The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra essay

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The fugue illustrates the duality of melodic extravagance and procedural control of Baroque era and demonstrates the multilayer properties of polyphonic texture, which based on several voices. In other words, the fugue repetitively exploits non-strict and strict imitative polyphony. Bach’s Fugue in G minor described as a typical representative of Baroque era. Similarly, the strict imitation of the voices is significant for Classical Eastern European music. This paper will confirm that the Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra (Variations and Fugue on a Theme of Purcell), which is a representative of Classical Eastern European style, is based on the fugue subject.

Johann Sebastian Bach is the well-known and unbeaten master of fugue. His fugue in G minor, “Little” – BWV 578 is a four and a half measured subject which is written for four voices. The first entering is soprano voice, then alto, and tenor and the last voice pedal bass. The pedal voice is equal to the three manual voices. When the melody goes on her second round, the first voice is followed by the countersubject; a melody of the subject simultaneously corresponds with its melodic motion and harmonic content. The subject, followed by an episode, appears five more times. The first episode includes both new idea and the idea of the countersubject. In episodes Bach used the Arcangelo Corelli’s sequential technique: imitation between two equal voices on each eighth note of upbeat that first raises a fourth and then drops one step at a time. The fugue ends with a major chord, which was appropriate in the Baroque era.

The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra is written by Benjamin Britten in 1946. The motif is based on a rondeau of Henry Pucell’ music to the Abdelezar; it was created to familiarize the children with the orchestra. The Britten’s orchestra is dissembled throughout the variations and put together during the fugue. The piece commences with the introduction in which the full orchestra plays a theme with monophonic texture. This theme followed by strict imitation of the themes of the woodwinds, brass, strings percussions, and, again, completes with the full orchestra. In D minor presented the eight measured motif. Thirteen variations of the them commences from the woodwinds, and followed by the strings, brass instruments and percussion follow the presentation. Each instrument has its own solo; the highest pitched one of the instrumental family plays the first part. The fugue subject is represented a fragment of the Purcell motif which played in B minor. All instruments of the orchestra play imitation in the same sequence as the variations. Crescendos and decrescendos create dynamic contrast of the piece. Allegro is a general tempo of the piece. Triple-duple meter changes to compound, and then completes in duple simple. Trills, pizzicato and glissandos repetitively appear in the piece. The melody is mostly conjunct and represents a wavelike configuration. The piece has a binary form.

The variations in the Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra, are not considered as the actual fugal element, however, the contrapuntal means are similar to the fugue. The Purcell theme in diminution presents the flute variation which followed by the piccolo. Such a simultaneous presentation of two main elements creates a polyphonic texture and functions as a contrapuntal appliance in the composition. Betwixt the 1st and 2nd flute occurs the flute imitation. The Purcell theme is presented the bassoon variation in a form of dotted rhythmic. Variations of the violin are based on a combination of triple stopping and a wide range of violin’s chords. Imitation is heard again in the interval of the 1st and 2nd violin. Variations of the tuba and trombone are heard during the brass theme. The fugue subject is B minor in the Allegro molto tempo; it is 8 bars long. The remaining instruments follow subject and perform in strict accordance with variations which is from highest ranging to lowest; the woodwinds enter first, then strings, brass and, finally, the percussion. The fugue of Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra has a descending  order which is likewise the original Purcell melody.

The Guide to the Orchestra, as any classical fugue, has the subject, countersubject, exposition and episodes that are followed by contrapuntal devices, therefore, Classical Eastern European musical style due to strict rules of imitation has the similar futures with the music of the Baroque era. 

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