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Peer Review

The Fugues of the Well-Tempered Clavier



Overall Rating:

5 stars
Content Quality: 5 stars
Effectiveness: 5 stars
Ease of Use: 5 stars
Reviewed: Jul 10, 2003 by Music
Overview: This site provides interactive multimedia (Shockwave) analyses of most of the fugues in Book 1 and fugue II in c minor from Book 2 of the Well-Tempered Clavier by Johann Sebastian Bach. Each analysis provides a scrolling score of the fugue, a scrolling animated graphic analysis of the fugue, audio and a commentary. Each analysis also allows the user to stop, start or jump to anywhere in the score at any time. The site is a subsite of a larger site on the Canons and Fugues of J.S. Bach. The larger site includes similar kinds of interactive analysis and links to essays and resources on J.S. Bach.
Learning Goals: The major learning goal is to provide an understanding of the motivic/thematic developmental process and structure in the fugues from the Well-Tempered Clavier.
Target Student Population: This site is ideal for intermediate and advanced college, university and conservatory undergraduate students. Especially students focusing on compositon, history or analysis.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills: Basic computer and Internet skills are needed to access and use this site. Familiarity with college level music theory concepts (i.e., diatonic and chromatic harmony) are necessary for students to understand the compositional detail discussed.
Type of Material: This is a collection of interactive multimedia (Shockwave) learning objects.
Recommended Uses: The site should be used as classroom lesson material, assignments, self-study and reference materials in the study of composition, 18th century counterpoint, music history or analysis.
Technical Requirements: This site works well with any computer with an online connection and a current browser.

Evaluation and Observation

Content Quality

Rating: 5 stars
Strengths: The information on this site is clear, accurate, well organized and detailed. The commentaries not only provide information on fugal writing techniques, motivic, thematic and harmonic development and structural design for each fugue, but also provides historical references as context for the analysis.
Concerns: None.

Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool

Rating: 5 stars
Strengths: The potential effectiveness of this site as a teaching tool is maximized by the combination and use of multimedia and interactive elements. The site supports the analytical discussion with aural reinforcement. It also offers a formal overview of the composition that is synchronized with a measure by measure analysis. Each fugue has a separate learning object allowing teachers to easily adapt and organize the material for their own instructional sequence. The depth of the commentary combined with the users ability to start, stop or jump to any place in the score allows for a comprehensive study of the material. The text is easy to read, terms are explained and the author offers many easy to grasp examples of how a concept or technique works.
Concerns: None.

Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty

Rating: 5 stars
Strengths: This site is easy to use for both students and teachers.
Concerns: None.

Other Issues and Comments: The interactive presentation is accurate to the measure, however, there are times that references are made to motivic activity within a measure that would benefit from some lower level highlighting. The aural cues are quite useful but require some decisions on the part of the listener to determine exactly what notes within the measure are being discussed. Therefore, the site works best if in addition to reading it during a playing of the audio/score/analysis, the user reads the commentary before playing as well.