‘Happy Birthday’ – but it’s in the style of a Johann Sebastian Bach fugue

10 August 2022, 22:22 | Updated: 10 August 2022, 22:35

JS Bach Happy Birthday
JS Bach Happy Birthday. Picture: Getty / artofcounterpoint

By Kyle Macdonald

Every classical music fan deserves the gift of great, Bachian counterpoint on their birthday. Right?

We’ve found the perfect birthday song for the music geek in your life - a quite ingenious fugue on ‘Happy Birthday’, in the style of the greatest composer of the Baroque era.

We all know someone who thinks they’re a vocal prodigy because they harmonise the end of ‘Happy Birthday’ every time. But here's something so much better.

YouTuber and master arranger artofcounterpoint has turned this most well-worn of songs into something new and (crucially) musically interesting to anyone with even an interest in music theory. Which – let’s be clear – should be absolutely everyone.

Take listen below. And if it’s your special day, make sure you play this masterpiece of music theory extra loud...

Happy Birthday Fugue

Fugues are based around a melodic subject, which enters one time after another in different registers, followed by lines to accompany subsequent melodic entries. For the composers, there’s an artistic and almost mathematical art to them, as they make the original tune fit around the increasingly fiendish lines of the countermelodies.

Read more: Grade-A music geek turns Adele’s ‘Hello’ into a Bach fugue with perfect counterpoint

Fugues are considered an ancicent music form, with their high point coming in the Baroque and particularly the music of Johann Sebastian Bach. However, later composers from Beethoven, through to Brahms and Shostakovich used fugues to showcase their some of their most brilliant writing.

Anyway, we know what you’ll be playing next time there’s a birthday in your office…