Julian Yu: Great Ornamented Fuga Canonica

  • for orchestra
  • Duration: 10’
  • Instrumentation details:
    2·2·2·2 - 4·2·3·0 - 3 perc - hp - pf - strings
  • Composer: Julian Yu

Work introduction

The idea for this piece came to me in 1988 while I was engaged in some research into the evolution and development of melody in traditional Chinese instrumental music. I was fascinated by the richness and variety of ornamentation to which traditional Chinese melodies are subjected, and felt an urge to explore ways of transplanting some of these ideas into a composition of my own.

For my new material I chose the 'Fuga Canonica' from a Musical Offering by J. S. Bach. The perfect structure of Bach’s music provides a firm base upon which one can build. In this piece, Bach’s original Fuga Canonica is all there, albeit in augmented form: no notes are omitted, and they still bear the same proportional relations to each other. The only change is in the degree and nature of the ornamentation, and, as so often happens in Chinese folk music, this change has given rise here to a new piece of music whose origins are almost completely unrecognizable.

Julian Yu

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