Questions on Fugue No. 9
Well-Tempered Clavier, Book I
by Johann Sebastian Bach
©2014 Timothy A. Smith

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  1. Read this page, then identify the two Bach family members who were the most famous composers before Johann Sebastian.

    Veit Bach and Matz Ziesecke
    Johann Ambrosius Bach and Johann Pachelbel
    Johann Bernhard and Wilhelm Friedemann Bach
    Johann Christoph and Johann Michael Bach
    Johann Christian and Wilhelm Friedrich Ernst Bach

  2. How is a fugue NOT like DNA?

    Its simple ideas combine to make the complex.
    It takes a mommy and a daddy to make one.
    The elemental idea of one fugue can be found in others.
    Its traits are derived from its subject.

  3. The timeline represents the subject as ATCG, which stands for the nitrogen bases in DNA. Which of the following is the analogy's stand-in for a melodic figure of four pitches in rising steps?

    Adenine
    Thymine
    Cytosine
    Guanine

  4. The DNA base of Guanine is used to represent which of the following musical figures in the fugue's subject?
  5. a tetrachord figure
    a neighbor note figure
    a consonant skip figure
    a rising 2nd, short-long figure

  6. Read most any commentary on this fugue an you’ll find disagreement as to whether it has a countersubject. Those who argue that it does NOT maintain that the trailing C & G motifs are a continuation of the subject. Let’s call these the “subject-only people.” On the other hand, the “countersubject people” maintain that the subject is exactly one measure long, followed by a countersubject. Select the best answer from the following:

    The subject-only people would identify this is a stretto fugue and the countersubject people would not.
    The countersubject people are hard pressed to defend their position about where the subject ends and the countersubject begins.
    The strongest argument of the subject-only people would be that the hypothesized countersubject is seldom repeated the same way.
    Two of the above are true.
    All of the above are true.

  7. The author (a “countersubject person”) has used the DNA term “mutation” to describe the various forms that the countersubject takes. Which of the following is NOT one of those mutations?

    CGCG
    CGCC
    CCCG
    CCCC

  8. In music theory, the word “mutation” usually means a change of mode. The narrative states that “nine of the ten statements of the subject are in major,” and that “the subject statement in m. 16 is in minor.” So m. 16 is “modally mutated.” However, one of the remaining nine is modally ambiguous. It is not clearly major at the outset (for its lack of a leading tone), and seems finally to settle in minor. Which one are we talking about?  Clue: Toward its beginning the tonic seems like B, but shortly thereafter that pitch is sharped and functions as the leading tone in minor mode.

    We are talking about the subject entry that begins in the pickup to:
  9. m. 4
    m. 7
    m. 8
    m. 10

  10. Measure 13 begins a sequential episode in which:

    Motif G is heard in the soprano, upside down and rhythmically augmented.
    Motif A is heard in the alto, three times.
    Motif C is heard in the bass, retrograde-inverted and rhythmically augmented.
    Two of the above are true.
    All of the above are true.

  11. The author likens biological mitosis to:

    modulation
    mutation
    counterpoint
    inversion

  12. The superstition known as “spontaneous generation,” that life springs into existence from non-living things is like saying that the motifs in this fugue:

    came into their being and arrangement without Bach.
    were generated from earlier pre-existing ideas.

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