541
U*
2. mm. 5-91
M
10. mm. 52-541
L*3. mm. 11-151
L
11. mm. 604-63
M*
4. mm. 20-241
M inv
12. mm. 614-641
U*
5. mm. 24-281
U inv
13. mm. 694-731
L inv
6. mm. 28-311
L inv
14. mm. 77-801
M inv-orig
7. mm. 38-421
U
(15. mm. 78-79
L inv**)
8. mm. 43-471
M inv
16. mm. 79-82
U-

Several of the statements are incomplete in one way or another. Only


one is a genuine false start (indicated by parentheses in the table above).
Entries that are shortened at the end are marked with a minus, those that
are shortened in the middle carry an asterisk. Interestingly, the subject
abridgements in this fugue have persuasive reasons. The loss of the third
subphrase arises from the fact that it is perceived as an afterthought and
that it leads to a harmonically imperfect endingwhich, particularly after
the perfect cadence in the inversion, makes it harmonically superfluous. And
the compression of the first and second subphrases into one occurs only in
stretto positions, clearly intended to avoid the octave parallels that would
otherwise result.
There are not many other modifications. In two instances including the
false start, the beginning is delayed by a 16th-note and the subject thus
appears in a slightly altered rhythm (mm. 51 and 78). On another occasion,
a statement sets out as an inversion but later seems to be convinced (or
dragged along) by the entering stretto partner to change its ending into that
belonging to the original shape (mm. 77-80). Finally, one inverted subject
finds its closing note displaced an octave lower (mm. 72-73), and another
features an ornamental variation of the third subphrase (m. 46).

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217

There are three stretto passages in this fugue, occurring respectively in


mm. 51-54, 60-63, and 77-82. Parallels of whole statements do not occur.
However, a short but very effective three-fold parallel (two voices moving
in double thirds, another in the same rhythm but in contrary motion) is
created in the final stretto. Here the lower-voice false entry is expanded
with an extra sequence, and the middle voice statement that sets out in
inversion is lured by the upper-voice entry to mold its last subphrase into
the turn-figures known from the subjects beginning.
The fugue comprises only one counter-subject. Its rhythmic structure
allows a division into three segments, yet these structural components do
not function as separate subphrases but only as consecutive portions in the
pursuit of a single purpose. The scope of the counter-subject is slightly
blurred at its beginning, as was that of the subject at its end. Thus the F in
U: m. 5 can be regarded as the counter-subjects first note (if the subject is
understood as ending on the last eighth-note of m. 4) or as the point of
overlapping phrases, belonging at the same time to both elements. It is also
possible to perceive the counter-subject as beginning on the second eighthnote of the measure. Taking a closer look at the segments one finds that,
faithful to the requirements of contrapuntal independence of partners,
their confines do not coincide with those of the subjects subphrases. The
first segment [d] consists only of eighth-notes and ends on the downbeat of
m. 6. It shares with the beginning of the subject the pattern of half measure
model and ascending sequence; therefore its independence is limited. The
counter-subjects second segment [e] spans two measures. Moving exclusively in 16th-notes, it prolongs the previous ascent with an ornamental
figure sequenced at half-measure intervals. The third and final segment [f]
is scarcely one measure long. It begins with a scalar descent that sets out as
a parallel to the subject but then bends backward and reaches the high G,
thus disclosing its nature as yet another section under the overall purpose
of a peak note ascent. From the counter-subjects beginning to this target
note the underlying ascent thus progresses through an entire octave. This
directedness distinguishes it sharply from the subject which, in its concluding portion, returns to the level from which it was launched.

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WTC I/15

The choice of an appropriate dynamic outline in the counter-subject is easy


since the tension rises perceptibly throughout. The opposite, a continuous
diminuendo, applies in the inversion of the counter-subject.
There are eight subject-free passages within this fugue.
E1
mm. 9-10
E5
mm. 47-50
E2
mm. 15-19
E6
mm. 54-604
E3
mm. 31-37
E7
mm. 64-694
E4
m. 42
E8
mm. 73-76
In addition, the five measures following the last subject statement (E9)
present the cadence that re-establishes the tonic (mm. 82-831) and a coda
on a tonic pedal (mm. 83-86).
The episodes are almost exclusively built from three independent motifs.
While the first two motifs are related and of only moderate melodic intensity, the third motif a truly lyrical quality and is thus the most conspicuous
among the three. M1 is first presented in U: mm. 9-101. Its rhythm is
characterized by uninterrupted 16th-notes that begin immediately after the
first beat of one measure and end on the downbeat of the next. The pitch
pattern is conceived in hidden two-part structure: one of the parts remains,
as an indirect pedal, on a repeated note, while the other part describes a
scalar motion. (The melodic part begins with a 16th-note upbeat, which is
often mistaken as belonging to the background.) In the original appearance
of m. 9 this scale falls, but it rises just as often (e.g., M: mm. 10-111); those
cases will be referred to as M1 inversions. The concluding note on the
downbeat serves as a harmonic resolution. In the original version, the resolution falls on the pitch level of the indirect pedal, whereas in the inversion
(mm. 10-11) it sounds as a continuation of the melody. M2 enters as a
companion to M1, with the original in M: mm. 9-101 and the inversion in
U: mm. 10-111. It is not polyphonically independent but composed as a
parallel to the melodic part of M1. Consequently its rhythm moves in
regular eighth-notes. M3 emerges only in the second episode (see U: m. 17
and sequences). Unlike the two earlier episode motifs it is launched from
the downbeat and ends somewhat indistinctly before the next bar line or on
the ensuing downbeat, in that case overlapping with the beginning of the
sequence. Its lyrical quality arises both from the melodic content of the
16th-note line and from the expressive syncopation on the second
eighth-note of the measure.
As to the dynamic outline of the three motifs, both M1 and M2 represent simple lines that follow the pitch direction: crescendo in all ascending
and diminuendo in all descending scalar motions. The distribution of these
motifs in the eight episodes of the fugue is very dense. Based on the

G major

219

material we can distinguish three episode types: E1, E4, E6, and E9 are all
built on M1 and M2, while E3, E5, E7, and E8 neglect M2 in favor of the
other two motifs. E2 is related to all of the others. It sets out with M1 in
non-motivic surrounding; then combines an M1 inversion with an M2
parallel, and finally presents sequences of the M3/M1 pair, complemented
by a neutral middle voice.
The relationship between the episodes is evident from the table above.
E1 is related to E4 and also, though less closely, to E6. E5 and E7 are
similar, and E8 shows analogy to the second segment of E3. E2 can be
divided to reveal relationships to E1 and E4 in its first two measures, to E5
and E7 in its remainder. None of the episodes exhausts its function as a
cadential close. In one instance, however, a closing formula determines the
material of a final segment: see the do-si-do figure in the upper voice as
well as the typical bass pattern in the first half of m. 69.
The role each of the episodes plays in the development of the composition also stems directly from its material. Those of the first type, based
only on M1/M2, act as bridges, while those ending with descending
M3/M1 sequences have concluding character. The two episodes featuring
the M1 + scale combinations lie in-between; they provide more contrast to
the primary material than the first type but lack any features of conclusive
force. One might thus say that they insinuate a gap that they nevertheless
span.
The basic character of this fugue is best interpreted as rather lively.
This decision is supported mainly by the pitch pattern with its leaps and
ornamental figures. The rhythmic pattern contains four melodically relevant note values, three already in the subject, and additional 32nd-notes in
the variation of M1, but all these values fit smoothly into a generally simple
rhythmic structure. The tempo is swift, playful if not outright virtuoso,
allowing for an energetic and non-superficial touch. The articulation
demands non legato for the eighth-notes and quarter-notes and different
kinds of legato for the 16th- and the few 32nd-notes. Among these, truly
melodic quality seems appropriate for M3 while an equally dense sound,
though for different reasons, suits the hidden two-part structure of M1.
Ornamental 16th-notes like the turn figures and scale portions in the
subject and the longer scales in E3 and E8 are best rendered in quasi
legato. An ideal proportion of tempo between the prelude and the fugue is
founded on the larger pulses of each: one quarter-note in the prelude corresponds with half a measure in the fugue. Approximate metronome settings:
80 for the beats (quarter-notes) in the prelude and the compound beats
(dotted quarter-notes) in the fugue.

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WTC I/15

The fugue features a number of ornaments, namely in mm. 22, 25-26,


64, 69, and 78. Before pondering any of them, the general question of the
tempo of ornaments in this fugue must be settled. If they are to shake
twice as fast as the shorter note values, the dispute arises as to which of
the values, 16th-notes or 32nd-notes, are to be regarded as the shorter
rhythmic units. In accordance with both the virtuosity of the piece and the
ornamental nature characterizing many of the 16th-notes, it seems advisable
to regard these as the values to be doubled in the trills. The few 32nd-notes
will then appear as additional written-out slides and turns.
The ornaments can be grouped as follows: The mordent symbols in
mm. 22 and 78 designate long trills, as the spelled-out suffixes indicate.
The first, approached stepwise, begins on the main note and allows for five
trill notes (one 16th- + four 32nd-notes) before the suffix. The second
begins on the upper neighbor note and moves in regular 32nd-notes. The
two trills in the inverted subject statement are more problematic. Regarding
both pitch and metric position, the ornamented notes lead into possible
resolutions. Yet the notes providing these resolutions do not belong to the
same subphrases. Performers can draw three kinds of conclusions from this
predicament: (a) to ignore the original phrasing and link each trill, with a
proper suffix, to the subsequent note; (b) to ignore the trill symbol and
play the subject as it was introduced, i.e., unornamented; (c) to respect
both ornament and phrasing by playing a short, mordent-like embellishment of only five notes. The two trills in mm. 64 and 69 share the same
ending: they do not resolve on any appropriate strong beat but end in a tied
note. Both therefore conclude without a suffix and should stop before the
beginning of the tie. Convention suggests that the halt be as late as possible
before the last bar line; however, it is unlikely that Bach had this in mind
in the second case as it is technically impossible to maintain the trill
motion in the second half of m. 70 where the right hand is busy with the
counter-subject. A feasible as well as musically convincing solution is to
play both trills equally long. The one in m. 63, covering slightly less than
a measure, would serve as a model for the one in mm. 69-70, which would
then come to a halt before the middle voice enters. (By the way, these
interrupted trills do not, despite their beginning on the main note, prolong
the first note as they are not note-filling ornaments.)

m. 64

mm. 69-70

G major

221

Several indicators help in determining the structure. The order and


shape of the subject entries define some of the boundaries between sections.
It seems reasonable to assume that the first three statements in identical
shape belong to one section, that consequently the next three statements in
inversion establish the second section, and that the appearance of the first
stretto marks the beginning of a new section. Two subject statements sound
in reduced ensemble, namely those beginning in mm. 38 and 51. These are
therefore likely to constitute section openings. The cadential close in the
first half of m. 69 indicates the end of a section.
The role played by the episodes sheds additional light on the question
of structure. These facts confirm what has already been stated: E1 connects
the second and third statements of section I, and E2 rounds this first section
off at m. 201. E3, spanning a larger gap, connects the three inverted
subject entries of section II with the beginning of section III, marked by
the entry in reduced ensemble (m. 38). Sections II and III, while distinct
for several of the reasons stated above, thus form a superimposed group
owing to the episode that links them. E4 connects the two statements, one
original and one inverted, of the third section. The concluding E5 rounds
this third section off on m. 511, where the fourth section begins with
another entry in reduced ensemble. E6 connects the two strettos of the
fourth section. The concluding E7 rounds this fourth section off on the
middle beat of m. 69, additionally enhanced by the closing formula. E8,
spanning a larger gap, connects the single entry opening section V with
the following stretto. The analogy of E8 and E3 suggests that the fifth
section is to be regarded as structurally corresponding to the joint second
and third sections that, as shown above, form a group.
As these details reveal, structural correspondences in this fugue are
complex. The first two sections feature an obvious analogy in the number
of their entries and the consistency in which these are presented. The
impression is that of a double exposition: first, of the subject in its original
shape, then of its inversion. Yet another exposition occurs in the fourth
section, which establishes the strettos. The second large-scale analogy is
that between the second and third sections on the one hand and the fifth
section on the other.
The harmonic outline of the composition is straightforward. Both the
first and second sections remain on the tonic, the third section is in E
minor (the relative minor of the tonic), the fourth section in D major (the
dominant), and the fifth section returns to G major, approaching it from an
entry on the dominant and crowning it with the unusual statement on the
third of the home key (see U: mm. 79-82).

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WTC I/15

In each section, the tension rises from the first to the last entry, due
either to an increasing number of participating voices (I, III, and IV), the
enhanced presentation of the subject (V: from single entry to stretto), or
the analogy with the first section (II). Section II is dynamically more
intense than the first since its three entries are launched in full ensemble
and follow one another without interruption. Section III falls back because
of both its reduced range and its minor mode, appearing almost as a softer
appendix. Section IV develops to an even higher dynamic level. Finally,
section V inverts the situation in the pair to which it is analogous (II/III . V)
by setting out from the softer level of the single entry and evolving in a
powerful increase toward the stretto with parallel tail.

WTC I/16 in G minor Prelude


This prelude is determined by three rhythmic figures. They come with
varying textures and pitch curves. The three figures jointly cover every
measure of the piece, with only one short interruption (of one beat length)
and two slight variations in one of the rhythmic patterns.
The first perfect cadence concludes at m. 31. This cadential close should
not be regarded as structural since the bass has so far not taken part in the
harmonic progression but remained on the tonic pedal. Also, Bach generates
a distinctly felt continuity between the patterns in mm. 1-2 and 3-4. The
modulation in the measures following this first cadential close reaches its
goal, a perfect cadence in the dominant D major, on the middle beat of m. 4.
The harmonic resolution is only a 16th-note long here, since the D-major
chord is immediately topped by its seventh and progresses to new regions.
This harmonic closure is thus again not the kind of caesura one is looking
for when trying to determine the preludes structural sections. The search
finally leads to the third cadential close, reached at m. 71 after a second
modulation to B major, the relative major key.
There are four sections in this prelude. Only the first is subdivided by
means of several structurally less definite cadential closes, as has been
shown above:
I
mm. 1-71
i-III
(G minor to B major)
II
mm. 7-111
III-iv
(B major to C minor)
III mm. 11-181
iv-i
(C minor to G minor)
IV mm. 18-19
i-i
(G minor confirmed)
No segment ever recurs, be it varied, transposed, or even in a freer
understanding of structural analogies. Any seemingly recurring measures
are just new manifestations of one of the motivic figures.
The rhythm is complex. In the melodically relevant segments of each
voice, the prelude features three different note values: eighth-notes, 16thnotes, and 32nd-notes. Faster motion occurs in the four long trills. In second
order there are occasional dotted eighth-notes and dotted quarter-notes, as
well as syncopations in passages with complementary rhythm. The pitch
pattern, too, is complex. A predominantly stepwise motion is regularly
interrupted by sudden leaps. Closer inspection reveals that these are cases
of hidden two-part structure, often with a pedal note in the secondary layer.
223

224

WTC I/16

Furthermore there are instances where two voices complement each other
to form one of the motivic figures, thus creating extra melodic intensity. In
view of this complexity, the preludes basic character should be interpreted
as rather calm, and played in a tempo restrained enough to allow for full
melodious substance in the 32nd-notes. The corresponding articulation
requires that all notes except cadential-bass patterns and consecutive leaps
be played legato. Cadential-bass patterns can be found in mm. 10-11, 1718, and 18-19. Consecutive leaps that need to be detached occur in the
lowest voice in mm. 5-6, whereas the seeming leaps in m. 14 form part of
a hidden two-part structure. They require legato between the two layers so
that each of the two voices sounds disconnected.
A tricky question arises in the area of articulation with regard to the
figure introduced in the upper voice of m. 2. The Gs clearly do not belong
to the main melodic line, but they do not form a secondary line of their
own either. Thus they can be interpreted, and played, in two ways. One can
regard them as a pedal background in a hidden two-part structure, in which
case they are not separated from their surroundings by articulation, but only
set apart by a different tone color. Or one can perceive them as charm
notes, the playful escape notes that were to become so common in the
music of the later 18th century. In this case they are treated as integrated
parts of the melodic line that sound just lighter and, because of their
interval gaps at both sides, non legato.
There are five ornaments, all of them marked as trills and all of them
appearing at a moment of harmonic affirmation (i.e., on the tonic chords of
the keys reached by way of modulation in the course of the piece). None of
these ornaments needs, or pretends to aim for, any kind of resolution. This
is most obvious in connection with the trill on the final note, but equally
true in the case of the four other ornaments, which all end in tie prolongation followed by the beginning of a new phrase. Having said this, it
follows that none of the trills concludes with a suffix. As to the beginning,
a launch from the main note is in order in the case of the trills that are
approached stepwise, as in mm. 3, 7, and 19, or begin without any preparation, as in m. 1. And although the context of the trill in m. 11 would allow
a different solution, it should probably match the corresponding ornaments
and also begin on the main note. The speed of the trill motion (twice as fast
as the shorter note values) is in 64th-notes, or four notes to each 16th-note.
In the four trills of one measures duration, the shake comes to a halt on the
last main note before the bar line, i.e., on the final 16th-note that is then
tied over. The duration of the shake in m. 19 is not fixed in any way; it
could be anything from an eighth-note upward.

G minor

225

The first of the three rhythmic figures that determine the piece is introduced in m. 1. Its texture consists of three parts, two of which, the upper
and the lower, are unmoving pitches: a trill in the treble and a repeated
pedal in the lower voice). The rhythmic pattern is even, with three different
values sounding simultaneously (eighth-notes, 16th-notes and ornamental
64th-notes). This figure recurs three times. In m. 3, the key and the order
of the voices are the same, with an octave transposition of the treble. The
eighth-note pedal, however, has been abandoned. A complementary pattern
of the middle and lower voices now provides both the eighth-note and the
16th-note pulses. In mm. 7 and 11, we find the figure transposed and in
inverted voices; the pedal has been redeemed and now appears as an
offbeat eighth-note pulse as part of the upper voice.
The second rhythmic figure defines the playful contour in the upper
voice of m. 2 that has already been mentioned. It takes various accompaniments as it recurs, varied not only with regard to its pitches but also in its
length and in details of its rhythmic design (see mm. 4-6, 8, and 15-16).
The third rhythmic figure first appears in m. 9. Its basic element spans only
a quarter-note. While it starts out in only two melodic guises, later recurrences (see mm. 12-154 and 163-19) show it varied not only in pitch but
also in texture. Thus its only constant is its rhythm.
With regard to the preludes layout one may state: Section I presents
the first two figures and subjects them to a first development. Section II
briefly takes them up in transposition before concentrating on the presentation of the third figure. Section III begins once again with the first figure
but then develops the third, only once interrupted by a reminiscence of the
second figure (mm. 154-16). In the vivid three-part texture of the concluding
segment, which sounds above a newly added tonic pedal, the third figure
reigns supreme.
The dynamic range within this rhythmically determined prelude is not
large. Small-scale dynamics depend exclusively on the overall pitch
direction defining each rhythmic figure. The melodically static first figure
suggests only the slightest increase in tension, while the third figure seems
always composed in superimposed descending pitch lines and thus appears
determined by dynamic relaxation. Only the second rhythmic figure
changes melodic orientation and, with it, dynamic direction, allowing for
diminuendo (as in mm. 2, 5, and 15-16), crescendo (as in mm. 6 and 8) or
a dynamic curve (as in m. 4).
With regard to the overall development of tension, the prelude
describes a soft, largely spaced dynamic curve. The second section implies

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WTC I/16

more tension than the first but is surpassed by the third, while the coda
returns to the level of the beginning. Two climaxes can be determined,
falling on the downbeat of m. 9 and on the middle beat of m. 12. Both are
motivically connected with the third rhythmic figure but derive their
expressive power above all from their harmonic underpinning.

WTC I/16 in G minor Fugue


The subject of this fugue spans 1 measures. It begins on the second
eighth-note of the first measure and ends on m. 23.1 With regard to the
pitch position in the G-minor scale, it sets out on the fifth degree and
resolves into the third. The beginning with the second eighth-note of a
measure conveys an impression of upbeat. The downbeat of the second
measure, however, is taken up by a rest, so that the possibly strongest beat
is omitted in the melodic development. As a result, listeners are likely to
perceive m.13 as strong and the subject as consisting of three metric
units. In the course of the fugue, the metric position of the subject changes
constantly between a beginning after the downbeat and after the middle
beat. This confirms that at least in this case, Bach regarded the two metric
positions as equally strong. One can thus safely assume a hidden 2/4 time
behind the given notation.
Phrasing in the subject allows for two possible interpretations. The rest
in its middle can be taken for an interruption after which a new melodic
unit is launched. Alternatively, the rest can also be perceived as tensionsustaining; in this case the notes in m. 2 continue the process immediately
preceding the rest.
The pitch outline in the subject consists exclusively of seconds, with
the minor-sixth leap between the second and the third subject notes as the
only exception. This leap constitutes a high-tension interval. The rhythmic
pattern features three different note values: quarter-notes, eighth-notes, and
16th-notes. This rhythmic substance is confirmed throughout the fugue.
Harmonically the subject is very interesting. It does not begin on the tonic
but launches the cadential progression from a point of heightened tension:
1

The G on m. 24 does not belong to the subject. Three reasons support this: Melodically,
this note recurs only in one of the subsequent statements, in m. 6. Harmonically, the tonic
is already reached with B. Metrically, a subject that begins after a strong beat can usually
be expected to conclude on a strong beat.

G minor

227

The climax within this subject falls on


the fourth note (F in the original key).
All features join to support this event:
7
7
7
7
Melodically, the F is approached in
steps of increasing tension. The initial
fifth scale degree represents a higher level of intensity than would be felt
in the common first or third degrees. The ascending semitone reaches the
secondary leading-note and thereby increases the tension. Harmonically,
this note represents chord VI, the step that is most remote from the tonic.
From there the line plunges through the high-tension interval of the minor
sixth to the keynote and, continuing its direction, reaches F, the primary
leading note in G minor. Rhythmically, F is the first longer note value,
and metrically, as was explained earlier, it assume in the function of the
only strong beat.
After this climax, two slightly different dynamic renditions are possible
depending on ones choice for subphrasing. Performers who regard the
subject as consisting of two subphrases follow it with an abrupt and strong
decrease, letting the remainder of the phrase appear as an afterthought,
with a gentle increase toward a secondary climax on C and a final relaxation
thereafter. Performers who regard the subject as an undivided entity will
resolve the tension that was so powerfully built up toward the climax on F
gradually throughout the remainder of the subject. In this case, the C at
m. 22 is integrated into the line and not accented in any way.2
The fugue comprises sixteen statements and one false entry.
1. mm. 1-2
A
9. mm. 17-18
A
2. mm. 2-3
S
10. mm. 20-21
B
3. mm. 5-6
B
11. mm. 21-22
S
4. mm. 6-7
T
12. mm. 23-24
A
5. mm. 12-13
A
13. mm. 28-29
S
6. mm. 13-14
B
14. mm. 28-29
T
7. mm. 15-16
S
(15. m. 29
B)
8. mm. 17-18
B
16. mm. 31-32
A
17. mm. 33-34
T

Although many performers emotionally prefer interrupting rests, the harmonically more
consistent rendition is the one that resolves the tension of the main climax in a single
diminuendo. As the fugue progresses, more evidence arises to support the concept of an
undivided entity.

228

WTC I/16

In the course of the fugue, the subject suffers only minor modifications,
most of them inconsequential. Its answer is tonal, with its first interval enlarged from a semitone to a minor third (e.g., m. 2: G-B). The subjects
beginning is varied in m. 23 where the initial eighth-note is replaced by
two ascending 16th-notes. The final note, being the third scale degree,
appears as a Picardy third in m. 34, a common feature in a minor-mode
fugue. A modification that is more consequential can be observed when, in
the major-mode section from m. 12 onward, the two initial intervals are
changed: the semitone with its particular urging quality is substituted by a
major second and the leap appears as a major sixth that, unlike its minor
brother, is not a high-tension interval. These two changes have considerable influence on the buildup of tension.
In two instances does the subject appear in stretto: mm. 17-18 feature
a combination of bass and alto statements at a distance of four eighthnotes, and mm. 28-29 present a corresponding group of two complete
entries in soprano and tenor, fortified by a third entry at the same distance
in the bass that deviates immediately after the climax.
The fugue features a single counter-subject. CS acts as the subjects
faithful companion throughout the fugue and is only omitted in the final
statement. It begins in a metrical position equivalent to that of the subject,
but half a measure late, after the subjects climax. (This belated beginning
is the reason for the additional G on the fourth beat of mm. 2 and 6, a note
that does not form part of any material but whose function is to support the
beginning of the subject entry when all other voices are resting.) In pitch
pattern and rhythm, the counter-subject is strikingly related to the subject,
particularly to the its answer, which it almost seems to read upside down
and with its halves exchanged.

The counter-subject presents an indivisible phrase. The climax on the


sixth scale degree (B) unites similar characteristics as did the subjects
climax: it combines melodic tension on the secondary leading note of this
entrys D-minor key with harmonic tension on the representative of the
subdominant function and a metrical accent. Yet owing to its preparation
in a somewhat relaxed rhythmic pattern and stepwise motion, this climax
is considerably milder than that in the subject. The remaining four notes
bring a gradual subsiding of the tension.

G minor

229

S
or
CS

The G-minor fugue comprises six subject-free passages.


E1 mm. 4-51
E4 mm. 19-201
E2 mm. 8-121
E5 mm. 243-281
E3 mm. 163-171
E6 mm. 30-313
As the conclusion of the final subject statement marks the end of the
piece, there is neither a coda nor even a concluding cadential formula. All
episodes in this fugue are related to the subject; the only distinction here is
the degree of relationship and the appearance or omission of independent
(i.e., not subject-related) motifs.
It is generally true in all polyphonic compositions that the closest bond
between an episode and the surrounding primary material is achieved either
by way of a sequence or imitation of the preceding entrys ending, or by
way of an anticipation of the subsequent entrys beginning. In this fugue,
the former process is used frequently: E1, E2, and E3 are linked to the
statements preceding them through sequences of the final figure while E4
and E6 pick up this figure in imitation. E5 alone shows a subtle variation
of this pattern insofar as the figure is transformed, by a displacement of its
final note, into a bass line where it no longer appears entirely melodic but
conveys a hint of a cadential pattern (see mm. 24-27).
The only independent motif in this fugue, and the only component in
the entire piece that is not in some way related to the subject, occurs also in
E5. M1 consists of an ascending scalar section in 16th-note motion that is
complemented, after a syncopated halt, by a descent returning in the same
rhythmic pattern to the note of departure. In its original version (see A:
mm. 24-25), the ascent uses the second tetrachord of the melodic G-minor
scale, while the descent quotes the corresponding portion of the natural
G-minor scale. The dynamic outline follows the curve described by the
symmetrical design: a half-measure crescendo complemented by a matching
diminuendo.3 In the course of E5, M1 is followed by two sequences (see
M: mm. 25-26 and 26-27). Moreover, it is imitated, in inversion and
3

M1 has a forerunner that, consisting only of its ascending portion, appears in E2 (see the
soprano in mm. 8 and 9) and in E3 (see the tenor in m. 16-17).

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WTC I/16

slightly varied, in the upper voice. This imitation should retain the dynamic
curve of the model.4
As can be seen from this overview, none of the episodes serves
exclusively as a cadential close. Only one episode segment fulfills this
purpose. In E2, the home key of the fugue is confirmed (motivically still in
the context of the subject-related figure) with a perfect cadence in G minor
on the middle beat of m. 10. The remaining 1 measures are neither
needed for the closure of the episode, nor do they present any (new or
continued) episode material. Instead this extension functions as a modulation to the related major key.
There is no structural relationship between the episodes of this fugue.
The role played by each episode in the development of the composition is
determined by the direction in which the motif derived from the subject
ending it sequenced. The following details can be observed: In E1 and E3,
the subjects final half-measure is taken up in ascending sequence. Both
episodes thus serve as bridges heightening the tension toward the ensuing
subject statements. E2 begins similarly with an ascending sequence of this
figure but continues thereafter in a generally descending direction (mm. 910: soprano B-A-G, bass E-B-D-G). This descent and the cadential close
it encompasses represent a relaxation. In E4 and E6, the final half-measure
of the subject is not sequenced but imitated. These imitations, though
ascending in pitch direction, appear as a more indirect continuation than
the sequences in the previous examples. Yet while they do not convey the
feeling of anticipation, they succeed in slowing down the decay of tension.
In both cases, however, the episode concludes with an inversion of the
figure and with a plunging final interval that generates a strong decrease.
Thus a gradual diminuendo ends in a steeper drop of tension.
The overall stepwise motion interrupted only for high-tension intervals
suggests that the basic character is rather calm. The rhythmic pattern seems
neutral. On the one hand, three different note values are regularly used
and, in the episodes, supplemented by syncopations; on the other hand, the
rhythmic structure does not seem complex enough to require real tranquility.
The result is a placidly flowing tempo.
4

The frequently heard mistake that renders the descent in the imitation in diminuendo and
the ascents in crescendo actually cuts the motif in two, and each half will automatically cry
for a new partner. The result is usually that middle and upper voice sound as if in a single
track, so that even the original motif in the middle voice is then destroyed. A good way to
avoid this pitfall is to play the leading voice (M) on a slightly higher level of intensity than
the imitating upper voice.

G minor

231

The corresponding articulation requires an overall legato suspended


only in cadential-bass patterns and consecutive leapsnot, however, in the
intervals of the subjects answer and the counter-subject, which derive
from essentially tension-rich intervals. There are no ornaments.
The relative tempo of the prelude to the fugue had best be taken in
complex proportion, both in order to avoid too much uniformity in the
closely related rhythmic patterns of the two pieces, and to bring out the
particular character of each. A good solution is one in which three rhythmic units of the prelude equal one in the fugue; i.e., three eighth-notes in
the prelude correspond with half a measure in the fugue. (Approximate
metronome settings: prelude beats = 44, fugue beats = 66.)
The most obvious indicator for the partitioning into sections is the
number of voices surrounding the subject statements. In two instances, a
subject entry is launched unaccompanied and thus announces without any
room for doubt that a new section is beginning. On another occasion, three
consecutive subject statements sound in reduced ensemble and are thus set
apart from the four-part texture of the entries preceding and succeeding
them. These observations reveal a design in four sections: mm. 1-121,
12-201, 20-281, and 28-34. This is supported by the cadential formula in
mm. 11-12, the consistent use of the major mode in all statements between
mm. 12 and 20, and the nature of E5, which expresses a concluding tendency in its pattern of descending sequences in all three voices.
The harmonic outline confirms this layout. The four statements in the
first section alternate between the tonic and the minor dominant. The five
statements in the second section sound in the major keys relative to tonic
and dominant. The beginning of the third section is marked by two statements representing the subdominant, while the third returns to the tonic.
Finally, all entries in the fourth section are built on the tonic.
Within section I, the tension increases through the first three statements;
the fourth, however, brings a set-back, due not only to the drastic gap in the
higher pitch range but also to the dropping out of the alto and the deceived
expectation of four-part texture. Section II pursues its increase of tension
consistently as the texture develops from two-part via three- and four-part
setting to the stretto statement. Section III retains both its texture and mode
unchanged and seems to feature nothing that would indicate a dynamic
increase. Conversely, section IV sets out with a stretto combining, in the
shortest possible span, the buildup from one to four voices and the overlapping imitation of a complete and an incomplete subject entry. After this
dynamic outbreak, the remaining two statements can only fall back: one
appears in three-part texture and the other without its counter-subject.

232

WTC I/16

The relationship between the sections is complex. Owing to the modification of the interval structure in the major-mode subject, section II begins
in reduced emotional vigor. Its concluding stretto may surpass the final
entry of section I in loudness but probably does not reach its passionate
quality. Section III, while returning to the melodic intensity of the minor
mode, is dynamically static and thereby falls back even behind section II.
After the additional color contrast in very soft shades brought about by the
material change in E5, the beginning of section IV then presents the
sudden climax. The fugue ends in considerable intensity.

WTC I/17 in A major Prelude


The A-major prelude is dominated by a single motif. It appears so
frequently that its absence is ultimately more striking than its presence. Of
a total of 44 measures there are only eight (mm. 16, 17, 33, 34, 39, 40, 43,
and 44) that do not feature the motif. The immediate sequence in m. 2 and
the imitation of model and sequence at the octave in mm. 3-4 give hints
that this prelude may be conceived as an invention.
The first harmonic progression closes at m. 91. The change of accompanying material indicates that this cadence is structurally relevant. As the
repeated appearance of D in subsequent measures signifies, the next
harmonic progression modulates. The target key, E major, is reached after
a cadential formula at m. 181. This cadence again marks the end of a
structural section.
There are altogether four sections in this prelude:
I
mm. 1- 91
tonic confirmed
II
mm. 9-181
modulation to the dominant
III
mm. 18-351
modulation back to the tonic
IV
mm. 35-44
renewed confirmation of the tonic
Several portions in this invention-style prelude recur very faithfully, in
only slight transformation:
mm. 3-51 . 18-201 transposed
mm. 9-181 . 26-351 transposed, voices inverted
(the analogy is slightly blurred in the closing formula)
mm. 20-221 . 41-431 transposed
The rhythmic pattern is simple, based primarily on eighth-notes and
16th-notes. With regard to the pitch pattern, the principal motif consists of
a broken chord preceded by a written-out inverted mordent. Similar
combinations of leaps with ornamental 16th-notes can also be found in
other components of the motivic material. The basic character is thus rather
lively. The tempo should be fast enough to bring out the ornamental
quality of the 16th-notes, but not so fast as to deprive the eighth-notes of
their spirited character. The corresponding articulation is an effortless non
legato for the eighth-notes and quarter-notes, and a quasi-legato touch for
the 16th-notes. The only exception from this pattern of articulation occurs
in the longer notes in U: mm. 43-44 where A-G-A, as one of the typical
233

234

WTC I/17

closing formulas, must be legato. Within the quasi legato, various shades
of touch are required in order to bring out the different textures. Passages
in hidden two-part structure with a melodic line moving before a backdrop
of a repeated pedal (as in U: mm. 15-16, L: m. 32, and U + L: mm. 39-40
where weightier and lighter notes alternate regularly) should be distinguished from those with an ornamented pedal (mm. 13-14 and 30-31 where
the structural notes are interspersed with feathery inverted mordents) and
from the remainder of the 16th-note passages in which all notes take part
equally in the melodic line.
The prelude contains two kinds of ornaments, indicated by the same
mordent symbol. The two closing formulas in mm. 17-18 and 34-35 each
feature the typical interrupted (point darrt) trill with anticipation of the
resolution note. Both begin on the upper neighbor note and shake in
32nd-notes. The other four mordent signs, appearing on the quarter-notes
in mm. 36 and 38 and on the 16th-notes in mm. 41 and 42 respectively, can
be played as just that: three-note mordents that begin on the main note
either because they are approached stepwise, as in mm. 36 and 38, or
because they embellish the initial note of a phrase, as in mm. 41 and 42.
or
mm. 17-18

mm. 34-36

The principal motif dominating this invention-type prelude, M1, spans


one measure. The downbeat rest on which it ends is later often replaced by
a note. Within this metrical structure, the two 16th-notes serve as an upbeat
to the four eighth-notes. The dynamic presentation should outline this with
a little crescendo to the climax on beat 2 and a successive diminuendo to
the end, regardless of whether the downbeat appears as a rest (as in mm. 2,
4, 5 etc.) or as a final note (as in m. 3 and mm. 6-16).
In the course of the composition, M1 appears twice with strictly polyphonic counterparts and twice with accompaniment patterns. Initially it is
counteracted by full chords, double notes, or octave leaps. As representatives
of homophony in an essentially polyphonic composition, all these components should be kept in the background: played in neutral tone color,
considerably softer than the motif and, wherever they appear extended (as
e.g. in U: mm. 3-4), with beat 2 particularly light. The same applies in the
chordal companions variation in mm. 36 and 38. Another homophonic
accompaniment figure is heard in mm. 13-14 and 30-31. It, too, should be
kept in low profile, while the scalar descent in the hidden two-part structure

A major

235

in mm. 15 and 32 creates a diminuendo that contrasts with the dynamic


curve in M1. The other two settings show the principal motif accompanied
by counter-motifs, i.e., polyphonically independent figures. CM1 appears
in mm. 9-12 and 26-29. Its model features a 7/16th-note upbeat followed
by a long downbeat; in the sequences, the downbeat note is replaced by an
ornamental figure. In all cases, the upbeat leads in crescendo to the downbeat and is then followed by a decrease through to the fifth 16th-note. CM2
also begins with an upbeat in 16th-notes (L: mm. 20-22 and 41-43). The
climax on the downbeat is followed by a descending octave leap providing
the relaxation. Yet another companion appears only transitorily. In L: mm.
22-241 and U: mm. 24-261, M1 + sequence are contrasted with descending
zigzag figures in continuous diminuendo.
The preludes design comprises two basically analogous sections, a
short middle section and a coda that recalls material from the middle section.
The analogous sections appear in the harmonic progressions typical for
baroque pieces featuring a recapitulation: the modulation from the tonic to
the dominant is answered by one from the subdominant back to the tonic.
I A mm. 1-9 (I)
III A' mm. 18-20 (V)
B mm. 9-18 (I V)
B' mm. 26-35 (IV I)
M1 against CM 1, then M1 with accompaniment figure,
concluded with a cadential formula
II C mm. 18-26
coda mm. 35-44
material from A,
material from A (varied),
followed by M / CM 2
followed by an accomp.
and M / transitory figure
figure in parallels, M / CM 2,
and a final cadence.
The tension in each section is determined by the extent of polyphonic
contrast, the direction of the sequences, and the harmony.

WTC I/17 in A major Fugue


Beginning on the second beat of the first measure, the subject of the
A-major fugue conveys the impression of starting with an up-beat. The
conclusion after only a single measure therefore comes as a surprise, as
one is still expecting the main content and is now challenged to believe
that this was already it. The principal idea of this fugue comprises seven
regular eighth-notes in all. (In the course of the fugue, the final note alone
comes in a great variety of values, from the 16th-note in m. 29 to the

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WTC I/17

dotted half-note in m. 6.) The sensation of incompleteness in this subject is


enhanced by the pitch line, which features the rather unusual closure on the
fifth scale degree, and by the abruptness of the harmonic progression.
This short subject is definitely conceived as an indivisible phrase. Its
pitch pattern consists almost exclusively of leaps in broken-chord setting.
The rhythmic structure is of utmost regularity in the subject itself. The
same does not, however, hold true in the remainder of the fugue, where the
eighth-notes appear mixed with 16th-notes, quarter-notes and several
syncopated values.
The harmonic background to this subject
is somewhat peculiar. The subdominant is
reached in metrically weak position on m. 14,
followed in m. 21 by the dominant-seventh
chord that resolvesmelodically inerton
the tied 16th-note of beat 2 (see e.g. the harmonization of the statement in
mm. 5-6). This implies that whenever the final note of a statement is
shortened, the resolution may be cut off from the subjects main body. This
is already the case in the answer, where the bass is way into the partial
sequences following this entry when the E-major resolution of the B7
chord appears.
The dynamic outline poses a problem, despiteor perhaps because of
the subjects short range and straightforward character. On the one hand,
the significant features, which are (harmonically) the subdominant and
(melodically) the highest pitch F, coincide; but they fall on a weak beat.
On the other hand, the final note, which in the original version holds
rhythmic importance through its sudden length, appears so frequently
shortened that it may not be entirely convincing as a climax either.
The fugue contains fifteen subject statements.
1. mm. 1-2 T
9. mm. 23-24 A
2. mm. 2-3 B
10. mm. 24-25 S
3. mm. 5-6 S
11. mm. 27-28 B
4. mm. 6-7 A
12. mm. 28-29 T
5. mm. 10-11 T
13. mm. 29-30 A
6. mm. 13-14 A
14. mm. 30-31 S
7. mm. 17-18 T
15. mm. 33-34 S
8. mm. 18-19 A

A major

237

The subject never appears in inversion, stretto, or parallel.1 Leaving


aside the rhythmic variations in the final note and the adjustment in the
answer (the lowering of the second subject note in mm. 2 and 6), two
interval modifications repeatedly, both with considerable harmonic impact.
In mm. 18, 28, 29, and 30, an initial fourth interval is followed by the
broken triad of m. 1, thus mixing features from dux and comes and
resulting in harmonic ambiguity. More strikingly, the first three of these
entries, all of them composed in the minor mode, borrow several notes
from their major-mode relatives (see m. 18: C + A for C + A; m. 28: D + B
for D + B; m. 29: G for G). Two statements feature a seventh leap instead
of the original sixth between the fourth and fifth eighth-notes. The result is
a seventh chord that re-casts the subject as modulating (see mm. 232-241:
from E7 to A, and mm. 242-251: from A7 to D).
This fugue does not comprise a single consistent counter-subject. The
16th-note figure accompanying the subject in mm. 2-3 recurs frequently
and in much variation throughout the fugue but is not linked as a
companion to the subject. Instead, it provides motivic material that, much as
happens in the E-major fugue from the WTC I, pervades the entire fugue.
The composition encompasses eight subject-free passages.
E1
mm. 3-5
E5 mm. 19-23
E2
mm. 7-10
E6 mm. 25-27
E3
mm. 11-13
E7 mm. 31-33
E4
mm. 14-16
E8 mm. 34-35
The material that characterizes these episodes also occurs outside of
them, overlapping considerably with the subject but never serving as its
dedicated companion. All of it seems, in one way or another, derived from
mm. 2-3, i.e., from the figure sounding against the subjects answer and
from the first episode. Three figures serve as sources for the secondary
material: the eight 16th-notes following the original subject statement,2 the
1

Only once, in an episode where the combination of interval and rhythm pattern suggests
false entries, does a brief parallel occur; see mm. 214-221 alto/soprano.
2

Introduced in m. 22-4 (T), M1 recurs, with the opening note displaced to form an ascending
scale, in m. 4 (B). In rhythmic variation with intersected syncopation it is also found in m.
27 (A, imitated in S). The inversion, M1a, appears in mm. 24-32 (T), 44-52 (B), 153-161 (A),
223-231 (A), and 251-3 (T, with two sequences). M1b, an extended version combining the
ascending scale with the M1 inversion, is found in mm. 53-62 (B), 72-81 (A), 82-91 (B),
92-101 (B), 232-241 (T), and 242-251 (T). An even more extended version materializes in
mm. 291-302 (T). M1c, the (free) inversion of the previous motif, occurs twice, in mm.
16-17 (S) and 18 (B). As a further development from the same root, the scalar ascent is
complemented, after a syncopation, by a new tail in eighth-notes: for M1d see mm. 7-8 (B),
8-9 (S), 9-10 (A; here it gives way to a melodic closing formula), and in mm. 16-17 (B).

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WTC I/17

four eighth-notes extending the answer in the pattern of a partial sequence,3


and the syncopated half-notes that, with an ornamental variation, sound
against this partial sequence.4 The episodes that are most closely related to
the subject are those containing M2, i.e., E1, E3, E4, and E5. More remote
variants of the motif in E6 and E7 also convey an impression of relatedness.
M1

M1a

M1b

M1c

M1d

M1e

M2

or

M3

The only subject-free passage that serves as a cadential close is E8. In


addition there is one instance within another episode where the motivic
display is suspended and gives way to an extended cadential formula (see
mm. 20-22, at the end of E5). Two further cadential closes appear integrated into the motivic material; both feature the typical do-si-do figure
(see mm. 9-10 at the end of E2 and mm. 15-16 at the end of E4).
The relationship between the episodes is already evident from the
exposure of their motivic content. The first half of E4 and the entire E5 are
both direct variations of E3; similarly, E7 is a (more distant) variant of E6.
Only two episodes maintain the tension, thus serving as bridges between
statements: in E1, a short descent is followed by rising motions, and in E7,
the ascending motion in all voices of mm. 31-32 is complemented by a
relaxation of roughly equal length. All other subject-free passages display
a pattern of gradually decreasing tension, either because of apparent
3

Introduced as a two-fold partial sequence of the subject, this motif is first heard in B: mm.
3-4 above an E pedal (see E-B-G-A, E-A-F-G). It recurs as a separate motif, with
occasional ornamental variation, in mm. 11-13 (B), mm. 14-15 (A) and mm. 19-21 (S).
Remote relatives can be heard in mm. 25-26 and 31-32. A final remote relative combines
the scalar ascent with a subsequent descent. This figure appears several times, with a
varying number of free sequences; see mm. 11-13 (S), 14-15 (B), 19-20 (A) and 31-32 (B).
4

First presented in the context of M2, this motif could, in fact, be read as a parallel to the M2
peak notes. The consecutive syncopations recur in mm. 11-13 (T), 14-16 (S) and 19-21 (T).

A major

239

descending sequences (as in E3, E4, E5, and E6), or in hidden descents (as
in E2 where the soprano features the falling A-major scale).
With the exception of the syncopated half-notes in M3, the rhythmic
pattern in this fugue is simple. Moreover, the pitch pattern is made up of
broken chords alternating with ornamental figures. It is thus easy to
determine the basic character of this fugue as rather lively (or even very
lively). The tempo is confined by the character of its primary material: the
broken-chord leaps in the subject should sound vigorous and thus not too
slow, while the various 16th-notes figures should by no means appear as
mere virtuoso patterns, particularly in view of the manifold motifs Bach
invented and developed, and thus not too fast. The corresponding articulation consists of bouncing non legato in the subject and M2, a fairly
intense quasi legato in all motifs deriving from M1, and a melodious non
legato in M3. The only longer note values that must be played in strict
legato are the cadential formulas in S: mm. 15-16, 22-23, and 34-35, and in
A: mm. 9-10. The fugue does not feature any ornaments.
The relative tempo of the swifter and lighter prelude in triple time to
the more vigorous fugue in quadruple time is best established by equaling
metric, and not rhythmic, values: an ideal proportion is one in which one
measure in the prelude equals half a measure in the fugue. (Approximate
metronome settings: prelude beats = 120, fugue beats = 80.)
The most obvious indicators that help determine the design of this
fugue are the cadential formulas in mm. 9-10, 15-16, and 22-23. As the
subject entries preceding the first of these closures constitute a perfect
round of all four parts (T B S A), the first section seems thus ascertained.
Between the cadential closes in mm. 9-10 and 22-23, the correspondence
of E3 with the first segment of E4 and E5 creates a larger unit from m. 11
to m. 23. The reduction of the ensemble from four to merely two voices in
mm. 23-24 further enhances the structural importance of this harmonic
closure. Inside this superimposed frame of twelve measures, the closing
formula in the middle of E4 generates a smaller caesura, confirmed in its
structural value by the fact that the ensuing subject statement sounds in
reduced ensemble. As no explicit cadential close occurs between m. 23 and
the end of the fugue, one has to look for other indicators of structural
layout. One hint can be found in the entering order of the voices. The five
final statements (B T A S S) seem to form a group: they follow one another
not only very closely and in a logical arrangement of gradual ascent, but
also lead, after the tension-increasing E7, to the conclusion of the fugue in
a redundant soprano statement. The return to the home key with the bass
entry in mm. 27-28 further ascertains the confines of the final section.

240

WTC I/17

A major

241

The harmonic outline as established in the subject statements and


cadential closes confirms the structural layout deduced above. The entire
first section remains in the tonic key of A major, which is substantiated by
the cadence in mm. 9-10. The second section features entries in the tonic
and its relative minor, and concludes correspondingly with a cadential
close in F minor (mm. 15-16). The third section sets out in B minor and,
after the harmonically ambiguous second statement (B minor/E minor)
reaches the dominant key (E-major cadence, mm. 22-23). The fourth
section is characterized by the two modulating subject entries. Progressing
from E via A to D, this section approaches the home key from the
subdominant region. The beginning of the fifth section, as has already been
mentioned, marks the return to A major which, though weakened in the
harmonically hybrid tenor and alto statements, is not abandoned again.
The five sections of this fugue present very individual faces.
The first section comprises the usual build-up of tension created by
the gradual increase of the ensemble. While the bridging episode
E1 describes a concave curve, with a slight relaxation followed by
a new rise preparing the second pair of statements, the sectionclosing episode E2 with its descending lines brings gradual
relaxation.
The second section begins in the tonic key and in four-part texture,
but its second entry turns to the minor mode. Thus there is a
decrease in tension between the two statements of this section. The
two episodes enclosed in this section enhance this tendency of
relaxation. After the cadential close in the middle of E4 the two
remaining voices trail along somewhat indecisively.
The two subject statements of the third section with their harmonic
ambiguity are not made to bring forth powerful impulses either.
The episode E5, which one more time recalls the descending
sequences already heard in E3 and E4, blends well into this picture
of no news, no emotional features. The explicit cadential formula
thus appears as the closure of a protracted decline, summing up
sections I, II, and III as one large portion.
The fourth section begins with the lowest number of voices found
in a statement outside the initial one and is launched at a correspondingly reduced level of intensity. However, the harmonic
design of the two modulating subject statements, together with the
fact that they bring forth the return to the home key of the piece,
endows this section with considerable urge.

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WTC I/17
Although mollified transitorily during the episode, this urge continues even more powerfully in the four consecutive statements that
mark the beginning of the fifth section. The ensuing episode E7,
interestingly enough, is the only tension-sustaining one apart from
the very first episode. After its deceptive cadence (m. 332-3), the
final statement sounds in an almost homophonic setting, crowning
the fugue with a triumphant closure.

WTC I/18 in G minor Prelude


The G-minor prelude is composed in strict polyphony. With the
exception of the familiar voice splitting in the final chord and some irregularities of voice leading in the three initial measures, it is devised in
consistent three-part texture. The predominance of a single motif (see U:
mm. 1-21) and the initial imitation at the octave characterize this prelude as
a three-part invention.
Once the home key G minor has been established in two brief progressions (mm. 1-21, 2-31), the first modulation occurs in mm. 4-5 with the
cadential steps IV-V-I of B major, the tonic relative. As both the imitation
of the motif and the first episode have by now been introduced, we should
regard this cadence as the conclusion of the first structural unit. Corroboration comes with the subsequent motivic statement which, reminiscent
of section beginnings in a fugue, appears in reduced ensemble, i.e., with a
rest in the lower voice. At the same time, the fact that listeners expect the
third entry of the principal motif in the middle voice and that this expectation is met at the beginning of the next harmonic progression threads the
two passages together to a larger unit, i.e., section I.
The question where the second section ends is trickier. One could tie
this decision to the ensuing return to the tonic, and thus to the perfect
cadence concluding at m. 101. This interpretation can be supported by the
observation that the subsequent motivic statement is the first in the piece to
appear in inversion. Alternatively, one could base ones reading on the
cadential close in m. 91, and thus take the progression as leading to the
subdominant area. This interpretation can be supported by an observation
on the structural level: The next section would then begin, as did the first,
with two statements followed by two measures laid out as a variation of
mm. 3-4. As this is the only instance in the prelude where a passage is taken
up with recognizable resemblance albeit with exchanged voices, it seems
important enough. The correspondence sheds light on the analogy between
the beginnings of the first and second sections and, if one decides to take
this as significant for the interpretation of the preludes structural design,
even invites a similar conclusion for the beginning of the third section.
Depending on the alternative explained above, the layout of this threepart invention can thus be read in two quite different ways, as the
following tables show:
243

244

WTC I/18
I
II
III
IV

mm. 1-101 (1-51, 5-101)


mm. 10-181 (10-131, 13-181)
mm. 18-271 (18-221, 22-271)
mm. 27-29

tonic, relative major, tonic


tonic, minor domin., subdom.
subd., tonic, tonic confirmed
tonic

or:
I mm. 1-91 (1-51, 5-91)
II mm. 9-171 (9-131, 13-171)
III mm. 17-29

tonic, relative major, subdom.


subdom., minor dominant, tonic
tonic confirmed

The rhythmic pattern of this prelude is basically simple. This suggests


a rather lively character. At the same time, the slightly subdued spirit
inherent in many minor-key compositions is reinforced here by the specific
melodic structure of the principal motif, which peaks on the minor sixth
and falls back to the minor third. To accommodate both traits, the tempo of
the prelude should be fairly swift, without conveying the impression of
energetic activity in the eighth-notes. Instead, a desirable effect is that of a
gentle swing in half-measure pulses. An articulation that matches this basic
character demands legato for the 16th-notes and non legato for the longer
values. In order to express the nuances hinted at above, the non legato in
the principal motif and all figures immediately deriving from it should be
very delicate. In the larger leaps (M: mm. 3-4 etc.), the separation can be
slightly more pronounced, and a distinctly detached style is required in the
cadential-bass patterns. Exceptions occur in the three dosido formulas
demanding legato (L: mm. 1-2, M: mm. 13-14, U: mm. 2-3).
The score comprises only one ornament, which is represented by a
mordent symbol (see U: m. 13). As the note to be ornamented resolves
duly onto the following downbeat, this ornament must be interpreted as a
note-filling trill. It begins accordingly on the upper neighbor note, shakes
in 32nd-notes and concludes with a suffix (D-E).
The prelude builds entirely on the principal motif and its inversion.
What appears as a kind of counter-motif (see, e.g. M: mm. 1-21) recurs
only in m. 2 but never again thereafter. The principal motif is thus solely
responsible for the character and development in the prelude.
The episodes (or motif-free passages) also derive their material from
the same source. The first episode type makes use of the 16th-note group
from the motifs head, transposing its second three-note group down a
fourth and sequencing this newly-assembled figure twice in descending
direction (see U: mm. 3-4, and L: mm. 11-12). The second episode type

G minor

245

presents the same figure (L: mm. 22-23) along with the inversion of the
original 16th-note group (M: m. 25, U: m. 26) and a version of the group
in its first shape but with a broken triad at the end (L: mm. 19-21). In
addition to all these transformations of the motifs head, this episode also
recalls the motifs tail (mm. 19-21, in imitation between U and M).
In order to determine the dynamic processes in this prelude, one may
wish to distinguish a varying intensity among the statements of the motif.
Intensity is created here not only, as is generally true for all polyphonic
compositions, by the number of voices surrounding the statement or the
mode in which it is set, but also by the nature of the accompanying material.
In this prelude, Bach seems to use parallels as a characteristic means. The
following hierarchy can be deduced from this observation:
The lowest level of intensity is expressed in statements quoting
the motif without any doubling (mm. 9 and 10, 15 and 17, 27
and 28).
Slightly more emphasis is created by the parallel of the motifs
tail (mm. 1, 2, and 7); less, where the doubling is set in contrary
motion (as in mm. 8 and 16).
The fortification of the 16th-notes alone generates even greater
density (mm. 5, 6, 14 and, somewhat more indirectly, m. 13).
This last level of intensity is exceeded only once where both
halves of the motif are doubled. In m. 18, the 16th-notes appear
in parallel and the eighth-notes are matched in contrary motion.
Relating these observations to the structural features of the prelude one
detects that
the endings of all sections appear in lessened intensity;
in the first and second sections, the climax occurs immediately
after the diminuendo resulting from the episodes descending
sequences and the mid-section cadence;
the first section begins in moderate intensity, with two statements, while the second section, which introduces the motifs
inversion, sets out with only one statement of low intensity;
the third section contains only one complete statement of the
motif that, appearing at the beginning of the section, exhibits
the highest level of intensity in the entire piece;
the coda returns to a very relaxed state.
Here is a graphic representation of the invention, in the second of the
two readings offered above, highlighting the appearance of structurally
analogous sections.

246

WTC I/18

WTC I/18 in G minor Fugue


This subject encompasses two measures. Beginning on the second beat
of m. 1, its upbeat character is attenuated by the length of the first note,
which seems to stand still rather than lead anywhere. After a modulation to
the dominant key, the subject ends with a figure very unusual for a melodic
line: a cadential-bass pattern (see G-G-A-A-D).
There are two subphrases. The first, ending on D (m. 22), is characterized by rhythmic variety (a quarter-note, several eighth-notes, and two
16th-notes) and an emotional pitch line (two leading-notes: F-G and
C-D, as well as one high-tension interval: G-C). The second subphrase
comprises only regular eighth-notes in a line that is melodically very low
key. Phrasing is thus not determined by structural features (like sequences)
or pitch level in this fugue, but by a drastic contrast in melodic intensity.
The pitch outline in the subjects first measure displays only stepwise
motion, circling around the key note. The return to G at m. 21 is followed
immediately by a high-tension interval, represented here by a tritone leap

G minor

247

to the artificial leading-note of the fifth scale degree. The resolution of this
leading-note marks the end of the first subphrase. The ensuing major-sixth
leap is thus not a melodic interval but rather a split between the two subphrases. The second subphrase comprises whole-tone steps and a perfect
fifth. Conspicuous note repetitions on the fourth and fifths scale degrees of
D minor enhance the impression of a cadential-bass pattern. Having
observed this one understands why these notes seem to convey so little
melodic message. They are harmonic notes (as representatives of the chords
they imply), and their significance is vertical rather than horizontal.
The subjects harmonic background is most intriguing in a segment
where it might be least expected: the eighth-note-descent B-A-G. The
melodic return to the keynote at m. 21 is not matched by a similar return in
the harmonic progression. On the contrary, after an initial alternation
between tonic and dominant (G minor and D major, with or without their
seventh) in m. 1, this downbeat represents the harmonically most active
step in this phrase, i.e., that to the secondary dominant triggering the
modulation. The melodic resolution of the artificial leading-note C thus
coincides with the harmonic resolution of the diminished chord into the
new tonic. The freshly established key is then confirmed in a cadential
progression.

The subjects main climax occurs in the first subphrase. The melodic
and harmonic developments both favor the first beat of the second
measure, where G-C constitutes a high-tension interval while at the same
time representing the pivot chord of the modulation. The end of the first
subphrase on the measures third eighth-note provides the resolution to
both the harmonic tension and the melodic leading-note, thus generating a
steep decrease after the gradual increase during the first measure. By
contrast, the dynamic outline of the second subphrase is very gentle. The
first note (F) serves as an upbeat to the subdominant representative G,
which is followed by an even relaxation. Although the subjects two subphrases could thus hardly be more contrasting, they nonetheless complement one another symmetrically with regard to tension: the gradual rise
through most of the first subphrase is answered by a gradual decay through
most of the second, the sudden release after the expressive first climax
finds its counterpart in the concise upbeat to the secondary climax.

248

WTC I/18
The subject appears altogether twelve times.
1.
mm. 1-3 T
7. mm. 17-19
2.
mm. 3-5 A
8. mm. 19-21
3.
mm. 5-7 S
9. mm. 24-26
4.
mm. 7-9 B
10. mm. 26-28
5.
mm. 11-13 T
11. mm. 32-34
6.
mm. 15-17 B
12. mm. 37-39

T
A
S
B
T
S

Apart from the alteration of the first interval in the answer, no modifications of shape or length occur in the subject throughout the fugue.
Inversions, parallel statements, or strettos are not used.
Bach invented two companions to the subject that appear repeatedly.
However, just as the subject itself displays a somewhat unusual melodic
line in its second subphrase, the counter-subjects also do not quite conform
to ordinary expectations of polyphonic counter-parts. CS1 is introduced
against the second subject statement in mm. 3-5. It begins with an upbeat
(which is later occasionally dropped or varied). The following long note
and particularly the ascending groups on the sixth and seventh eighth-notes
of the measure sound so much like a parallel to the beginning of the
subject that they may hardly pass as contrapuntal. Only the middle segment with its sequences of the ascending figure leads a polyphonically
independent life (T: m. 3-4 F to B), while what follows thereafter qualifies
as a very traditional closing formula (G-A-F-G). Notwithstanding this
limited independence, CS1 accompanies almost all subject statements, with
exceptions occurring only in the entries in mm. 24-26 and 26-28, where
CS1 is omitted altogether, as well as in the final entry, where its beginning
and end are considerably varied. CS2 is also first presented in its expected
place against the third subject statement (T: mm. 5-7). Its characteristic
features are the syncopated fourth leap and the descent in quarter-notes
concluding in a tie. The beginning as stated in m. 5 with upbeat eighthnote and quarter-note (this value again in rhythmic parallel to the subjects
initial note) is later dropped or varied, just like that of the first countersubject. The suspension created by the tie at the end of CS2 redefines the
harmonic surroundings of the subjects final note as still awaiting resolution. Statements accompanied by this counter-subject are thus unlikely at
section endings. CS2 recurs four times, in mm. 11-13 (A), 15-17 (S), 19-21
(B), and 32-34 (S).

G minor

249

The phrase structure in the two counter-subjects is worthy of closer


inspection. While the way in which the material is connected parallels the
subject: a melodious segment followed by a traditional formula, the
segments in CS1 are strung together in such a manner that they build a
single curve without any need for partitioning. One step further, CS2
consists of an indivisible unit with regard to both structure and material. In
terms of dynamics, neither counter-subject engenders a tension process S
independent of the one
found in the subject;
CS1 meets the subjects CS1
second (weaker) climax,
while the peak of CS2
coincides with the sub- CS2
jects first (stronger)
climax.
There are six subject-free passages in this fugue.
E1
mm. 9-11
E4 mm. 28-32
E2
mm. 13-15
E5 mm. 34-37
E3
mm. 21-24
E6 mm. 39-41
The material of these episodes comprises two salient features. The first,
very unusual in Bachs fugues, is a homophonic formula (see mm. 9-101),
made up of the cadential-bass pattern from the subjects second subphrase
in the bass, a slightly extended version of the second segment from CS1 in
the soprano, and chordal filling notes in alto and tenor (which will later,
from m. 13 onwards, be substituted by the last two notes from CS2). The
other conspicuous feature (see mm. 21-23) is polyphonic in design; it is a
motif arising in an imitative setting.
The distribution of these two components of secondary material in the
episodes is very straightforward:
E1
formula + sequence (ascending)
E2
formula + sequence (descending)
E3
motif in B/A + sequences (ascending)
E4
motif in A/S + sequence (ascending) = E4a
formula + sequence (descending) = E4b
E5
formula (varied) + sequences/imitation
E6
formula (varied) + cadential closing formula
As can be seen from the table, there are several relationships among
the episodes. E1 serves as the model for E2 and E4b as well as for E5 and

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WTC I/18

the first half of E6, while E3 is taken up in E4a. The role played by each
episode in the development of the composition also stems immediately
from the material employed. The episodes that are based on the formula
give a concluding impression due to the salient cadential pattern, while
those displaying the imitative motif are either accompanied by a similar
cadential-bass line (as in mm. 28-30) or followed by an explicit cadential
close (see the perfect cadence in A major in m. 24).
Triggered by the two-faced subject, the character of the entire fugue is
ambivalent. It changes constantly between calm, melodious lines of high
expression and cadential patterns of almost neutral tone quality. As a
result, a definition of the basic character must be attempted separately for
the two subject segments and the material resulting from them. In the first
subphrase, the pitch pattern with its poignant leading-notes and tritone
interval as well as the corresponding rhythmic variety suggests a rather
calm basic character. In the second subphrase, by contrast, all melodic
expression seems aborted in favor of a non-committal formula.
The tempo is moderate in order to accommodate the leading-notes
(F-G) and high-tension intervals (G-C) appearing in eighth-note (m. 2)
or even 16th-note rhythm (mm. 21-23, 28-29). The articulation should
reflect the ambiguous character depicted above. In the subjects first
subphrase, the appropriate articulation demands legato throughout. In the
second subphrase, however, non legato articulation is needed to convey the
cadential character. Both the pitch pattern with its note repetitions and
perfect-fifth interval and the regular rhythmic pattern support this interpretation. Correspondingly, the remaining material also divides into two
fields. All cadential formulas maintain the detached style, while the motif
and the counter-subjects tend toward a melodious character. CS2 is
basically legato; only the fourth leap may be detached. The episode motif
with its complex rhythm and semitone as well as high-tension intervals is
entirely legato. Only CS1 shares the ambiguity of the subject: its first
segment is legato while in the second the non legato intention is enhanced
by the written rests.
The most straightforward tempo proportion between the prelude and
the fugue is probably also the best. It is achieved by equating half a
measure in the prelude with a quarter-note in the fugue. (Approximate
metronome settings: 60 for the compound beats in the prelude and the
quarter-notes in the fugue.) No ornaments need to be considered in this
fugue.
When trying to determine the structure of the G-minor fugue, only the
first section is unambiguous as it is distinguished quite clearly by the

G minor

251

entering order of the voices. Four subject statements, presented in uninterrupted succession by the four parts involved in this fugue, are followed by
the concluding first episode. The next statement appears in reduced ensemble and thus confirms the beginning of a new section at m. 111. In the
absence of any assistance from explicit cadential formulas and structural
analogies in the further course of the fugue, the reduced number of voices
involved in a subject statement as an indicator for the beginning of a
section must be complemented by observations concerning the material.
Reductions of the ensemble appear two more times. In mm. 19-21, the
soprano is resting during the entry of the alto, and in mm. 24-26, the bass
is temporarily suspended during much of the soprano statement, although
the first two beats of the entry sound in complete four-part texture. The
recurrence of the tenor statement in m. 17 distinguishes this subject entry
as a redundant one, thus signifying the imminent closure of a section.
As the final statement of the first section (mm. 7-9) and the final
statement of the fugue (mm. 37-39) both appear polyphonically less
intense than the statements preceding them, it may make sense to look into
the appearance of counter-subjects throughout the fugue. If one assumes,
as a hypothesis, that Bach may have composed lessening density of
contrapuntal material towards the end of each section, the following
groups can be established:
mm.
S
CS1
CS2

1
T

3
A
*

5
S
*
*

7
B
*

11
T
*
*

15
B
*
*

17 19
T A
*
*

24
S

26
B

32 37
T
S
* (*)
*

The harmonic outline of this fugue describes a very simple curve. The
minor dominant serving as the secondary key is reached in m. 11. However, as the subject itself in its original version also modulates to this key,
this D-minor cadence does not seem to establish a truly new tonal center.
Moreover, the ensuing statements still remain very closely linked to the
original tonic: already the tenor entry in mm. 11-13 modulates back to G
minor, the bass entry follows with a subdominant-tonic version, and the
redundant tenor statement closes once again on the minor dominant. Only
the third section leads into new harmonic fields. Its first episode modulates
from G minor to A major, the bass statement begins in F major (the
dominant relative) and concludes in B major (the tonic relative), and the
second episode (E4) modulates back to the tonic G minor.

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WTC I/18

This fugue seems singularly static with regard to tension. With the
exception of the three initial subject statements, all increases in texture in
the course of a section are annihilated by a simultaneous decrease in
polyphonic intensity. The dynamics of this fugue thus live entirely from
the contrastparticularly in the third sectionbetween subject-dominated
passages and episodes.

WTC I/19 in A major Prelude


This prelude is a polyphonic composition in consistent three-part
texture. Its most prominent thematic unit spans 2 measures. Owing to its
complex structure, it appears as a subject rather than a motif. It is imitated
on the dominant and recurs frequently throughout the composition, in
consistently alternating voices. In other words, this prelude is a fugue.
The initial harmonic progression concludes on the middle beat of m. 3.
As it coincides with the end of the first subject statement, this cadential
close does not indicate a sectional caesura. The first cadential close of
structural importance, i.e., one that occurs outside the confines of a subject
statement, emerges in mm. 11-12. It comes as a typical closing formula,
complete with a cadential-bass pattern in the lower and a do-si-do figure in
the upper voice. This cadence concludes the first section at m. 121 in F
minor.
There are only two sections, each spanning twelve measures. The first
leads from the tonic to the relative minor key, the second from the tonic
relative back to the home key. The sections correspond with one another in
great detail. Apart from a small rearrangement in the order of the components, occasional slight variation, and an extended cadential close at the
end of the piece, the second section seems like the answer to the first.
Compare
with
mm. 1-3
mm. 12-14 (U/M/L corresponds with U/M/L)
mm. 4-6
|
mm. 7-8
|
mm. 15-17
|
mm. 83-111 |
mm. 173-201 (U/M/L corresponds with M/L/U)
|
> mm. 20-223 (U/M/L corresponds with L/M/U)
mm. 11
mm. 223-24 (both are cadential closes)
Looking at the pitch pattern and the rhythm for guidance with regard to
the compositions character, one finds large leaps both in the longer note
values and in the 16th-notes along with a rhythmic pattern that gives the
impression of simplicity and regularity. (The frequent syncopations that
combine with the quarter-note motion to form a complementary rhythm are
not truly perceived as metric displacements.) The basic character of this
three-part fugue should therefore be interpreted as rather lively. This
character, however, accommodates a strong lyrical element.
253

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WTC I/19

The ideal tempo is moderate with gently paced quarter-notes and rather
swift 16th-notes. The articulation is legato for the 16th-notes and non
legato for the eighth-notes and quarter-notes. Among the quarter-notes,
those with distinct melodic quality (like the four chromatic steps in L: mm.
1-2) are only softly detached, while notes of cadential character (see, e.g.,
L: mm. 2-3, where notes proceed in sequencing descending fifths) sound
more clearly separated. Among the eighth-notes are several appoggiaturas
(U: mm. 7-8 and 15-17), which must be perfectly linked to their resolutions.
The only other longer notes that require legato appear in the trebles
closing formulas in mm. 11-12 (F-E -F) and 24 (A-G-A).
The A-major prelude features only one indication for ornamentation,
the cadential mordent in m. 3. Since it is approached stepwise, this mordent
begins on the main note and can do with only three notes. In m. 14, the
upper voice features a similar figure. It also appears in the context of a
cadential close and equally consists of a dotted-note group on the dominant
before its resolution into the tonic. Although Bach did not indicate ornamentation here, it may safely be assumed that such a typical closing formula
would have been decorated with the same cadential mordent (in this case
beginning on the upper neighbor note and featuring four notes).
The subject of this fugue consists of two subphrases. The first ends
with a 16th-note rest at m.14; the second, consisting exclusively of regular
16th-notes that descend in half-measure sequences, concludes with the C
at m. 33. The fact that the rest in the middle of the subject is of structural
importance and not tension-sustaining follows from the relationship among
the preceding notes. The F at m. 13 is composed as an appoggiatura that
resolves indirectly (i.e., through an artificial leading-note) into the eighthnote E. This resolution concludes a dynamic curve and thus marks the end
of the first subphrase. The scalar ascent after the rest picks up the tension
and prepares a second climax at m. 21. The 16th-note figures in the second
subphrase contain an interesting feature. Stripped of what may be recognized as ornamental splitting, the underlying quarter-note pattern performs
a descent in consecutive fifth that parallels the ones heard in the middle and
lower voices in simple intervals. The example below shows this simplified
melodic line.
The subject recurs five times. The only modification it undergoes
occurs at the beginning of the second section where the four initial 16thnotes sound an octave higher than the remainder of the phrase. (This is
certainly due to the confines of the keyboard in Bachs time: continuing in
the high register for even the first subphrase alone would not have been
possible).

A major

255

Faithfully throughout the entire fugueincluding the initial, normally


unaccompanied entrythe subject is supported by two companions. CS1
is introduced in the lower voice. As is revealed by all its later statements,
it begins on the second beat of m. 1; the A on the first beat is a harmonysupporting note of no melodic relevance. Like the subject, CS1 also consists
of two segments. The first, a chromatic descent through four quarter-notes,
recurs regularly, while the second, introduced as cadential steps, is subjected
to constant variation but always preserves its cadential character. CS2 is
first presented in the middle voice. It begins belatedly, after the end of the
subjects first subphrase. The first two of its prominent syncopations together with their falling fifth remain essential material of this counter-subject
throughout the piece, whereas the closing formula undergoes constant
variation. Both counter-subjects represent decreasing tension as their
overall dynamic design. In their variations, performers will want to modify
only the details but never the principal outline.
In addition to this primary material, two of the subject-free passages
feature in their treble a three-note episode motif, M1, presenting Bachs
famous upbeat + appoggiatura-resolution figure. This motif is remotely
related to the end of the subjects first subphrase. In mm. 63-83, M1 is underscored by a parallel and accompanied by 16th-note figures in descending
sequences; in mm. 143-173, the middle and lower voices create a complementary pattern of descending scales, also in sequences. The reason why
this episode is longer than the first lies in the difference of the harmonic
processes: while the first episode only links the dominant (reached at the
end of the subject answer in m. 63) with the tonic on which the third
subject statement is to begin, the episode in the second section modulates
from the tonic relative F minor back to A major.
The structure of this fugue is straightforward. Each of its two
sections comprises three statementsone in each of the three voices,
connected with half-measure linksas well as a bridging episode and a
cadential close.

256

WTC I/19
mm. 1
2
3
U subject
M
CS2
L
CS1
mm. 12 13 14
U subject
M
CS2
L
CS1

5
6
CS2
CS1
subject

7
8
9
10 11
12
episode
CS1
cadent.
with
subject
for9 motif A
CS2 9 mula A

15 16 17 18 19
episode
CS2
with
CS1
9 motif A subject

20 21 22
subject
CS1
CS2
9

23 24
cadent.
formula A

WTC I/19 in A major Fugue


The subject of the official fugue in this pair is in several regards
quite unusual. It begins with a single eighth-note on the downbeat of the
first measure, followed by a 3/8 rest. Such a brusque beginning appears
almost as a conscious attempt to avoid all melodic characterization. This
impression is reinforced by the continuation after the rest. A sequence of
five perfect fourths leaping upward in regular eighth-notes mock listeners
hope for a line while also blurring the 9/8 time signature with their paired
grouping. This pattern is interrupted only after 1 measures. Interestingly,
the change happens on three levels at once. Rhythmically, the D on the
sixth eighth-note of m. 2 suspends the regularity, if not monotony, of the
eighth-note pulse with a syncopation. Melodically, the descending semitone
D-C on the seventh and eighth eighth-notes of m. 2 represents the first
interval to express some emotional warmth. Harmonically, the suspension
results in an appoggiatura, i.e., a note that is not part of the underlying
harmony and therefore requires resolution. The concurrence of these three
features allows a satisfactory conclusion of the subject only after this
resolution, on beat eight of m. 2. This reveals yet another unusual feature
of this subject: the initial statement and its answer already appear in stretto,
a device normally reserved for entries outside the exposition.
With regard to the question of subphrasing this subject is probably best
understood as consisting of two segments: the initial note with an implied
subsiding of the tension during the rest, and a curve from the fifth eighthnote to the end. (Another concept, in which the rest would serve to heighten
the tension from the initial downbeat to the continuation of the line, is
theoretically possible but in practice somewhat artificial.) The tension
within this subject climaxes on the syncopation. The dynamic outline thus

A major

257

consists of a moderately attacked initial note followed after the rest by a


gradual crescendo that sets out from a fairly soft level, leads to a peak on
the syncopation, and is complemented by a short relaxation.
Bachs harmonizations of the subject in the course of the fugue show
a variety of small changes. They all have in common that the first
representative of the subdominant appears with the three-note group at the
end of the first measure, followed on the downbeat of the second measure
by the dominant (see, e.g., mm. 5 and 24). This leads then into an
interrupted cadence (in most cases
on the second eighth-note of the
subjects second measure), and the
return to the tonic only occurs with
another S-D-T progression:
The A-major fugue comprises fourteen subject statements.
1. mm. 1-2 U
8. mm. 23-24 L
2. mm. 2-3 M
9. mm. 25-27 U*
3. mm. 4-5 L
10. mm. 27-29 M
4. mm. 6-7 L
11. mm. 31-32 M
5. mm. 9-10 U
12. mm. 33-35 L
6. mm. 13-15 L
13. mm. 42-43 M
7. mm. 16-18 L
14. mm. 44-46 L
(*Note the voice crossing in mm. 25-27: M sounds temporarily above U.)

In the course of the fugue the subject undergoes a great number of


changes. In fact the only feature that is reliably stable is the interval
structure of the sequenced fourths in its center. The beginning appears
modified in various ways. In two instances the initial note appears in a
different octave from the remainder of the phrase (see m. 13 where it
sounds an octave lower, and m. 27 where it lies an octave higher). In two
other instances it belongs to a key that is subsequently given up. This
modulation causes the second subphrase to seem harmonically displaced.1
In a fifth case, the curious one-note subphrase is completely altered. In m.
31, the downbeat-note has become a rest and the ensuing rest is replaced
1

See m. 16: the initial B is harmonized in B minor but the statement continues as if in
F minor, later modulating to E. See also m. 42: the initial F is harmonized in F minor but
the statement continues as if in A major, with only the final resolution returning to F minor.

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by notes. As these notes appear in the form of an additional ascending


fourth (enhanced by a syncopation), they give the impression to extend the
second subphrase, and thus change the subject in this statement into a
single indivisible unit.
The subjects center with its consecutive fourths is also modified in
detail and in length. Some modifications are tonal. In the answer statements
of mm. 2 and 6, the first fourth interval of the second subphrase is placed
a whole-tone lower. In m. 13, the first leap appears as a diminished fourth.
This is due to the minor mode of this statement and must thus be regarded
as another tonal adjustment. In mm. 16-17, the third interval among the
consecutive fourths is augmented. This interval modification is an artificial
one; it marks the pending modulation to E major. Similarly in mm. 33-34,
the augmented fourth E-A and the diminished fourth A-D are witnesses
of the modulation in this statement from D major to B minor. Furthermore,
three statements feature alterations in the extension of the sequencedfourth pattern. In two instances there is an inner extension: mm. 25-26
contain two and mm. 33-35 three additional eighth-notes in the fourth
pattern. By contrast, in mm. 16-17 the consecutive fourths are shortened by
two eighth-notes.
The syncopation, seemingly so characteristic in this subject, is not
exempt from changes either. It is displaced in various ways or even omitted
entirely. In m. 34, it is delayed by three eighth-notes but basically retains
its position (with tie suspension and weak-beat resolution). In m. 26, owing
to the subjects extension by two eighth-notes, the syncopation appears
later, in a different metrical position, and with an unusual strong-beat
resolution. In m. 17, after the abbreviation of the consecutive-fourths
pattern, the longer note falls on the fourth eighth-note in the measure
which in the compound time of 9/8 is not a weak beatand thus, despite
its tie prolongation, forfeits the character of a syncopation. Finally in mm.
44-45, the second subphrase progresses in uninterrupted eighth-note
motion without any longer note value.
And as if all this was not enough, the subjects conclusion also suffers
various modifications. In three instances, the resolution after the syncopation is delayed. In m. 28, this occurs without any further changes in the
harmonic pattern. In m. 17, the modulation from B minor to E major has
already taken place earlier in the subject statement, and the delayed resolution arrives on the expected pitch. In m. 14, however, the deviation leads
from G to an A that then resolves onto Binstead of the expected A.
This alteration is not merely one of melodic detail but entails a modulation

A major

259

from F minor to B minor in this final extension of the subject. The fugues
last subject statement (see mm. 44-46) features a freely varied ending.
Oddly, the only true stretto in this fugue is the one between the initial
statement and its answer. Further in the course of the composition, subject
entries appear neatly separated from one another. There is one instance,
however, where the rhythmic pattern of the voices accompanying a subject
entry contains a hint of stretto. In mm. 25-26 the middle and lower voices,
accompanying the upper-voice entry, feature a single eighth-note on the
second of the compound beats, followed by a 3/8 rest and a sequence of
eighth-notes in leaps of fourths. Although neither the intervallic connection
between the two subphrases nor the end conforms to the subjects original
shape, the entry of this rhythmic group gives the impression of a stretto.
Owing to the many sequences within this subject, this impression soon
turns into one of parallel motion or homorhythmic contrary motion
respectively (see m. 26).
In the main body of the fugue, the voices accompanying the subject
statements display hardly any characteristic or even recurring features, and
true contrapuntal lines are non-existent. The small figures that do appear
repeatedly are all derived from the subject in a more or less direct way.
Only with the introduction of regular 16th-note motion from m. 23 onward
can one distinguish voices to such an extent as to follow more than one
longer melodic idea at a time. These 16th-notes create a subject companion
that recurs once. In its original appearance, CS spans M: mm. 231-248.
When taken up in mm. 27-29, the counter-subject is extended along with
the subject; its end now falls on m. 291. This counter-subject does not seem
to comprise any features that would distinguish its dynamic outline. The
absence of any rhythmic hallmarks within the constantly flowing
16th-notes and of particular intervals or otherwise highlighted melodic
features classify it as a passively jingling accompaniment rather than a
competing partner. However, in order to distinguish CS from the many
other 16th-note figures yet to come, it is possible to stress the hidden line
inside the runs.

In the passages of the fugue that are devoid of 16th-note motion one
can discern three little motifs that appear repeatedly. M1 first emerges in
U: mm. 3-4. With its fourth leap, tied note, and weak-beat resolution it

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sounds like a free sequence of the subjects final five notes. This motif
recurs at the beginning of mm. 5, 6, and 7, each time in the middle voice.
Moreover, variations of this figure can be found in U: m. 43 and M: m. 44.
M2 is introduced in U: mm. 58-65. Here an initial tied note and weak-beat
resolution are complemented by two notes in zigzag motion (a third or,
later, a fourth leap up / a fifth leap down). This figure imitates the end of
the subjects answer plus the two notes following it (see M: mm. 36-41).
M2 recurs in mm. 7-8 (U/M in parallel), 8-9 (M), 10-11 (M, imitated in U),
mm. 11-12 (L, imitated in U), 17 (M, imitated 17-18 in U, then sequenced
in M), 18-19 (U), 22 (M), 43-44 (U), 46 (M), 47-48 (U), 51 (U), 52-53 (M).
If one allowed for interval modification, many more recurrences could be
observed. M3 appears as an emotionally even more intense combination,
consisting of two tied-note-plus-resolution pairs in ascending sequence.
This figure occurs three times: in mm. 12-13 (M), 13-14 (U), and 16 (U).

There are seven subject-free passages in this fugue.


E1 m.
8
E5 mm. 29-30
E2 mm. 11-12
E6 mm. 35-41
E3 m. 15
E7 mm. 46-54
E4 mm. 18-22
Several of the subject-free measures use no recognizable melodic
material. They fulfill no function other than that of a cadential close. This
is true for the extended cadential formulas in B minor in E3 and E6a (mm.
35-361), and for the last measure of E6, which presents a closing formula
in F minor. More frequent are episodes or segments thereof that play with
one of the motifs before they give in to the conclusion: E1 begins with an
M2 parallel followed by a closing formula in A major. E2 includes two M2
imitation patterns before ending in F minor with M3 accompanied by a
cadential bass pattern. E4a and E7a (the first segments of E4 and E7) both
feature M2 with free imitations in the lower voice before leading into a
cadential close in E major and A major respectively. E7c (from m. 51) also
presents M2 with free imitation, now accompanied by 16th-note motion in
the lower voice that also concludes in a cadential-bass pattern.
Three episode segments reveal a particularly close relationship to the
primary material by using larger fragments of subject and counter-subject:

A major

261

E4b (mm. 20-22) exposes in its upper voice a little 6/8-note figure that is
imitated in stretto (see U/M: mm. 20-21) before moving on to a rhythmic
variation of the subject, also with imitation (see mm. 21-22; owing to the
pattern of consecutive eighth-notes, both imitations soon form parallels).
E5 features the first half of CS (U: m. 29, imitated in L) as well as freely
leaping eighth-notes (L, imitated in U). E7b transposes this combination
(mm. 49-50), while E6c recalls it in free variation (mm. 39-411).
The only episode portion to feature a longer motif is E6b, the central
segment of E6 (mm. 36-394). This is particularly noticeable since all three
voices establish patterns of 12/8 length, thus momentarily weakening the
metric order of the 9/8 time.2 Both motifs are then launched again in their
original position, where they break off (see mm. 388-394 along with the 16thnote chain of equal extension in L: F-C, sequenced as G-D).
As the above-listed material reveals, several of the episodes are related:
E6a
.
E3
E7a
.
E4a
E7b
.
E5
In a wider sense, E6 and E4 are conceived in structural analogy: both
begin with a segment providing a cadential close, after which they proceed
to present some genuine episode material that is duly imitated. Both then
continue with a variation of primary material (a variation of the subject in
E4, a variation of the counter-subject episode in E6), and both conclude
in another cadential formula.
The role these episodes play in the development of tension within this
fugue is determined, on the one hand, by the frequent use of extended
cadential formulas and, on the other hand, by the relative independence of
the material presented. There are episodes or segments thereof that complement the preceding subject statement with a straightforward relaxation;
this is the case in E1, E2, E3, as well as in E4a and E6a. Other episodes
serve as bridges. This is true of E5, but less of the passages corresponding
with it. Then there are those episode segments that, after a cadential close
but before the beginning of the next subject entry, attract attention for their
own sake. They are the ones requiring the most radical change of color in
order to be fully appreciated. E4b and E6b are obvious examples. The only
subject-free passage not to fall into any of these patterns is the final
episode (E7). Its three segments, which all allude to different models heard
before, seem primarily to express a reluctance to end the fugue.
2

In mm. 362-374 see U: D-B, imitated in M: E-C, and M: F-E, imitated in U: G-F.

262

WTC I/19

The pitch pattern with its predominance of fourth leaps, and the
rhythmic pattern with its regular eighth-notes accompanied in the center
sections of the fugue by equally regular 16th-notes, both suggest a rather
lively basic character. The tempo may be fairly swift. Bachs 9/8 time
should be interpreted as a choice of notation rather than of pulse, to be
rendered with the idea of a compound triple time.
Articulation in this piece needs careful planning if it is not to destroy
essential musical details. The basic attitude corresponding to the character
encompasses distinct non legato for the eighth-notes (in a crispness that
comes close to the staccato touch of later musical eras), non legato of more
extended duration for the quarter-notes, and a quasi legato of almost
classical leggiero quality for the 16th-notes. These categories, however,
include important exceptions: Within the non legato, all appoggiaturas
must be linked to their resolutions. This applies to the appoggiaturas in the
subject as well as to those in M1, M2, and (twice) in M3. Moreover,
several notes in the cadential formulas demand legato (see mm. 15-16 M:
D-C-D; mm. 19-20 M: E-D-E, mm. 22-23 U: A-G-A; mm. 48-49 M:
A-G-A; mm. 53-54 U: A-G-A). Within the quasi legato of the 16th-notes,
a distinction is desirable between the hidden melodic notes in the
counter-subject and the remaining notes of more directly virtuoso quality.
The tempo proportion between prelude and fugue can be rendered in
two slightly different ways. Performers wishing to emphasize the contrast
of characters, with a more lyrical prelude preceding a more virtuoso fugue,
will opt for a 16th-note in the prelude that corresponds to an eighth-note in
the fugue. Conversely, performers seeking to diminish the contrast and to
present a prelude in Allegretto motion followed by a fugue in Allegro ma
non troppo tempo will choose a proportion in which a quarter-note in the
prelude corresponds with a dotted quarter-note in the fugue.
The fugue comprises two ornaments. One of them, that in m. 8, is a
typical attribute of cadential formulas. As such it should be transferred also
to the corresponding formula in m. 41 (on the dotted G). The second ornament is designated in m. 26. All ornaments begin on the upper neighbor
note and move in 32nd values. The one in m. 8 comes with a written-out
suffix, while its structural counterpart in m. 41 is followed by a weak-beat
resolution. The latter thus represents an interrupted trill that stops short on
the fourth note of the shake, which is then tied over and sounds as a
syncopation to the measures final eighth-note. The trill in m. 26, like that
in m. 8, is a note-filling trill comprising eight 32nd-notes including the
suffix notes.

A major

263

mm. 8-9

41-42

26-27

The fugue contains several features that indicate its structure. These
appear, in the first instance, in the change of rhythmic pattern, the choice
of the episode material, and the texture, and in the second instance, in the
order of subject entries and the harmonic design.
The emergence and disappearance of the 16th-note accompaniment
results in three differently colored passages. The first ends at m. 231, the
second at m. 421. The two structural caesuras are preceded by episodes
that, as was shown above, are conceived in structural analogy: E6 and E4
both consist of a segment with a cadential close followed by genuine
episode material and a variation of primary material. The fact that the
subject statement in mm. 23-24 appears in reduced ensemble further corroborates the first caesura.
Within the first larger passage, the redundant lower-voice entry in mm.
6-7 announces the imminent end of the first section, confirmed by E1 with
its cadential formula. The second section, beginning in m. 9, also features
a redundant lower-voice statement (a repetition of the preceding entry).
Within the second larger passage, the only internal episode, E5, concludes
the third section after a complete set of three statements, one in each of the
voices. The fourth section then begins in m. 31 and contains two subject
entries as well as the closing episode. The relationship between the statements of these sections is also confirmed by the harmony: while the three
statements of the third section appear in the keys of tonic and dominant,
the two entries of the fourth section belong to the subdominant (D major
and its relative B minor). The third passage comprises only two statements
followed by a long episode. No further subdivision into sections is possible
here. However, three facts demand a slight modification of this notion: the
final episode consists of several structurally distinct segments, the first of
which ends with a cadence in the home key (mm. 48-49). Above all, the
16th-note motion that is characteristic for the fugues central passage but
abandoned in the fifth section is taken up again from m. 49 onward. All
this indicates that one should regard the fifth section as completed at m.
491 and followed by a coda in the final six measures.

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A major

265

The harmonic outline confirms the structure described above. The four
initial subject statements are in A major, the key in which the first episode
concludes the first section. After another entry on the tonic, E2 modulates
to the relative minor key. The following two statements each modulate
(F minor to B minor and B minor to E major), but E4 closes the section
again in the home key. The third section resembles the first one in that its
statements all relate to the tonic. The fourth section, just like the second,
leaves the home key area, this time for the subdominant and its relative
minor. The episode closing this section re-establishes not the home key but
its tonic relative F minor, leaving the final return to the second, modulating statement in the fifth section.
As a result of their descending order, the four initial entries of the
fugue create the deceptive impression of a four-part fugue. The tension
grows throughout and is only released in the concluding short episode. The
second section features a reverse of this process. Its first entry is the only
harmonically stable one in the original major mode, while its second statement begins in minor and ends in a modulating extension. The third entry,
conceived again as a redundant statement, is varied to such an extent that
it appears much weaker than the preceding one. This section comes to a
transitory close in very soft shading on the downbeat of m. 20, after which
the remaining segments of E4 create an independent little tension curve.
As the third section sets out in reduced ensemble and, what is more, as its
three entries in L, U, and M are arranged in such a way that their actual
pitch position (particularly that of the initial notes) sounds in ascending
order, a gradual increase of tension similar to that in the first section is
created. The fourth section recalls the second one insofar as it also
proceeds from the major to the minor mode in decreasing tension, and also
comes to a transitory close in soft color after the first segment of its
concluding episode, after which the remaining segments of E6 attract fresh
attention for their motivic material. The fifth section begins in the minor
mode. Its second subject statement, although returning to the major mode
and even, in its extension, to the tonic, remains comparably inconspicuous.
In the coda, however, the prolonged ascent of the leaping eighth-notes in
mm. 49-51 engenders a final climaxone that is virtuoso rather than
thematic.
The relationship between the sections is an important feature of this
fugue and should by all means be conveyed in performance. The increase
of tension in the first section and the complementing decrease in the
second section, followed by the small tension curve in E4, all find a
faithful correspondence in the increase of tension in the third section, the

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complementing decrease in the fourth section and the following small


tension curve in E6. In the final portion of the composition, the subject
statements appear merely as an afterthought of lesser importance, whereas
the coda provides an unexpected additional climax.
As can be seen from all that has been said, the A-major fugue features
all the structural ingredients of a real fugue. Nevertheless, owing to its
unusually non-melodic subject, orientation for listeners remains extremely
difficult. Only the most exquisite color shading and careful articulation
(see particularly the appoggiaturas) can guide them through this apparent
jungle of leaping intervals and render this composition as a fascinating
experience.

WTC I/20 in A minor Prelude


This prelude displays a contrapuntal texture. The two-part structure is
not strictly observed. It thickens occasionally when supporting block chords
are added as in mm. 5, 6, 7 and 9, 10, 11 or a legatissimo is spelled out by
letting one sound overlap with a number of consecutive pitches as in mm.
13-15, 16+18, 17+19, and 26-28. In terms of its thematic material, the
composition builds entirely on a single motif, the slightly ornamented
broken-chord figure introduced in U: m. 1. The prelude can therefore be
regarded as conceived along the lines of a two-part invention.
In conjunction with its two sequences and a complementary figure in
m. 4, the principal motif establishes a four-measure phrase that constitutes
a complete harmonic progression. The cadential close in m. 4, which
coincides with the end of the larger melodic idea, does not qualify as an
indication of a section ending. The second harmonic progression concludes
in analogy to the first after the statementnow in the lower voice and in E
minorof the four-measure melodic idea (m. 8). Listeners have to wait
until the end of the subsequent development, again four measures long, for
the relaxation and cadential close indicating a break in the preludes
layout. The harmonic conclusion comes after a modulation to C major and
falls on m. 131.
Three structural sections can be distinguished in this prelude:
I
mm. 1-13 tonic minor dominant tonic relative
II mm. 13-22 tonic relative tonic1
III mm. 22-28 tonic confirmed
The predominant features of pitch and rhythm are broken chords in
eighth-notes and ornamental 16th-notes, including written-out trills as in
L: mm. 1-3. The basic character of this prelude is thus rather lively. The
1

The harmonic conclusion of section II is very strange. We expect a return to the tonic, and
the chords in mm. 20-21, D minor and G diminished-seventh, seem to announce this with
their ivvii7. At the last moment, however, the lower voice sidetracks with a leap to C instead
of a step from the leading note to A. The tonic chord thus appears in inversion and fails to
satisfy the listeners demand for a resolution. Even more strangely, the process is repeated
similarly three measures later, where the left-hand progression G-A-B (A) diverts to C and
an unusual major-seventh leap adds to the harmonic irregularity. It is only after yet another
cadential measure that the downbeat of m. 26 finally presents the true tonic bass.

267

268

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tempo should be fairly swift, with the 9/8 time signature read as a convenience for 3/4 time with triplets. The appropriate articulation includes non
legato for the eighth-notes and quasi legato for the 16th-notes. The score
does not contain any ornament symbols.
The one-measure principal motif M1 consists of an A-minor chord
broken in zigzag, changing direction with each of the three compound
beats: up, down, up. Only the first interval is filled with a passing note.
This motif is sequenced twice, one step up in m. 2 and another three steps
up in m. 3. Thereafter, the gradual ascent is complemented with the upper
keynote on m. 41. The subsequent passive descent consists of a run and a
falling A-minor chord in a complementary pattern between both hands.
This descent appears more like a link than an integral part of the fourmeasure phrase, and later modification can easily be anticipated. Only the
very last eighth-note in m. 4 announces the shift from the tonic to the
minor dominant with a D, representative of the chord B-D-F-A, the
dominant-seventh of E minor. In this key the four-measure phrase is then
imitated by the lower voice.
The link following the imitation in m. 8 features the run and broken
chord in ascending direction. The final eighth-note of the measure, A,
seems once again about to initiate a harmonic shift, this time to the key of B.
However, the motifs ensuing entry in L: m. 9 ignores the modulation and
begins once more on E. The shape of the four-measure phrase is modified
here. The two sequences of M1 are descending in steps and the linking
measure, instead of displaying a complementary pattern, splits the original
ingredients. With simultaneous runs in the upper voice and broken chords
in the lower, it ends the first section of the piece.
Throughout the entire initial section, the contrapuntal companion is
characterized by a long note on the first compound beat in each measure
followed by a trill figure on the second beat. Within the initial phrase, both
the long note and the trill represent a tonic pedal, while in the imitation and
the developing phrase, block chords and moving trills accommodate the
steps of the harmonic progression. The final 3/8-note group in each
measure serves as a small-scale link, consisting of broken chords in the
initial phrase and of varying runs in the second and third phrases.
The second section sets out in m. 13 with M1 and its original fourmeasure phrase back in the upper voice, the sequences once more moving
upward. There are, however, two new modifications. The counter-motif
omits the trill figure and instead complements the long notes at the outset
of each measure with runs. Moreover, the link at the end of the phrase

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269

combines the idea of a run with that of the broken chord by retaining the
chord notes from within the run in a split-voice texture. This phrase ends
in C major, without any sign of a modulation even in the final eighth-note
of m. 16. The next measure thus presents a surprise both in pattern and in
harmony. Over a repeated pedal note on the pitch a very mindful listener
may have anticipated for the pivotal eighth-note (F, of D-F-A-C), the
upper voice fits the remaining chord notes into a new complementary
pattern. The resolution of this modulating chord follows immediately with
the newly established pattern, in the final measure of the C major phrase
(compare m. 18 with m. 16). A sequence of the pivot-chord measure
then leads to D minor in m. 20. The last two measures of the second
section come full circle with the principal motif, now in the lower voice,
accompanied by a free variation of the modified counter-motif (compare
U: mm. 20-21 with L: mm. 13-15). The unusual harmonic ending of the
section was already mentioned.
The beginning of the third section gives the impression of a recapitulation: the upper-voice motif begins as did the original in m. 1, and the
counter-motif also takes up the trill-figure familiar from the first section
(compare m. 22 with m. 1). The third beat of the measure, however, features
a variation in the motif, the second measure is harmonically diverted
(compare m. 23 with m. 2), and the expected third segment of the
sequential pattern is substituted by a closing link (similar to the one that
concluded the initial section in m. 12). This leads to the reiteration of the
cadential-bass deviation (see mm. 24-251). The remainder of m. 25 continues the scalar descent and, more importantly, corrects the cadential close
by reiterating it with the proper bass steps and melodic leading note.
Finally, mm. 26-28 are built upon a tonic pedal. The lower part with its
voice splitting is reminiscent of the beginning of the second section (mm.
13-15), while the upper part displays a free variation of the principal motif.
The trill figure, added at the very last moment in a split-half of the upper
voice, recalls once more the characteristic feature of the original companion and thus ends this invention with a five-part A major chord.
The dynamic presentation of the composition should be designed to
reflect the structural outline as well as the varying thematic density. The
climax of the first section falls on m. 9 where, after two four-measure
phrases in continuous crescendo, the developing phrase sets in with a sudden major mode, both voices sounding in a fairly high register. The second
section reaches its dynamic peak at the end of its initial phrase (m. 16).
Thereafter, the tension recedes in gradual waves. (Careful: The G at m.

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211 often blurts out because of the preceding large leap but should actually
be very soft, in keeping with the pending cadential close.) In the third
section, the dynamic curves are very gentle as long as tonal stability is still
awaited. Then, however, in the final three measures with their multiplying
parts, a powerful crescendo leads to a luscious completion.

WTC I/20 in A minor Fugue


This subject spans exactly three measures. It begins on the second
eighth-note of m. 1 with the keynote A and concludes with the same note
at m. 41. The eighth-note rest in the middle of the phrase appears between
a strong-to-weak descending third causing a momentary relaxation and a
new upbeat; it must therefore be interpreted as an indicator of phrasing
within the subject. The two subphrases divided by this rest are almost
equal in length. The pitch pattern presents two long stretches of smooth,
stepwise motion, both of which end in consecutive leaps (see m. 2: F-G-E
and m. 3-4: B-E-A.) The rhythm consists exclusively of eighth- and 16thnotes in a simple pattern. Syncopations, tied notes, or other outstanding
rhythmic features do not appear.
Yet while this description of the subjects attributes is correct, it does
not convey the entire truth. Two additional observations shed light on the
particularities of the melodic line. One regards the groups of 16th-notes.
All of them are ornamental figures embellishing an underlying simpler
line. The first two groups, e.g., display the well-known inverted mordent.
The other observation regards the assumed simpler line that is being
ornamented. An examination of the pitches shows that two of the subjects
eighth-notes are of secondary relevance with respect to the melodic
structure. In m. 2, the low E on the second half of beat 3 provides a
harmonic foundation to the unusual diminished-seventh leap; melodically,
however, it is an escape note between the high tension captured in the G
and the resolution brought about by the A after the rest. Similarly, the E at
the end of m. 3 serves to keep the eighth-note pace going: melodically it is
another escape note interspersed into the descending tetrachord D-C-B-A.
The result of this short melodic analysis is a skeleton that enhances the
comprehension of the subject:

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In the course of the fugue, Bach harmonizes this subject with slight
variations. In mm. 8-9, e.g., the dominant already appears on the downbeat
of the second measure, while in mm. 4-5 the tonic is retained much longer
and the dominant is only reached on the middle beat. In the second half of
the same two statements, Bach harmonizes m. 101 as a subdominant
representative, while the analogous m. 31 returns to the dominant after only
an eighth-note resolution to the tonic. Beyond these differences, the basic
harmonic outline affirms a progression in which the two relevant steps are
the short-lived resolution of the dominant to the tonic on the last eighthnote of the second measure and the perfect cadence that underlies beats 3
and 4 of the subjects third measure and resolves on the final downbeat:

This fugue features the proud number of thirty-nine subject entries.


Particularly in the works final portion, many statements are considerably
shortened. In the list below, statements completely lacking the second
subphrase are marked with an asterisk.2
1. mm. 1-4 A
14. mm. 37-40 A
27. mm. 67-70 Sinv
2. mm. 4-7 S
15. mm. 43-46 S
28. mm. 68-71 Ainv
3. mm. 8-11 B
16. mm. 43-46 B
29. mm. 73-76 Binv
4. mm. 11-14 T
17. mm. 48-51 Ainv 30. mm. 73-76 Ainv
5. mm. 14-17 Sinv 18. mm. 49-52 Tinv
31. mm. 76-77 Tinv*
6. mm. 18-21 Tinv 19. mm. 53-56 Binv 32. mm. 77-78 A
7. mm. 21-24 Binv 20. mm. 53-56 Sinv
33. mm. 77-78 S*
8. mm. 24-27 Ainv 21. mm. 57-60 Sinv
34. mm. 80-82 A
9. mm. 27-30 S
22. mm. 58-61 Ainv 35. mm. 81-82 S
10. mm. 28-31 T
23. mm. 62-63 Binv* 36. mm. 83-85 Binv*
11. mm. 31-34 A
24. mm. 62-63 Tinv* 37. mm. 84-85 Tinv*
12. mm. 32-35 B
25. mm. 64-67 B
38. mm. 84-86 S
13. mm. 36-39 T
26. mm. 65-68 T
39. mm. 85-86 A*

Note that this fugue, while basically in four parts, introduces a fifth voice after the general
pause in m. 80. This new voice establishes a tonic pedal in mm. 83-87. It seemed practical,
however, to retain the counting of the original four voices as soprano, alto, tenor, and bass
during these measures of five-part texture and use bass 2 for the additional voice that
does not participate in the polyphonic play.

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In the course of the fugue, the subject undergoes a number of


variations, harmonic modifications, and abbreviations. The most frequently
occurring change of shape is the inversion: nineteen of the thirty-nine
statements, i.e., almost exactly half of the total number, are upside down.
The second-last subject note, earlier described as of secondary relevance
for the melodic structure, is omitted in m. 70 (A) and substituted by an
ornamental figure in mm. 17 (S) and 26 (A). The ornamental substitution
is followed by a displaced final note in mm. 20-21 (T), 23-24 (B) and, with
a slightly different ornamental figure, in m. 60 (A). As all these variations
happen in inversions, one might get the impression that they are due to the
interval direction. However, the four inverted entries in mm. 48-56 appear
without any such adjustments. The four final eighth-notes are substituted
by longer note values and harmonic deviations in mm. 60 (S) and 75 (B),
whereas in m. 76 (A) they are simply cut off. Even shorter versions of the
subject appear toward the end of the fugue where the second subphrase is
reduced to two notes (A: mm. 80-82) or even only one (A: mm. 77-78,
S: mm. 81-82 and 84-86). In two other instances, the subject statement
breaks off after the eighth-note rest (see T: mm. 76-77 and A: mm. 85-86).
Even less substance is left where not only the second subphrase is
completely dropped but the end of the first subphrase is already varied. In
two statements the last two eighth-notes of the first subphrase are replaced
by a quarter-note, thus supporting the interpretation that this final
eighth-note is another structurally non-essential note (see S: m. 82 and A:
m. 86). In mm. 83-84 (B), only the first eleven eighth-note beats are intact;
in mm. 77-78 (S), this is reduced to ten and in mm. 84-85 (T) to only eight
eighth-note beats.
All these entries appear, however, as structurally relevant components
of strettos. The shortest of the abridged subject statements are of equal
length as the episode motif that often quotes the subjects initial bar; this
creates confusiona confusion Bach apparently intended. Thus in mm.
62-63 the stretto between bass and tenor, featuring incomplete first
subphrases in both voices, does not immediately reveal whether its loyalty
lies forward or backward. Only in-depth analysis will show whether these
are false entries or structurally relevant ones.
Harmonic alterations of considerable impact occur frequently; see, e.g.,
mm. 10 (B), 19-21 (T), 44 (B), 58-59 (A), 69-70 (S), and 74-75 (A).
Strettos are a characteristic feature in this fugue; in fact, from m. 27 onward, not a single subject statement remains uncontested by an overlapping
entry in another voice. Toward the end of the fugue, strettos even involve
three voices (as in mm. 76-78: T/A/S) or four (as in mm. 83-85: B/T/S/A).

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Given that the imitation distance in the strettos is usually four eighth-notes,
i.e., the same length as the sequence at the beginning of the subject, this
results in a short parallel. By contrast, parallels of any larger segments of
the subject do not occur.
In a fugue that is so essentially based on stretto work, it is certainly not
surprising that we will look in vain for a characteristic and independent
counter-subject. There are two short accompanying figures that deserve to
be mentioned since they recur. Their common feature is the fact that both
establish a short parallel to one fragment of the subject. They are thus not
quite polyphonically independent. In mm. 4-5 the alto, having just introduced the subject, builds a counterpoint to the beginning of the subject
answer. It begins with two descending tetrachords (see the eighth-notes
A-G-F-E and C-B-A-G), continues with a parallel of the first half of the
second subject measure, and ends, at the latest, with the B on the middle
beat of m. 5. This counterpoint is taken up in mm. 8-9 where it is shared
between soprano and alto, and in mm. 11-12 in the alto (where the
tetrachords are reinforced by a parallel in the soprano). Later in the fugue,
the sequencing tetrachords alone, without the ensuing parallel turn-figure,
recur frequently as a companion to a subject entry; see particularly mm.
14-16 (B, T, A), 28-29 (B), 53-54 (T), 57-58 (T+B), and 73-74 (T). In mm.
18-19, the soprano creates a short parallel to the second segment of the
subjects first subphrase. Similar brief parallels occur in mm. 21-22 (A)
and mm. 24-25 (T). As these parallels can also be read as rudimentary
imitations of the subject beginning, an interesting interpretation is that they
are embryonic forerunners of the stretto entries to come.
This fairly long fugue encompasses altogether sixteen subject-free
passages; most of them, however, are only very short.
E1
mm. 7-8
E9
mm. 52-53
E2
m. 14
E10 mm. 56-57
E3
mm. 17-18
E11 mm. 61-62
E4
m. 27
E12 mm. 63-64
E5
m. 31
E13 mm. 71-73
E6
mm. 35-36
E14 mm. 79-80
E7
mm. 40-43
E15 mm. 82-83
E8
mm. 46-48
E16 mm. 86-87
In the material that makes up these subject-free passages, two facts
stand out: many episodes are simple cadential formulas of one-measure or
even only half-measure length, and several others feature the subjects
head motif. E2, E3, E4, E15, and E16 present variants of the cadential bass
steps, E2 and E4 additionally feature the dosido formula, E3 and E4 the

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typical melodic turn with dotted leading note and anticipated resolution. In
three other episodes, the same components make up only a portion of the
subject-free passage; see the second half of E8 as well as the conclusion of
E12 and E13. In the latter case, the sopranos cadential formula overlaps
with the beginning of the subsequent statement in the bass. The subjects
head motif is found in seven of the episodes, often accompanied by a
scalar passage (see E1, E3, E6, E7, E10, E12, and E16). Finally in E5, E8,
and E9 the scalar segment appears without the subjects head motif
Only three of the episodes feature figures that are immediately
sequenced and thereby attain a minimum of independence: bass and alto in
E7 mm. 40-41, the trill motif in alto and tenor of E9 as well as in the
soprano of E10, and the imitations of soprano and tenor including their
sequences in the alto of E13. E8 is the only episode presenting an imitation
of the subjects tail (see T: mm. 45-47). The 16th-notes in all episode types
form ornamental figuration or broken chords.
There are few structural analogies among the episodes. One can detect
a correspondence between two cadential and two non-cadential passages
(E2 and E4, E1 and E5). Moreover, E9 and E10 share the same prominent
motif and scalar descent. The role each episode plays in the development
of tension within the fugue is determined by motifs and closing formulas.
E1 bridges between two consecutive statements but does not create
a color contrast since the Ms figure appears as a sequence of the
previous measure. Conversely, E2 gives the impression of a close,
with a definite relaxation. E3 is ambiguous: the bass pattern speaks
of conclusion, the false entry in the alto seems to point forward. E4
follows with an unequivocal closure and a definite tension release.
Like E1, E5 connects two entries. E6 with its ascending sequences
leads to the subsequent stretto. E7 introduces the first color contrast
owing to its novel material and, thereafter, a decrease of intensity.
E8 presents the long-awaited closure with its extended cadential
formula. Surprisingly, it is succeeded by what must be interpreted as
a preparation for the ensuing subject statement.
E9 and E10 serve as dynamic bridges. E11 like E7 presents genuine
episode material with a concomitant color contrast but no conclusion (the stretto in mm. 62-63 is structurally analogous to that in
mm. 43-46), and E12 with its cadential close corresponds with E8.
E13 also suggests a color contrast because of its genuine little motif.
Its ending with the overlap of a cadential close with the beginning of
an ensuing subject statement recalls E2 and distinguishes this as
another bridging episode. E14 differs from all its predecessors by its

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275

abrupt halt in a six-part chord. This unexpected halt anticipates the


chord on the middle beat of m. 82, also in six-part texture, with
which it corresponds in its harmonic distinction as an inverted
dominant-seventh chord and its rhythmic feature with ensuing
general pause. In other words: E14 is not so much a fugal episode as
a dramatic passage and may be interpreted with a matching rise of
dramatic intensity. E15, following after the works second general
pause, provides for some relaxation. The concluding E16, set in
seven-part texture, has no choice but to crown the fugue with a
triumphant climax.
Despite the apparent predominance of stepwise motion in this piece,
the ornamental character of the 16th-notes and the overall simplicity of the
rhythmic pattern indicate a rather lively basic character for this fugue. A
moderately swinging quarter-note pulse is a good choice to accommodate
the pensive side of the piece. Both the surface pattern with its ornamental
16th-notes and the assumed underlying simpler line are marked by a strong
metrical component and express a dance-like character. In order to convey
this quality, the natural metric order in four-four time, with weak second
and fourth beats, should be observed. The articulation appropriate for this
character demands non legato for the eighth-notes and all longer note
values and quasi legato for the 16th-notes. In the frequent cadential closes,
the dosido figures as well as the dotted-note formulas require genuine
legato. Many exceptions occur, however, in the context of notes (often
suspensions) that constitute appoggiatura-resolution or closing formulas.3
A good choice for the relative tempo of the prelude to the fugue is one
that reflects the interpretation of the compound meter: a dotted quarternote in the prelude corresponds with a quarter-note in the fugue. Approximate metronome settings: 80 for both the compound beats in the prelude
and the quarter-notes in the fugue.
The A-minor fugue features both cadential and melodic ornaments.
Beyond these, some cadential ornaments may be added where they would
have been so self-evident for Bachs contemporaries that marking them
explicitly did not seem imperative. In mm. 21 and 64, the dotted-note
3

For appoggiatura-resolution see mm. 6-7 [alto: C-B, E-D, D-C], m. 11 [soprano: D-C], m.
26 [soprano: B-A], mm. 40-41 [tenor: G-F, F-E, E-D], m. 62 [alto: F-E]; m. 64 [alto: G-F];
m. 70 [tenor: A-G]. For do-si-do formulas see mm. 13-14 [alto: E-D-E], mm. 16-17 [bass:
G-F-G], m. 23 [soprano: C-B-C], mm. 26-27 [soprano: A-G-A], m. 32 [tenor: E-D-E], m.
34 [alto: E-D-E], mm. 47-48 [soprano: C-B-C], m. 60 [bass: A-G-A], m. 64 [tenor:
D-C-D], m. 73 [alto: F-E-F], mm. 75-76 [bass: G-F-G]. There is only one closing formula
in the bass that requires partially legato articulation; see mm. 47-48 [D-E-F-G = legato].

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figures in the soprano carry the mordent that is so typical for this formula.
The brackets indicate that the composer himself did not find it necessary to
specify this obvious ornamentation, but one of his students took it down.
The same brisk mordent should be added in m. 17 on the dotted F and in
m. 73 on the dotted G. Among these, only the mordent in m. 17 begins on
the main note and therefore makes do with only three notes; the remaining
ones are launched from the upper auxiliary and comprise the regular four
notes.4 The trill in the motif appearing in E9 and E10 represents a
note-filling ornament. Starting each time on the upper neighbor note and
shaking in 32nd-notes, it comprises eight notes including the suffix that is
spelled out in all cases.
Much headache has been caused by the apparent impossibility to play
the fugues final five measures with their sustained bass pedal and the
texture with up to seven voices. The following excerpt attempts to help by
suggesting one possible execution, fingering, and use of the middle pedal.

In this A-minor fugue, Bach seems to play with transformations of the


subject in a way that reminds one of the D-minor fugue, also in Book I.
Conclusive evidence for the structural design can therefore be derived
already from an observation of the order in which the subject statements
enter, from the change of shape found in a number of consecutive entries,
and from the presence or absence of strettos. The data that can be collected
in this respect are particularly indisputable in the first three quarters of the
fugue.
4

In m. 27, the figure appears in the alto and thus makes ornamentation much more difficult
to execute. However, for performers with a good technique it is possible to play the
mordent in the left hand, then take over its sustained final note in the right thumb, the
ensuing 16th-note A again in the leftquite without interrupting the legato required for the
upper voice.

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277

The first four entriesone in each of the four voicesappear


without any overlapping (see mm. 1-14).
There follow four inverted statements, also one in each voice, also
neatly after one another (see mm. 14-27).
The next eight entries retrieve the original shape of the subject but
are grouped in pairs: every other statement enters already half a
measure after its predecessor and thus overlaps for two and a half
measures (see mm. 27-46).
This group is followed by eight entries in inversion that feature the
same kind of stretto at the same half-measure distance (see mm.
48-63). Note that the correspondence between the two groups of
four-fold stretto gives the two abridged statements in mm. 63-64
more importance than their radically shortened shape would suggest.
Analysis reveals that they constitute indeed the fourth, though
incomplete, group of this section.
Each of these four groups ends with one of the episodes that were
earlier recognized as cadential formulas: E2 in m. 14, E4 in m. 27, the
second segment of E8 in mm. 47-48, and E12 in m. 64. The confines of
sections I through IV can thus be regarded as confirmed.
The remaining subject statements, from m. 64 onward, comprise a
stretto in original shape followed by two strettos in inversionall using
the complete phrase. Immediately afterward there are three strettos comprising, respectively, three entries (mm. 76-78), two entries (mm. 80-82),
and four entries (mm. 83-86). All these statements are drastically abridged;
in fact, in each of the strettos, only one of the voices progresses at all into
the second subphrase. In order to determine the intended grouping of these
six strettos one had best again look for guidance in the episodes. There are
two subject-free passages ending with a perfect cadence (E13: belated
cadential close in m. 73, and E15: cadential formula in m. 83). These
should therefore be interpreted as designating section closes. The fact that
in the former case, the typical closing formulas in the soprano and alto
overlap with the beginning of the subsequent bass statement indicates that
the structural partition between the fugues two final sections is not as
clear-cut as the earlier section-endings were. The cadential close of E15 in
A major, on the other hand, appears strong and definite; it determines the
final measures with their pedal note in the added second bass as a coda.
The use of texture in the various sections may give further clues for
Bachs conception of the fugues design. The first stretto of section III
(and, with some irregularities at the beginning, also that of section IV)
begins accompanied by only one voice, i.e., in reduced ensemble. Even

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more striking is the fact that the first stretto in section V is at first entirely
unaccompanied. By contrast, the beginning of section VI with three active
voices gives the impression of reduced ensemble but actually encompasses
four parts; the indirect pedal C in the soprano suddenly comes to life again
in m. 75. This substantiates the interpretation that sections V and VI are
more closely connected than any other consecutive sections. The fugues
overall design thus contains two pairs of corresponding sections (sections
I/II and III/IV), followed by the only minimally structured larger body
containing sections V/VI and a short coda.
The harmonic outline supports the structural correspondences.
The first section comprises entries on the tonic and dominant of A
minor before ending on an E-major cadence. Section II begins on
the dominant and returns to the tonic with an A-minor cadence.
I/II = tonic - dominant - tonic
During its three initial strettos section III is still firmly rooted in the
home key. After the longer interruption of E7, however, the redundant entry-pair presents the relative major key, which is confirmed,
at the end of E8, with a cadential close in C major. Section IV
returns to the home key but ends, both in its second stretto and the
final abridged pair, in the subdominant region, which is confirmed
in E12 with a cadential close in D minor.
III/IV = tonic - its relative major - tonic; end on subdominant
The two final sections, earlier ascertained as forming a larger unit,
further underscore the subdominant field. Section V begins with a
stretto of entries in A minor and D minor, and were its final cadence
not placed across the beginning of the sixth section, it would conclude in F major, the subdominant relative. Section VI, after several
harmonic adventures,5 ends with a perfect cadence in A major, the
Picardy-third version of the tonic (m. 83). In the coda, however, the
final four-part stretto is led by a soprano statement in D minor, a last
reminder of the subdominant key set against an overwhelming
assertion of the tonic (three A-minor entries and the A pedal). The
final cadence, as expected, confirms the A major conclusion.
V/VI = subdominant - (its relative major) - major tonic
coda = subdominant/(minor) tonic - major tonic
5

A striking number of pedal notes mark section VI as concluding. See mm. 73-75: C
(soprano), mm. 76-77: G (bass; beginning at m. 753 but escaping momentarily to its leading
note), mm. 79-80: D (bass, interrupted), and mm. 83-87: A (additional second bass voice),
as well as the two inverted dominant-seventh chords that, enhanced by the voice-splitting
into six parts, precede the reiterated general pause in mm. 80 and 82.

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279

The development of tension in the first section of this fugue is both


normal, insofar as it describes a steady dynamic rise, and unusual, insofar
as this rise seems least caused by contrapuntal complexity. Similar observations can be made with regard to the second section: owing to the frequent

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parallel motion in partial phrases, the impression of polyphony remains


relatively weak. The third section is the first to present considerable polyphonic contrast. As the connecting episode E6 with its fake stretto entries
keeps the tension from dropping, an almost continuous crescendo results
through these three paired statements. E7, however, introduces the first
pronounced color contrast in this piece. The ensuing fourth stretto of this
section is not only redundant due to the entering order of the voices (its
leader, the soprano statement, is a repetition of the soprano-led stretto
that opened this section); it also fails to regain the intensity interrupted by
E7, owing both to a rather passive fourth voice that consequently drops out
and to the less dramatic character of the subjects major-mode variant. The
extension of this entry, created by the imitation of the second subphrase,
concludes the section with a prolonged diminuendo. The development is
similar in the fourth section. The second stretto is the most powerful from
a contrapuntal aspect, while the third, with its many parallels of partial
phrases, its color contrast in E7, and the often passive voices brings about
a relaxation.
The unaccompanied stretto launching the fifth section constitutes the
beginning of an entirely new dynamic development. The tension rises
despite the color contrast in E13 all the way to the general pauses and the
subsequent cadential close. A powerful coda, appropriately interpreted in
crescendo allargando, concludes this extraordinary fugue.

WTC I/21 in B major Prelude


The B major prelude is in its texture essentially non-polyphonic. The
performers two hands act either in alternating motions or join forces for
many-voiced chords. Never does one of them establish a pattern without
the other.
There are three conspicuous figures. Two of them are characterized by
an aspect of keyboard technique rather than by particular melodic or rhythmic shapes. The first appears as a pattern of open-position broken chords,
executed in a complementary play between the two hands. This figure
prevails in mm. 1-7 and 9, after which it recurs only in the final m. 21. The
second figure is a single-voiced wavy run, also kept in virtuoso style, i.e.,
in the performers own choice of a complementary use of both hands. This
figure is introduced in mm. 3-4 and taken up in m. 8 and in parts of mm.
10-20. The third and last component creates a contrast to the two one-track
figures described before insofar as it engages both hands simultaneously,
creating a dotted-note chordal pattern (see mm. 11, 13, 15 and, in modified
rhythm, mm. 17-18). The composition thus recalls several Baroque genres:
the toccata, the fantasy, and the French overture. As there are no real
melodic features and, except for the short dotted-note figures, no prominent
rhythms, the aspects that solely characterize the piece are, on the one hand,
the virtuoso layout, on the other hand, the harmonic progressions and the
sequential patterns within it.
The first harmonic progression concludes in the first half of m. 3, with
the perfect cadence in the home key B major. Yet while this B-major
chord provides the harmonic resolution to the preceding F7 chord, the pitch
position of the bass with its leap of one and a half octaves in m. 31 counteracts any true relaxation. Instead, the downbeat of m. 3 doubles as the beginning of a new structural unit. The second harmonic progression is more
extended. The music modulates to the dominant F major, which first appears
by way of a plagal cadence in mm. 53-63. The seventh E, however, added
at the last moment, converts the F-major chord into a V7 and thus once
again refers back to B major. The dominant key is only established with
the authentic cadence that, complete with a traditional cadential-bass
pattern, concludes at m. 101 (with a possible passive extension throughout
the broken F-major triad in the first half of m. 10). This cadential close
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must be regarded as a structural caesura. Understanding this is particularly


important since the virtuoso 32nd-note pattern continues uninterrupted. It
therefore happens easily that the structural partition is either overlooked or
misplaced after the D on m. 111, which already represents the first step into
the subsequent harmonic and structural unit. The prelude thus comprises
only two sections: mm. 1-10: tonic to dominant and mm. 10-21: dominant
to tonic.
Both the very regular rhythmic structure with almost continuous 32ndnote motion and the broken-chord patterns indicate a rather lively basic
character. As for the tempo, this virtuoso piece should give a very brilliant
impression and may be played almost as fast as is technically possible.
(What is swift and brilliant, however, is the surface pattern, not so much
the actual pulse of the piece, the quarter-notes.) Whether this tempo and
character are valid throughout the entire prelude is a question frequently
discussed. In one of the manuscripts, the introduction of the dotted-note
rhythm pattern in m. 11 is marked Adagio. What are we to make of the fact
that this indication did obviously not form part of the original layout but
was added later? One possible interpretation is that Bach could have
decided to add this heading on the spur of the moment because a performer
(student?) played in a character that he deemed too light to be appropriate;
in this case the indication may refer to a contrast in touch and expressivity
rather than to any considerable change of tempo. Or, basically along the
same lines, even if Bach originally estimated that an intended change of
character was expressed clearly enough by the rhythmic hint at the style of
the French overture and did not need any explicit verbal invitation, he may
have added Adagio to suggest a freer treatment of temporubato. (The
two extreme interpretations, either to play through the entire piece without
any change of attitude, or to play the second half twice as slowly as the
first, are the least likely solutions.)
The appropriate articulation includes non legato for the eighth-notes
and quasi legato for the 32nd-notes. Touch should vary with the character
of the components: lightly bouncing non legato combined with a very crisp
quasi legato in mm. 1-10 and 19-20, a heavier detached style (possibly
combined with a denser legato) in mm. 11-18.
The only ornament in this piece is demanding. The downbeat of m. 19 is marked
with a compound ornament that, in correct
execution, would encompass eight notes and
end in a tie-prolongation, a density not at
all easy to realize in the desirable speed.

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283

The chief processes in the prelude rest on the facts described above.
The first phrase is determined entirely by figure 1. It appears in a pattern of
descending half-measure sequences and is rounded off by a half cadence.
The descending sequences are counter-balanced in the following phrase by
two ascending sequences built from combinations of figures 1 and 2. The
third phrase picks up the ascending motion, from B through an octave to
A, beginning in straightforward chromatic steps and continuing in a diatonic passage with octave displacements. While the ascent presents itself in
figure-1 pattern, figure 2 in m. 8 returns in a double curve to the low E, the
leading-note of the long-anticipated dominant. A one-measure cadential
pattern with figure 1 confirms this key and with it the preludes first half.
In m. 10 Bach subtly creates the impression of both rounding off and,
at the same time, announcing something new. While the first half of the
prelude is made up entirely of the two figures with open-position broken
chords and scalar runs, the tail of its final cadence introduces a combination of the two figures: a pattern that, like figure 2, uses one-track texture
but, like figure 1, moves in broken chords. This combination (here referred
to as figure 1+2), turns out to frame the second half of the piece.
The first statement of the dotted-note figure 3, presented in m. 11, is
linked to its two descending sequences by extensive statements of figure 2
whose dive and soar respectively span almost three octaves. Despite the
inverted direction of the run in the second statement of the figure, the
listener can still perceive the continuing sequential pattern. After the second
sequence, the recurrence of figure 1+2 seems to announce the impending
close of this section. Yet once again the addition of a seventh redefines the
tonic triad and thus diverts the cadence. Another statement of figure 1+2
leads to the compound ornament before one measure each of figures 2 and 1
complete the preludes larger frame in symmetrical fashion.

WTC I/21 in B major Fugue


The subject sets out after an eighth-note rest, extends through four entire
measures, and ends at m. 51, where the D represents the return to the tonic
after the F7 chord in m. 42-3. A closer look at the phrase structure reveals
three subphrases in the pattern [a a' b]. These are easily distinguishable
once the sequential pattern is recognized behind its veil of ornamentation:
compare the initial subphrase, F-G-F-B-D-C, with its sequence, an embellished G-A-G-C-E-D, followed by a consequent around A-C-E-D.

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Phrasing in the subject therefore occurs after the downbeats of mm. 2 and 3,
with exactly one measure length for each of the two subphrases, while the
subsequent two measures represent a single unit.
The interval organization in this subject includes sixths, fourths, and
seconds in the eighth-notes and predominantly small intervals in the essentially ornamental 16th-notes. As the sixths occur in weak metrical positions
(i.e., after the beat, not toward it), these large leaps do not convey emotional tension but an energetically bouncing temperament. Corresponding
with this lively interval pattern, the rhythmic pattern throughout the fugue
is very simple, consisting almost exclusively of eighth-notes and 16thnotes. Even the regular syncopations in the main contrapuntal voice (see
U: mm. 5-7 etc.) cannot diminish this effect.
The subjects harmonic background is characterized by two active
steps within the first two subphrases: both times a simpler chord underlying
the 5/8 upbeat is followed by an incomplete minor-seventh chord. The
third measure concludes the cadence with a straightforward V7-I. The
harmonic progression thus ends already at m. 41. Yet for the dance-like
character Bach intended for this fugue, he prefers phrases with an even
number of measures. The additional eight eighth-notes, consisting of an
exact repetition of the ones just heard, thus appear as a metric complement
with neither melodic nor harmonic information.

I ii7

vii7 iii7

V7

V7

The subjects dynamic design should convey the phrase structure, the
metric organization, and the harmonic features. A distinctly virtuoso aspect
enters with the ascending sequences and their growing amount of embellishment. Within the first two subphrases, the climax falls on the respective
downbeatsboth because this is the point of harmonic emphasis and
because any other accent would blur the metric structure. (If, as happens
easily for lack of attention, the peak notes B and C are accented, this will
necessarily give listeners the mistaken impression that the subject begins
with three upbeat eighth-notes followed by the first downbeat on B.) By
the time the third subphrase is approached, the meter is firmly established.
Therefore, the fact that this incomplete sequence comes without what was
previously the climax and instead just relaxes from the E (V7, m. 33) to the
final D (I, m. 51), suggests that in this subphrase, highest pitch and
dynamic peak coincide. With regard to the relation between the three

B major

285

subphrase climaxes C, D, and E, the works virtuoso character favors the


high E. However, in case a performer prefers an interpretation that seeks
more serious nuances in this fugue and its subject, it is also possible to
regard m. 31 as the strongest climax and the two final measures as a less
intense tail to the more substantial main body.
This fugue comprises only eight complete and subject entries as well as
an incomplete one.
1. mm. 1-5 U
5. mm. 22-26 M
2. mm. 5-9 M
6. mm. 26-30 L
3. mm. 9-13 L
(7. mm. 35-37 M)
4. mm. 13-17 U
8. mm. 37-41 U
9. mm. 41-45 M

Except for the interval adjustment in the tonal answer, the subject
remains untouched throughout the fugue in detail as well as in shape. No
stretto or parallel statement ever materializes. But ever after its first entry,
it comes escorted by companions that remain faithful to the end. They are
not, however, quite as independent from their leader as true contrapuntal
technique would require, particularly in the case of the second companion,
which runs largely in parallel to the subject. Although the term countersubject might thus not seem appropriate in its strictest sense, the usual
abbreviations are employed here for easier reference. CS1 is introduced in
U: mm. 5-9. Its three subphrases coincide exactly with those of the subject.
As in the subject, the first and second subphrases are related by ascending
sequence (although the first subphrase appears more elaborate than the
second here). Also as in the subject, the third subphrase consists of a onemeasure model followed by its repetition. (This subphrase encompasses a
four-note parallel to the subject; see m. 81.) In terms of the dynamic
outline, the three climaxes fall slightly earlier than those in the subject. The
prominent features within the first two subphrases are the final syncopations, which capture the peak of tension. In the third subphrase, the short
upbeat-like ascent preceding the protracted note repetition indicates a soft
crescendo, which is followed by a long diminuendo. CS2 seems more like
a filler than a polyphonic partner. Introduced in U: mm. 9-13, it consists of
four short gestures interrupted by rests. The first two, again conceived as
ascending sequences, complement the two 16th-notes missing in the
rhythmic patterns established by the subject and CS1. Their second note
sounds in unison with the other companion, and their final eighth-note,

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rather than fulfilling any melodic purpose, complements the downbeat


harmonies. The (identical) third and fourth figures blatantly double the
subjects segments in parallel sixths. To look for a meaningful development of musical tension within this highly dependent element would mean
to overrate its importance.

The fugue comprises only three subject-free passages: E1 = mm. 17-22,


E2 = mm. 30-35, and E3 = mm. 45-48. All of them are directly related to
the primary material and can be divided into only two patterns, both
established in E1. In mm. 17-19, the subjects third subphrase is sequenced
a whole-tone higher while the accompanying companions are imitated in
inverted voices. A similar process occurs in mm. 45-47. Here the middle
voice repeats the second half of the previous subject entry an octave lower,
while the second half of CS1 moves from upper to lower voice (and thus
two octaves down) and that of CS2 from lower to upper voice (one octave
up). In mm. 19-22, E1 is reduced to two-part texture and the material
employed derives entirely from the subject. The upper voice continues in
sequences of the measure-3 pattern (now descending by steps), while the
lower voice takes up the first subphrase in inversion (compare L: m. 19
with U: m. 1), which is then also sequenced in descending steps. This
combination recurs similarly in E2, where mm. 30-33 feature the inverted
subject head in the upper voice (the descending sequences are underpinned
only at their very ends by doubling in the middle voice), the lower voice
recalls the descending sequences of the measure-3 pattern, and mm. 33-35
continue this process in inverted voices. The only difference is that the
filling voice is now more complete.
The only episode measures that remain are the two cadential measures
at the end of the composition. These feature a cadential-bass pattern and a
traditional closing formula in the upper voice. As all these passages are
designed in sequential patterns, the ascending or descending direction of

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287

each sequence determines the dynamic tendency and, with it, the role each
episode plays in the course of the fugue. Thus E1 momentarily surpasses
the tension expressed in the fourth subject entry but subsequently recedes
with each measure. E2 is conceived, despite its two-fold structure, as a
single decreasing line, and the first segment of E3 resembles an echo from
which the cadential close resurfaces.
One can thus state that this fugue is only rudimentarily contrapuntal in
texture and entirely determined by its subject. At the same time, the subject
remains virtually unmodified throughout the composition. This may
suggest that what matters in this fugue it is not the material, and that the
chief task fulfilled here by the subject is to establish the vigor and mood
upon which the entire piece depends.
The basic character is lively. This is supported both by the simple
rhythmic structure and by the pitch pattern with its frequent leaps and its
ornamental 16th-notes. The tempo may be very swift, particularly since the
demands of polyphonic playingand hearingin this fugue are almost
negligible. The articulation combines an energetically bouncing non legato
for the eighth-notes with a crisp quasi legato for the 16th-notes. Ornaments
do not occur in this fugue. The relative tempo of the prelude to the fugue
uses the larger pulse for a proportion: a half-note in the prelude translates
into a dotted half-note in the fugue. Approximate metronome settings:
prelude beats = 72, fugue beats = 108.
In the absence of changes in texture or conspicuous cadential patterns,
an analysis of the structure must rely on the episodes and the harmonic
development. As has been shown, the episodes are related with one another
in that two patterns introduced in E1 return in reverse order in E3 and E2.
This may be interpreted as suggesting an axis symmetry (a+b b, a) and
can thus hint at a design in which the first section would find its correspondence in the joined second and third sections. The tonal organization
supports this view. The four initial subject entries remain in the sphere of
B major. The first episode then modulates via the relative key G minor to
its dominant D Major. The fifth and sixth subject statements represent the
sphere of the relative-minor key (with G minor in mm. 22-26 and C minor,
the subdominant relative, in mm. 26-30). The ensuing episode confirms the
key of C minor. Thereafter, the incomplete statement leads back to the major
mode. Thus the next complete statement can enter in the subdominant E
major, followed by the return to the tonic in the final statement.
A big dramatic development is clearly not the purpose of this virtuoso
fugue. Once the subject and its two companions have been established,
there is little distinction between successive entries. The interpretation of

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tension will thus have to concentrate on two features: the differentiation of


color between the (outer) sections in the major and the (middle) section in
the minor mode, and the gesture expressed in the episodes.

WTC I/22 in B minor Prelude


This prelude is determined by its gently swinging pulse, which is conveyed by an overwhelmingly uniform rhythmic pattern. The entire piece
builds upon only two rhythmic
models. As the second is a close
variation of the first, these can
Rh1
Rh2
even be regarded as two versions
of a single archetype. (The only
two exceptions, featuring six consecutive 16th-notes, occur in cadential
context, in mm. 194 and 234). The effect of this rhythmic uniformity is a
meditative atmosphere in which transitory emotional upheavals seem of
subordinate importance.
The first harmonic progression concludes at m. 31. Up to this point, the
music develops over a tonic pedal, thus giving the impression that the
piece has not quite begun. Moreover, the cadence supports the melodic
motif presented in the upper voice. This harmonic close should therefore
be interpreted as marking the end of a phrase rather than of a structural
section. The second harmonic progression concludes, still in the tonic key,
on the middle beat of m. 7. Both the way in which this cadence is prepared
and the subsequent development designate this closure as a structurally
relevant caesura.
There are altogether four sections in this prelude. Two of them show
harmonic subdivisions.
I
mm. 1-73
tonic
(mm. 1-31, 3-73)
II
mm. 73-132 tonic dominant
III
mm. 132-201 dominant dominant relative dominant
(mm. 132-152, 152-201, ending in an imperfect cadence)
IV
mm. 201-24
dominant tonic
The only analogy within this structural pattern is obvious as it suggests
a recapitulation: mm. 20-21 take up mm. 1-2, transposed to the dominant
key and with slight variations in the middle voices.
The preludes basic character is rather calm. The pitch pattern consists
to a very large extent of seconds. Another striking feature that influences
the character appears in the frequent pedal notes (mm. 1-31: B, mm.6-71:
F, m. 7: B, mm. 93-101/11-121: B, mm. 20-221: F, and mm. 233-24: B).
289

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The tempo in which this character can best be expressed is fairly slow. The
quarter-notes of the time signature can be imagined as a solemnly swaying
movement, and the eighth-notes perceived as the continuous pulse should
be completely without haste. The articulation required in such a piece is a
dense legato.1 The score does not contain any ornaments.
The pulse in this metrically determined prelude is thus two-fold: the
main swinging motion is in quarter-notes, whereas the consistent pounding
is experienced in the eighth-notes. This ambivalence is established in m. 1
where the unremittingly throbbing pedal note contrasts not only with the
rhythmic motif but also with the mid-texture chordsand these, in their
iambic pattern, underpin the larger quarter-note pulse.

rhythmic model:
chordal background:
repeated pedal:
As the example shows, the preludes initial phrase displays a constantly changing number of voices (from four to seven, though mostly
five). Thereafter, the texture from m. 3 up to the downbeat of m. 20 is in
consistent four-part writing. The recapitulation of the initial phrase then
resumes the five-part texture, with extra voice splitting only in m. 22,
where beat 2 features seven and beat 3, nine voices.
While the initial phrase might easily pass for the introductory line of a
homophonic composition, there are several passages that may be described
asmodestly yet very consistentlycontrapuntal. A plausible interpretation of these confusing data is the following: the prelude can be regarded
as a work in four-part writing whose opening phrase and its recapitulation
1

As this prelude contains such a large number of repeated notes, the help of the damper
pedal will probably be inevitable to produce the desired smooth result. This needs careful
pondering. Using the pedal only where there are repeated notes would create an uneven
tone color. Thus regular pedaling throughout is the only alternative to not using the pedal
at all. The cleanest solution is to depress the pedal after the last 16th-note fraction of each
eighth-note beat, and to release it with the onset of the following eighth-note. The nature of
this meditative piece, however, admits also a slightly less transparent execution in which
the pedal is simply changed on each eighth-note, thus giving the second 16th-note in each
rhythmic figure a somewhat murky coloring. Eighth-notes, however, must be clear.

B minor

291

are enriched with a bass 2 as well as with a few irregular voice


splittings.2 Such an interpretation contributes to a better understanding
both in listening and performing.
A more detailed analysis of the development of melodic figures and
changing textures is nonetheless worthwhile. Supported by the alto in
double thirds, the soprano motif establishes the first rhythmic pattern
(Rh1) in mm. 1-31; it will here be referred to as M1. In its varied imitation
by the bass in mm. 3-51, the motif is accompanied by a figure in the highest
voice that retains Rh1 for half a measure and then modifies it to Rh2. The
middle voices lengthen their earlier iambic pattern by an extra weak beat.
In m. 4, alto and soprano launch a complementary pattern that soon
pervades all four voices: A+T move in double thirds, like the two melodic
voices in mm. 1-2, while S+B are joined in rhythm but not in pitch outline,
like the two melodic voices in mm. 3-4. These two pairs alternate in such
a way as to produce Rh2. In mm. 6-7 one of the voices abandons the
surface activity and retreats into a treble pedal while the others continue
with Rh2 in free style. As will be shown, these materialsthe melodic
figure M1, the rhythmic patterns Rh1 and Rh2, the homophonic texture
with weak/strong figures in the accompanying chords, and the modestly
polyphonic texture in complementary-rhythm patternare the building
blocks from which the entire prelude is constructed.
The second section begins with M1 in a varied and extended version
(S: m. 73-101). The bass, while moving in the same rhythmic pattern,
creates an independent pitch line, and the middle voices take up the
lengthened weak/strong/weak pattern. With the bass descent from B to B,
the harmonic development seems to remain in the tonic sphere. But the
final chord of this phrase is an inverted V/V and represents an imperfect
cadence in the key of the dominant. The sections second phrase begins by
combining the idea of the complementary pattern in double notes with a hint
of imitation (A+B: mm. 10-11, freely imitated by S+T). There follows a
cadential close conceived as a free adaptation of the rhythmic pattern. The
final measure of this section features a fifth voice, this time composed as
soprano 2, which contributes a traditional do-si-do figure.
The third section plays with the complementary pattern in double notes.
Its first phrase presents this pattern in simple imitation, without stretto
overlapping (S/B, A/T: mm. 13-15) while the second phrase places it in the
denser texture introduced in mm. 10-11, this time with soprano and bass as
2

In m. 22, bass 2 splits first to the third C/E, then to the triad A/C/E, only to resume its
former single-voiced sounding with the low F on the fourth eighth-note of m. 23.

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the two leading voices (mm. 15-17). The section tail, which like those of
the other sections is freer in style, sets out in m. 18 with a joint four-part
realization of Rh2 and ends by combining features from the first and
second sections (compare the sustained soprano and the descending bass in
the first half of m. 19 with m. 6, and the bass repetitions leading into an
imperfect cadence in mm. 19-20 with mm. 9-10). In the fourth section, the
varied recapitulation of the initial phrase accompanies the leading soprano
motif with parallels first in the tenor, then in the alto, and finally in both. It
gives up Rh1 for Rh2 at the end of m. 21 and ends in a many-voiced
fermata on a vii7 chord. The ensuing cadential formula once again alternates
the two rhythmic patterns while returning, both in the sustained soprano
and in the repeated bass 2, to the tonic pedal and to the double-third texture.
The dynamic rise and fall in such a meditative prelude should be much
smoother than in other pieces. It develops as a secondary feature and must
never lure listeners away from the all-pervading pulse. A rendering that is
both natural and unobtrusive follows the course of the ascents and descents
of pitchboth those in the overall design and in sudden leapswith very
gentle increases and decreases. As a result, the first section undergoes a
gradual tension increase (approximately from p to mp) up to m. 5, followed
by a short release, while the second section presents a gradual release
(approximately from p + to p ), followed by a mild rebuild of the original
piano color in the cadential formula. The third section begins with very
delicate touch in the sparse texture of its first phrase, but in its second
phrase engenders the strongest and steepest build-up of tension in this
piece. This leads to the first overall climax (preferably no stronger than mf)
on m. 162, from which the remainder of the section descends in gradual
diminuendo. The fourth section contains the second overall climax. Despite
its compact chord, it should sound introverted and intense rather than extraverted and loud. The prelude closes on a soft note, giving the impression
that it returns to the level of the beginning.

WTC I/22 in B minor Fugue


The question where the subject of the B minor fugue ends permits two
answers. The subjects trunk, which contains all the relevant harmonic
steps, ends at m. 31. The four quarter-notes that follow could be regarded
as an extension were they not used with such consistency throughout the
fugue. It is therefore appropriate to speak of a shorter and a longer version
of the phrase. Following a terminology used originally for distinguishing

B minor

293

metric endings in Greek poetry, these different shapes of the same trunk
are often referred to as male and female. The male version appears
condensed, concluding with the last essential harmonic step without any
softening addition. The female ending adds, in poetry, an unaccented
syllable after the final accent. In music, it extends the tonic reached in the
perfect cadence with notes passively remaining in the same harmony.
This regular extension is conceived as a smooth continuation, both in
rhythm and pitch pattern, of the second half of the main body: mm. 2 and
3 of the subject contain exclusively quarter-notes in stepwise motion. This
gentle curve appears in sharp contrast to the subjects beginning where two
half-notes followed by a downbeat rest create rhythmic tension. At the
same time, the falling perfect fourth, in itself a relaxed interval, is followed
(across the rest) by a minor ninth. This interval, rarely used for horizontal
progressions in Bachs time, expresses an emotional gesture of the highest
intensity. The question thus arises whether or not this exceptional melodic
jump is really meant to be perceivedand playedas an interval, i.e.,
whether the consecutive notes belong to a single structural unit.
Thus not only the ending but also the phrase structure of this subject
can be interpreted in two ways. In the first option the rest, together with the
unusually large distance between the two notes enveloping it, is regarded
as an indication of structural interruption, comparable to a comma in
verbal language. As a result, the subject consists of two subphrases that
differ considerably in all features: the first subphrase begins on a strong
beat and contains only two long note values in a falling fourth, while the
second subphrase sets out on a weak beat and features only shorter note
values in stepwise motion. In the second option, the rest is interpreted as
tension-sustaining, as a silent continuation of the melodic flow, and the
interesting interval is thus fully exploited. This minor ninth, whose tension
is enhanced by the fact that it spans across a suspended downbeat, then
becomes the subjects primary melodic focus.
The subjects harmonic background
can be depicted as shown in the example.
Modifications are frequent. In several cases,
i V i ivV i - - - - the male ending is raised a semitone and
harmonized not as a tonic but as a major
chord with seventh on the tonic root. This chord is heard as a dominantseventh and resolves correspondingly to the subdominant. The melodic
line supports this modulation by lowering the entire female ending one
whole-tone step, thus leading to the root of the target harmony. The fairly
frequent occurrence of this harmonization in the fugue provides additional

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proof that the extension of the subject, initially appearing as harmonically


redundant, is actually an intrinsic part of the whole: in these modulating
statements, the male ending does not provide the harmonic resolution but
needs the extra measure to convey a satisfactory sense of closure.
The subjects climax falls on G in m. 2. Even disregarding the melodic
power the preceding interval might exert, the G combines many tensionenhancing features. It is highest in pitch, harmonized as a subdominant,
and placed on the minor sixth of the scale, one of the natural leading-notes.
While this climax is followed, in whichever interpretation of the rest
preceding it, by a gradual diminuendo (with a steep decrease up to the
male ending and a gentler further release in the female ending), the shaping
of the notes preceding the G depends on the notion of the phrase structure.
Performers assuming two subphrases will conceive the F in the middle of
m. 1 as a conclusion of the first structural unit, thus playing it relaxed and
soft. The ensuing G will then appear as a suddenly powerful new beginning.
In this reading, the subject comprises two diminuendos: one, launched by
the initial note, short and steep; the other, beginning on the powerful second
climax, in gently lessening intensity. Conversely, performers reading the
subject as a single, indivisible phrase will take the initial descending fourth
to fulfill a different task: as the anchor of the high-tension interval it will
be regarded as geared forward and incorporating a much higher degree of
intensity than the initial B. In this interpretation, the subject thus consists
of a powerful dynamic build-up from B through F and the rest to the high
G, followed by the gradual release in the quarter-notes.
The fugue features 22 subject statements, presented in five voices;
v1 to v5 refer to voice 1 to voice 5 respectively, counted from top
to bottom. Entries containing the above-mentioned variation of the female
ending and thus effecting a modulation are marked with an asterisk, while
statements omitting the female ending altogether appear with a minus (-).
1. mm. 1-4 v1
8. mm. 29-32 v4* 15. mm. 53- 56 v4
2. mm. 3-6 v2
9. mm. 32-35 v5* 16. mm. 55- 58 v2
3. mm. 10-13 v3 10. mm. 37-40 v2* 17. mm. 55- 58 v3
4. mm. 12-15 v4* 11. mm. 46-48 v3- 18. mm. 67- 70 v1
5. mm. 15-18 v5* 12. mm. 48-50 v5- 19. mm. 68- 71 v2
6. mm. 25-28 v1 13. mm. 50-52 v1- 20. mm. 682-71 v3
7. mm. 27-29 v2- 14. mm. 502-52 v2- 21. mm. 69- 72 v4
22. mm. 692-72 v5

B minor

295

The subject appears both in stretto and in parallel. The stretto settings
involve two essentially different cases of premature succession. There are
entries in which only the female ending of the leading statement overlaps
with the subsequent beginning (see mm. 3, 12, 27, 55). In other cases, the
distance is as close as possible, i.e., the second subject note in one voice
becomes the initial note in the ensuing statement (see once in m. 50, twice
in m. 68 and twice in m. 69). In the light of the latter, the parallel entry in
mm. 55-58 might appear as an even closer stretto.
In addition to the modifications caused by modulation, the subject
undergoes changes of melodic shape in connection with its tonal answer,
where the original falling fourth is augmented to a fifth and the ensuing
large interval spans a minor tenth (see, e.g., mm. 3-6). While this tonally
determined lowering of the subjects second note remains without effect on
the close on the tonic, some cross-combinations of these intervals occur
that do in fact alter the harmonic background of the statement. In mm.
25-28, the combination of an initial falling fourth with an ascending minor
tenth places the subjects tail one note up and causes a modulation from D
major to E major; conversely, in mm. 53-56 the falling fifth is combined
with the ascending minor ninth, thus engineering a modulation from B to
E. A last-minute tonal adjustment can also happen by way of a variation
in the female ending (see the final ascent to E in mm. 12-13).
The B-minor fugue features no counter-subject. This may be partly due
to the unusual female ending frequently serving as a contrapuntal accompaniment to the beginning of the second or later subject entries in a group.
The fugue comprises six subject-free passages.
E1 mm. 6-9
E4 mm. 40-46
E2 mm. 18-24
E5 mm. 58-67
E3 mm. 35-36
E6 mm. 72-75
Two of the episodes, E2 and E5, develop from the preceding statement
by sequencing the subjects second and third measures (see v5: mm. 18-20
and, in a more modified version, v2/v3: mm. 58-60). E1 and E4 contain a
motif that consists of an inverted-mordent figure ascending to a dotted
half-note on the downbeat. A genuine episode motif, M1 is sequenced and
imitated. It not only fills the entire subject-free passage but even extends
into the beginning of the next statement (see v1/v2: mm. 11; v5/v2: mm.
42-47; note that v2 is the uppermost of the three voices involved in these
measures). The two remaining episodes, E3 and E6, are essentially nothing
but extended cadential closes. E3 features a short cadential-bass pattern and
a longer dosido formula in v1, while in E6 these figures are of opposite
length (see v5 in whole-notes: mm. 73-75, v1 in half-notes mm. 74-75).

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Moreover, the same combination of cadential traits can also be found at the
end of E2 (mm. 23-25). The structurally analogous E5 does not show this
cadential close. Instead, this close appears in the context of a full-fledged
subject statement, in mm. 53-55, where it is easily overlooked.
As these details reveal, the episodes in this fugue are arranged in a
symmetrical pattern of structural correspondence: E1 relates to E4, E2 to
E5, and E3 to E6. With regard to the dynamic outline in each, E1 and E4
with their ascending sequences of M1 describe an increase in tension and
thus lead from the preceding subject statement onward into the subsequent
one. E3 and E6, on the other hand, conclude a structural section. In the two
intermediate episodes the overall pitch tendency is very pronounced. In E2,
the initial sequence from the subject tail begins lowerand therefore
probably softerthan the end of the preceding entry. At the same time, the
first voice completes a descending line begun immediately after the disappearance of M1 and continued through two entire entries, in ever larger
note values (v1, mm. 11-20: C-B-A-G-F-E, D-C-B, A). This long
descent is countered by sudden ascents in all five voices (see particularly
mm. 20, 21) that discontinue their build-up only near the cadential formula
at the end of the episode. In the structurally corresponding E5, these lines
seem reversed. The initial sequences from the subject tail begin in an
elevated position (mm. 58-59) but are then followed by descending lines.
The most prominent of these is the one in the uppermost voice which, as in
E2, concludes in whole-notes (v1 mm. 62-67: G-F-E-D-C-B-A-G-F).
This episode thus places its climax at the beginning and subsequently
conveys an almost complete release, so extended that the anticipation for
the events to come is heightened all the more.
The basic character of this fugue is rather calm, not only because of the
complex rhythmic pattern with its many syncopations and tied notes, but
even more so because of the combination of stepwise motion with high
melodic tension. Yet the tempo should not be slow since Bachs time
signature indicates a pace in half-note beats. The appropriate articulation
demands legato in all note values, with the exception of the cadential-bass
steps mentioned above. There is one detail, however, that depends once
again on the interpretation of the subjects phrase structure. For performers
who conceive the subject as consisting of two subphrases, the falling fourth
is the only larger interval; it may therefore be played legato, particularly
since it comes in strongly ebbing dynamics. By contrast, performers who
regard the subject as indivisible are faced with two consecutive large leaps
both of which express an active increase in tension. These should then be
detachedthe first by articulation, the second by the written rest.

B minor

297

Owing to the fugues alla breve indication, the relative tempo of the
prelude to the fugue is most convincing if rendered in the complex
proportion of 3:2, where an assumed eighth-note triplet in the prelude
corresponds with a quarter-note in the fugue. (Approximate metronome
settings: prelude beats = 40, fugue beats = 60.) The fugue contains only one
ornament, the trill in bar 49. It begins on the upper neighbor note, shakes
in three pairs of sixteenth-notes and ends with a two-sixteenth-note suffix
leading into its resolution on the ensuing downbeat.
Many of the observations made above in the discussion of the episodes
encourage an exploration of a possible structural symmetry in the fugue.
This symmetry does in fact exist; it is complex but striking. Here are the
relevant details:
first half (mm. 1-36)
second half (mm. 37-75)
S
in v1, v2
S
in v2
E1 with ascending M1
E4 with ascending M1
S
in v3, v4, v5
S
in v3, v5, v1/v2, v4
E2 with gradual ascent
last entry with cadential close
ending in cadential close
S in v2+v3
E5 with gradual descent
S
in v1, v2, v4, v5
S
in v1/v2/v3/v4/v5
E3 with cadential close
E6 with cadential close
Within each of the two structurally corresponding halves, the entering
order of the voices, together with the sense of closure conveyed by some of
the episodes, allows two sections to be distinguished. In the first half, the
layout is straightforward: section I comprises five subject statements linked
by a bridging episode (E1) and rounded off by the cadential formula at the
end of E2. Section II consists of four entries and the short E3 with its
cadential close. As to the structural boundaries in the second half of the
fugue, two interpretations are conceivable.
In the first concept (which accords with the rules derived from
other Bach fugues), section III, like section I, contains five subject
statements, one of which is a stretto. They are linked by a bridging
episode (E4) and closed by the cadential formula accompanying the
last entry. Section IV then consists of a parallel statement, an episode
(E5), the impressive five-part stretto and a short final episode (E6)
with cadential close. The textural density supports these findings:
sections II and III both begin with only three of the five voices
taking part (see mm. 25-28: v4 and v5 resting; mm. 37-45: v1 and
v3 resting), and at the beginning of section IV, after a full five-part
cadential close in mm. 53-55, v1 pauses for twelve measures.

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The second concept builds on the admittedly strong tendency of
relaxation in E5, on the structural analogy of this episode with E2
in the fugues first half (which serves as the final segment of the
first section). Moreover, the fact that the v4 statement in mm. 53-56
overlaps, in its female ending, with the ensuing parallel entry makes
it more difficult for both performer and listener to perceive a
section ending and new beginning here. In terms of the dynamic
development, this concept is much easier to realize. In structural
terms, however, it not only leaves the fourth section with a single
group entry as opposed to two (one parallel, one stretto), but also
results in a somewhat unbalanced overall picture.

B minor
Concept I: sections
I
mm.
1-24
no. of bars 24

299
II
25-36
12

III
37-54
18

IV
55-75
21

Concept II: sections


I
II
III
IV
mm.
1-24
25-36
37-67
67-75
no. of bars: 24
12
32.5
8.5
The harmonic outline of this fugue underpins the structure with its four
sections in two halves, and with the third and fourth sections as indicated
above in concept I. The initial five subject entries all relate to the home
key B minor, in the usual alternation of tonic and (minor) dominant. The
second section establishes the subdominant region in its first and last entry;
the intermittent statements in B therefore function not as a return to the
tonic but as the dominant of the subdominant. The third section introduces
the major-mode version of the subject in its initial statement but soon
returns to the subdominant and its dominant. Finally, the fourth section
returns to the home key, with the parallel entry in the minor dominant and
the five-part stretto in the tonic. (The five subject entrances in the stretto
pick up the five initial entries in the fugue.)
Within the first section, the tension grows steadily. This is due, on the
one hand, to the increasing number of voices from one subject statement to
the next, and, on the other hand, to the above-mentioned rising pitch
outlines in both the bridging E1 and the concluding E2. Similarly, the
texture in the second section expands from three to five voices, adding
lower registers as the section progresses. The process, however, is more
restricted as regards the growth in the number of voices (3 to 5 vs. 1 to 5)
and much shorter in duration (12 vs. 24 measures). Thus the impression of
increase is not quite as powerful as in the initial section.
The third section not only begins, as the previous one, with two voices
resting, but is also transposed to the major mode. The resulting expression
is much gentler, particularly since the large leap appears now as a major
tenthan interval with no exceptional tension. The bridging episode, the
two single statements and the subsequent stretto build up new intensity.
But the structural climax in the stretto is offset by the still incomplete
texture in these measures, and the final statement (v4: mm. 53-56),
although now in five-part texture, is not a convincing climax either, both
because of its weaker position as a single entry and because of the relaxing
tendency in the accompanying closing formula. Spanning across the
confines of this section, this statement is easily heard as conveying the
anticipation of something significant yet to arise. It is therefore important

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to notice that Bach postponed the full five-part texture in this section until
this entry, and that, by contrast, the subsequent parallel statement sounds
in four-part setting only, as does the long E5, with the upper voice resting.
(This gives rise to a very sensitive question for performers: how does one
convey the absence of the highest voice when one is in fact playing high
pitches?)
The fourth section is thus, under several aspects, the weakest one. It
comprises only two (group) entries, its build-up of texture is smallest (only
from four to five voices), and its episode is the only one in the entire fugue
to constitute a protracted decrease of tension. In this regard, the fourth
section continues the gradual decline of dynamic power from one section
to the other. When the final five-part stretto counter-balances this overall
decline by erecting a powerful super-climax, this should come as a true
surprise to listeners.

WTC I/23 in B major Prelude


The material of this prelude derives almost entirely from a short
ornamental figure introduced in the first half measure. There is only one
instance in the piece where this motif is momentarily absent. The prelude
thus belongs to the motivically determined compositions. Its texture is
polyphonic, with three parts to which Bach adds a fourth only in the final
measures (after a splitting of the upper voice in m. 163).
The first harmonic closure occurs at m. 23 where an F7 chord, suggested
in the upper and middle voices above a sustained tonic pedal, resolves onto
the tonic. The tonic root is silentfading in the sustained lower voice
and implicit in the middle-voice rest as a melodic continuation of the rising
line. This cadential close is not structurally decisive as the harmonic
progression coincides with the first melodic phrase built by the motif, its
two sequences, and a concluding note. Moreover, neither of the other two
voices has yet taken part in the polyphonic display of material, nor has the
bass even begun to participate in any development. The first structural
caesura appears at the subsequent perfect cadential close. As the frequent
Es from m. 3 onward indicate, the prelude modulates to its dominant F
major, where the progression concludes at m. 61. This cadential close is
firmly established in mm. 5-6 with a cadential-bass pattern (ii-V-I) and a
melodic dosido formula. Similar cadential features mark the next structural break, which occurs, after a modulation to the tonic relative (G minor),
in the middle of m. 10, as well as the return to the tonic in m. 15. (The bass
patterns in m. 4: C-F-B and in m. 13: F-B-E, both appearing to support
V/V-V-I progressions, are not conclusive since the upper voice remains
unresolved in each case.)
The prelude thus comprises three sections and a short coda.
I
mm. 1-61
tonic to dominant
II
mm. 6-103
dominant to tonic relative
III
mm. 103-151 tonic relative back to tonic
coda mm. 15-19
confirmation of tonic
There is only one short structural analogy: mm. 4-61 correspond with
mm. 13-151. Both include the above-mentioned melodically thwarted
cadential closes (in B and E major respectively, tonic and subdominant)
followed by full cadential closes in F and B major, dominant and tonic.
301

302

WTC I/23

The preludes basic character is lively, owing both to the ornamental


character of the principal motif and to the very even overall rhythmic
pattern. The tempo allows for a brisk pace in the quarter-notes. The 16thnotes should sound ornamental, i.e., without emphasis on each single note,
but by no means hasty. The articulation includes legato for the 16th-notes
and non legato for all other note values. In detail: a gentler, dynamically
shaped detached style in the melodic quarter-notes (mm. 1 and 6) and
equally melodic eighth-notes (mm. 5 and 103-12) should be distinguished
from a more neutral non legato touch in the cadential-bass patterns in
quarter-notes (mm. 3-4, 5-6, 13, 14-15, 18-19) and eighth-notes (m. 10).
Longer note values that demand absolute legato appear in the do-si-do
formulas (see U: mm. 52-61: F-E-F and 184-193: B-A-B, M: mm. 94-103:
G-F-G, and even the truncated one in U: mm. 142-144: B-A-rest).
The question whether or not phrasing before or after the principal motif
should be expressed by a slight cut in the sound flow arises mainly in two
cases: if the motifs after-beat beginning is preceded by an on-beat note
belonging to a melodic line (as in L: m. 43 and M; m. 53) and if the principal motif, originally only seven 16th-notes long and omitting the strong
beats, is extended to include a final on-beat note before it is sequenced (as
in L: m. 63 and U: m. 73). Stark leaps between notes are certainly
inappropriate in this piece, but for performers with good skills in subtle
articulation, slight interruptions constitute a more plausible solution than
simple legato continuation.
The principal motif consists of seven 16th-notes circling around a
central pitch (B in the first half of m. 1, etc.). The circling motion
resembles an inverted turn and is followed by a repetition of the three
rising notes, thus ending one note above its center. Harmonically, this
ascent is already established in the middle of the motif, on beat 2, since the
step to the higher pitch, accompanied by a step upward in the middle
voice, represents a progression also on the harmonic level. The motif is
thus not just self-centered but comprises an active step. In terms of melodic tension, this active step is expressed in a delicate crescendo through
the initial notes up to the middlethe note that is also metrically the
strongest in this group. The three notes completing the motif provide the
complementing diminuendo, so that the end is as soft as the beginning.
Delineating the motifs tension-curve clearly is essential as it otherwise
risks coming out as mere finger work due to its short duration in relatively
fast tempo. Moreover, the strong-beat 16th-note Bach later occasionally
adds traps performers into an awkward accent on this extra note, thus
distorting the motifs original shape. Apart from this passive extension, the

B major

303

principal motif undergoes only two modifications. Four times, a slight


change in one of the intervals (see U: mm. 22 and 122 as well as L: mm. 51
and 141) eliminates the ascent characterizing the original shape. Moreover,
inversions convey a resolving tendency. They are almost exclusively found
in the coda (six times in mm. 15-18, only once already in m. 12).
The principal motif is complemented by two memorable note-groups
that recur and thereby form part of the thematic material. One is the ascent
in quarter-notes introduced in M: m. 1. It describes a gentle dynamic rise
that strings the principal motif together in one overall direction. This
quarter-note motif recurs in the first measure of section II (M: m. 6) and in
double notes in the coda (m. 17). The other secondary motif graces only
section III. It moves primarily in eighth-notes (the three motifs thus each
favor a different note value) and is conceived as a question + answer pattern
of the outer voices (mm. 10-11, U: D-G-F-E and L: C-B-A-G-F;
sequenced in the subsequent measures). One very convincing way of
molding this motif pair is to choose complementing dynamics for the
complementing segments: crescendo for the upper-voice question and
diminuendo for the lower-voice answer.
The development of tension in each of the sections is fairly straightforward as it largely follows the overall pitch outline. In section I, an initial
increase of tension (mm. 1-23) is followed by a long decrease (mm. 23-6).
In section II, proportions are reversed with a much more extended increase
(mm. 6-93) and a short relaxation (mm. 93-103). Section III begins in the
minor mode and with a new motifboth reasons to create some color
contrast (mm. 103-123), followed then by a long decrease that corresponds
to that of the first section (mm. 123-151). In the coda, the tendency to relax
is thwarted by three features: the replacement of the principal motif by a
figure with an ascending-scale component (m. 153-161), the denser texture
after the upper voice has split, and the recurrence of the ascending
quarter-note motif, now in double thirds. The prelude thus ends in an
assertive mood.

WTC I/23 in B major Fugue


The subject of the B-major fugue is two measures long. It begins after
an initial eighth-note rest with a long upbeat and ends after an ornamented
C, the representative of the dominant harmony, with a return to the
keynote on the downbeat of m. 3.

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WTC I/23

The pitch pattern consists almost exclusively of seconds, interrupted


only for the interval CF. This leap of a perfect fifth is not of expressive
quality, and thus does not entirely match the mood of the stepwise motion
around it. Closer inspection of the subjects pitch pattern provides an
explanation: the fifth represents a change in pitch level rather than an
interval in a continuing line. The initial ascent, launched from the keynote,
breaks off with a quarter-note on the first strong beat, only to start afresh
from the lower F and climb even higher. The subject thus consists of two
subphrases that relate to one another in such a way that the first appears as
an abandoned attempt of what the second then completes in a more
powerful format. A look at the rhythmic design confirms this assumption.
Considering that the longest note value, the half-note C, is ornamented by
a trill and thus sounds very animated, the quarter-note C does in fact
constitute the most powerful rhythmic interruption, marking the point
where the regular motion comes to a halt before a fresh start.
The subjects harmonic background is difficult to determine as Bach
harmonizes it differently in almost every statement. It seems safe to claim,
however, that there is a twofold progression, with an interrupted cadence
either on the downbeat of the
second subject measure (as,
e.g., in m. 6) or slightly later
(as, e.g., in m. 30), and the
perfect cadence taking place
in the two final notes.
In a subject with two subphrases one must obviously expect two
climaxes. As it was already established that the second subphrase completes the aborted efforts of the first, the balance between the two subphrases does not require further decisions. The first climax is easy to
determine since the fourth note C is supported by the melodic rise from an
ornamented B, the harmonic movement from the tonic to the dominant, the
rhythmic value of a quarter-note, and the metric position on a (relatively
strong) middle beat. Determining the climax of the second subphrase is not
quite as easy. The contour reaches its peak on E, a note that is neither
harmonically nor rhythmically or metrically supported. By contrast, the
ornamented C represents two important steps of the cadence, apart from
being in a rhythmically and metrically stronger position than the off-beat
eighth-note E. As a result, a climax on E will give the subject (and, with it,
the entire fugue) a more virtuoso touch by stressing a superficial feature (a
high note), while a climax on the trilled C gives the subject more depth by
emphasizing its structural traits.

B major
The fugue comprises twelve subject statements:
1. mm. 1-3
T
7. mm. 18-20
2. mm. 3-5
A
8. mm. 20-22
3. mm. 5-7
S
9. mm. 21-23
4. mm. 7-9
B
10. mm. 24-26
5. mm. 11-13
T
11. mm. 29-31
6. mm. 16-18
A
12. mm. 31-33

305
Sinv
Ainv
B
T
A
S

In the course of the fugue, the subject undergoes two kinds of modifications, one at the beginning and the other at the end. The initial intervals
of both subphrases are enlarged from seconds to thirds in all tonal answers
(mm. 3, 7, 31). In the inverted answer, only the opening step of the first
subphrase is enlarged (m. 20). The final resolution is delayed (mm. 7, 31),
diverted (mm. 18, 20), or omitted (m. 22). In one instance, the subject
ending is varied but arrives in time at the proper resolution (m. 26). In
other words, only four entries are quite original: nos. 1, 5, 9, and 12.
Parallel statements do not occur; nor do true strettos in which a substantial segment of one subject entry overlaps with another. The only
instance where an entry begins at less than two bars distance from the
beginning of the previous one occurs in m. 21, i.e., in connection with the
one entry in the fugue that omits the final resolution. Thus the process one
is hearsas opposed to what one sees in the scorecan be said to be
concluded by the time the subsequent statement enters.
Bach invents one counter-subject for this fugue. It is introduced against
the subject answer in mm. 3-5. Beginning two eighth-notes later than the
subject, the counter-subject also displays two subphrases separated by a
change in pitch level (see m. 34). The phrasing occurs one eighth-note after
that in the subject. Moreover, in its first appearance the counter-subject
even ends with a metrically delayed resolution, i.e., one eighth-note after
the subject (m. 51 E-D). Besides this similarity in phrase structure, the
counter-subject is also
related to the subject
in its pitch pattern as it
shows an overwhelming participation of
seconds and a scalar
ascent in the second
subphrase. Its dynamic

306

WTC I/23

independence, too, is limited. Neither performers who outline the descent


in the first subphrase with a diminuendo, thus continuing the tension
decline across the cut between the subjects two subphrases, nor
performers who express an active gesture in a downward crescendo, thus
imitating that in the subjects first subphrase, will achieve much individuality, for in the second subphrase, both pitch and rhythm favor the
syncopated highest notewith the result that this climax very nearly
coincides with that of the subject. To conclude: there is in this fugue little
challenge for the subject. Moreover, the counter-subject is not a very
faithful companion. In its complete range it recurs only three times (see
A: mm. 5-7, S: mm. 7-9, and A: mm. 31-33). In addition, the second subphrase appears once without the first (see A: mm. 12-13), as does an even
more truncated second half of the second subphrase (see S: m. 17).
The fugue comprises five subject-free passages.
E1 mm. 9-113
E3 mm. 233-241
E2 mm. 133-161
E4 mm. 26-291
E5 mm. 33-34
The first episode introduces the listener to several motifs that must be
regarded as genuine episode motifs as they are unrelated to both subject
and counter-subject. Closer inspection reveals that they all derive from a
single common source. The different versions share the shape of a concave
curve in which the longest note, providing both the harmonic and the
dynamic climax, falls on the lowest pitch. The example below shows three
versions of this motif, all found in mm. 91-111, 133-153, and 261-281:

M1

M1a

M1b

In the three more substantial episodes, M1 invariably provides the


opening. In each case, it is accompanied by M1a in such a way that the two
run in parallel thirds or sixths throughout their tail. Also in each of the
three cases, M1 is sequenced by the variation M1b, which is then followed
by an extra tail. Before this sequence and in stretto with the original M1,
there appears a variation in which the quarter-note is replaced by two
eighth-notes in octave displacement. (In E2 m. 14, this octave leap even
involves a swap of voices from tenor to bass.) All three episodes then end
with separated tails and heads of the motif. Both the short E3 and the
final E5 only feature the head of M1b (see B: mm. 23-24, and T: mm.
33-34). In the former, the two upper voices continue with sequence and

B major

307

imitation drawn from the sopranos fragmentary counter-subject figure, so


that this episode appears more like an extension of the preceding subject
entry, serving, one might say, to re-establish the subjects original metric
position after the premature entry of the tenor in m. 21.
As regards the relationship between the episodes in this fugue, there is
a notable analogy between E1, E2, and E4. The remaining two episodes,
while both featuring the same segment from the motifs variation, fulfill
structurally different purposes and should therefore not be interpreted as
related. The motivically determined episodes bring about a significant color
contrast to the subject statements. Each begin with a slight diminuendo in
the descending sequence of M1b and end in a gentle crescendo in the
ascending sequences of the head. By contrast, the two shorter episodes
are integrated into the level of the primary materialone bridging between
two subject statements, the other providing the final relaxation, but both
without much dynamic development of their own.
The predominance of stepwise motion, coupled with the variety of note
values, determines this fugue