100 Days – Day 44

I’m all about those fugues at the moment.

Amra Choluim Chille at the moment features 2 fugues, both based on the hymn tune St Columba.

I’ve always liked writing fugues. There’s something satisfying about laying out your subject, planning your countersubject, your entries, picking material for your episodes, and working out the points where you can go into stretto, or augmentation or diminution. Until this point I’ve only written relatively simple 3 voices fugues (Dr Foster’s Fugue, Crux Fidelis and Peacock Fugue) but for Amra Choluim Chille I’ve taken the next step and added a fourth voice. This not only adds a layer of polyphonic complexity, but also an extra element of choice in terms of your fugal structure. Which voice do you start on? Do you unfold your subject upwards or downwards? Do you leave one or more voices out at certain points? It actually makes the compositional process exponentially more difficult – it’s one third more likely to go disastrously wrong if you don’t control your material very carefully.

But when it all comes together, it’s extremely exhilerating.