So you want to write a fugue

Posted on: March 19, 2018

“Just before this year’s Super Bowl, a Philadelphia Eagles devotee sat down at an organ and started to play,” writes the pseudonymous Prospero in Wednesday’s (3/14) Economist. “There were more melodies than the average fan may have been used to, but the instrument soon quivered to the familiar sound of the Eagles’ fight song … Elsewhere on the internet, a rival musician quickly composed a reply, riffing off ‘Shipping Up To Boston to honor the New England Patriots. Remarkably, both pieces were fugues, a musical genre polished 300 years ago…. Modern artists are introducing these classics to fresh audiences…. Chris Thile, a folk and bluegrass musician, recently teamed up with Yo-Yo Ma, a cellist, and Edgar Meyer, a bassist, to explore parts of ‘The Art of Fugue’ on his mandolin.… Online musicians have turned dozens of songs into fugues, from ‘Uptown Funk’ to the ‘Star Wars’ theme and ‘Old MacDonald.’… Technology can prod the form forward in other ways, too. If humans need years of training to write a fugue, computers can do the job in minutes. David Cope, a composer and scientist, fed several Bach fugues into an algorithm, then published its own composition. The results are like Baroque from another universe.”

Posted March 19, 2018