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Answer for a fugue subject?

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I'm writing a fugue on the attached subject. (It's a cryptogram--I'm relieved it came out somewhat workable.)

Anyhow, by the end, the subject modulates to the dominant, which means that by the end, the answer must modulate back to the tonic. Or in other words, at the beginning I should answer a fifth up/fourth down, but by the end, I should answer a fourth up/fifth down. My understanding is that the precise point where this should happen is not always clear cut, so I'd like to get your opinions, especially if you have experience with writing fugues. What do you think?

Thanks!

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That's a very workable fugue subject – easy to answer. There's a brief period after the full answer in the dominant called a codetta where the composer uses free counterpoint to get back to the tonic. Normally, it'll be shorter than the subject is as to not take away from its importance.

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Hi Monarcheon,

Thanks for answering! I agree that when there's a real answer, a codetta is employed to get back to the tonic. But I believe when the subject itself modulates, the answer is modified towards the end to be tonal (not real). So instead of the codetta doing the modulating work, the answer itself is distorted to do it. An example that comes to mind is the fugue from Bach's Magnificat, "Sicut Locutus Est." Do you have any thoughts on this practice?

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@sshn  

I see what you’re talking about. 

In the “Sicut locutus est” example you cite, Bach has chosen to force a kind of tonal answer (where a degree of the scale is altered) because it works well for what he was trying to do, I believe.  As I understand it, tonal answers are only mandatory (if that’s even the right word to use) when the fifth degree of the scale is present near the beginning of a subject; for example, if the subject (in C major) is C G E C, then the answer would be G C B G, rather than G D B G.  Does that make sense?  Otherwise, I believe tonal answers are discretionary. 

Tonal answers and the rules governing them are the source of a lot of confusion.  In the Fugue Crash Course I wrote and posted here many years ago (on the unlikely but very familiar subject Ah! vous dirai-je, maman, or “Twinkle, twinkle Little Star”), ideally, I should have done a tonal answer since there is blatantly a fifth degree of the scale near the beginning of the subject; but my purpose was to illustrate the basics of fugue writing, so I left the subject alone so as not to cause a lot of confusion.  I may rewrite the exposition with a tonal answer someday though, just to be correct.

In the case of your subject, I don’t immediately see that you have any choice but to write a codetta to modulate back to the tonic in the answer.  I’m almost certain you don’t have to write a tonal answer, and It seems to me that a forced tonal answer would adversely affect the integrity of the subject in this case.  Just my opinion, but that’s how it looks to me.  Let me know if you have any questions, and by all means, if anybody else has a different understanding on the practice of tonal answers, let it be known!     

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