Faà di Bruno, Giovanni Matteo [Horatio, Orazio] 83

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(It.: diminutive of fuga: ‘small fugue’).

A term used since the late Baroque period for a short, less ambitious fugue. Probably the first important use of the word was J.S. Bach’s in the collection of chorale settings for organ which he published in 1739 as book 3 of Clavier-Übung and in which he offered two settings of each chorale, one extended and with obbligato pedal, the other brief and for manuals only; included among the latter are three miniature fugues, between 15 and 35 measures in length, which Bach designated ‘fughetta’. No constructional principles seem to be implied by the choice of terminology: the diminutive is reflective simply of length. Among later composers to write such miniature fugues, Schumann chose the German equivalent, Kleine Fuge, for a piece in his Album für die Jugend.


Fuging tune [fuguing tune, fugue tune].

An Anglo-American psalm tune or hymn tune, designed for strophic repetition, which contains one or more groups of contrapuntal entries involving textual overlap. The spelling adopted here conforms to 18th-century American practice and helps to differentiate the form from the fugue.

The fuging tune originated in Britain in Anglican parish churches as a way of elaborating metrical psalmody, taking hold among country choirs in the period 1745–65. During the 1770s, as dissenting congregations eased their opposition to choir singing, fuging tunes began to appear in collections intended for Calvinist use. In the American colonies, James Lyon’s Urania (Philadelphia, 1761) was the first tunebook to contain fuging tunes, all of them taken from British publications. Beginning in the 1770s colonial composers took up the form, and by the mid-1780s it was flourishing in Congregational meeting-houses in New England in the hands of native psalmodists including William Billings, Lewis Edson, Daniel Read and Timothy Swan.

Many favourite fuging tunes during the form’s American heyday (1783–1800), including Edson’s ‘Bridgewater’ and Read’s ‘Sherburne’, were settings of a four-line stanza for four-part chorus with the melody in the tenor. The first two lines proceed in block chords to a cadence; the third begins with overlapping voice entries, each part singing the same text if not precisely the same contrapuntal subject; chordal texture is restored for the repeat of the fourth line; and the second section is repeated to create an ABB form. Although reformers after 1800 attacked the fuging tune as irreverent and crude, it persisted in print and performance in rural areas and the southern USA, retaining popularity well into the 20th century.


I. Lowens: ‘The Origins of the American Fuging Tune’, JAMS, vi (1953), 43–52; repr. in idem: Music and Musicians in Early America (New York, 1964)

N. Temperley: The Music of the English Parish Church (Cambridge, 1979), 171

N. Temperley: ‘The Origins of the Fuging Tune’, RMARC, no.17 (1981), 1–32

N. Temperley and C.G. Manns: Fuging Tunes in the Eighteenth Century (Detroit, 1983)

K. Kroeger: American Fuging-Tunes, 1770–1820: a Descriptive Catalog (Westport, CT, 1994)

N. Temperley: The Hymn Tune Index (Oxford, 1998)


Fugs, the.

American avant-garde folk group. Formed in 1964 and disbanded in 1969, its core personnel were Ed Sanders (b Kansas City, MO, 17 Aug 1939; guitar and vocals) and Tuli [Naphtali] Kupferberg (b New York, 28 Sept 1923; percussion and vocals), with a number of other New York musicians, especially Ken Weaver, Peter Stampfel and Steve Weber. They were arguably the clearest link between the styles and subcultures of the beatniks and the punks. Sanders and Kupferberg were poets and activists, and their lyrics were often obscene, satirical and politically charged. The Fugs were among the first counter-cultural bands to sing openly about drugs, sex and rebellion. Their music was brazenly and happily amateurish; some of them could barely play their instruments, a few of which, such as the erectophone, were newly invented. Musically, they drew upon such diverse precedents as folk songs, Sacred Harp singing, Jewish melodies and rock and roll. The Fugs appeared at anti-war demonstrations and promoted greater freedom of speech and action through their concerts and their recordings, the first of which was issued by Folkways. They established precedents that were important for psychedelic rock and punk, and were significant influences on later musicians such as the Velvet Underground and Frank Zappa. They reunited several times during the 1980s and 90s.



(from Lat. fuga: ‘flight’, ‘fleeing’; Fr. fugue; Ger. Fuge; It. fuga).

A term in continuous use among musicians since the 14th century, when it was introduced, along with its vernacular equivalents chace and caccia, to designate a piece of music based on canonic imitation (i.e. one voice ‘chasing’ another; the Latin fuga is related to both fugere: ‘to flee’ and fugare: ‘to chase’). Like ‘canon’, fugue has served since that time both as a genre designation for a piece of music and as the name of a compositional technique to be introduced into a piece of music. Imitative counterpoint in some fashion has been the single unifying factor in the history of fugue, but as compositional approaches to imitation changed so did the meanings and usages of the word ‘fugue’. Between 1400 and 1700 the word held a wide variety of meanings and was employed in a great many contexts, with the idea of fugue as a compositional technique predominating. By the early 18th century musicians had come to prefer its use as a genre designation, in which guise fugue has continued until the present. It is generally distinguished on the one hand from canon, which involves the strictest sort of imitative counterpoint, and on the other from mere imitation, which involves the least strict.

Despite the prominence of fugue in the history of Western art music and its virtually continuous cultivation in one form or another from the late Middle Ages until today, there exists no widespread agreement among present-day scholars on what its defining characteristics should be. Several factors contibute to this lack of consensus: (1) between the late Middle Ages and the late Baroque a great variety of genre designations – ricercare, canzona, capriccio, fantasia, fugue itself, even motet – came and went in which techniques of imitative counterpoint figured prominently. Thus the history of fugue cannot adequately be accounted for if only pieces called fugue are studied. (2) If all pieces called fugue were collected together and compared, no single common defining characteristic would be discovered beyond that of imitation in the broadest sense. (3) Since the early 19th century genre designations have been defined largely if not exclusively by their formal structures. Formal structure, however, is not in the end a defining characteristic of fugue. As a result, there has been prolonged argument about whether fugue is a form at all (and, by extension, whether it is a genre) as well as whether any particular formal model should be considered necessary (most often recommended in this context is a ternary model vaguely reminiscent of sonata form; see Dreyfus, 1993). (4) There has developed, beginning in the mid-17th century, a theoretical, textbook model for fugue, most often associated with Fux’s Gradus ad Parnassum and, thanks in large part to Cherubini, with the teaching of the Paris Conservatoire. The appropriateness of this model as a standard, and of its characteristics as necessary and sufficient for the genre, has been a topic of considerable debate. The most commonly recommended alternative to this model has been the fugues of J.S. Bach, especially those of Das wohltemperirte Clavier (the ‘48’). (5) Although it is generally agreed that a great deal of fine fugal composition appeared before Bach and Fux, reliance on post-1700 models has caused disagreement and uncertainty about how to define and evaluate fugal works composed before 1700.

The historical survey beginning in §2 below is preceded by a detailed analysis of the C minor fugue from book 1 of the ‘48’ as it is commonly presented by English speakers. This particular fugue is frequently cited as a paradigm, and it is through just such an analysis that over the years many musicians have encountered fugue for the first time. The analysis introduces the most important standard fugal terminology and demonstrates the kind of norm that many musicians consider essential to define the genre. The emphasis throughout the survey that follows will be on the changing nature and uses of fugal composition and the various meanings of the word as understood by musicians of each era.

1. A classic fugue analysed.

2. Medieval and Renaissance vocal music.

3. 16th-century instrumental music.

4. 17th century.

5. The golden age: early 18th century.

6. Late 18th century.

7. The romantic era.

8. 20th century.




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