Friday, May 6, 2016

the Art of the Fugue

--Johann Sebastian Bach, Die Kunst der Fuge, BWV 1080


Shortly after I graduated college, I took a break from playing on my primary instrument. I had been doing some jobs on it, not making a good amount of money, but mostly I didn't have any fun with it anymore. I still felt a lot of love for music, so I kept pursuing composing, arranging, studying, and playing music on the recorder and a variety of other instruments. It was around this time I got into some other hobbies, too, such as bread baking and rekindling my love of visual art. I even bought some sneakers, but I didn't really start running seriously.

I became really obsessed with Bach's "Art of the Fugue". It became something I loved. I had a whole binder where I had arranged them into single-staff SATB arrangements. I still love these fugues. I have a lot of recordings of them. I would go to my lousy minimum-wage job, feeling very much like a cog in a machine, and I would think about the episodes from the second fugue.

I would go to my family's house, and I would work for two or three hours pruning a very large rose bush. Pruning very carefully, on a ladder, and listening to the Art of the Fugue. I don't know why I listened to it so much. We were playing it in an amateur group I started, but I didn't have some deep philosophical tie to it.


When I started running, I started listening to lots of kinds of music, and the Art of the Fugue came back to me. I follow the subject through the work. I chase it. I become it. Interactions in my life seem to find mirror in the events, the episodes. The subject and the counter subject -- it is a study in the nature of society and how we relate to it.

I believe that you should be the subject in the fugue of your own life. You need to make yourself a priority. That said, a part of the subject is the ability to move into the texture of the piece as it evolves. It comes back in bits, in pieces. At the beginning you should value yourself, as well as at the end.

The subject also relates and cooperates with the counter-subject. Whatever relationship you consider your counter-subject, I think that's important. It could be your spouse, your kids, your coworkers. You support them, and they support you. You exist because they do. You all develop together, even if you start at separate points.


Things are chaotic this week, and hence the belated post. On Wednesday, the dog got into something she should not have, and we had to take her in. The following day, my daughter came down with a stomach bug. There are a bunch of things that have been going around, so out of an abundance of caution we took her to the doctor who advised pulling her out of daycare for a couple of days. 

On top of everything else, the stress level has started to mount again as I'm working a couple of extra jobs, and we've been taking less and less help.

Luckily, my friends stepped up again and helped me out. I'm lucky to have the support system I have, I know I've said that before, and I'll certainly say it again.

Undoubtedly part of the mounting stress is that the side jobs mean I've gotten less sleep and had less time to run. I need to start putting some miles in, hoping to log at least a couple of miles a day over the next week. I'm looking at some races for the next month, so I'll certainly need to get my legs recovered to have a good time.

Tonight we're having some good daddy-daughter time. She is mostly napping, but since she's recovering from a stomach bug I can't blame her. Here's to hoping we have a good pancake Saturday tomorrow!

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