The Gross Fugue-17 F Major
The Fugue is a musical form that has been argued by musicologists and music critics as the purest and highest of the Baroque arts. In a fugue, a composer weaves a contrapuntal fabric using independent but imitative musical lines, creating increasing complexity all the while drawing upon a set of straightforward principles and procedures.
As the most progressive work of the greatest composer in the history of Western music, Ludwig van Beethoven’s Grosse Fugue attracts great respect and is a true testament to the power of human creativity. Renowned Russian composer Igor Stravinsky called it “”an absolutely contemporary piece of music that will be contemporary forever.””
In the generation before Beethoven, J.S. Bach brought intense exploration to the fugue, and his work represents the apotheosis of the form. In his Well-Tempered Clavier he composed two monumental collections of fugues for the keyboard, twice encompassing all 24 major and minor keys, utilizing a new system of tuning that allowed for the seamless integration of chromaticism to a level theretofore unknown to the musical world.
Dr. Jeff Kryka’s piece The Gross Fugue, is modeled after Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier, as a set of fugues in all 24 keys. Yet it encompasses a wide eclecticism of styles, from classical to popular, from acoustic to electronic, drawing upon world music and a multitude of influences. Each fugue’s music is constructed using 12 instruments that 12 times play 12 distinct musical themes, this together makes “1 Gross” i.e. 144 units of distinct musical ideas, called ‘stems.’ As part of the conception of the piece these 144 stems can work in any order, combination, orientation, or layering configuration. The decisions about which stems go where and when can be made by the listener at their own discretion. It is calculated that 49,140 pieces of entirely unique “music phrases” are possible, and with listeners’ participation it could potentially create the longest piece in history.
This special edition of the 17th Fugue in F major will be receiving its world premiere performance at the 1st Annual Metaverse Art @ Venice. This edition was created specially for this exhibition by the composer. Dr. Kryka assembled a version of the composition that lasts 144 seconds, which now must be continued and completed with the help of participants attending the exhibition. Over the course of 3 days, random volunteers can select any of the 144 stems to choose what order or layer they’d like to hear them in, thereby lengthening or ‘thickening’ the piece as desired. It is up to each participant to build the most beautiful version of the piece to their own liking.
After 3 days, the fugues’ composition will come to an end and Dr. Kryka will work on creating a live performance version of this fugue to be premiered in a concert in Venice at a soon to-be-announced date. The Venice Special Edition NFT owners will be able to claim their free tickets for this exclusive concert.
Eventually all 24 fugues will receive premiere performances around the world, but now here at the 1st Annual Metaverse Art @ Venice attendees will be able to witness and participate in the first iteration of this massive and innovative composition opus. Together, you and I have the opportunity to participate in the creation of the largest and greatest eternal Fugue in history. We shall push the boundaries of music that Bach was never able to reach.