Note: Before you take a look at my example, you can read my listening log post about 20th century fugues, which inspired this piece. There are also posts about oboe and bassoon, which I’ve used here. The posts about baroque inventions, although different in style, helped me in the construction of the form.
Following the previous invention, where I explored the baroque form and mostly the technique imitation, here my invention was inspired by the style of 20th century fugues, experimenting more with augmentation, diminution and inversion. Here is the full score:
You can listen to the audio below:
Analysis and reflection
Stylistically, I chose to be closer to the neo-classical fugues of Shostakovich, rather than the ones from neo-classical German aesthetics, such as Hindemith’s. Consequently, I remain tonal and follow the baroque form of the invention, however, just like Shostakovich, I also added elements of symmetrical scales, and perhaps atonality and chromaticism. As for the instruments, I chose the oboe and the bassoon, mostly because I liked their timbral interaction. Sibelius plays the dynamics very drastically – which is something I tried to avoid, but didn’t manage to change.
The invention starts in F# natural minor with exordium (bars 1-2), introducing the main motif in the oboe:
The bassoon then imitates it, however, I shift the tones from the tonic to the subdominant region, starting on B. With melody itself being quite modal, almost pentatonic, this gives the feeling of tonal ambiguity to the piece – often seen in the neo-classical period. The first two beats are also modified with augmentation – the dotted quaver becomes a dotted crochet and so on. Similarly, the two remaining beats and their four quaver notes are converted with diminution into demi-quavers. The resulting is:
Next, the exordium prolongs into narratio (bars 3-6). It starts with a two-bar sequence (bars 3-5). Already at it’s beginning, there is the modulation with D# – harmonically it is:
F# minor: i
E major: ii V7 I IV7
In terms of the musical material, the sequence uses a bit of inversion of the augmented bassoon imitation:
As well as the main motif, with the last four quaver notes also a bit inverted (Compare the two given here with the two above):
In the cadential ending (bars 5-6), there is a complete dissolution of the tonality with the whole-tone scale after which the pitch centre reaches the C#.
The next part (bars 7-12) is propositio or argumentio, or perhaps a mix of the two. Traditionally, in baroque, the main motif here would appear in the dominant minor scale, which would be C# minor. Instead, the main motif emerges in C# major (bars 7-8) in the bassoon, and together with the oboe imitation, there is one huge inversion:
Then, a new sequence (bars 9-10) appears, starting back in F# minor and reaching the traditional dominant, C# minor. There is a more direct imitation with inversion, though not being intervallically accurate – from bassoon’s descending:
to the flute’s ascending:
and back to the descending motif of bassoon.
In the cadential ending (bars 10-12), the peak notes are reached in the oboe with the chromaticism – B – A# – A. Despite a strong feeling of the baroque configuration, this type of intervention points to the neo-classical, modern treatment of the musical ideas. The section ends with another imitation with free inversion.
Finally, in peroratio (bars 13-19), the main motif and its imitation are the exact repetition of their first appearance, with only some dynamic and registral changes. The modal and pentatonic-like feelings are back. The first two-bar cadential ending (bars 15-19) that follows is completely out of the baroque fashion, with the jumps and ostinato-like repetitions reminding of the rustic, folk tradition. In bar 17, there is another imitation with inversion:
Finally, the invention ends with half and whole tones in Picardy third. I mostly chose these long notes because of the solemn quality of the main motif, which I tried to emphasize here.
Overall, I am very satisfied with my two inventions. I think they illustrate creative and skillful ways to use and manipulate the four techniques that the project asked for – imitation, inversion, augmentation and diminution, also demonstrating a good deal of knowledge I gained regarding the two styles I’ve chosen to explore. Although I was partly limited by the short length given by the brief, I believe I managed to sufficiently develop all the musical ideas that appear in both inventions. Lastly, despite encountering and utilizing all these techniques before, I wasn’t really encouraged in my prior studies to experiment with them in different styles. Thus, even though some technical elements may seem old to me, project 12 really allowed me to re-evaluate counterpoint, and more importantly, to start re-investigating and re-inventing it within my own musical language, that is slowly taking shape. With this new side of my old contrapuntal abilities, I resume the course, composing the penultimate assignment 4. Take a look at it here.