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subject theme voices

Fugue (Italian, “flight”), musical form in which 2 or more parts (voices) enter successively in imitation and combine in developing a theme. The classic fugue begins with the exposition of the theme or subject in successive voices. This is followed by variations on the subject, with episodes linking full statements. The subject may undergo various contrapuntal transformations, such as the stretto, in which it is stated in rapid, overlapping entrances. The fugue dates from the 16th-century canon and round. The greatest achievements in the fugue are by J.S. Bach (1685–1750).

See also: Counterpoint.

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