Dr. William Renwick

It is a great pleasure to present Volume 3 of McMaster Music Analysis Colloquium.  Earlier volumes had the advantage of dealing with well-defined musical forms—ternary form and rondo and ritornello; their task was essentially to relate a given piece to established formal principles.  But in Volume 3 we have a special problem: a musical form that has no form; a form which is often described as a process or a technique. 


The beauty and the challenge of fugue is that each fugue displays a unique form born of the special characteristics inherent in its theme(s) and in the general design intended by the composer.  The selection of pieces which are the subject of this volume is broad:  centered on a generous representation of the music of J. S. Bach, the repertoire ranges from the pre-fugal forms of Palestrina’s motets to the late romantic and impressionist work of Rimsky-Korsakov and Ravel, and indeed to the post romantic, perhaps “post-fugal”, work of Honegger. 


I wish to record my gratitude to the students of Music 701, 2003, for undertaking this difficult task, and to congratulate them on a splendid effort of drawing out the unique formal qualities that each fugue displays.  We hope that this collection of essays on fugal form will provide a useful basis of knowledge in a form that is often misunderstood: on the one hand as simply a rule-bound exercise in imitative counterpoint, or on the other as an un-analyzable work of inspired genius.

William Renwick,
McMaster University
December, 2003

Copyright 2003 by William Renwick