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Toccata
For solo piano

The toccata as a musical concept has become an important feature of my musical development since 1996 when this short piece was written. The idea of music that was ‘touched’ but not sustained is something that continues to appeal to my thoughts about how musical performance might deliver particular kinds of musical content. Originally the word toccata denoted a style of keyboard composition popular in 15 and 16C Italy. Such keyboard toccatas were improvisatory preludes often played between items of vocal music. It is this kind of toccata that I have sought to reinvent for our time rather than the complex multi-sectioned compositions found in Bach’s keyboard toccatas BWV 910-916.

The music of my toccata is based entirely on the patterns 1-5 found Nicholas Slonimsky’s celebrated Thesaurus of Scales and Melodic Patterns. Since it appeared in the 1950s the Thesaurus has become an indispensable resource for both jazz improvisers and composers. John Coltrane is said to have played these patterns daily. John Adams created a whole orchestral work out of the patterns in his Slonimsky’s Earbox. Pattern 1-5 are found in the section titled Tritone Progression: Equal Division of One Octave into Two Parts: Interpolation of One Note.


Patterns from Slonimsky’s Thesaurus.


Example of distribution of patterns in Toccata.

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Nigel Morgan, Prudential Buildings, 55 Westgate, Wakefield, West Yorkshire, WF1 1BW, United Kingdom Tel: 01924 383017 e-mail: tonalitysystems@mac.com

This website and associated content 2013 Nigel Morgan unless otherwise stated.