[Smt-talk] Request for off-list aid in identifying some diatonic fugues subjects

art samplaski agsvtp at hotmail.com
Wed Jan 30 12:11:23 PST 2013

Dear List,

I'm doing some followup work re the key-finding results I presented at
SMT & SMPC in 2011. One element of that is looking at fugue subjects
whose initial 2 distinct pitches are in a potential do/sol relationship.

In a 1999 _Psychology of Music_ article, Piet Vos reported a finding
from a large corpus study (2179 melodies) of several repertoires: if
the initial 2 pitches formed an ascending 4th or descending 5th, they
were almost always sol-do. He reported only five exceptions, which
were of the form do-fa--e.g., the D-maj. fugue from WTC2. (He said
nothing about the converse, an initial pitch-pair in descending 4th
or ascending 5th being do-sol.) These initial pairs, which he termed
a "4/5 opening," could be "direct" (the first two pitches); "delayed"
(the first two -distinct- pitches , e.g. the start of "La Marseillaise");
or "incremental" (the gap is filled in by step-wise motion, with the
restriction that the pitches preceding tonic are metrically weak).

In the corpus of diatonic fugue subjects I have, I've found 6 more
do-fa incipits; I've also found a desc. sol-re by Kirnberger, and
a desc. mi-la(!) by "Scheibe." (Presumably, Johann Adolph Scheibe.)
These are all from an 1892 anthology, _Five Hundred Fugue Subjects,
Ancient and Modern_, by Arthur W. Marchant, who, ahhh, was user-hostile
re providing information with which to hunt down the pieces--he only
gives a last name (save, e.g., Bach vs. CPE Bach), and omits many
attributions without ever saying if those subjects were newly-composed
by him. (And of course some attributions have since been shown to be

I've been able to track down definite opus info for 4 of those fugue
subjects but have now hit a wall. I am thus turning to the collective
wisdom of the list for aid.:) The following gives the beginning pitches
in ASA format for the 4 fugues trying to remain anonymous, and the
composers to whom Marchant attributes them. The item before the name
is the index # in his anthology, and the fractions are the rhythmic
values (1/2=half note, etc.), w. parentheses indicating groups of
identical durations:

120 "Dr. Chipp" (?Edmund Thomas Chipp, organist @ Ely, d. 1886; zilcho in NGD2,
      one pgh. in orig. Grove):
   4/4: C4,1/2  F4,1/2+1/8  (E4 D4 C4 B3 A3 G3 F3),1/8  E3,1/4  C4,1/4+1/8
           (A3 D4 C4),1/8  B3,1/4  E4,1/4+1/8 (C4 F4 E4),1/8  D4,1/4

148 Albrechtsberger:
   2/4: (C3 F3 E3),1/4  A3,1/4+1/8,  (G3 F3),1/16  (G3 E3),1/8  F3,1/2  E3,1/4

154 (Gustav Adolf?) Merkel:
   4/2: C3,1  (F3 E3 A3 G3),1/2  F3,d1/2 F3,1/4  E3,1/4

289 (Johann Adolph?) Scheibe:
   4/4: (rest F#5 B4 E5 A4),1/4  (B4 C#5 D5 F#5 E5 D5),1/8  (C#5 B4),1/4  A4,1/2

If anyone recognizes any of these and can give me some bibliographic
info off-list, I would be very appreciative. Thank you.

Art Samplaski
Ithaca, NY

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