Variations on a Fugue by J.S. Bach

Imitation has been a staple of western music since the Renaissance.  It involves repeating a musical gesture in a new part and is basically a quick and easy way to lengthen your music without having to come up with a whole new melody.

The simplest and most common example is the round, which most of us probably sang in elementary school - Frère Jacques and the like.  On the other end of the spectrum is the fugue, with 3 to 5 or more parts and a list of rules about a mile long.

One day while working in the music studios at UC Santa Cruz, I had the idea to use imitation in a different way.  From my original program notes:

Variations on a Fugue by J.S. Bach uses a technique I call imitative processing.  I began with only two melodies and then processed each of them in turn, using delay, pitch shifting, granular synthesis, and many other techniques.  For this project I could think of no better sound source than the music by the master if imitation himself, J.S. Bach.

The original parts from the fugue were performed by Peter Koht on guitar.  Variations was premiered on April 19, 2003 in Santa Cruz, CA.

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