Fugue Lesson Plan

Instructor: Christopher Muscato

Chris has a master's degree in history and teaches at the University of Northern Colorado.

With this lesson plan, your students are going to learn about the compositional elements of the fugue and apply their knowledge to a composition by Johann Sebastian Bach.

Learning Objectives

Upon completion of this lesson, students will be able to:

  • Describe the basic elements of a fugue
  • Explain the role of Bach in music history
  • Analyze a fugue for specific compositional elements


45-60 minutes

Curriculum Standards


Present information, findings, and supporting evidence, conveying a clear and distinct perspective, such that listeners can follow the line of reasoning, alternative or opposing perspectives are addressed, and the organization, development, substance, and style are appropriate to purpose, audience, and a range of formal and informal tasks.


Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources, connecting insights gained from specific details to an understanding of the text as a whole.



  • Ask students what they know about Bach. Is that a name they've heard? What do they associate with this figure?
  • Begin the video lesson The Fugue: Bach, Definition & Examples. Pause 1:10 and discuss as a class.
    • What is a fugue? What are the key components of a fugue?
    • What do we know about the Baroque era? When was this?
  • Resume video. Pause at 3:30 and discuss.
    • How does a fugue treat its melody? How does this define the fugue?
    • Define the subject and answer in a fugue. What is the purpose of each?
  • Resume video. Pause at 5:01 and discuss as a class.
    • What is the countersubject?
    • What is the counterpoint?
    • How do these ideas differ from the subject and answer?
    • How would all of this impact the aesthetic of a composition? What sort of words can we use to describe the tone, color, and overall aesthetic of music like this?
  • Resume and complete the lesson. Discuss it as a class.
    • What is the point of an episode in a fugue?
    • In what ways might composers alter the composition in a new episode?
    • What are manipulations versus modulations?
    • Who was Johann Sebastian Bach? What did he contribute to the history of music?
  • You may test student understanding with the quiz.

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