The Art of Fugue, BWV 1080, by Johann Sebastian Bach

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"Über dieser Fuge..."
Structure of The Art of Fugue
The "unfinished" fugue
About the realization
How to listen to The Art of Fugue
About the narratives below


The Art of Fugue

Simple Fugues
Contrapunctus I  (3:52)
Contrapunctus II  (3:12)
Contrapunctus III  (3:49)
Contrapunctus IV  (3:18)

Canon alla Ottava  (4:12)

Stretto Fugues
Contrapunctus V  (2:24)
Contrapunctus VI  (4:20)
Contrapunctus VII  (2:49)

Canon alla Decima  (4:44)

Double and Triple Fugues
Contrapunctus VIII  (5:17)
Contrapunctus IX  (2:46)
Contrapunctus X  (3:29)
Contrapunctus XI  (6:58)

Canon alla Duodecima  (3:33)

Mirror Fugues
Contrapunctus XII + inversus  (3:36)
Contrapunctus XIII + inversus  (4:23)

Canon per Augmentationem  (4:16)

Quadruple Fugue
Contrapunctus XIV  (11:52)

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Canon alla decima: 4:44   

In this canon "at the tenth," the leader and follower first appear at the interval of a tenth. You'll hear this variant of the AOF subject in the leader:

But when the follower comes in, it is not an octave above the leader as in the Canon alla Ottava, but a tenth above, which puts it into an F major tonality above the D minor of the leader.

Halfway through, however, Bach pulls a lovely fast one; the canon is repeated, but now the leader and follower are separated by an octave. Listen for this change to begin with the re-entry of the canon at 2:08, with the follower at the octave at 2:21.) Thus Bach demonstrates a canon that works at two intervals, a ratcheting up of the technique of double counterpoint to a higher level of complexity.

Player image: In July 1994, a train of fragments of Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 crashed into Jupiter, both a gorgeous and spectacular sight, and an unsettling reminder that such events have happened -- and will happen again someday -- here on Earth. The huge impacts left a ring of black marks in the clouds of Jupiter's southern hemisphere. Image credit: Don Davis.