Fugue noun \’fyüg\ A musical composition in which one or two themes are repeated or imitated by successively entering voices and contrapuntally developed in a continuous interweaving of the voice parts. (Definition courtesy of Merriam-Webster)
A fugue starts off relatively simply, with one voice stating a musical theme. Then a second voice enters, starting the same theme, while the first voice continues on to a second theme. As more voices enter, the music becomes more and more intertwined, overlaying the theme that seemed simple enough at the start in such a way that the music sounds incredibly complex. J.S. Bach is the most famous and familiar composer of fugues, many of which you would recognize today.
When I was looking for an example to share with the choir today, I came across some videos on YouTube that demonstrate a fugue in a simple yet powerful way. I’ve embedded one below, but search YouTube.com for “Fugue” and “musanim” or “smalin” for more.
Each color represents a voice. When the bar moves higher on the screen, it corresponds to a higher pitched note. Similarly, when it moves lower, the note played is lower. The length of the bar matches how long the note is held. In this view, you can see when each new voice enters, and how it starts out playing the same musical theme that the previous voice did.
The movie was created using software written by Stephan Malinowski, the fellow playing the organ on the video. The software is called “Musanim” and it creates what he calls an “animated graphical score” for a piece of music. He came up with the idea of visualizing music as a bar graph in 1974, and it took years of experimentation and programming to complete, mostly because computers had to catch up to his ideas. Check out the History section on his website, http://www.musanim.com for the whole story.
(disclaimer time: we are not affiliated in any way with Stephan Malinowski, his software, his website, or his YouTube videos. We are, however, a pair of Computer Science degree holders who programmed Atari 800’s back in the day and therefore find this stuff really geeky and cool!)
Okay, I’ve gone completely off track here, but I hope you enjoy seeing music in a different way. To return to the musical theme to TPMS Choir: the new piece of music we started at rehearsal today is based off the Bach “Little” Fugue in G minor. It is a challenging piece, but it is off to a good start and will be a lot of fun by concert time.