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    Writing a Toccata.

    I've been thinking about writing a toccata. I've listened to the Toccatas from Bach's BWV 565 and BWV 566; I've also listened to Vidor's Toccata. Toccata is Italian for touched and refers to fancy finger work in the piece. It generally has very fast passages that require high finger skill.
    Vidor's toccata has chording with a fast furious arpegiated semiquaver run that changes hands sometimes in the piece with a slow melody in the bass to support the chords and semiquaver run.
    Bach's toccata usually contain quick runs that often end in chords.
    That Is all I know.
    What else does a Toccata need.

    #2
    Originally posted by Eddy67716 View Post
    What else does a Toccata need.
    Dare I suggest: a talented composer?
    -------

    Hammond M-102 #21000.
    Leslie 147 #F7453 in the queue.
    Hammond S-6 #72421

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      #3
      Ouch. That's going to leave some kind of mark, I should think ...

      Comment


        #4
        Originally posted by Leisesturm View Post
        Ouch. That's going to leave some kind of mark, I should think ...
        As the OP said: "It generally has very fast passages that require high finger skill". The quoted toccatas are the stuff of virtuoso players, and thus very talented composers.
        -------

        Hammond M-102 #21000.
        Leslie 147 #F7453 in the queue.
        Hammond S-6 #72421

        Comment


          #5
          Speaking of Italians, toccatas and speed, here's an authentic example from Frescobaldi's "Fiori Musicali":
          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Iq4LCo_V7sY
          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VRJw76ct4N4

          Two different performances, both true to the music.

          And here's another from that collection:
          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bIcJIOuKU7U

          And here's a Toccata by Giovanni Maria Trabaci:
          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zf4PujBFP50

          And another by Ascanio Mayone. This one does have some fast-note passages:
          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=smu6kyPSd2A

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            #6
            Wow, the Italian Toccatas are nothing like Bach and Widor's Toccatas. They are slower and seam to have intertwined voices. Floi Musicali sounds a bit like Virgel Fox's version of Come sweet death. Giovanni's toccata seams to be contrapuntal. Ascanio Mayone's Toccata seams to have a Fugal passage at the end. (Now I also know what a Principal Celeste sounds like.)

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              #7
              There are so many different types of toccatas - before you write one, listen to as many as you can, look at the sheet music, play them, improvise in toccata style.
              Look at Pachelbel, Buxtehude, Francisco Baptista, Sweelinck... look at toccatas by modern composers like Carlotta Ferrari, browse through the toccata category at imslp (559 pieces listed for all kinds of instruments)...
              Once you're done, write your own.
              And don't concentrate too hard on the stops you will use. Good music is good music, whether you have an 8' diapason or a full organ (it sounds different and might have a different effect, but a good piece won't suddenly have less quality when played with different stops).

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                #8
                Flor Peeters pieces based on hymns are a great place to look for different toccata styles. I have used them for improvisation ideas. My guess is that many of his pieces in those volumes were probably improvisations originally. Sometimes a very simple idea can sound impressive.
                Bill

                My home organ: Content M5800

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                  #9
                  Speaking of toccatas and tempo (tempi). The older toccatas could not be played quite as fast as more modern ones because the right and left hand figurations were less pattern based and more melodic. Contrapuntal even. When Widor plays his famous toccata it comes in at 7:00. When modern (talented) conservatory graduates and concert performers play it live, it is around 6:00. On recordings, closer to 5:00!!! At those speeds even the pedal 'melody' is a blur. But the repetitive nature of the 'pattern' means you can just shape your hand correctly for the chord and flail away. The Boellmann toccata from Suite Modale is another much abused modern toccata that is played way faster than the composer intended. Most Dupre toccatas. It takes a Cameron Carpenter or Anthony Newman to push Bach toccatas into unintelligibility but that doesn't mean that people don't try. There is a relatively recent Toccata on "Veni Emmanuel" by Andrew Carter that is showing up on YouTube. I play it dog slow in comparison to the slowest of them but with all due humility I say that my interpretation is far more enlightening. There is a ton of musical interest written in by the composer in how the piece was structured and the thematic echoes of the cantus firmus in the figurations that is completely lost when an organist with a truly advanced and well practiced technique rips through it at warp speed. I know, this has nothing to do with the composition of a toccata but there might be some connection, I mean ... some of the damage could be contained if composers of toccatas wrote in some metronome indications for performance!

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                    #10
                    Carlotta Ferrari's Toccata Gotica had a lot of consecutive fifths (Actually twelfths) in it. I wonder why Carllotta did that?

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                      #11
                      Perhaps I'll invite some blowback here, so forgive me in advance...

                      To the OP, rather than worry about what to call a piece of music not yet written, may I suggest you simply focus on writing the composition you would like to create, and then find some label for it that suits you once you're done?

                      Who knows? You may discover you wrote a sonata, fugue, etude, mazurka ... or none of the above.

                      Don't be offended, but I've sensed that those who get too wrapped up in naming the classical style of their compositions before doing any actual composing tend to be more interested in generating bragging rights than in composing music they'd want to perform and enjoy.

                      *****

                      On the other hand ... if you'd like to study the various classical forms and styles that have evolved over the centuries, perhaps in an effort to inform the compositional structure you'd like to explore in your own creative efforts, then by all means dig in.

                      There are lots of wonderful books and online materials on such subjects.

                      But don't be surprised to learn that the labels commonly used for many classical styles have been applied to a much wider range of individual compositions that one might have thought. Toccatta is such an example.

                      Enjoy! OneWatt

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                        #12
                        Using consecutive 5ths or 12ths isn't generally forbidden - totally depends on the style of the composition. Several of these intervals in close proximity will in Carlotta's case probably be intentional.

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                          #13
                          Originally posted by andijah View Post
                          Using consecutive 5ths or 12ths isn't generally forbidden - totally depends on the style of the composition. Several of these intervals in close proximity will in Carlotta's case probably be intentional.
                          Exactly. The fact that it is a modern composition (allowing it to follow contemporary theoretic practices) and is named "Gotica" (Gothic - implying references to early music practices or sounds) also needs to be taken into account.

                          - - - Updated - - -

                          Originally posted by OneWatt View Post
                          ... To the OP, rather than worry about what to call a piece of music not yet written, may I suggest you simply focus on writing the composition you would like to create, and then find some label for it that suits you once you're done?

                          Who knows? You may discover you wrote a sonata, fugue, etude, mazurka ... or none of the above.

                          Don't be offended, but I've sensed that those who get too wrapped up in naming the classical style of their compositions before doing any actual composing tend to be more interested in generating bragging rights than in composing music they'd want to perform and enjoy.
                          I think it's also fair to say that if one has truly played, listened to, and studied a large-enough repertoire, you will know and understand the true differences between the various genres. To look at only 2 or 3 examples by experienced masters and then consider yourself ready to write your own and expect it be anything worthwhile is unrealistic.

                          The masters are called masters because they did their homework. They studied the works of others. The played lots of repertoire. They wrote lots. They studied all aspects of theory. They understood historical and regional differences.

                          If you wish to write a composition based on one of these models, no matter what it is, you need to study and work. You also need to heed the advice of others when you ask for it.

                          - - - Updated - - -

                          Originally posted by OneWatt View Post
                          ... On the other hand ... if you'd like to study the various classical forms and styles that have evolved over the centuries, perhaps in an effort to inform the compositional structure you'd like to explore in your own creative efforts, then by all means dig in.

                          There are lots of wonderful books and online materials on such subjects.

                          But don't be surprised to learn that the labels commonly used for many classical styles have been applied to a much wider range of individual compositions that one might have thought. Toccatta is such an example.
                          Very good advice. The problem comes when those who would benefit most from such advice refuse to take it. They won't research or explore. They won't do basic exercises that would teach them so many core fundamentals.

                          They ask what they could do to improve their compositions and receive advice from several people, then ignore it. It is no surprise that as they continue to ask for advice, people stop offering it.

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                            #14
                            I remember years ago I was working on a setting of "Nun danket alle Gott" which I thought was really good. I played it for a friend who commented, "It sounds like "The Night They Invented Champagne!" Sometimes it takes the objectivity of someone else to help you evaluate your efforts.
                            Bill

                            My home organ: Content M5800

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                              #15
                              After listening to some different Toccatas, I think I have one.
                              It Has some motif articulation like Bach's BWV 565,
                              It has some long drone pedal notes like Pachelbel's Toccata in E minor,
                              It has a (At least close to) contrapuntal section like some of the Italian Toccatas,
                              Two repeating themes,
                              and a section based on Widor's Toccata but easier to play.

                              Ed's_Toccata_in_E_minor.pdf
                              Ed's Toccata in E minor (StAnnesMoseley).mp3

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