[Smt-talk] Bach fugues and popular songs

Jon Wild wild at music.mcgill.ca
Sat Mar 13 18:18:27 PST 2010

Here's another example that's not quite exactly what Scott asked for, but 
close enough that you might be interested: Richard Carpenter wrote a 
surprising arrangement of "From this moment on" whose accompaniment very 
closely paraphrases the WTC I C-minor Prelude for most of the song. At the 
very least it's an excuse to go and listen to Karen Carpenter singing:



Jon Wild
McGill University

On Sat, 13 Mar 2010, Arnie Cox wrote:

> This doesn't happen to be a recent example, it's not at the beginning of the
> song, it doesn't seem to be a strict Bach quote, and it's not a fugue
> proper, but I just happened upon a Nina Simone recording of Love Me Or Leave
> Me in which she goes into a polyphonic section in her piano solo that I
> imagine many of her fans at the time would have heard as Bach-like.
>  (Perhaps it's an actual quote, of Bach or of someone else, but I didn't
> happen to recognize it.)  She recorded this song at least twice (1958,
> 1966?) and does something similar in both versions.  Both are readily
> available on YouTube.  
> I'd be interested in what others might know about how this relates to other
> examples around this time and since.  I suppose the Swingle Singers and Ian
> Anderson, each in their own way, represent something different in one sense
> and yet the same in another?
> Arnie Cox
> Assoc. Prof. of Music Theory
> Oberlin Conservatory of Music
> On Mar 1, 2010, at 12:20 PM, Murphy, Scott Brandon wrote:
>       Dear collective wisdom (with apologies for cross-listing),
> I am curious to know of any recent American popular song (interpret
> this
> genre label however you would like) that quotes a fugue by J.S. Bach
> (or
> perhaps another classical composer of fugue) as its introductory
> material.
> I know of two: Amy Grant's "Sing Your Praise to the Lord" opens by
> citing,
> then reworking, the beginning of the C-minor fugue of WTC I, and the
> much
> more recent "Bad Romance" by Lady Gaga, in which the music video opens
> with
> a little (diegetic) bit of the beginning of the B-minor fugue from WTC
> I.
> I'm a bit more interested in songs (and fugues, for that matter) that
> might
> be more familiar to today's average undergraduate music student, but
> I'm
> open to anything at this point.
> Thanks in advance, and happy March,
> -Scott
> -- 
> Scott Murphy
> Associate Professor of Music Theory
> University of Kansas School of Music
> smurphy at ku.edu
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