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February 10, 2011 / GG54

So You Want to Write a Fugue (on CFRC 101.9)?

To celebrate the 2011 CFRC Funding Drive, Sound Ideas has commissioned a piece from Montreal Sound Ideas correspondent Mark McDonald. Mark pulled all the stops (as you’d expect from an organist) and wrote a fugue on CFRC and 101.9!

Wondering how he did it? Over to you, Mark…

“In order to incorporate “CFRC” into this fugue subject, I used the same method which Maurice Duruflé used to create his fugue on ALAIN. In this method, the letters A through H (H being B-flat in German notation) correspond to the notes of the keyboard, while the letters which fol- low are assigned the notes of the keyboard alphabetically. For example, where the letter A is A, C is C and G is G, so the letter I is A, K is C and O is G. This means that R would then be as- signed the note B making my fugue subject on CFRC “C, F, B, C”.

However, it doesn’t end there. Since I still needed to write a countersubject, I decided to turn to the post-tonal theory of the 20th century to write my countersubject on the numbers 101.9 (the FM frequency on which CFRC broadcasts). Since post-tonal theorists regard the chromatic notes of the keyboard as numbers from 0 to 11 (C being 0, C-sharp being 1, etc. etc.), my coun- tersubject would have to include the notes C-sharp, C, C-sharp and G-sharp. In order to get a- round this, I employed a simple technique used by post-tonal composers which involved trans- posing my so-call “pitch-class-set” down a tritone to a more comfortable G, F-sharp G, D. This theme is then heard almost every time the subject enters.

There you have it; a fugue on CFRC, 101.9 FM!

Mark McDonald
11 February, 2011
Montréal, Québec

To play it yourself and impress your friends, you can download the PDF here. Thanks Mark!

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