Tune of the Day: Trilogette by Paul Merkus
Today we have a new contribution from our guest composer from the Netherlands, Paul Merkus. And this time, it's a flute quartet!
Back in the summer of 2002 I dedicated some time in an attempt to write a small fugue (hence a “fughetta”). As is widely known, a characteristic of the polyphonic fugue is that (just like in a canon) the voices enter one by one and so only a single voice sounds in the beginning. One of the differences between a fugue and a canon is that in a fugue the voices do not start at the same pitch (as they do in a canon), but always a fifth higher. Well, always, that's what I thought, and in this fughetta I've also had the third voice enter in the fifth higher above the second entrance. Later it turned out (by reading more on it) that I was wrong and that normally the third voice starts again on the same pitch as the first (so not again in the upper fifth). Furthermore, I thought that the second theme (the countersubject) is immediately played by the first voice, together with the start of the theme by the second voice. In general, this does not appear to be the case either.
Hence, this first result has become a kind of crossing between a fugue and a canon. Every voice is and remains the same (even after the theme) and all voices enter on the upper fifth of the previous one. The whole fughetta therefore keeps modulating from tonality to tonality.
In music literature a fugue is often preceded by a prelude, which is why one often speaks of “Prelude and Fugue”. Here too I added such a prelude, and also a small one (like the fughetta), hence the name “Preludietto”. The eight bars of prelude are in the parallel minor key of the first fughetta theme and attempt to create the right atmosphere at a slow tempo, set in the form of a kind of chorale. But then, it remained a very short, open ended piece, so I added another part at the end: a short coda, followed by an extended reprise of the “Preludietto”. This resulted in the complete piece, which could have been called “Preludietto, Fughetta e Codetta”.
Although originally written for string or vocal quartet, I rearranged this as a flute quartet, to be played by four flutes (of which at least one has a B foot).