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This is an excerpt of Bach WTK II, Fugue 16 (mm. 15-20). The part I have marked red is (in my opinion, hope not be mistaken) an interlude between the last entrance of the theme in the bass and the next entrance in the tenor.

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What is the purpose of this interlude in an harmonical sense? There seems to happen no modulation, as the next entrance is in the tonic as was already in m.1. Is this only filling material that serves no other purpose than to bridge the entrances?

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It is an episode. If you find that modulation is an essential feature of an episode, consider that it begins in D minor, complete with C♯ and E♮ in the cadence, then moves to E♭, C♮, and B♮; then in the next measure B♭ returns, putting us fairly squarely back in G minor. It's not a huge modulation, but I reckon it's enough.

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  • I see now that my analysis was too superficial. Commented Jan 12 at 7:15

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