The Application of Musico-Rhetorical Theory to Stretto, Double, and Triple Fugue: Analyses of Contrapuncti V-XI from J.S. Bach's The Art of the Fugue, BWV 1080
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractAnalysis of Johann Sebastian Bach's (1685-1750) keyboard works and the study of fugue are often complemented by an understanding of Baroque rhetorical theory. In the Baroque Era, the principles of oration and argument established by Greek rhetoricians were thought of as analogous to musical ideas and forms. Notable Baroque theorists Joachim Burmeister (c. 1566-1629) and Johann Mattheson (1681-1764) related the fugal process to an active and elaborate discourse. They connected the basic parts of rhetorical disposition to fugue in an attempt to define and clarify its skeletal framework. While the concept of musico-rhetorical disposition schemes seems to be an attractive design for many Baroque theorists, it is difficult to apply such an analysis to stretto and double/triple fugues. This type of analysis sectionalizes the fugue in restrictive ways, linking particular musical techniques to different areas as would divide an oration. This document suggests that specific rhetorical figures do not need to be seen as fitting pre-set standard areas (e.g., propositio, confutatio, conclusio), but can derive from the context of each particular fugue, since they serve a prevailing musical function. Bach's stretto and double/triple fugues from The Art of the Fugue, BWV 1080 are particularly difficult masterpieces to comprehend, and there is little precedence for the application of rhetorical figures to fugues of these types. This document examines Contrapuncti V-XI from The Art of the Fugue, and can serve as a model for rhetorical analyses of complex fugal processes.
Degree ProgramGraduate College