Fugue Analysis

General Format of the Fugue & Terms

Re-read the class text carefully.

NOTE: All fugues contain an Exposition (S and TA or RA), a Middle Section, and a Final Section (return of S). Any other devices may or may not be used. These three main sections make the fugue appear ternary in form, but since there is very little thematic contrast in the middle section and since the opening section may end with either an authentic or half cadence, we cannot generalize the fugue as having a standard form. The fugue is an imitative, contrapuntal process or style.


 Subject (S)  tonic key only, in Bach often ends on scale degree 3 at or shortly before the entrance of the answer
 Link connects end of S to beginning of A
 Real Answer (RA)
Tonal Answer (TA) 
subject transposed to dominant (exact)
subject transposed to dominant (modified to avoid emphasis on supertonic)
 Countersubjects (CS or CS2) counterpoint that is used along with all (or almost all) subjects and answers consistently
 Free Counterpoint any counterpoint that does not consistently reappear along with subjects, answers, or middle entries
 Bridge connects A to S, often modulates back from dominant to tonic
(An Episode may come between Expo and Middle Section)



 Middle Entry (ME)  complete subject appears in other keys (not in tonic or dominant)
 Subjects and Answers S, TA, or RA may appear (though rarely) in the middle section
 Partial Entries Incomplete statements or subject fragments are often found in this section
 Stretto overlapping complete entries, a tension-building device often used in this section
 Episodes passage that does not include a complete statement, may connect partial entries and may be sequencial



Conceptual-Essay Questions: (Try answering these once you have learned the terms above.)

  1. Why would a tonal answer be used instead of a real answer?
  2. What is the primary difference between the beginning of a canon and the beginning of a fugue?
  3. In Bach, how and when does the subject often end?
  4. Compare and contrast the terms link, bridge, and episode.
  5. Why would a countersubject need to be written in invertible counterpoint?
  6. Why is invertible counterpoint "at the 10th" dangerous and rare?


Using the analytical questions above, go through J. S. Bach's Fugue 16 (pp. 122-124 in the Turek Anthology). We have already done some of the analysis in class, but go through it in more detail, answering all of the questions from the text. The two biggest potential problems may be (1) confusion of terms and (2) imprecise bracketing. So before you begin, study the terms carefully. Then, for each item you bracket, show precisely where the item begins and ends. Some analysts use rulers to keep lines straight and neat. Colored pencils are another option. After that, the most difficult task is simply finding the material. A fugue can be quite dense and finding items can be a bit like finding Waldo, especially since so much of the fugue is saturated by motives directly sown in the subject. This is why I recommend listening to a piece several times as you analyze. A properly performed fugue will express clear individuality among the contrapuntal lines and will articulate the beginnings of statements.

After you are confident that you have completed the analysis, compare your answers to mine (for your own benefit, do not look at these links until you have completed your own).

J. S. Bach Fugue 16 Answers

Here is my analysis (color-coded and all!):