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Fugue in Metal

Re: Fugue in Metal
November 10, 2009, 08:19:30 PM
Diatonic tonality is not the same thing as modal tonality.

I was only speaking of the clause that most metal is keyless, I mentioned nothing about scales. Every scale has a tonal centre and thus a key signature and with the exception of American death metal which tends to be atonal or at the least chromatic most metal that I have heard will employ a variety of scales even if they are not a modal scale.

Re: Fugue in Metal
November 11, 2009, 10:22:32 PM
The first song off of Emperor's last album starts off like a fugue.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_6XDJjdptLw

Perhaps rather than write in fugue form, metal musicians should train themselves in the various forms and techniques and write, use  and adapt this knowledge to metal in such a way as to make metal more expressive, or clearer?

This.  I think fugue is too rigid a form for metal to fully use.  Writing fugue can be a great compositional exercise however, and many of the concepts used in fugue and counterpoint can be adapted to work in a metal context.




Re: Fugue in Metal
November 12, 2009, 11:22:44 AM

This.  I think fugue is too rigid a form for metal to fully use.  Writing fugue can be a great compositional exercise however, and many of the concepts used in fugue and counterpoint can be adapted to work in a metal context.


The fugal layout is hardly rigid, only the exposition has specific requirements, it's practically free composition after that with the only limitation being that the material used should come from the exposition.

Re: Fugue in Metal
November 12, 2009, 11:00:42 PM

The fugal layout is hardly rigid, only the exposition has specific requirements, it's practically free composition after that with the only limitation being that the material used should come from the exposition.

Yeah, I guess the fugue isn't any more restricting than other musical forms.  I still think it would be difficult to make a fugue sound very "metal", since you would probably have to abandon (or at least scale back) power chords, chromaticism, and heavy distortion.  It would be interesting to hear this done well though.

Re: Fugue in Metal
November 13, 2009, 09:42:07 AM

The fugal layout is hardly rigid, only the exposition has specific requirements, it's practically free composition after that with the only limitation being that the material used should come from the exposition.

Yeah, I guess the fugue isn't any more restricting than other musical forms.  I still think it would be difficult to make a fugue sound very "metal", since you would probably have to abandon (or at least scale back) power chords, chromaticism, and heavy distortion.  It would be interesting to hear this done well though.

The way I see it, the general method and layout of the fugue is one of the few classical forms that could be adopted successfully in to metal.  On a more microscopic level classical theory would have to be abandoned in favor of metal's modal heritage, but in terms of the overall structure and polyphonic technique there is no reason why a metal fugue wouldn't work, it would just require a composer with enough imagination not to simply write a Bach style fugue for metal instruments, which obviously wouldn't work.  Consider the fact that the fugue has already proven itself to be versatile enough to be adopted romantic composers, whose theoretical background was completely different to what composers would have had in the Baroque period. 

Re: Fugue in Metal
November 13, 2009, 10:37:01 AM
For those who do not have a background in classical theory here is an explanation of the fugal layout. 

The fugue is made up of a number of voices, unlike a homophonic classical style piece where the harmonies are self-sufficient, in contrapuntal music they are simply the consequence of multiple voices working together.  This requires specific rules to do with how the voices relate to each other, but this is not what we wish to discuss here.  The important thing to remember is that in the fugue, the number of notes that can occur simultaneously is fixed by the number of voices.  Of course, given that the fugue is primarily a keyboard form, the rules governing the deployment of voices need not be strict.

   The fugue is built entirely from two melodic phrases.  These are the subject and the counter-subject.  The subject is played once, in one voice, it is then played again in a different voice, but this time starts either one fifth higher or one fourth lower than its original entry.  The subject may be repeated literally in the dominant key, or it may be altered to remain within the original key.  The counter-subject is played by the voice which originally had the subject, whilst the second voice plays the subject.  This process continues, with entries alternating between tonic and dominant, until every voice has played the subject.  Once this has happened the exposition is complete.

   Once the exposition has finished, the development begins.  In the development, the composer may compose freely with the material which has already been introduced in the exposition.  The contrapuntal techniques available to them include inversion, retrograde, stretto, which is where one voice enters with the subject before another voice has completed its entry, amongst many others.  Modulation is usually achieved with a sequence, where a musical fragment is repeated and moved by steps with each repetition.  When an important key is reached the subject is often played in full, but rarely without some kind of contrapuntal treatment.  In the development, the subject and counter-subject are inevitably broken down into their most microscopic elements, and, if the fugue is well-written, the possibilities of these elements are thoroughly explored.

   The fugue usually concludes with a clear statement of the subject in the original key, although once again, this will probably not be without some kind of contrapuntal treatment.  This is the basic layout of the fugue, but, as history has shown, few of these guidelines are actually rules and the general layout of the fugue, along with its basic techniques, can be adopted by almost any style of music.  The fundamental principle of the fugue is that it should attempt to explore the polyphonic possibilities contained within its primary themes, and this principle can be applied almost universally.

Feel free to correct me on anything i got wrong.

One last thing to remember is that a fugue is not a canon, that is, a piece where the voices copy each other literally and continuously.

Re: Fugue in Metal
November 16, 2009, 02:30:47 AM
^ Yup, you are right, thats a fugue, and the link i uploaded its a nice example, but looks like nobody cares to listen it.

Re: Fugue in Metal
November 17, 2009, 07:04:07 AM
Thank-you for taking the time to explain the fugue. Highly appreciated.
Excersises in this type of composition i think would certainly help to expand the metal lexicon, again as long as it retains the traditional elements of great metal,and thus avoids novelty....

As a novice in classical music theory im wondering what you mean by the dominant key? See below....

 "The subject may be repeated literally in the dominant key, or it may be altered to remain within the original key."

Re: Fugue in Metal
November 17, 2009, 07:55:16 AM
Tonic = first note in a scale

Dominant = fifth note in a scale

So if our scale is C major:

C D E F G A B C

the C is the tonic while the G is the dominant.

Since G is the dominant note, the dominant scale of C Major would then be a G Major scale:

G A B C D E F# G

Re: Fugue in Metal
November 18, 2009, 03:11:38 AM
Okay,awesome, i understand that.

New Question:
"The subject may be repeated literally in the dominant key, or it may be altered to remain within the original key. "

How can the subject be repeated in the dominant key? A new key,would imply a new key signature and thus modify the subject, perhaps to such a degree as to not recognize it as a modification as such. Is the subject defined by the pattern of tones between the notes?

For example:

Subject= e-f-g-g flat

The ratio/pattern simply being whole tone, whole tone, half tone

When changing to the dominant key, does the new subject only have to follow this pattern (W-W-H)? starting on the same note (ie. the e in this here example is the fourth note of scale x,thus when moving to the dominant key,we look for the fourth note of that scale and follow the same pattern of tones w-w-h?)

Re: Fugue in Metal
November 18, 2009, 07:07:20 AM
Okay,awesome, i understand that.

New Question:
"The subject may be repeated literally in the dominant key, or it may be altered to remain within the original key. "

How can the subject be repeated in the dominant key? A new key,would imply a new key signature and thus modify the subject, perhaps to such a degree as to not recognize it as a modification as such. Is the subject defined by the pattern of tones between the notes?

For example:

Subject= e-f-g-g flat

The ratio/pattern simply being whole tone, whole tone, half tone

When changing to the dominant key, does the new subject only have to follow this pattern (W-W-H)? starting on the same note (ie. the e in this here example is the fourth note of scale x,thus when moving to the dominant key,we look for the fourth note of that scale and follow the same pattern of tones w-w-h?)

As we have said, the subject may be repeated literally, in which case the intervalic pattern is exactly the same, as in the example you have, this will usually require the use of accidentals (notes not within the original scale).  The alternative is to alter the subject instead of the scale, so the pattern C-B-D (half-tone down, minor third up), would become G-F-A (whole-tone down, major third up), rather than G-F#-A.  This does not make the subject unrecognizable.

Re: Fugue in Metal
August 22, 2013, 05:13:45 AM
Obviously this thread isnt getting any responses. Assumption- it is not used?

I have yet to hear a metal band conciously make extensive use of the fugue proper,although i think it could be utilized and possibly represent the future, or A future course for led lights. However, the aesthetic of metal might make this difficult. Any thoughts or forseen difficulties in synthesizing metal theory and fugue's?


hello friend sorry for old thread reply but is the usage of fugue is good with metal band?Waiting for reply thanks in advance:)