Road Map for a Fugue

By John Stone

About the 'Art of Fugue' you may also read:

An enigma resolved: the Bach's Art of the Fugue by David Peat (on Hans-Eberhard Dentler)

Glenn Gould Discourses on Fugue: Watch and Learn by John Stone


Search for sheet music on the Art of Fugue

The Bach's Art of Fugue in MIDI files

Enter on a curving road with nothing
in sight but the curved road itself.
Seven paces forward, you arrive
in the place where you began, but it is not the same.

A new path arises in the clearing like the first,
and then another and another; all seem
to contain the same landmarks. Strange,
these roads that always bring you home
whose scenery is ever changing.

Now the road that introduced you
to the city from the barren stretch
has curved the opposite direction.
Soon enough it is the view
that overtakes your notice from
the curving roads that keep recurring.

Stranger still,
you find yourself unable
to keep for long to any single avenue,
but are transported from one to another
guided by the logic of things
surrounding you,
and not your will.
The map you hold is for a city out of Heraclitus,
never to be navigated the same way twice.

After walking at a slow and steady rate
you feel the ground beneath your feet
has dropped and you have broken from
the crosshatch of the city's passageways,
and have become a peregrine
who traces giant spirals in its wake.
First, you glide, falling and rising, then
divide and divide: four falcons in formation.

Below, the city's curving roads still
are visible. From the vantage of up high
their routes that always point the way to home
seem carved into the earth. Their permanence
almost mocks your aerial display,
but then your winding freeform flight
as one and then another plunge and spiral up
half-mocks their graven fixity.
Home may just as well be in the sky.

Beyond the heights and depths that you have traveled
a mountain opens to your view that
changes everything that came before and
how you saw what came before. A narrow,
crooked stream emerges from the ice,
descends and slowly
climbs to rest before
discovering other streams that thaw to form a brook.
In-between water and ice, it rolls through itself
and etches a road between sky and ground.

Which of two worlds would you choose to inhabit,
the one that endures but never changes
or the one that moving never lasts?
Is the topography of the eternal
complete without
the fleeting?

At length you arrive at a point
where ice floe,
curving ground
and flight of birds

You are fixed,
your feet on the ground
at the edge of a precipice,
but you are flung,

your will abandoned
to the will of circling birds.
Frozen in mid-flight,

you leave the world

on a single, twisting path
whose ending is

You may be also interested in:

Introduction to J.S. Bach in His Library, 1749

On Bach's Art of the Fugue

Road Map for a Fugue

A Portrait of Two J.S. Bach's

Happy Birthday, Johann Sebastian Bach

Two Reasons Man is Superior to Machines: Bach and Gould

A Glenn Gould Survey: The Music Through 1750

Glenn Gould Discourses on Fugue: Watch and Learn