Skip to main content

Section 11.3 Fragment

While the motive is usually defined as the smallest identifiable melodic idea in a composition, “compound” motives can be broken into fragments (sometimes called “germs”).

In J.S. Bach’s Invention 1 in C Major I, the opening 7-note compound motive can be divided into two overlapping four-note fragments that can each be developed independently.

Figure 11.3.1. Fragmentation of motive 1 in C Major Invention

Here again is the example of development (in augmentation) of fragment “a.”

Figure 11.3.2. Development of fragment “a” in Invention 1

In the following example Bach develops an inversion of fragment “b” leading into a cadence in G major.

Figure 11.3.3. Development of fragment “b” in Invention 1