Bach: Prelude and Fugue No.16 in G minor, BWV 861 Analysis



Bach Prelude and Fugue No.16 in G minor BWV 861 Analysis 1


Bars 1-7: Period I. Ending with a Perfect Cadence in the Relative Major.

Bars 7-11: Period II. Ending with a Perfect Cadence in the Sub-dominant.

Bars 11-19: Period III. Dominant Pedal (Bars 14-15). Tonic Pedal, forming Coda (Bars 18-19). Passing back to the Original key, which it grasps firmly with the Tonic.


Four contrasted figures are used in the compositions of this Prelude:

  1. A sustained note with the shake.
  2. A short arpeggio figure (see Bar 1, Tenor part).
  3. An ornamental figure including two demi-semiquavers (thrity-second notes) (see Bar 2).
  4. A figure mostly appearing in four demi-semiquavers (see Bars 8 and 9 in the two upper parts).

Figure 3, quoted above, is also employed by Free Inversion, compare bar 6 (Treble part) and Bar 8 (Bass part) with Bar 2.

In Period I there is a momentary division at Bar 6 (F major).

In Period II there is a division at Bar 18 where the Coda is reached.



Bach Prelude and Fugue No.16 in G minor BWV 861 Analysis 2



Bars 1-2: Subject in Alto [G minor].
Bars 2-4: Tonal Answer in Treble, with Counter-subject in Alto [D minor].
Bars 4-5: Codetta.
Bars 5-6: Subject in Bass. Counter-subject in Treble [G minor].
Bars 6-8: Answer in Tenor. Counter-subject in Bass [D major].


Bars 8-12: Episode I, modulating from D minor to Close in G minor, and then to B flat and Close.
Bars 12-13: Subject in Alto. Counter-subject in Tenor [B flat Major].
Bars 13-15: Answer in Bass. Counter-subject Tenor [F major].
Bars 15-16: Answer in Treble. Counter-subject in Bass [F major].
Bars 17-18: Subject in Bass. Counter-subject in Treble [B flat major].
Bars 17-19: Stretto I (incomplete). Answer in Alto [E flat major].
Bars 20-21: Subject in Bass. Counter-subject in Alto [C minor].
Bars 21-23: Subject in Treble. Counter-subject (slightly altered) in Bass [C minor].
Bars 23-24: Answer in Alto. Counter-subject in Treble. with Close in G minor [G minor].
Bars 24-28: Episode II, modulating from G minor through E flat major, and back to G minor.


Bars 28-29: Stretto II (complete). Subject in Treble. Counter-subject in Alto. Subject in Tenor [G minor].
Bars 29-30: Subject in Bass, completing the Stretto [G minor].
Bars 31-33: Subject in Alto [G minor].
Bars 32-33: Counter-subject in Bass.
Bars 33-34: Subject in Tenor, with which the Fugue ends, without Coda, Tierce de Picardie [G major].


Exposition: Bar 1-8.
Counter-exposition: None.
Episodes: Two.
Stretti: Two.


  1. This Fugue has a “Tonal” Answer, and would be called a “Tonal” Fugue. The alteration in the Answer, for the sake of tonality, is made from the first note to the second.
  2. Episode I is built upon the second limb of the Subject. Episode II has a new figure, alternating in the Treble and Alto, but the Bass is built upon the same portion of the Subject as Episode I.
  3. Stretto I is incomplete – i.e., all the voices do note take part in it. Stretto is complete – i.e., all the voices take part in it.