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Yale University Department of Music

Notes on the Opening of the F# Minor Fugue from WTCI


Author(s): David Lewin
Source: Journal of Music Theory, Vol. 42, No. 2, Neo-Riemannian Theory (Autumn, 1998), pp.
235-239
Published by: Duke University Press on behalf of the Yale University Department of Music
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/843876 .
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NOTES ON THE OPENING

OF THE F# MINOR FUGUE

FROM WTCI

David Lewin

In a recentarticleI proposedanalyticstudyof this fugue using a graph


that lays out the variousforms of the pcset (013) in a certainformat.'A
version of that graph, somewhat modified for present purposes, is dis-
played below.
Until furthernotice, the graph is to be considered as extending in-
definitelyin all directions.Formsof (013) that are displayedas adjacent
vertically include the same minor-seconddyad. Forms that are adjacent
upper-left-and-lower-right include the same major-seconddyad. Forms
thatare adjacentlower-left-and-upper-right include the same minor-third
dyad. In the cited article, I point out that "the analogous graphfor...
harmonictriads would illustrate,in its three differentdirectionalbond-
ings, Riemann's relations of our relative major/minor,of our parallel
major/minor,and of his Leittonwechsel."2Related matters are studied
exhaustivelyin importantrecent work by RichardCohn.3
On the graph as given here certain (013)-forms appearusing lower-
case letternames. The reasonfor thatwill become clear lateron. At pre-
sent, one can observethatthe lower-caseforms fill a connectedregion of
the graph.
My cited articleinvites its readers"toexplorehow the graphis surfed
by consecutive forms of Forte-set3-2 in J. S. Bach's choralepreludeon

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GRAPH

{ABbC} {BG#A} {(bfGAb}


a
{ABbG G} {f g {e g} GE
{AFaG} e#g}
{e f gs)
{EF#G1 {e#f#d {FGE)
{FD E)
{EFG} {e f#d#J {FD Eb}
{EFD} {e c d# {CD Eb}
{EC#D} {b#c d#} {CDBI
{B C#DI} c#
{b a#} {CAB}
{BCD} {bc a } {CABb}
{BCA} {bg a } {GABb}
{bg a} g {GA GA F#}
ABb}
{frg a} {GAbF} {GEF}
{AF#G} (F#G#F} {GEF}

'DurchAdams Fall,' or in the f#m fugue from Book I, WTC."4Here I


shall carry out such an explorationfor the opening of the fugue. Inter-
ested readerscan then carry out an analogous exercise for the chorale
prelude,if so inclined.
The music example lays out "consecutiveforms of Forte-set3-2" at
the opening of the fugue, throughthe end of the Answer.The forms are
numberedin orderof appearance.Forms 1 through9 and 12 through16
are melodic; forms 10, 11, and 17 arise in the contrapuntalcross-talkbe-
tween voices.
The figurereproducesthe lower-caseportionof the graph,with some
numericalannotations.The numberson the figurekey in to the numbers
on the music example:they label the variousforms of (013) thatoccur at
the opening of the fugue, in orderof appearance.
The reader'sattentionis drawnto the form {f# g# a) = {a f#g#}, which
appearsboth at the lower left of the figure and at the upperleft, labeled
"1, 5, 10."This form is the only form that occurs in two differentplaces
on the figure. The phenomenonbefits the form's status as the "tonic"
(013)-form for the fugue. On the music example we see how {f# g# a}
opens the fugue as form 1, and how it cadences the Subject as form 5.
Later on we shall explore the special geometric meaning of form 10
when it "modularizes"the figure,suturingtogetherthe upperleft with the
lower left.
Using the numberson the figure,and referringback to the music ex-
ample as needed, we can see how the Subjectof the fugue, which com-
prises formsnumbered1 through5, "surfs"the metaphoricalspace of the
figure:startingat the lower left of the figure(with the form labeled "1"),
it moves up two ranks and over one column to the right (form labeled
"2");then it repeatsthatgesture,againmoving up two ranksandover one
column to the right(formlabeled "3");afterthatit sinks back down to its

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6 101 11 12 15 16

2 4 5 9
1 3 7 13 14 17

MUSIC EXAMPLE

point of departureat the lower left (form labeled "5"),on the way filling
in (form labeled "4")some of the paththatit had hoppedover on its way
up. The Subjectthus constitutesa somewhat"closed"spatialgestureon
the figure, form 5 being at the same spatiallocation as form 1. And the
motivic structureof the Subjectis reflectedin the spatialmotif thattakes
us two-ranks-up-and-one-column-right on the figure.
The Answercomprisesformslabeled 6, 8, 12, 15, and 16. Being a real
answer,it tracesout a path,on the figure,thatis an exact gesturalanalog
to the path traversedby the Subject.
Now let us examine the Countersubject,the melody thataccompanies
the Answer.It begins by presentingforms 7 and 9. On the figure,we see
how form 7 fills in the one "missing"form in the region traversedby the
subject(forms 1, 2, 3, 4, 5). Form9, which restatesform 4, is not neces-
sary to do any work of filling-in. Form 9 ratherhas a particularmotivic
gesturalrelationto form 7, which directly precedes it within the Coun-
tersubject.Specifically, the move from form 7 to form 9 is down two
ranks and over one column to the left. That is the inverse gesture to the
move "up-two-ranks-and-over-one-column-to-the-right," the motivic ris-
ing move within the Subject. To be sure, the inversional
relationbetween
the openingof the Subjectandthe openingof the Countersubjectis man-
ifestly audiblein the pitch intervalsand contoursof the music itself; we
do not need the fancy spatial map of the figure to hear the relation as
such. What the map does bringout is the way in which the particularin-
versionalrelationof the forms employedfills in a connectedspatial re-

FIGURE
1, 5, 10 {a f g#J {e#fx g#} 12
{e# g#1} 11
{e# f# d#} 8
15 {e f# d#}
6, 16 {e c#d#}I
{b c# d#} 14, 17
{b#c# aJ} 3, 13
7 {b c# a#J
2 {b g#a#J
{bg#a 4,9
{ff g#a 1 1, 5, 10

237
gion on the figure.Thatregion comprisesthe forms labeled 1, 2, 3, 4, 5,
7, and9. Even thoughthis tally neglects the temporallyinterveningforms
6 and 8 of the music as a whole, the observationis still cogent, for forms
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, and 9 are indeed temporallyconsecutive within the indi-
vidual voice thatopens the fugue with the Subjectandthen continues on
to the Countersubject.
Form 10, which involves the first (013)-vertical cross-talk between
Answer andCountersubject,solidifies the narrativeso far by restatingthe
same trichordas that of forms 1 and 5, the incipit-and-cadencetrichord
of the Subject.The readercan see on the upperleft of the figurehow form
10, as discussed earlier,suturestogetherthatplace on the figurewith the
lowerleft, modularizingthe geometry.Thereaderis reminded,in thiscon-
nection, thatform 10 is the "tonic"(013) of the fugue, and that its pcset
is the only pcset of the figurewhich appearsin two locations thereon.
Continuingto examine the upperhalf of the figurewe can follow the
Answer,which proceedsthroughforms 6, 8, 12, 15, and 16. The one gap
on the figure left unfilled by the Answer is the gap at form 11. The spa-
tial function of form 11 (which sounds temporallyin the middle of the
Answer) is now clear. Form 11 does for the Answer what form 7 did for
the Subject:it fills in a gap to connect the spatialregion traversedby the
Answer.
Form 11 also connects to the "Answer-region"the form labeled "1, 5,
10",thatis the form which characterizesthe beginningof the Subject,the
end of the Subject,and the firstcross-talkbetweenAnswer and Counter-
subject.In sum, we see how the two cross-talkforms 10 and 11 have spe-
cial spatial functions on the figure, in suturingtogether and connecting
the spatialrealms of SubjectandAnswer.5
Form 14, the final form of the Countersubject,has a like function:it
connects the "highpoint"of the Subjecton the map, form 3, recalled as
form 13, to the (local tonic) "lowpoint"of theAnswer,form6. The cross-
talk of CountersubjectandAnswer,at form 17, cements the connection.6
And so, when we reach the end of the passage at issue, at the end of the
Answer-cum-Countersubject, the entire map of the figure is fully filled
in, is completelyconnected,and is cyclically closed-the {a f#g#} at the
top left linking cyclically with the {f# g# a} at the bottomleft.
As suggestedearlier,the readermay wish to use the same graphto see
how the choraleprelude"DurchAdamsFall"surfsits regionof the graph.
The emphasison the (013) trichordthereseems to takeits originfromthe
cadentialF-E-D of the choralemelody, at the text "ganzverderbt."

238
NOTES

1. The articleis "CohnFunctions," Journalof MusicTheory40.2 (Fall 1996): 181-


216. The graph,withmy proposal,appearson page 189.
2. "CohnFunctions,"note4, page215.
3. RichardCohn,"Neo-Riemannian Operations,ParsimoniousTrichords,andTheir
TonnetzRepresentations," Journalof MusicTheory41.1 (Spring1997): 1-66.
4. "CohnFunctions,"page 189.
5. The"spatial"functionsof forms10 and11 on thefigurearenicelyprojected,alle-
gorically,by the maximumverticaldistancebetweenthe voices duringthe time
thoseformssoundin the music.As one noteson the example,thatmaximumver-
tical distanceis the seventhG#3-F#4,involvingpreciselythe common-tonesF#
andG#thatsutureforms10 and 11. Oneremarksthatthetwo pitchclassesF#and
G#openthe fugue(form1) andcadencethe subject(form5).
6. Andherethe spatialgestureon the figure,wherethetop of the bottompartmeets
the bottomof the toppart,is nicely allegorizedby the clausulagestureof form 17
in the music(on theexample),wherethe two voices-answer above,countersub-
ject below--convergeinto a unison.Is it a coincidencethatthe unisonhere,C#3,
lies exactlymidwayinsidethe verticalseventhG#3-F#4,discussedin note5?

239