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The Credo in Bach's B Minor Mass has a 7-voice fugue for 5 voices and 2 violins, plus basso continuo. Bach's motet "Komm, Jesu, komm" BWV 229 has a brief 8-voice fugato on the text "der saure Weg wird mir zu schwer," roughly, "this blasted way is getting too hard for me." That may be the master reporting a practical limit. As for a theoretical limit, ...


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Giving a fugue some "rhythmic identity" is (like most issues in writing counterpoint) just a matter of knowing the right standard tricks to use. Make the notes of the subject either longer or shorter than the rest of the counterpoint and they won't get "lost in the mix". That's all there is to it. Bach knew that sort of trick very well. Take the triple ...


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First the example... A Treatise on Counterpoint and Fugue By Luigi Cherubini ...but that seems an extreme example. In Bach's Well Tempered Clavier most of the fugues are 3 or 4 parts. I think it's worth noting that during episodic passages the texture often lightens with a voice dropping out.


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I recommend starting with the left hand (12132435). It's more natural as the theme evolves, since the next voice enters with the right hand. Hope this helps!


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Using the fingering you mentioned that starts with the pinky is ok. It definitely allows you to play that whole section without having to do any hand adjustments, which is usually something to strive for when working out fingering. However, one downside to starting on the 5 in this example is that since it’s the beginning of a phrase (in fact, the ...


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Why are you even playing this with the right hand? The right hand part doesn't start until 4 bars later. There is no option about playing similar passages with the left hand at least half dozen times later in the fugue, so there is no good reason to "cheat" at the start. If your left hand isn't a fluent as your right, practice till it is.


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It's very easy to recommend fingering for a certain part but that's only half the story. I'd go for the 545 3423 1 as all of that falls under my hand, but there's no reason at all that your hand will do the same! That works for me on the premise that when my hand is resting on the notes involved, each note has a finger ready. Of course it needs that thumb (...


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Percy Goetschius also suggests that a fugue subject usually starts on steps 1, 3, or 5 (and suggests that step 1 should occur early in the subject.)


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Well, when one wants an exhaustive list of obscure exceptions to every conceivable musical principle, often the person to turn to is the great Ebenezer Prout, whose books are full of just that sort of stuff. Prout doesn't disappoint in his book on Fugue, where he notes: Though there are limitations as to the note of the scale on which a fugue subject ...


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There are always exceptions. In WTC Book 2 Fugue 13, Bach starts the subject with a long trill on the leading note, and passes through the subdominant and back to the tonic before the end of the subject. The "real" answer starts on the leading note of the dominant (and at an augmented fourth above to tonic in two part counterpoint - so much for textbook ...


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I don't have a complete answer yet, but I'm excited to see what others say; this is a wonderful question, and one I'm sorry to say I've somehow never been confronted with. I'll simply share two quotes from two famous modern textbooks on fugue writing: [The subject] almost invariably opens with either scale degree 1 or 5 (rarely 3) and will normally close ...


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The final sentence of your OP seems to imply that you are considering the flute as the top part and the cello as the bass. That in itself seems very restrictive. Obviously the piano can play below the cello part even if the cello is in its lowest register, and don't forget that a conservative top range of the cello is A5 (one leger line above the treble ...


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You used the "classical music" tag and within that style I think you will find an overwhelming tendency to include the third in the keyboard part even when the third is supplied by another instrument. A rule of thumb I learned a while back is to reserve the use of open fifths or octaves (open meaning no third present) only at cadence points. That is ...


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In a well-written duet involving a piano and another instrument (at least IMO), the piano part should sound like it has something missing. Don't worry about the ability of the piano part of a trio to stand alone.


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I wouldn't worry about the sound of the piano alone -- what matters is the sound of all three instruments playing together. Open fifths in the piano, for example, are fine. Mind you, if you wanted the sound of a complete triad, and only one instrument is playing the third, and it's relatively quiet compared to the other instruments, then perhaps you need to ...


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I'm going to assume that the question is attempting to write a fugue in the baroque/early classical style. (Fugal works in renaissance style are a different matter, which allow somewhat more leeway in the intervallic construction of a subject, but restrict other elements much more severely.) As an introduction to this topic, I'll defer to Robert Gauldin, ...


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Polyphony is one of the key parts of a fugue. It is a main part of any Bach work you take. This would fall under a very loose definition.


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There is absolutely no reason why a fugue subject has to be "unique". The best known counterexample is probably the finale of Mozart's Jupiter symphony, where the principal fugue subject is a commonplace four notes shamelessly stolen from every textbook on elementary counterpoint from Fux onwards: In fact Mozart may have stolen this idea from Haydn (...


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You may be overloading your expectations for the subject to be unique. You can treat the subject to some degree as generic. Minimally it needs to define the tonic/tonality. It's more important how the subject gets treated in the course of the fugue. When looking at subjects in the Well Tempered Clavier, I notice many subjects will start with some ...


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