Bach and the Fugue Who was Bach? What is a fugue? Why should I care?
Johann Sebastian Bach was a famous composer who lived during the Baroque period. The Baroque period was between 1600 and 1750. If you do your math, that period began over 400 years ago!
Bach wrote music that is still played today, over 250 years after his death. His music must be pretty good for people to still want to hear it after such a long time. He wrote so much music that it fills over 20 volumes!
Now that we know a little bit about Bach, let’s look at what a fugue is. A fugue is a musical form that Bach used a lot. In fact, he was so good at writing fugues that no one has ever done it better.
A fugue is like a musical game of Follow the Leader. You know how to play that game, don’t you? Your job is to follow whoever is in front of you. That’s kind of like what a fugue does.
A fugue is also like a round. Have you ever sung, “Row, Row, Row Your Boat?” Row, Row Row Your BoatOne person starts the song, then others come in, singing the same tune, but not together. That’s what a fugue is like.
This is what a fugue would look like if it were a picture. Do you see how the themes follow each other, coming in on higher and lower pitches? 5th time 3rd time 2nd time The theme enters 4th time Click the speakers to hear the five parts of this fugue.
Fugues are much more complicated than simple rounds. Each part continues to play new material while other voices enter. The best way to demonstrate this is to have you listen to the five parts one more time before you hear them all joined together.
Second Violin Bach brings in the second violin. It plays the same theme, but higher.
Here is the theme played for the third time on the first violins, even higher. First Violin
The cellos and string basses take the theme way down low. How many times has the theme been played so far? Cello String Bass
Bach brings in the theme way up high in the flutes. How many times have you heard it? Flute
If you guessed the theme played five times, you’re right! Can you name the instruments you just heard?
The instruments were:1. Viola2. Second Violin3. First Violin4. Cello5. String Bass6. Flute
Of course there are more instruments in an orchestra than those we just heard. In the piece you are about to hear there is an important instrument called a harpsichord. This was one of the most important instruments of Bach’s day.
Here is what a symphony orchestra look like. Can you find the instruments in this picture?
You are now going to hear the entire piece. It is called Brandenburg Concerto in G Major. It was written by Bach. Johann Sebastian Bach1685-1750
1. 2. 3. 4. 5. Listen for the themes as they make their entrance.
Wow! That was quite a piece, but I got lost! That’s the fun of Bach’s tunes. Once you know a little bit about how he builds his music, you can sit back and enjoy the great sounds.You did a great job! Congratulations!
You are now ready to take your online test. Go to FunBrain.com. When you arrive, enter your username and secret word. Select the test Bach and the Fugue. Good luck!