And Now Here's Glenn: So You Want to Write a Fugue
Today's entry comes from Wikipedia and is our Canadian contribution to Bach through our own genius Glenn Gould.
So You Want to Write a Fugue? is a satirical composition for four voices and string quartet or four voices and piano accompaniment. It was composed by the Canadian pianist Glenn Gould and was a final piece for the television show The Anatomy of Fugue, which was broadcast on March 4, 1963 by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.
The work is the result of Gould’s intense study of the compositions of Johann Sebastian Bach, in particular Bach's late work The Art of Fugue, excerpts of which Gould had recorded in 1962. Structurally the piece is modeled on just such a Bach Fugue. The text, however, was written on the subject "So you want to write a fugue?" Both the text and the music are parodies of the rules and compositional techniques of the genre, as well as the relationship between intellectual methods and artistic intuition in the creative process (e.g., "Just forget the rules, and write one"). Lyrically, the 5-minute piece concludes tongue-in-cheek with the decision to "write a fugue right now!" The piece contains numerous quotes from various works of classical music, including the famous sequence of notes B-A-C-H, the Second Brandenburg Concerto by J. S. Bach, Beethoven's Sixth Symphony, and Richard Wagner's Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg (altered from major mode to minor).
"So you want to write a fugue? You've got the urge to write a fugue You've got the nerve to write a fugue So go ahead and write a fugue that we can sing Pay no heed to what we've told you Give no mind to what we've told you Just forget all that we've told you And the theory that you've read For the only way to write one Is just to plunge right in and write one So just forget the rules and write one Have a try, yes, try to write a fugue So just ignore the rules and try And the fun of it will get you And the joy of it will fetch you It's a pleasure that is bound to satisfy So why not have a try? You'll decide that John Sebastian Must have been a very personable guy But never be clever for the sake of being clever For a canon in inversion is a dangerous diversion And a bit of augmentation is a serious temptation While a stretto diminution is an obvious solution Never be clever for the sake of being clever For the sake of showing off It's rather awesome, isn't it? And when you've finished writing it I think you'll find a great joy in it (hope so) Well, nothing ventured, nothing gained, they say But still it is rather hard to start Well, let us try Right now? (yes, why not) We're going to write a fugue We're going to write a good one We're going to write a fugue right now!