Saturday, 17 November 2012

So You Want to Write - Joan Lennon

Having been born in Canada I feel quite proprietorial towards anything Glenn Gould - and here he is, giving excellent advice on writing a fugue which is also absolutely applicable to writing, well, anything!

So you want to write a fugue.
You got the urge to write a fugue.
You got the nerve to write a fugue.
So go ahead, so go ahead and write a fugue.
Go ahead and write a fugue that we can sing.

Pay no heed, Pay no mind.
Pay no heed to what we tell you,
Pay no mind to what we tell you.
Cast away all that you were told
And the theory that you read.
As we said come and write one,
Oh do come and write one,
Write a fugue that we can sing.

Now the only way to write one

Is to plunge right in and write one.
Just forget the rules and write one,
Just ignore the rules and try.

And the fun of it will get you.

And the joy of it will fetch you.
Its a pleasure that is bound to satisfy.
When you decide that John Sebastian must have been a very personable guy.

Never be clever

for the sake of being clever,
for the sake of showing off.

For a canon in inversion is a dangerous diversion,

And a bit of augmentation is a serious temptation,
While a stretto diminution is an obvious allusion.

And when you finish writing it

I think you will find a great joy in it.

 Hope so...

Nothing ventured, nothing gained they say
But still it is rather hard to start.

Well let us try right now.

Now we are going to write a fugue.
We're going to write a good one.
We're going to write a fugue ... right now.

The man has spoken!

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Susan Price said...

Enjoyed that, Joan - though you'll doubtless be shocked that I've never heard of Glen Gould.
It reminds me of the story of how Mozart was approached by a young man who asked him for tips on writing his first symphony.
Mozart advised him to try something simpler.
'How can you say that?' asked the young man. 'You wrote a symphony when you were six!'
'Yes,' Mozart said, 'but I didn't have to ask anyone how.'

Joan Lennon said...

Not shocked at all - like many Canadian treasures, not well known outside The True North Strong and Free (as we say).
Great Mozart story!

madwippitt said...


Lynda Waterhouse said...

Joan this post is spooky! For the past few days I have been thinking about the movie - 32 short films about Glenn Gould that I saw years ago ( funny how things pop into your head!)trying to recall the scene where he talks about being in noisy places and needing silence to balance it out. There is a wonderful scene in the film where he transforms the noise and babble of a cafe into music.

Joan Lennon said...

I didn't know that movie at all! (I spent the 90s up to my eyeballs in small children and mustn't have been paying attention.) Off to order it right now - thanks so much for flagging it up!