A Beautiful Piece

The musical composition known as the fugue, from the Latin ‘fugare’ meaning ‘to chase’, is centered around one or two themes. These themes are repeated throughout the piece, but as the piece progresses, the themes, while maintaining their fundamental structure, become more elaborate. More voices and pitches enter the composition, mimicking the basic theme, though with slightly altered elements. This middle section of the fugue is referred to as the ‘development.’ The overall piece never strays from the source, yet is always evolving so as not to remain repetitive. It is almost as if the main theme is chasing the subsequent episodes. Or, it could be seen that the episodes are running away from the main theme. Fugue also derives from ‘fugere’ in Latin, meaning ‘to flee.’ The conclusion of the fugue, typically called the ‘final entry’ or sometimes the ‘recapitulation,’ contains a return to the tonic key of the main theme.

Perhaps the most famous fugue ever composed, so popular this time of year, is Johann Sebastian Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D Minor. Bach's Fugue in G Minor is another one of my favorites. Pachelbel's Canon in D is yet another piece to which you could listen for a further illustration, though you have probably heard it if you were recently at a wedding.

Repetition amidst development is the fugal concept to be applied spiritually, and Mary is our tonic key. Mary's total surrender to God is the main theme. Our subsequent acts of trust in God, in imitation of her, are the development of the subject. And in the end our bodies will be reunited to our souls in beatitude, as hers is now, completing the beautiful piece.

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