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Submitted to the Graduate Faculty of Texas Tech University in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of




August, 1977

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For over four-hundred years the keyboard toccata has served composers as one of the most effective compositional types in displaying the vast tonal and technical resources of their designated instrument. From the sonorous, rich and regal expressions of the organ toccatas of Andrea Gabrieli and Claudio Merulo, through the monumental outbursts of Buxtehude and Bach, down to the percussive and rhythmically intoxicating works of Schumann, Khachaturian and Prokofiev, the toccata has invariably exhibited a splendor and technical bravura seldom vitnessed in other keyboard types. Although it has undergone many changes in its long and noble history, several outstanding characteristics have persisted which have effected an unbroken chain linking generation to generation in this relentless exploration of the utmost capabilities of organ, harpsichord and piano.

Ever since Michael Praetorius offered the first written definition of the toccata in 1619, it has always been catego- rized as a free improvisatory composition with both its exter- nal and internal form determined solely by the imagination and

ingenuity of its creator.

In the last several

years, however,

a new theory concerning the structure of the early keyboard toccatas has been advanced--a theory which completely revolu- tionizes the traditional concept of both the origin of and the compositional approach to works of this genre, at least those composed during the first fifty to seventy-five years of its history. It is this new theory and a desire to explore its validity which has prompted the present study. In Chapter I the origin of the toccata in general and the keyboard toccata in particular has been explored and examined in relation to scholarly research on the subject, both past


and presento Following that is a compilation of the various definitions, beginning with the earliest definition by Prae- tôrius thrôugh the fascinating study of Murray Bradshaw, pub- lished in 1972. Finally, a brief history of the toccata is ^presenteda„beginning with the Venet ãrTSchool and ending with a glimpse at those composers still vigorously cultivating this important type of keyboard expression. Chapter II contains a detailed analysis of twenty tocca- tas of those first and second generation composers who actu- ally established the form and gave it the initial impetus,

which started

it on its way through its long history.


works chosen for analysis are among those which clearly bear out Bradshaw*s new and revolutionary theory. Finally, the third chapter presents the author's own conclusions and findings which have resulted from this inves- tigation. Hopefully, it will be clearly seen that still more studies need to be done on the early toccata, new editions made available, and, most importantly, new attitudes in both study and performance should emerge. I wish to thank the members of my committee, Dr. Harold Luce and Dr. Mary Jeanne van Appledorn, for their helpful sug- gestions and careful reading of the manuscript, and especially

my chairman, Dr. Lee Rigsby, for being such a tremendous inspi'

ration in this project. The

aid of Ruth Rigsby in her care-

ful proofreading and typing is greatly appreciated. I also wish to thank Jerry Anderson for his assistance in typing, as well as his constant encouragement and support of my work.




i i
















  • 1. Toc&a^~-4el decimo tono per orRano. byVAndrea )Gabr iel i,

  • 2. Toccata del 6 Padovano.

tono. by Annabali


  • 3. Toccata per orRano, by Vincenzo Bell'haver.

  • 4. secondo, by Sperindio Bertoldo.


  • 5. del 3


tono, by Claudio Merulo. \^

  • 6. sesto del settimo tono. by


Claudio Meruloo


  • 7. del guarto tono per organo. by


Luzzasco Luzzaschi.

  • 8. Toccata per organo. by Giuseppi Guami.

  • 9. Toccata del

secondo tono per organo. by



  • 10. Toccata dell'undecimo et duodecimo tono per organo. by Girolamo Diruta,

  • 11. Toccata dell'ottavo tono per orRano, by Paolo Quagliati.

  • 12. per organo. by Antonio Romanini.


  • 13. #20. by Jan


Pieterszoon Sweelinck. ^

  • 14. #22. by


Jan Pieterszoon



  • 15. Toccata den 3

Toon, by Pieter Cornet.

  • 16. Toccata, by Giovanni Pichi.

  • 17. Toccata, by Adriano Banchieri,

  • 18. Toccata di durezze et legature, by Giovanni Maria Trabaci.

  • 19. Toccata Nono, by Girolamo Frescobaldi.

  • 20. Toccata

#2, by Johann Jakob Froberger.



























Ricercar, by Isaac, meas. 1-5


  • 2. Praeambulum in Sol Flat. by Kleber, meas. 1-12


  • 3. Preambulum in fa, by Kotter, meas. 1-6


  • 4. Preambel, by Newsidler, meas. 1-5


  • 5. Recercar Primo, by Gintzler, meas. 1-4


  • 6. Fantasie, by Bakfark, meas. 1-8


  • 7. Preambel oder Fantasy. by Newsidler, meas. 7-11


  • 8. Pavana alle. Venetiana,

Saltarello. and Piva, by

Dalza Pavana, measo 1-8


Saltarello, meas. 1-6


Piva, meas. 1-5


  • 9. Der hoff Dantz and Der ander hoff Dantz. by Judenkûnig


10; Falsobordone. by Guerrero, measo 1-7


  • 11. Fabordo Llano. meas. 1-9, and Fabordon Glosado, meas0 1-5, by Cabezôn


  • 12. Tochata. by Francisco de Milano, meas. 1-5


  • 13. RJosado, by Cabezon, meas. 5-12



  • 14. Primo, by


Frescobaldi, meas. 1-2



  • 15. Ottavo di durezze e lip;ature, by




Frescobaldi, meas. 1-3

  • 16. Toccata, byÆ) Scarlatti, meas. 1-4



  • 17. Toccata ou Exercise, by Czerny, meas. 1


  • 18. Toccata, op. 7, by Schumann, meas. 1-4


  • 19. Toccata, by A. Gabrieli, meas. 19-22


  • 20. The Eight Psalm Tones


  • 21. Toccata. by Padovano, meas. 51


  • 22. Toccata. by

Padovano, meas, 1-3


  • 23. Toccata, by

Padovano, meas. 10


  • 24. Toccata, by Padovano, meas. 50


  • 25. Toccata, by Bell'haver, meas. 34


  • 26. Toccata, by Bell'haver, meas. 33-34


  • 27. Toccata, by Bell'haver, meas. 35


  • 28. Toccata, by

Bell'haver, meas. 41-42


  • 29. Toccata, by Bell'haver, meas. 32


  • 30. Toccata, by Bertoldo, meas. 1-3




Toccata, by Bertoldo, meas. 26



Toccata. by Bertoldo, meas. 15




Toccata, by Bertoldo, meas. 25


  • 34. Rhythmic Structure Chart


  • 35. Toccata, by Merulo


  • 36. Toccata, by Merulo, meas. 21-22



  • 37. Toccata. by Merulo, root movements



  • 38. Toccata. by Merulo, Rhythmic Structure Chart \


  • 39. Toccata. by Merulo, measo 18



  • 40. Toccata. by Merulo, measo 48-49




  • 41. Toccata. by Merulo, meas.2


/9 2

  • 42. Toccata, by Merulo, Rhythmic Structure




  • 43. Toccata, by Luzzaschi, meas. 15



  • 44. Toccata. by Luzzaschi, meas. 11-12



  • 45. Harmonized Psalm Tone by Luzzaschi


  • 46. Toccatá. by Guami, meas. 1-7



  • 47. Toccata, by Guami, meas. 13


  • 48. Toccata. by Guami, Harmonized Psalm Tone



  • 49. Toccata, by G. Gabrieli, meas. 5



  • 50. Toccata, by G. Gabrieli, meas. 24



  • 51. Root Movement Chart


  • 52. Toccata, by Diruta, meas. 3


  • 53. Toccata, by Diruta, Rhythmic Structure Chart



  • 54. Toccata, "SyQuagliati, meas. 19-20


  • 55. Toccata, by Quagliati, meas. 13



  • 56. Toccata. by Romanini, meas. 9


  • 57. Toccata, by Romanini, meas. 2


  • 58. Toccatas, #20 and #22, by Sweelinck



  • 59. Toccata, by Cornet, Root movement, meas. 1-17


  • 60. Toccata, by Cornet, Root movement, meas. 35-40



Toccata, by

Cornet, meas. 13


  • 62. Toccata, by

Pichi, meas. 12-13


  • 63. Toccata, by

Pichi, meas. 18



Toccata, by Pichi, meas. 51




Toccata, by

Pichi, meas. 75



  • 66. Toccata, by

Pichi, meas. 60


  • 67. Toccata, by

Pichi, meas. 81-82


  • 68. Toccata. by Pichi, Pattern Figures



  • 69. Toccata. by Banchieri, meas. 16


  • 70. Toccata. by Banchieri, meas. 13-14


  • 71. Toccata, by Banchieri, meas. 17


  • 72. Toccata. by Trabaci, meas. 5-6


  • 73. Toccata. by Trabaci, meas. 9


  • 74. Toccata, by Trabaci, meas. 3-5


  • 75. Tocaata, by Trabaci, meas. 11, 27


  • 76. Toccata, by Trabaci, meas. 19


  • 77. Toccata, by

Frescobaldi, meas. 45



  • 78. Toccata, by

Frescobaldi, meas. 47



  • 79. Toccata. by Frescobaldi, Rhythmic Patterns


  • 80. Toccata, by Froberger, meas. 45 V


  • 81. Toccata. by Froberger, meas. 33-34



  • 82. Toccata, by Froberger, meas. 45


  • 83. Toccata. by Forberger, meas, 41





Concurrent with the great flowering of creative activity in all fields of arts and letters which occurred in the West- ern World during the early and middle 16th century, there appeared a vast array of new types of keyboard compositions which were to have profound influence on the history of instru- mental literature from that time down to the present day, A- mong these were the prelude, the preamble or preambulum. the intonazioni. the tiento, the ricercar, the fantasia, the ca- priccio, single and paired dance movements, the chorale pre- lude, the variation (or diferencias). and the toccata. Some of these can be traced back much farther in time but only as isolated examples which appear sporadically without becoming a

part of a continuous stream of evolution. Up until

the mid-

century, the keyboard instruments themselves were, for the most part, subservient to the great vocal polyphony of the Netherlanders which engulfed all serious musical expression from Spain and Portugal in the West to the central plains of Russia in the East. The organ, in particular, slavishly sounded the pitch for the sung portions of the sacred service or else it embel- lished the old traditional cantus firmi of both sacred and secular expression in a rather stilted and perfunctory manner, The famous Buxheim OrRelbuch of 1460 does indeed include some fLfteen preambles for organ, but these are lost in a veritable sea of arrangements of pre-existing vocal compositions,1 The

iGustav Reese, Music in the Renaissance W, W. Norton &c Co, , 1959), p. 658.

(New York?


important Fundamentum OrRanisandi of Conrad Paumann concerns itself chiefly with how to compose over a tenor, and most of Lts compositions are again all cantus firmus types with the exception of three lone preambles,^ A more important manu- sc];Lpt, considered from the standpoint of independent key- board expression, is that of Adam Ileborgh (c. 1448) contain- ing five remarkably idiomatic organ compositions, even though only one voice is assigned the main melodic activity.-^ How- ever, these quite progressive works appear not to have played any significant role in the true history of keyboard music and remain only interesting historical^ relics, isolated and lost, until rediscovered by contemporary scholars. The organ compositions in Amolt Schlick's (c, 1460-1517) Tabulaturen etlicher Lobgesang; und Lidlein uff die Orgeln und Lauten of 1512 also emerge from the embellishment of pre-exist- ing melodies, but on the whole they do exhibit a more imagina- tive treatment of the lines surrounding and accompanying the cantus firmi. Imitation of melodic fragments as well as embel- lished anticipations of the pre-existing melody occur, which presage the imaginative treatments of the mid and late Baroque chorale prelude composers, A single Ricercar by Heinrich Isaac (1450-1517) stands out as a true organ composition, already showing remarkable resem- blance to the motet-influenced ricercar of the latter part of the century,^


3lbid., p. 657. 4Guido Adler, gen. ed.

Denkmáler der Tonkunst in

fisterrelch, 127 vols. (Graz: Akademische Druck in Verlag-

sanstalt, 1959), vol. 32: Choralis Constantinus, by Heinrich Tsnac, ed. by Anton von Webern, p. 229,

Example 1:

Ricercar, by Isaac, meas. 1-5.





















A far more progressive style of keyboard composition is to be found in the praeambulums of Leonhard Kleber (1490-1556). The long sustained chords followed by a gradual increasing of pace, the scalar passages, the sectionalization, all antici-

pate a much later keyboard

style and exemplify many of the

characteristics of the mid 16th century toccata.^ Gustav Reese observes these similarities and, in describing Kleber's Preambulum in Sol Flat,^ declares that "here in embryo is the


Example 2i

Praeambulum in Sol Flat,

by Kleber, meas. 1-12.



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- ^




/r\ © s



m ^giÆ jn32





^Armen Carapetyan, gen. ed., MusicoloRÍcal Studies and

Documents. 32 vols. (Los Angeles: American Institute of Musi-

cology, 1972), vol. 28:

C. Bradshaw, Chapter III.

The QrÍRÍn of the Toccata. by Murray

6cited in Gotthold Frotscher, Geschichte des Orgelspiels

und der Orgel Komposition

(Berlin: Verlag Merseburger,

1959), p. 115. 7Reese, Music in the Renaissance, p. 664.

Hans Kotter (1485-1551), a contemporary of Kleber and quite possibly a student of the legendary Paulus Hofhaimer (1457-1537), also sometimes breaks away from the strict cantus firmus procedures and explores the peculiar idiomatic resources of the keyboardo

Example 3:

Preambulum in fa, by Kotter, meas. 1-6.



tx ^


m iT—r









However, the majority of the compositions in the most important manuscripts of the followers of Hofhaimer, the Fundamenta of Hans Buchner (1483-1538), Hans Kotter (see above), and Leonhard Kleber (see above) are again of the cantus firmus type and, although they exhibit some new and innovative tech-

" d^iãê , they do not establish a real enduring keyboard tradi- tion, The practice of elaborate embellishment of pre-existing vocal works, both sacred and secular, continued on into the mid-16th century, particularly among the Germans. These works reached such a point of excessiveness that Hermann Fink wrote in 1556 that organists make

empty noise wholly devoid of charm.

In order the more


to cajole the ears of untrained listeners and to

arouse admiration for their own digital skill, they sometimes permit their fingers to run up and do^vn the

keys for half an hour at a time and hope Ln^thLS manner, by means of such an agreeable din, with God's help to move mountains, but bring forth only a rLdLCulous



They pay no heed to the requirements of


Mensura, "Master" Taktus, "Master" Tonus, and especLally

"Master" Bona fantasia.9

^Hans Kotter, Or^eltabulatur in John GrllespLe, FVve

Centuries of Kevboard Mus c (NewTork: Dover PublLcatLons,

Inc., 1965),

p. 25.

^Cited in Reese, Mnsin in t-he Renaissance, p. 665.

While the various keyboard instruments were playing their humble roles in relation to the exuberant and ever-increasing vocal traditions, the lute, the favored solo instrument of the late Middle Ages and early Renaissance, freed itself quite dramatically from the stifling chains of pre-existing vocal models and developed an independent and rich body of idiomatic musical expressLon. It seems quite evident that lute compo- sitions indeed served as the principal arena for the experi- mentation and development of new compositional types which would later serve the keyboard instruments so admirably. The lute books of Hans Newsidler (1510-1563), Hans Judenkûnig (1445-1526), Simon Gintzler (1490-1550), and Valentin Greff Bakfark (1507-1576) clearly show the emergence of speci- fic style characteristics--formal, melodic, rhythmic--which gradually become associated with the important late Renaissance and early Baroque keyboard compositions. For instance, the following Preambel of Hans Newsidler reveals the sustained chords, the ascending and descending scale passages, the free internal and external design, the overall improvisatory char- acter of the introductory type composition (prelude, preamble, pâramell, etc.) which shall persist for centuries to come.

Example 4: Preambel. by Newsidler, meas. 1-5.


















r ffr




A Recercar of Simon Gintzler emerges from the pol^^phonic motet tradition and points the way to the peculiar compositional style which will prevail throughout the long and distinguished history of this carefully constructed imitative expression 11





de r








im XVI.





Koczirz ,

p .


^^lbid. ,

p .


Example 5:

Recercar Primo, by Gintzler, meas. 1-4.


(L«u(e In G-Stlminuiip;.;










ai^apE H I^JÅ^M^JM-. i


- O -

- O -


Similarly, the two important types of fantasies already make their appearance in the various schools of I6th century lute compositions. V. G. Bakfark composes a Fantasie very much in the style of the ricercar with clearly-defined points of imitation on overlapping subjects each of which seems to grow out of its immediate predecessor.

1 n

Example 6:

Fantasie. by Bakfark, meas, 1-8.







-^mm —í*-

frf=^ ^







On the other hand, a lengthy composition of Hans Newsidler entitleci Preambel oder Fantasy exhibits an improvisatory opening section followed by an imitative middle section with constantly shifting motives and rhythms. The work closes v^7ith


a return to the freely composed textures of the beginning. Example 7: Preambel oder Fantasy, by Newsidler, meas, 7-10,


  • o- :A5_

  • 12 Ibid. ,

p .


  • 13 Ibid. ,

p .






0 "










r -s


Tr PP^

Dance compositions abound in most of the important lute

collections of the early and mid 16th century.

The single

dance is soon coupled with others of its genre or with a con-

trasting type to form a multi-movement work, Certain compo- sitions of Joan Ambrosia Dalza (?-?) combine three dances Into a pavana-saltarello-piva arrangement^^ and, consequently, the dance suite comes into existence,l^

Example '8: Pavana alla Venetiana, Salterello, and Piva. by Dalza

Pavana. meas. 1-8





^--t-^^^fer N F^ Ji^:_











[t--^ •--










m r:r:















-H— 'r




J'Jr-'J f^r







r~r~~ r



r- 7-r

Saltarello, meas, 1-6.



LtJ,B_J'_E_t!_ ti-^.P_JL P







f r


l'^Joan Ambrosia Dalza, Intabulatura de lauto, (1508),

facs. ed. by Friedrich Hofmeister (Hofheim Am Taunus:


8, 10, 12. l^Reese, Music in the Renaissance, p. 523.



Piva, meas. 1-5.

J!_&_^_ P _U .._



^ J P

























r"^D i r^^B''





The variation as a specific type of compositional technique appears as the second part of a single dance and then sepa- rates itself and becomes an independent section often entitled simply "another dance".

Example 9:

Der hoff Dantz and

Der ander hoff Dantz. by Judenki!inig.

Der hoff Dantz, meas. 1-6.



Der ander hoff Dantz, meas. 1-5

Even examples of falsobordone compositions are found in the lute literature of the mid-century. Francisco Guerrero (1527-1599) employs this technique in his setting of Psalm

Koczirz, Osterreichische Lautenmusik im XV . Jahr- hundert, pp. 12-13.

Tone IV found in Miguel de Fuenllana's Orphenica Ivra. 1554.17 Example 10: Falsobordone. by Guerrero, meas, 1-7,

A. é=í






i^#J- ^


*^^ -

















Exactly when all these highly developed types moved over into the realm of keyboard composition is unknown, but by the mid-century the Spanish keyboard school, headed by Antonio Cabezon (1510-1566), is vigorously cultivating a new keyboard artistry which eclipses all that has gone before, Considering the flourishing school of lute composition in Spain during the early 16th century, it may well be that Cabezon himself was the first keyboard composer to take advantage of the established forms, concepts, idioms, and techniques apparent in this rich literature, Moving freely and proudly far beyond the boundaries of any ancrent or contemporary vocal prototype, Cabezon intro- duces to the world a new keyboard culture which flows with an ever-increasing pace through the feverish creative activity of the English virginalists, the French clavecinists, the South and North Baroque German organists, the Italian galant compo- sers, the Viennese classicists and finally on to its magnifi- cent climax in late Romanticism and Impressionism, Cabezon's fertile imagination brings forth numerous dance movements with a sparkling array of variations which lay the groundwork for variation technique for generations to come. His bold, solemn Tientos move farther and farther away from their vo- cal models and set the style for the fugal ideal which will find its culmination in the high Baroque almost two hundred years latero His versets, hymn settings and other cantus-firmus types reach imaginative heights only glimpsed at by his predecessors. Here is keyboard writing par excellence not to be considered

l7Cited in Bradshaw, The Ori^in of the Toccata, p. 62.


only as an anticipatory exercise but as an outburst of exqui- site creative expressiveness occupying a position every bit as sublime as that of his Netherland and Italian contemporaries who at the same time are reaching the apogée of Renaissance vocal polyphony. Only a decade or so later the English vir- ginalists as well as the Venetian organists, undoubtedly pro- foundly influenced by Cabezon and his contemporaries, will continue the now highly sophisticated and firmly established keyboard tradition and secure it for all timeo Hundreds of examples of pattemed figuration, which will play such a prominent role in keyboard variation technique, as well as cadential formulae, scalar figures, flourishes and

peculiarly idiomatic keyboard formations can be found among the works of this great Spanish master; but only one will be cited here since the technique it represents has such a sig- nificant importance to this particular study, as will be seen


The following is from one of two collections of versets

based on the psalm tones. This particular setting is cast in

simple falsobordone style and bears a direct relationship to the Guerrero example given aboveo 18 Example 11. Fabordon Llano. and Fabordon Glosado. by Cabezc5n, meas. 1-9 and 1-5.

1. Fabordon llano




























X î .

4. Glosado con el Contralto y el Tenor





l e


JTT i i










i n

Of this and the other versets in the Fabordon y p,losas del primer. sep;undo . o . tone. Willi Apel states:

l^Cited in Willi Apel, The History of Keyboard Music to 1700. trans. Hans Tischler (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1970), p. 135.


Except for a few anonymous fabordones in Venegas's Libro de cifra nueva. Cabezo'n's pieces are the earliest documentation of the use of the organ in conjunction with the psalmody of the Offices,


particular during. Vespers. In the I6th century,

fabordon (in Italian: falsobordone) meant a

texture that may be regarded and

at the time was

regarded, as a later development of the fauxbourdon

of Dufay and

Binchois. It meant the four-part

harmonization of a melody especially of the psalmodic recitation formulae. Such simple har- monizations (fabordon llano) were also written with fast figurations in one voice or another and called fabordon gTosado (glossed). Cabezon's collection, the Fabordon v glosas. comprises four versets for each psalm tone. The versets are listed in the table of contents as llano, glosado con el tiple (glossed in the discant/, slosado con el contrabaxo (ornamented in the bass), and ^lo^ãdo con las vozes de en medio (ornamented in the alto and tenor, either alternately or simultaneously).19

It is precisely these techniques which Murray C. Bradshaw, in a brilliant study entitled The OriRÍn of the Toccata. sees as the compositional key to the great Venetran keyboard toccatas


which appeared during the last two decades of the century. Of all the compositional types which came into being during the High Renaissance, the toccata has played perhaps the most significant role in serving as a fertile field of keyboard idiomatic experimentation and development. The seeds of Baroque ornamentation, the amassing of great chordal sono- rities, the exploration of the extreme registers of the various instruments, the virtuosic flourishes, the soaring arpeggios, dramatic pauses, highly fluctuating rhythms and tempi are evident in even the earliest extant keyboard toccatas and .in some degree in practically all works of this genre from the very beginning through the monumental toccatas of Buxtehude and Bach on down to present day compositions. All are either directly or indi- rectly influenced by the toccata tradition.



Bradshaw, The Origin of the Toccata. p. 63.


According to most scholars, the term "toccata" was prob- ably derived from the Italian word "toccare" which means "to touch". Other forms encountered are "tastar" (from "tastare", also meaning "to touch") and "tochata". The latter two terms are found not infrequently in the lute collections of the early and mid 16th century. Joan Ambrosio Dalza includes five "tas-

tar de corde" in his II. Intablatura de Lauto of 1508. Four of these serve as introductory pieces to ricercars.^l These, as well as the four "tochati" of Giovanna Castelioni's collection

of 1536, bear little or no resemblance

to the fully developed

keyboard toccatas of the Venetian School. On the other hand, a "tochata" of the legendary Francisco de Milano of 1490 seems to open the door to the history of the keyboard toccata as a specific type composition with its own peculiar stylistic traits and its own internal and external integrityo The work contains ascending and descending lines, sustained tones, s.trong

beat dissonances through means of suspensions, transparent tex- tures, and a free improvisatory nature, all of which are char- acteristics of the keyboard toccata.

Example 12:

Tochata. by Francisco de Milano, meas. 1-5.

á f









Whether Francisco had any connection whatsoever with the great

school of organists

at St. Mark's is not known, but simply by

turning the page to the toccatas of A. Gabrieli (1520-1586),

  • 21 . G. Fellerer, ed., Anthology of Music, 44



Arno Volk Verlag, 1958), vol. 17: TÍie Toccãtã^, by Erich Valentin.


Padovano (1527-1575) and their contemporaries there appears to be no interruption in the line of future development.


here on

the toccata truly takes its place in the sun, marching

proudly along with the canzona, ricercar, intonazione. fanta-

sia and capriccio as the most important keyboard compositions

of the early and mid

Baroque eras.

The toccata will, of

course, outlast all these compositional types and, with the single exception of the prelude, is surely the most enduring

of all truly idiomatic keyboard expressions. Although most scholars are willing to assume that the toccata simply emerged from the several free, improvisatory instrumental types sometime during the latter decades of the 16th century (albng with the prelude, fantasia, intonazione. etc), Willi Apel states that:

Like the canzona it (the toccata) may have originated in a different field, perhaps in music for festive functions with trumpets and timpani only to be adapted later to the


As far as we know, this adaption was

done by Andrea Gabrieli, whose Intonationi d' orRano of 1593 also contains four toccatas.2Z In this assumption Apel apparently is relying on research done

by Otto Gombosi which was reported in an article entitled "Zur Vorgeschichte der Tokkata" appearing in the Acta Musicologica

in 1934.23

Gombosi quotes accounts of the use of the term

toccata as far back as 1393 which describe certain festive occasions, banquets, processions, weddings of nobility, coro-

nations, etcetera.

Here the term is applied to a fanfare type

of musLc played by an ensemble of trumpeters which in all proba-

bility was a simple improvisatory flourish by way of introducir*^ the impending ceremony. He also traces such practices directly to the later ensemble toccata in composed works such as Monte- verdi's Orfeo. He consequently sees little relation of the

22Apel, History of Kevboard Music to 1700, p, 222. 23otto Gombosi, "Zur Vorgeschichte der Tokkata", Acta MusLcologica. (April-Juni, 1934): pp. 49-53.


toccata to the free, improvisatory composition such as the preludes or preambulums which grow out of the "spirit of the keyboard". The toccata as a keyboard work j-s thus in no way a 'touching' or'^rasping' /reference to the definition of the toccata by Praetorius, see below, po 157 but rather a keyboard imi- tation of regal festive music. Like the fan- fare, the keyboard toccata is also an intro- ductory composition. However, in this realm

it is not

simply a more or less siiperfluous

variation of the prelude, with whose origins

it has nothing in common.

The prelude lost

that ele:\LaJia£L_character which the toccata kept and in which the festive tradition of

bygone centuries is preserved; it also main- tained that virtuosity which has insured it a continuing respect by virtue of its lofty po- sition and its improvisatory nature.24

There is no question concerning the fact that the key- board toccáta originated in Italy, but it seems strange that few scholars consider it in relation to the traditions estab- lished in lute composition. Just as the magnificent keyboard works of Cabezon and his contemporaries represented at least in part a transfer and extension of the vast achievements of the lutenists to the keyboard; so it would seem the Italians may well have followed a similar procedure. It is quite pos- sible that the prejudices surrounding the toccata of the high Renaissance might well have stemmed from the definitions set forth in various dictionaries and studies beginning with Praetorius who states in his famous Svntagma Musicum III

24Die Tokkate als Tasteninstrumentalsti!ick ist also keines- wegs eine 'Begreiffung' des Klaviers, ein 'Durchgriff*, son- dern eine klavieristische Nachahmung der prunkvollen, fest- lichen Fanfarenmusik. Wie die Fanfare, ist auch die Klavier- tokkate ein Einleitungsstillck. In diesem Bereich ist sie aber nicht nur eine mehr oder minder berfliîlssige Variante des Prâ- ludiums, mit dem sie dem Ursprunge nach nichts gemein hat. Dem Prâíudium geht jener gehobene Charakter ab, in dem die Tokkate die festliche Tradition vorgangener Jahrhunderte hÛtetî damit aber auch jene Virtuositât, der die Tokkate ihrer gehobenen Stellung und ihres improvisatorischen Wesens zufolge immer mehr zur Geltung verhilft." Ibid., p. 53.


(1619) that:

The toccata is like a praeambulum or praeludium, which an organist, starting to play on the organ or the harpsichord, improvises out of his head before he commences a motet or fugue, consisting of simple single chords and coloratura passages etc. The one plays in one way, the other in an- other; to expatiate on that is unnecessary here, and furthermore I consider myself too humble to prescribe any one manner to anyone.

And although I have collected many splendid tocca- tas by the most eminent Italian and Dutch organ- ists, and have added some myself, humble and simple

as I am, with a view to publishing them, up to now I have not carried this out for certain reasons. It is however my opinion that they are named 'toc- cata' by the Italians because 'toccare' means 'tan- gere, attingere' and 'toccata' 'tactus'; in like

manner the Italians say:

'Toccate un poco' which


'Strike the instrument' or 'Touch the cla-

vichord a little'. Thus a toccata may be named a

touching or handling of the clavichord.25

Christoph Demantius (1567-1643) also defines the toccata in a

similar fashion in his Isap;ose artis musicae (1632).

"A toc-

cata is a praeludium which

an organist improvises out of his

head before he commences a motet or fugue."^6 Johann Walther, in his Musikalisches Lexikon oder Musik- alische Bibliothek (1732), describes the toccata as a long piece to be played on the organ or clavicembalo, where either

both hands exchange scale work or else both are employed in scales while the pedal sustains long held notes.27 Five years later Joseph Mattheson comments on the form in his Kern melodischer Wissenschaft (1737)« He writes:

Yet another kind, shall I say of melody or of musical whim, is to be found among the forms of instrumental music, one which, unlike all the others, is indefîLnite: the so-called Fantasias or

^^Michael Praetorius, Synta^ma Musicum (1619) cited in Valentin, Preface to Toccata. p. 3.

^^Christoph Demantius, Isagoge artis musicae (1632), Ibid.

27johann Gottfried Walther, Musikalisches Lexikon (1732), facs. ed. by Richard Schaal (Basel: Bârenreiter-Verlag, 1953), p. 610.


Fantasies, of which the various kinds are boutades, capricci, toccatas, preludes, ritornelli, etc. Al- though all are intended to make the impression of being played impromptu, most of them have been prop-

erly written down; but they pay so little heed to

keeping to order and within

bounds that it

is diffi-

cult to append any other name to them than that of good ideas. Whence imagination is their symbol.^^ Mattheson extends the above quote with a further statement from Der vollkommene Kapellmeister (1732):

The principal and subsidiary sections may not be properly connected with one another, much less properly developed; therefore those composers who introduce formal fugues into their toccatas and fantasias have no conception of the style in hand, to which nothing is more opposed than order and constraint. The most successful is he who can insert the niost artistic ornaments and the most un- usual ideas.^^ Besides the fact that all these writers believed that the toc- cata was of an improvised nature, Praetorius and Mattheson agree that the piece served as an introduction to the motet or fugue. Sebastian de Brossard (1655-1730) defines "Toccata" in his Dictionnaire de Musique (1703) thusly:

Toccata (plural Toccate) It is a little like the Ricercata, Fantasia, Tastatura, etCo That which distinguishes it from the other types however is that it is usually played on the clavier. It is principally composed for the execution by two hands, one after the other--one usually effects an organ point, long held chords (usually the bass), while the upper voice plays fast notes, diminutions, scale passages, arpeggios, etc. Sometimes in the soprano, sometimes in the bass, where the left hand enters into the play.^O

28joseph Mattheson, Kern melodischer Wissenschaft (1737),

cited in Valentin, Preface to

'i'he Toccata. PP. 3-4.

29joseph Mattheson, Der vollkommene Kapellmeister (1732). Ibid., p. 4.

30"Toccata au plur, Toccate.

C'est ã peu pres comme

'Ricercata, Fantasia, Tastatura,' etc. Ce qui distinque ce- ^

pendant la 'Toccate' de ces autres especes

de Symphonie.

C'est que 1° elle se joi^e ordinairement sur des Instrumens a

claviers. Et 2o qu'elle est principalement compos^e pour


In Lehre von der musikalischen Komposition (1857), Adolf Bern- hard Marx writes:

However true it is that any piece of music dif- ficult or in rapid motion may be of service for technical practice of playing, a distinction must be made between those studies which are definitely intended, with a certain exclusive- ness, as a particular methodical practice, and those whose intention is more the development of unhampered playing, general ability of the performer, or even the expression of a thought,

of which this

playing is merely the means, and

which claims utterance for its own sake



pieces of music formerly bore the name toccata, and, if the principal content or the figuration were of a particularly peculiar, even wilfully individual kind the name caprice or capriccio.

Both of these forms were

also executed in the

style of the fantasia or combined with other

forms, for instance, that of the fugue.^l

Herman Grabner in his All^emeine Musiklehre (1924) states that the toccata is "a piece for keyboatrl instruments with full chords and interspersed with rich passages of runs".32 i^ 1926 Karl Blessinger in his Grundzi^^e der musikalischen For-

menlhhre defines the term as being "a mosaic".

He places it

in a group with the prelude of earlier times, with fantasias, and "with so-called potpourris", a definition very similar to Marx.33 Friedrich Blume, in Die Musik in Geschichte und Gegen- wart, describes the toccata as being "courtly-ceremonial wind music" which is found in the I5th and 16th centuries in both


l"exercice des deux mains l'une apres l'autre, parce que l'on y affecte d'ordinaire des l'Orgue ou de longues tenuås, tan- tot, dans la Basse, tandis que le Dessus fait des 'vitresses', des 'diminutions', des 'passages', des 'tirades', etc. tantôt dans le Dessus, tandis que la Basses ou la main gauche tra- vaille a fon tour, etc." Sebastian de Brossard, Dictionnaire de Musique. facs. ed. by Christophe Ballard (Amsterdam: Anti- qua, 1964), s.v. "Toccata".

^ 31cited in Valentin, Preface to The Toccata, p. 4. ''^lbid.


both Italy and Spain.34' Bradshaw refers to defínitions and descriptions by Wilhelm Fischer, Emst Ferand and Egon Ken- ton:

In 1924 Wilhelm Fischer described them (toccatas) as 'free compositions', that is, not based on


cantus firmus or any vocal model. They lack, he

said, "A vocal standard and, thus, all formal di- rection: here was the first playground of pure,

instrumental music. ' Emst Ferand, in 1938, echoed this sentiment when he wrote that these toccatas re- veal for the first time a 'spontaneous* ('unmittel- bar;*-) type of instrumental music, one that acquired Lts shape directly from the nature of the instru-

ment itself, not indirectly from a vocal

model. . .


A final hypothesis recently put forth by Egon Ken- ton is that the tonality of these compositions--ex- pressed by such titles as 'toccata of the first tone' --is actually quite ambiguous, and that such titles were affixed to these pieces, as he says, purely 'for tradition's sake.'35 Willi Apel defines the toccata in his Harvard Dictionary of Music as "a keyboard (organ, harpsichord) composition in free, idiomatic keyboard style, employing full chords and running passages, with or without the inclusion of sections in imi- tative style (fugues).3b in John Gillespie's Five Centuries of Kevboard Music. a similar definition appears. He says that the toccata is "a keyboard piece in free style with contrasting textures and tempos."37 Max Seiffert gives an explanation as to what the toccata is in his Geschichte der Klaviermusik:

Next to the ricercar and the fantasie, with Andrea Gabrieli, we find two new coí^*:rasting

(^3|^Friedrich Blume, ed. , Die Musik in Geschichte und Gep.en-

wart '"'^(Kassel und Basel:

cata", by Hans Hering.

Bårenreiter-Verlag, 1949) , s ,v. "Toc-


The Orip;in of the Toccata, pp. 15-16.

36/WlllI Apel, Harvard Dictionary of Music, 2nd ed.


bridge, Mass.: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1969V s.Vo "Toccatao"


Gillespie, Five Centuries of Kevboard Music. p. 439.


forms, the intonation and the toccata, which correspond in a real sense to the German pre- lude. They existed doubtlessly for a long time previously, although in the early stages were of a somewhat formless construction, im- provised on the spur of the moment. Now with the advanced study of their development, they win their own intrinsic récognition in the field of musical study.38

In Grove's Dictionary of Music and Musicians the similarity

of toccatas to preludes and fantasias is stressed:

The name for a kind of instrumental composi-



in the beginning





. .

"Toccata" represents a touch-

piece. , , intended to exhibit the touch and

execution of the performer, In this respect it is almost synonymous with prelude and fan- tasia; but it has its special characteristics

so varied as


to be difficult to define clear-

Another definition of the toccata appears in Baker's Biogra-

phical Dictionarv of Musicians:

An early species of composition for keyboard instruments, originating in Italy toward the close of the 16th century. In style it is free and bold, approaching the old fantasia; it has no distinctive form, but consists of runs and passages alternating with fugal or contrapuntal work, built up in the more elabo- rate specimens on a figure or theme, generally

38"Neben dem Ricercar und der Fantasie treten uns bei A, Gabrieli zwei neue Forme entgegen Intonation und Toccata, die in eigentlichem Sinne dem deutschen Prâludium entsprechen. Sie haben zweifellos auch vorher schon lange existiert, waren jedoch anfânglich nur formlose Gebilde kleineren Umfanges, aus dem Augenblick heraus improvisierto Nunmehr, im vorger ckte- ren Stadium der Entwickling gewinnen sie auch eine eigene musikalisch-literarische Bedeutungo" Max Seiffert, Geschichte der Klaviermusik (Hildesheim: Georg Olms Verlagsbuchhand- lung, 1966), pp. 36-37.

39sir George Grove, ed. Grove's Dictionarv of Music and


5th edo by Eric Blom (New York:

St. Martin's Press,

1970), sTvo "Toccata" by Frederick Cordero


in equal notes, with a flowing style and lively, rapid movement.'^O

Obviously under the influence of the 17th and 18th cen-

tury definitions of the toccata, scholars right down to the

present day have emphasized primarily the improvisatory char-

acter of the work along with its function as a sort of intro-

ductory composition. Even Apel in his recent and admirable

Historv of Kevboard Music to 1700 classifies the toccata

under the general heading of "free forms".^^ However, as

mentioned above, Murray C. Bradshaw completely re-examined

the entire question and in his publication of 1972 sheds an

entirely new light on the origin of the toccata as well as

the compositional bases for toccatas beginning with the Vene-

tian School and on into the latter decades of the I7th cen-

tury. He readily admits the relationship between the into-

nazione and the toccata as suggested by Apel, Valentin and

others but is not satisfied to stop there:

Yet, the undeniable relationship between intonation and toccata does not explain the origin of these forms. What gave rise to such a clearly idiomatic

style of keyboard writing? Are both forms simply improvisational creations of inspired organists? Why did these compositions find such fertile ground in Venice? It is not enough to consider the Vene- tian keyboard toccatas as a fait accompli and to view them chiefly as the cornerstone upon which future composers--Sweelinck, Frescobaldi, Frober- ger, and Bach, for instance--were to build their

more familiar edifices.

From all that is known

of the practice of composition in the Renaissance, it is difficult to assume that these lengthy pieces, at times so intense in muslcal expression, were writ- ten without composers having some sort of control

^Oxheodore Baker, Baker's Biop;raphical Dictionary of

Musicians. 5th ed. by Nicolas Slominsky Schirmer, 1958), s.v., "Toccata."

(New York:


'^lApel, Historv of Kevboard Music to 1700, p. 222 o


over them, other than one of a mere contrast of texture. Furthermore, although the Vene- tLans were the first to publish a large group

of toccatas, their works gave no

hint of ex-

perLmentation or insecurity. On the contrary. they were the creations of self-assured musi-

CLans who seem to have known exactly what thev

were doing. The question

arises, then, as to

whether toccata composers may have had models. perhaps even vocal models, that have so far been overlooked by historians and scholars.^2

Noting the stroQgharmonic functionalism in the Venetian

toccatas, the slow harmonic rhythms and the similarity in ca-

dential structures in works cast in similar modes, he turns

back to the old falsobordone techniques which appeared in

the early decades of the 16th century and continued with

ever-increasing pace in both vocal and instrumental expres-

sions. He cites an example of a lute falsobordone by

Guerrero which

appeared in 1554 (see above p. 9) and a key-

^°^^^ fabordon ITano or simple falsobordone by Venegas de

Henestrosa (?-?). Both these works are built on Gregorian

psalm tones as are many of the vocal falsobordoni of the

periodo Still another quoted falsobordone composition makes

use of the "glosado" technique or embellishment of the ori-

ê^^^^ cantus firmus in one or more voices in the prevailing

texture. From there he moves to Cabezon's treatment of the

psalm tones in certain of his versets where elaborate embel-

lishing procedure is in evidence.'^3

Example 13: Fabordon glosado. by Cabezon, meas. 5-12.








- o-

"^^Bradshaw, The Origin of the Toccata. p. 17. ^3ibid,, p, 21.



T r j r '^ íu




J L.







He notes that the "stylistic similarities between this

piece and the earliest intonations are quite remarkable, so

much so that it can be maintained that such falsobordoni

served as models for the more assured and brilliant intona-

tioni of the two Gabrielis. "^'^

Considering the basic function of the intonations and

the Venetian toccatas, i.e., as introductory compositions

to the singing of the psalms in certain of the Holy Serv-

ices, he seeks a melodic and harmonic relationship of the

Gregorian tones to the overall content of these composition-

al types. It is apparent that no visible cantus firmus ex-

ists, but by careful analysis of the overall tonal direc-

tions he finds that, indeed, the original melody is hidden

among the idiomatic flourishes, imitative sections, and long

sustained chordal blocks:

But the astonishing fact is that the toccata too is based on the ideal presence of the psalm tone, and its figurations similarly founded on the sim- ple harmonic progressions underlying the invisible melody. Even though toccatas differ in length and complexity, they are essentially intonations ex- panded in time by the simple process of repeating the psalm tone, a technique already observed in Giovanni's intonation of the fifth tone.43

Since the actual cantus firmus is not present in any

single voice of the textures but is undoubtedly the under-

lying basis for the entire compositional procedure, he re-

fers to the pre-existing melody as an "ideal" cantus firmus.

^^lbid., p. 22.

^5ibid., p. 28.


He illustrates in a most convincing manner the presence of

this "ideal me ody" in many of the Venetian toccatas by pre-

senting portions of a particular work and superimposing over

them the original cantus firmus from which the melodic and

harmonic content evolves. His conclusions are a radical and

dramatic departure from the conventional concepts of toccata

composition and its continual inclusion among the "free" type

expressions of the 16th century:

It can be seen, too, that the toccata is not an improvisatory composition, at least not in the sense that the musician is creating something 'unforeseen' ('in provisus') or something evolved on the spur of the moment ('extempore'). If the toccata is improvisatory at all, it is in the sense of 'discantus super librum,' that ancient practice of adding parts at sight to a given

plainsong. It is also

improvisatory in the

decorations that grace the 'harmonized' psalm


But the concept of free improvisation

in the toccata must be greatly altered, for the composer or organist was guided throughout his composition by one of the most solid of all com- positional techniques--a cantus firmus.^"

Thus, it can now be seen that the keyboard toccata be-

longs in reality to the cantus firmus types»

However, the

most remarkable factor is that, like the lutenists some dec-

ades earlier, the Venetians freed themselves from the pre-

existing vocal models and explored the innermost capabili-

ties of their instrument, thereby developing a true idio-

matic keyboard technique, highly imaginative and original

but, most importantly, controlled and secured by proven com-

positional techniqueso

As has been seen, the keyboard toccata originated in

Italy where the first important center of compositional

activity was St. Mark's Cathedral in Venice. Within a few

years, most of the important organist-composers in all the

great cathedral cities were engaging in both the perform-

ance and creation of the Venetian toccata. This fact is

^6ibid., p. 35.


attested to by the inclusion of thirteen toccatas in Girolamo

Diruta's (1557-1612) widely circulated and highly esteemed H

Transilvano. Part I of which appeared in 1593 jpllowed by Part

II in 1608.^7 Composers of toccatas include: four by Diruta

(nos. 1, 2, 3, and 13), two by Andrea Gabrieli (nos. 5 and 12),

and one each by Claudio Merulo (1533-1604), Giovanna Gabrieli

(1554-1612), Luzzascho Luzzaschi (1545-1607), Antonio Romanin

(?-?), Paolo Quagliati (1555-1628), Vincenzo Bell'haver (?-

1587), and Gioseffo Guami (1530 or '40-1611) (nos. 4 and 6-11).

Other Italian organist-composers of this important period of

toccata history are: Annabali Padovano (1527-1600), Sperin-

dio Bertoldo (1530-1570), Giovanni Picchi (?-?), Adriano Ban-

chieri (1568-1634) and Giovanni Mario Trabaci (1580-1647).

Apel gives credit to Andrea Gabrieli as having solved

the problem of what he refers to as the weakness of the "free"

style, inherent in the early keyboard toccata. It is

a style whose roots originate not in compo- sition but in improvisation, satisfied only with-


in a small framework.

Thus a new element had to

be incorporated into the toccata to enable it to outgrow the miniature form of the intonation, Andrea Gabrieli recognized this need and started on the road that was to prove the most fruitful

in the future, though it was not the only one. He connected the style of free improvisation with the one that contrasted most with it, the strictly polyphonic style of the ricercar. His Toccatas del sexto tono and del nono tono both adopt this principle of construction. A section in ricercar style is inserted between the opening and conclud-

ing sections of passage work,

Although the free

sections in these toccatas are monotonous in them-

selves, they achieve greater meaning and signifi- cance as parts of the whole,^^

Reese also emphasizes these contrasting elements as sig-

nificant characteristics of the Venetian toccata, particularly

-^^Girolamo Diruta, II Transilvano, (1593 and 1608),

facs. edo (Bologna:

Forni Editori, 1969),

48Apel, Historv of Kevboard Music to 1700, p, 222.


those of Merulo^ "Meruj.o likes toccatas



a substantial

polyphonic, rlcg^^care-like middle section between two bril-

liant sections in toccata style, and sometimes expands the

scheme to

include a fourth section in ricercare style and a

fifth qne in toccata style".49

Such specifics unfortunately led to generalizations in

the existing literature on the early toccata, Only a few

scholars discuss the function of the genre, its inevitable

introductory, fanfare nature /Gombosi is an exception7 and,

until Bradshaw, the strcng functional harmonic structure

resulting from the ornamented falsobordone treatment of the

psalm tone. It is undeniably true that altemating textures,

varied rhythmic fluctuations, and interspersed passages in

imitation occur frequently in certain of these works, but, as

will be seen in Chapter II of this study, others display com-

plete uniformity in melodic and rhythmic patterns with qui-

etly flowing lines sweeping in an almost lyrical manner from

the beginning to the end. Intemal cadences may be strongly

punctuated or gently buried in the continuous undulations of

the unceasing passage work.

However, certain stylistic characteristics developed by

the Venetians remain in toccata compositions from that time

right down to the present day;

stateliness, richness of so-

norities, solemnity, majesty, slow harmonic rhythms, idio-

matic figures and a

and is, a work that

demand for virtuosic technique. It was,

demands attention from its audience, an

expression not to be taken lightly, and although its origi-

nal function as an integral part of the Holy Service has long

since passed, there lies hidden, among all the glittering fa-

cades, imposed by some four hundred years, that stern waming

that if the officiating priest dared interrupt the organist

before he brought his toccata to a close he was compelled by

'^^Reese, Music in the Renaissance, p. 541.


law to pay a monetary fine.^^

From Venice, toccata composition went in several dif-

ferent directions. The first and the one which, oddly

enough, evidenced the most strict adherence to the original

concepts and purposes was the Protestant North. Here the

toccata enjoys sublime treatment in the hands of the great

Dutch organist-composer Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck (1562-1612).

The question still remains concerning Sweelinck's study with

Gioseffo Zarlino (1517-1590), but nonetheless it is quite

apparent that through Sweelinck, the Venetian toccata style

follows closely the established tradition of the ornamented

falsobordone but superimposed upon it are the short patt^rn

figures, the clean transparent textures, melodic and rhyth-

mic terseness he undoubtedly learned from the English vir-

ginalists. It is always fascinating to speculate on styl-

istic traditions, where they come from, and more interesting-

ly, where they go. Cabezôn's influence on the English virgi-

nalists has long been established as well as the strong ties

of the virginalists to Sweelinck. The question then arises,

does the amalgamation of the Cabezon tradition with that of

the Venetian finally occur, of all places, in the Protestant

North, in a cultural and spiritual milieu quite alien to both?

At any rate, there is a clear line of compositional evo-

lution (formal, harmonic, rhythmic, structural), leading right

from Sweelinck on to Buxtehude and Bach. Toccata techniques

similar to the Venetians are very much in evidence in the

works of Pieter Cornet, as well as in the three toccatas of

Samuel Scheidt (1587-1604), Sweelinck's most famous pupil,

Two of Scheidt's toccatas adhere very closely to the pattem

established by Sweelinck both in style and structure.-^••- But

the toccata, work no. XII in Tabulatura Nova II, based on the

50Frotsche, Geschichte der Or^elspiels imd der Orp;el-

komposition. p. 209.

^lBradshaw, The Orip;in of the Toccata, p. 69.


psalm "in te Domino speravi", reveals an entirely different

compositional style.52 An imitative section utilizing the

cantus firmus in long notes gradually increases in motion

until a rather florid passage emerges with sixteenth-note

figures dominating the texture. The third section appears

making use of short motives derived from the cantus firmus

followed by three additional well-defined sections of alter-

nating fast and slow rhythmic patterns. Scheidt's great pen-

chant for applying variation technique to most of his key-

board compositions effects strong sectionalization and re-

sults in a quasi multi-movement composition. It may well

be the very first such treatment of the toccata and could

certainly have prepared the way for the multi-movement toc-

catas of both Buxtehude and Bach.

The second path of continuation of the Venetian toccata

tradition leads to Southem Germany and Austria, probably

transmitted there by Annibale Padovano, who was employed at

Graz a§ organist and chapel master at the court of Prince

Charles, Archduke of Austria. The toccatas of Adam Steig-

leder (1561-1633), Hans Leo Hassler (1564-1612), Jacob Has-

sler (1569-1622) and Christian Erbach (1573-1635) all fol-

low closely the Italian models:

In the opening

of a 'toccata II. tone' for

instance, Hans Leo Hassler stays very close

to the melody of the second psalm tone, par-

ticularly the second half of it, which he

presents four times (exactly as Scheidt did

in his setting of the same tone), after which

he employed the entire tone and then began an

imitative section.53

Although his toccatas are of much shorter duration than

most of the Venetian models, Samuel Mareschal (1554-1640),

52christhard Mahrenholz, ed., Samuel Scheidt Werke,

Band Vl/2 Tabulatura Nova, Teil 11, (Leipzig:Deutscher

Verlag fillr Musik, 1976).

53Bradshaw, The OrÍRÍn of the Toccata, p. 73.


who was active in Basel, adiieres very closely to the estab-

lished tradition of elaborated falsobordone as does Johann

Jacob Froberger (1616-1667), who was court organist in Vienna.

His twenty-four toccatas open with a presentation of the

psalm tone melody after which sections with contrasting melo-

dies and rhythms appear. The

eight toccatas of Johann Kas-

par Kerll (1627-1683) also follow the Venetian tradition.

The compositional techniques began gradually to change with

the next generation of Viennese composers as they use less

and less frequently

the psalm tone basis but do retain other

unmistakable characteristics of the Venetian genre. Among

those whose works include toccatas are F. T. Richter (1649-

1738), Georg Muffat (1653-1704), Georg Reutter (1656-1738),

Fo S. A. Murschhauser (1663-1738) and S. A. Scherer (1631-

1712). Georg Muffat replaæs the Venetian external structure

of a one-movement work to a suite-like composition, again

pointing the way to the multi-movement works of the high


The third path leading from Venice goes directly to Rome

and to the fertile imagination and highly effective composi-

tional skill of Girolamo Frescobaldi (1583-1643), organist at

St. Peter's Cathedral. Even though Frescobaldi studied with

Luzzasco Luzzaschi, one of the most important figures among

the Venetians, his more than fifty toccatas do not entirely

exhibit the expected stylistic relationship to the older mas-

ters either in internal or external formal designs. Only a

few utilize the psalm tone procedure and even these present

only fragments interspersed at widely separated intervals in

a given composition. Bradshaw speculates that the reason for

the abandonment of this technique is due to the function of

the toccatas in the service :

The purpose of the introductory piece here was

54Bradshaw, The Origin of the Toccata, p. 73.


most likely one of transition. In effect,

they are preludes to the Offertory (during

which the ricercar was performed), the


part of the 'Mass of the Faithful',

just as toccatas "avanti la Messa" are pre-

ludes to the 'Mass of the Catechumens',

Thus, the toccatas before the ricercar

linked not only Credo to Offertory, but

also the teaching portion of the Mass to

the sacrificial part. Again, liturgical

considerations predetermined musical style.

Even in his three toccatas 'before the Mass',

Frescobaldi preferred a brief sort of com-

position, most likely to balance the tocca-

tas that would appear

later in the service.

In any case, none of the toccatas in his

Fiori musicali--neither those played 'be-

fore the Mass,' 'after the Credo' nor 'at

the Elevation'--were associated by liturgi-

cal position with a psalm tone.^^

Also'a number of Frescobaldi's toccatas were written

for clavier and not for organ, a fact which precludes en-

tirely any liturgical function. Many of the melodic,

rhythmic and textural features of the old Venetian tocca-

ta are present, however, and it should not be assumed that

he totally disregarded the established tradition. The Toc-

cata Prima from the 1637 collection attests to this fact with

its slow moving harmonies and the sustained chords in either

the upper or lower voices, over and under which

scalar fig-

ures or written-out trills saturate the overall texture.56

Example 14: Toccata Primop by Frescobaldi, meas. 1-2.


55ibLdo, p. 78.

^^Girolamo Frescobaldi, Orgel und Klavierwerke, vol. IV,


A high degree of internal sectionalization is to be found in

the longer toccatas which again points the way to the multi-

movement or suite-like procedures of the high Baroque.

Of great interest and fascination are the Toccatas di

durezze e ligature (toccatas of dissonance and suspension).

Chromaticism, cross-relationships, striking dissonances a-

bound in these works, which effect a profound emotional and

almost tragic aura.57

Example 15: Toccata Ottava di durezze e ligature,

by Frescobaldi, meas. 1-3.

In his first book of toccatas (1615) Frescobaldi gives a

lengthy explanation of exactly how he wants his toccatas to

be played.

Since the instructions are so explicit and are

quite pertinent to modern day interpretation they are given

here in their entirety.

To the reader:

Since I well know how much the manner of

playing that involves vocal affects and differ-

entiation of sections /passj,/ is f avored, I

thought it right to prove my interest and sym-

pathy therewith through this modest work,

which I deliver to the printer together with

the following

remarks. .


  • 1. This manner of playing must not always

follow the same meter; in this respect it is

similar to the performance of modern madri-

gals, whose difficulty is eased by taking the

beat /battura7 slowly at times and fast at

others, even by pausing with the singing in

accordance with the mood or the meaning of

the words.

57ibLd., p. 32.



In the toccatas I have seen to it not


only that they are rich in varied sections

and moods /passi diversi et affetti7 but


also that one may play each section sepa-


rately, so that the player can stop wher^

ever he wishes ...



The beginnings of the toccatas must be


played slowly and arpeggiando ...



In tr ills as well as in runsj_ whether


they mqve by skips or by steps /passage di

salto o di grado7, one must pause on the


last note, even when it is an eighth or

sixteenth note /croma o biscroma/, or dif-


ferent from the next note.

Such a pause


will avoid mistaking one passage for an-



Cadenzas, even when notated as fast


'^critte veloce7,_must be well sustained

sostenerle assai/, and when one approaches


the end of a passáge run or a cadenza,_the

tempo must be taken even more slowly /sos-

tenendo il tempo piu adagio/.




Caesurae or ends of sections /passj./

occur where both hands s imul;taneously play


a consonance in half notes /minime7. Where

a trill in one hand is pl^ed simultaneously

with a run in the other, one must not play

note against note, but try to play the trill



the run in a more sustained and ex-

pressive manner, otherwise confusion will



When there is a section with eighth notes


in one hand and sixteenths in the other, it

should not be executed too rapidly; and the

hand that plays the sixteenth notes should

dot them somewhat, not the first one, how-

ever, but the second one, and so on through-

out, not the first but the




8o Before executing parallel runs /passi dopp_i/

of sixteenth notes in both hands, one must pause

on the preceding note, even when it is a black


one; then one should attack the passage with

determination, in order to exhibit the agil-

ity of the hands all the more.



In the variations that include both runs


and expressive passages, it will be good to

choose a broad tempo; one may well observe

this in the toccatas also. Those variations

that do not include runs one may play quite

fast /alquanto allegre di battutay, and it is

left to the good taste and judgement of the.

player to choose the tempo correctly. HereLn


lie the spirit and perfection of this manner

of playing and of this style.58

Several other south Italian toccata composers should be

mentioned: Jean de Maque (ca. 1550-1614) and his students,

Ascánio Mayone (d. 1627) and Giovanni Maria Trabaci (d. 1647).

Both Mayone and Trabaci adhere closely to the Venetian tech-

niques and general style, but the one surviving toccata of

de Maque is a toccata "a modo di Trombette". With its over-

all fanfare character, massive chordal structures and deco-

rative flourishes, the work seems to bear out Gombosi's

theory that the keyboard toccata, at least in part, origi-

nated from old medieval practices. There are six surviving

toccatas of Ercole Pasquini (c. 1560-1620), organist at Fer-

rara and Rome, all of which are based on psalm tones and de-

via.te in no way from the established Venetian traditions .^^

An interesting development in toccata composition and

one which will exert strong influence on clavier composition

in general and the 19th and 20th century toccata in particu-

lar occurs aro.und 1670 in the works of a certain Neapolitan

composer. This, in brief, is a toccata written in the form

of' perpetuum mobile and is seen for the first time in a toc-

cata by Alessandro Stradella (1645-1682, which is his only

known keyboard composition. Stradella's toccata is some

eighty measures long and consists entirely of continuous six-

teenth-note motion in one hand or the other and sometimes in

both simultaneouslyo^^ Ti:ie_^psalm- tone basis has now completely

disappeared as well as the alternating sections of homophonic

and fugal textures. Certain stylistic characteristics, how-

ever, do relate this new concept of toccata conception to the

older traditions: the scalar passage work, the overall

58cited in Apel, History


of the Kevboard to 1700, pp.

59Bradshaw, The Origin of the Toccata, p. 77.

60Apel, Historv of the Kevboard to 1700, p. 694.


brilliance and virtuosic display, the idiomatic motivic for-

mations, slow harmonic rhythms and the general seriousness

of purpose which pervades the entire composition.

Other I7th century composers who continue this particu-

lar tradition are Johann Pachelbel (1653-1706), Alessandro

Scarlatti (1659-1725) and Domenico Zipoli (1675-1736). Scar-

latti's some forty keyboard toccatas are among his finest com-

positions and nearly all consist of several well-defined sec-


In almost all, however, there is at least one move-

ment in perpetual motion.^l

Example 16; Toccata. by A. Scarlatti, meas. 1-4. 62

Allcgrí.) (Jr 116)

During the latter quarter of the I7th century, toccata

composition appears to decline in interest among the north

Germans who previously had accepted the Venetian tradition

so eagerly and effectively.

It is actually not until the

61lbido , po 700.

^^Fondajone Eugenio Bravo, gen. ed., I Classici Musi-

cali Italiani.

15 vols.


Ricardi Sc Co. , 1956),

vol. 13:

Allesandro Scarlatti, Primo e secondo libro di


magnificent works of Dietrich Buxtehude (1637-1707) that we

witness a second outpouring of the toccata ideal.

In the

modern editions of Buxtehude's works only some four tocca-

tas are listed, but, as Apel states:

almost all of Buxtehude's so-called preludes

and fugues are in reality toccatas or are

more closely related to this species than to

what is commonly referred to as prelude and ,


We shall call them toccatas, no mat-

ter what they are called in the manuscripts

or in the modern editionso^3

The overall characteristics of these splendid compositions

(most of them for organ) are so closely aligned with the ori-

ginal Venetian concepts (although none are based on psalm

tones) that it is indeed difficult to refute Apel's state-


Passage work of great brilliance, dramatic

pedal solos, breath-taking rests, obstinate

ostinatos, expressive recitatives, boldly

traced fugal subjects, massive chords, and

sustained pedal points as bases for lively

motivic play or for gently flowing sicilia-

nos are some of the multifarious ideas that

come and go, carried forward by a magnificent

elan and embedded in a harmonic framework

that is as firm as it is elastico"'^

It should be stressed once again, however, that to Apel,

the toccata, particularly that of the Venetian tradition, is

a keyboard work characterized by alternating sections of flow-

ing virtuosic passage work and those in fugal style.


concept of the toccata leads directly to the great toccatas

of J. S. Bach, who, as he did with the fugue, the fantasia,

the variation, the dance suite, the sonata, the concerto,

brought the Baroque toccata to its absolute apogee. The sev-

en harpsichord toccatas are all multi-movement works: f#

(B.W.V. 910), four movements, c (B.W.V. 911), five movements.

^^Apel, Historv of the Kevboard to 1700, p. 613,



  • D (B.W.V. 912), four movements, d (B.W.V. 913), four move-

ments, e (B.W.V. 914), four movements, g (B.W.V. 915), five

movements, and G (B.W.V. 916), three movements. All seven

begin with a short introductory movement utilizing virtuo-

sic figuration, often rather rhapsodic in character, with

shifting motivic and rhythmic formations; this is followed

either by a free fugal section (oftentimes making use of

ingeniously manipulated double counterpoint), or an adagio,

of the aria type interspersed with free cadential figures

in a faster


The last movement is invariably fugal

in style, most often strict in its imitative procedures and

sometimes making use of the gigue rhythm and overall charac-

ter. Very interesting and noteworthy is the second movement

of the f# toccata which is written in 3/2 meter and


a highly chromatic melodic and harmonic texture. The rela-

tionship of this and the old Frescobaldi Toccata di durezze

e ligature is unmistakable. As has been pointed out many

times, Bach had intimate knowledge of Frescobaldi's Fiori

Musicali and the retrospective glances at this monumental

collection are frequent, not only in the toccatas but in many

other works as well.

The three

organ toccatas, B.W.V. 564, 565, 566, are prob-

ably the best known works in this particular genre. All

three follow môre closely the established Buxtehude proce-

dure than do

the harpsichord toccatas ; the massive C major

toccata consists of three movements, the first a typical

virtuosic flourish with long flowing scalar passages, a bril-

liant section for solo pedal and then a more closely knit pas-

sage in quasi-concertato styleo The adagio is a beautiful aria

with the principal melodic interest in the upper voice part;

the gigantic fugue sweeps uninterruptedly until its final

dissolution into a short virtuosic passage, reminiscent of

the beginning. The famous d minor

toccata is so familiar it

really warrants no further discussion here. Cast in only two

movements, the work exhibits a dramatic intensity that is


almost unparalleled in keyboard expressions of the 18th or

any other century. The third toccata in the group, E major,

consists of four movements: the usual florid opening pas-

sages interspersed with long sustained chords, followed by

a fugal movement, a return to the character of the first

movement and then a second fugue which dissolves into sca-

lar flourishes leading to the final cadence, Finally there

are the magnificent organ toccatas in d minor (the "dorian",

B.W.Vo 538) and the F major (the "great" B,W,V, 540), Both

of these consist of only two movements, the first of which

is closely related to the perpetual motion type toccata of

the late I7th century and also makes use of the concertato

technique of tutti and solo contrasts, Among other keyboard

works of Bach which are definitely in toccata

style are a

number of organ preludes and fugues /Valentin includes all

eighteen, excluding the EÍRht Little Preludes and FuRues.

plus the two great Fantasias and FuRues in c and g respec-

tiveljy/. Again his c.onclusions, like those of Apel, are

mainly based on the rhapsodic character of the works as well

as the alternating scalar and

fugal sections. Certain of the

preludes from both volumes of The Well Tempered Clavier exhi-

bit strong toccata stylistic traits: D, Vol, I, a typical

Italian perpetual motion toccata with an extended cadential

flourish; the e-flat, Vol. I, looking all the way back to

Merulo with its opening sixteenth and thirty-second note

scalar figures over slow moving harmonies, followed by an

imitative section in much slower rhythms and finally a third

section combining elements of both one and two; and especially

the B-flat, Vol. I, resplendent with broken chordal figures,

nervous rhythms, virtuosic scales, arpeggiated passages and

an air of great splendor and ceremonial majesty.

The some one hundred and fifty years separating the

^^Valentin, Preface to The Toccata. p. 10.


death of Merulo and the death ofBacli^saw many changes in

the keyJbo^ard-^XiQCjGaXa.: the complete loss of its original

liturgical function, the gradual disappearance of its can-

tus firmus basis, and the gradual dissolution of its closely-

knit internal design which effected that marvelous unified

sweep no matter how many rhythmic or textural changes might


The virtuosic element gave rise to the toccata in

perpetual motion; the alternating textures gradually e-

volved into a multi-movement work, either suite-like with

three, four or five movements or as a two-movement genre

which casts the improvisatory elements into the first part

entitled Toccata and the imitative elements into an indepen-

dent Fugue.

As we enter the plassic and early rqmantic eras, the

toccata seems to followtwo distinct paths (both derivative,

of course, from the early forms). The toccata may appear

simply as an introductory

piece, as in the works of Muzio

Clementi (1752-1832) "either appended to a sonata (opus 20)

or as 'prelude' to a combination of four

studies for a sona-

ta, or as 'lntroduction' or 'Preludio con fuga (in 'Gradus ad

Parnassum') or finally as a cadenza-like piece for piano as

in the 'Musique characteristique,' opus 19 ".66 The


path is a continuation of the perpetual motion, highly vir-

tuosic toccata closely aligned with the Etude or as entitled

by Giuseppe Frances Pollini (1763-1846) Esercizi in forma di


Carl Czerny (1791-1857) calls his opus 92 Toccata ou

Exercise which exhibits perpetual sixteenth-note motion gen-

erally in both hands, from the beginning to the final ca-


66valentin, Preface to The Toccata, p. 11.

67ibid. , po 11.

68ibid., p. 51.


Example 17: Toccata ou Exercise,

by Czerny, meas• 1.







A similar procedure is found in Schumann's famous Toc-

cata in C, opus 7o

Although cast in sonata form, this one-

movement work exemplifies all the fire, brilliance, excite-

ment of continuous motion, drive and relentless bravura

which can be drawn from the resources of the piano.69

Example 18:

Toccata, op. 7, by Schumann, meas. 1-4.

The less pretentious Toccatinas of Josef Rheinberger (1839-

1901) also can be classed as the perpetual motion type al-

though they are somewhat lyrical in their overall character

and in no way make the technical demands

of the Schumann work.

The same general compositional style and techniques appear in

the toccata from Pour le Piano of Claude Debussy written in

  • 19010 Continuous sixteenth-note patterns sweep through a

series of alternating dynamic levels creating a brief but

intoxicating moment of sheer pianistic joy. The culminating

point of the perpetual motion toccata may very well be in the

Toccata, opus 11, of Serge Prokofieff. Although it is no more

technically demanding than the Schumann, the combination of

repeated-note figures, creating a relentless percussive

background, plus the dissonant chordal clusters, result in

69ibid., p. 55.


a forceful, driving cascade of sound, which all but over-

whelms the listener as

well as the performer. The same al-

most supernatural aura which must have held spellbound the

worshippers in St. Mark's during the great tonal outpour-

ings of Merulo's toccatas is surely attained here in the

Prokofiev work, but through and by entirely different styl-

istic approaches and techniques.

A return to old Venetian and Baroque toccata ideals is

clearly apparent in the organ compositions of Max Reger

(1873-1916). Although he seldom uses the term "toccata",

the Venetian and Baroque spirit indubitably pervades such

works as his

Fantasia and

Fantasia and FuRue on B A C H, opus 46, in the

Fu^ue in c, opus 29, and in the Symphonic Fan-

tasia and FuRue. opus 57. His splendid Toccata in d minor.

opus 59, no. 5, opens with a series of grand ascending flour-

ishes played on the full organ and interspersed with massive

sustained chordal passages. This all dissolves suddenly in-

to a quiet imitative section dwindling into a pianissimo.

A return to the brilliant surges of the opening occurs,

sweeping uninterruptedly to the final brilliant cadential


That the keyboard toccata is by no means simply an art

of the past is proven by the continually growing list of com-

posers who have used or are using some elements of the toc-

cata idea and style:

Saint Saens (1835-1921), Toccata, op.

111, no. 6 and Toccata and Etude, op. 222, no. 6; Charles

Widor (1844-1937), "Toccata" from the Fifth Symphony for

Organ; Maurice Ravel (1875-1937), "Toccata" from Le Tombeau

de Couperin; Jacques Ibert (1890-1962), Toccata sur le nom

d'Albert Roussel; Arthur Honegger (1892-1955), Toccata and

Variations; Laszlo Lajthas (1892-1963), Toccata, op. 14;

M. Palau (b. 1893), Toccata in e minor; Robert Casadesus

(1899-1972), Toccata, op. 40; Alexander Tcherepnin (b. 1899),

Toccata in d minor, op. 1; Francis Poulenc (1899-1963),

"Toccata No. 2" of Trois Pieces; Ernst Krenek (b. 1900),


Toccata and Chaconne, op. 13; Hanns Jelinek (1901-1969),

toccatas from Das Zwdlftonwerk, op. 15; Goffredo Petrassi

(b. 1904), Toccata for Piano; a toccata cycle by Vaclav

Dobias (b. 1909); P. R. Fricker (b. 1920) Toccata fi!lr Kla-

vier und Orchester. op. 33; John Lessard (b. 1920) Toccata

in Four Movements for Harpsichord or Piano; J. Bavicchi

(b. 1922), Toccata, 1965; Anton

Heiller (b. 1923), Tocca-

tas for Two Pianos; Mary Jeanne van Appledorn (b. 1927),

"Toccata" from Set of Fiveo

Other toccata composers are

Ferruccio Bussoni (1866-1924), Charles Haubiel (b. 1892),

Hugo Herrmann (1896-1967), Paul M ller-Zurich (b. 1898),

Georg Antheil (1900-1959), Ernst Pepping (b. 1901), Aram

Khachaturian (b. 1903), Josef Ahrens (b. 1904), Camara

Guarmieri (b. 1907), Wolfgang Fortner (bo 1907), Johan

Franco (b. 1908), and Ned Rorem (b. 1923)o70

In almost all the works examined for this particular

study, certain constant features of the toccata idea and

ideal are present no matter what the age, the function, or

the overall formal and stylistic concept ^71

1, The impression of complete freedom in constructiono


The general character of seriousness of intent,

3, The prevailing element of ceremonial pomp and


festive majesty,

The element of virtuosity,

5, An exploration of true keyboard idiomatic writing,

6, The general character of an introductory composi-

tion, even if the work is complete in itself.

7, Brilliance, splendor, ostentatiousness--all summed

up in the German term "prunkvollen", an adjective

used so frequently by the German musicologists to

describe this truly magnificent music.

The Pia iist 's

70joseph Rezits and Gerald Deatsman, The Pianist s


irce Guide

(Park Ridge, Illinois:

Kjos PublLshers , 19/4 ) .

7l0ne exception would be the Elevation Toccatas of

Frescobaldi and others, but even they embody certain of

these characteristics.



As was stated above, some of the earliest examples of

the true keyboard toccata are to be found in the Venetian

School of the late I6th century. Perhaps the most impor-

tant innovator of the new keyboard form was Andrea Gabrieli.

Little is known of his life before 1558, but as a young musi-

cian, he studied with Willaert at St. Mark's Cathedral in

Venice, where he spent his entire life. At first a singer

in the choir, he obtained the post of second organist after

Claudio Merulo advanced to first organist in 1566.

Among Italian keyboard composers of his age, Andrea has

no equal either in the quality or diversity of his music in

this genre. The thirty-three ricercari reveal an entirely

new unity of concept with recurring themes and

at times even

a mono-thematic procedure. In his canzonas he uses vocal

works of Lassus, Crequillon and de Rore, but only as points

of departure effecting entirely new expressions which belong

completely to the instrument or instruments for which they are


But it is the keyboard intonazioni which are of

greater significance to this study. Reese describes them as


These are little quasi-improvisational preludes

for liturgical use, intended to give the pitch

to the officiant or choir. They begin with sus-

tained chords, proceed with passage work in alter-

nating hands, and end with a written-out trill,

beginning on the upper note. Expanded in length,

the intonazione becomes Andrea's normal type of


Grove's Dictionarv of Music and Musicians, s,v. "Andrea

Gabrieli," by Hans F. Redlich.

Reese, Music in the Renaissance, pp. 539-540.



Whether Andrea knew the versos of Cabezôn is not known, but

the same underlying falsobordone exists. and even though the

psalm tone cantus firmus does not appear, it is ever-present

by implication through the harmonic progressions, It wi l be

recalled that Apel (see above p. 24) noted

that Andrea was

among the first to make use of alternating homophonic and

imitative sections in the toccata. That may be true, but

such a procedure is not always present as is evident in the

Toccata del decimo tono per organo. one of the five toccatas

in Girolamo Diruta's II Transilvano. This work, like several

toccatas from Diruta's collection, appears in a modern edition,

L'Art Musicale in Italia. by Luigi Torchi.^

In indicating the mode, Gabrieli is following contem-

porary practices of recognizing the expansion of the old eccles

iastical modal system to a completed series of twelve scalar

gamuts. The tenth mode (or hypo-aeolian) has as its overall

range e-e-'- and its finalis on a. Of course, this range by the

nature of the medium itself is meaningless, and Gabrieli

observes the modal indication only superficially by casting

the entire work in a tonal framework which has as its final

tonic a.

If we relate this tonally to the old

system of eight

modes, then we arrive at the fourth mode, or hypo-phrygian,

with its principal tonal center hovering around a.


study score on p. 50 shows how the cantus firmus prevails

throughout the work although only in its "idealized" form.

The work opens with what is to become the typical

Venetian fashion of long, sustained chords in the opening

bars. Slowly, the momentum grows with gradual eighth


The following toccatas are arranged chronologically

according to the birthdate of the composer since few works

are dated.

Luigi Torchi, L'Art Musicale in Italia, vol. III


note and sixteenth note passages, Scalar passages abound,

yet there is not any instance where both hands are simul-

taneously involved. A strong cadence appears in meas. 12,

marking the end of the first section.

In meas. 21,

there is a brief shift to the c tonality, with a cadence

in £, but after two measures, there is a return to the

original key center, with

a final cadence in meas. 28-29.

Harmonic rhythm is usually very slow, with one and sometimes

two chords per measure, but at the three cadences, there

is a faster change of harmony.

This is apparent especially

in meas. 19-22, where roots drop by fifthsl

Example 19: Toccata, by A. Gabrieli, meas. 19-22.






Most of the harmony is centered around a. and d with

several "minor dominants" and "major mediants", The only

altered harmonies are the two major dominant chords seen in

the first and last cadences.

The texture is of moderate density with a predominance

of triadic structures and scalar passages. Usually one hand

plays block chords while the other plays scales, and the

interest lies in the interchange of activity between the


Mostly the range is limited to between one and two octaves

in the scalar passages though the entire work spans four

octaves .


The melodic line is limited to stepwise motion and seems

to wander in a rather discursive manner. Melodic sequences

and pattern figures are not as clearly observed as in later

toccatas, but there is imitation occasionally between hands.

A very

brief melodic

motive appears in meas. 22 as a pattern

figure and effects a very colorful moment because of its

lydian implications. There appears no ornamentation except

that which is written out at each of the three cadenceso

In discussing and analyzing the consonant-dissonarit

procedures of instrumental music of the 15th and I6th

centuries, one is always tempted to relate the various

practices to the stringent rules

adhered to by the great

vocal composers of the mid- and high Renaissance. These rules,

so admirably summed up by Fux', Jeppesen, Soderland, Merritt

and others, have become a vital part of pedagogical programs

in theory throughout the westem world. It is true that

the vocal models influenced and in many instances gave rise

to important instrumental types. But in the very first

extant works for instruments, stylistic deviations are appa-

rent. These become more and more obvious as specific genre

develop and evolve, primarily due to the idiomatic figures

which emerge. The long scalar passages in the toccata, pre-

lude, fantasia and capriccio contain numerous accented passing

tones, accented upper and lower neighboring tones, and cambiata

figures with both the second and third tones dissonating.

The written-out trill always beginning on the upper note

emphasizes accented dissonance throughout its duration. As

the toccata moves into its second generation, more and more

liberties are taken in the length of the dissonant tones,

the approaches to the dissonance and the number of successive

dissonances. Cross relationships become almost a standard

procedure with composers like Trabaci and Frescobaldi, and

chromaticism is exploited to the greatest extremes the tuning

limitations would permit.


Thus, some very intere^ting and pungent dissonances

occur in Andrea's toccata

which have no place in the

liturgical vocal polyphony of the high Renaissance, as

stated above. In meas. 8, the lower part leaps freely to

a dissonating £ on the

strong portion of the beat, against

a sustained

dfa in the right hand.

The written-out trill

in meas. 12

effects a clashing a against the sustained

e-b sonority in the left hand.

A similar treatment occurs

in meas. 14 with e against dfa.

The long 4-3 suspension

in meas. 15 pushes

not only against the accented e but also

the following accented b.

Another free leap to a disso-


tone occurs in meas. 17 (second beat) with e jumping

to b against a sustained ace sonority inthe lower part.

The little syncopated figure:




meas. 19 and again in meas. 20, while not

J J J J In


adds a refreshing element of rhythmic variety. An inter-

esting dissonant formation is seen in the last half of

meas. 21 where an fedf sixteenth-note cluster effects

three dissonating tones against the sustained c-g.

Another leap to a dissonance occurs in meas. 23 (second

part) with a c to a leap against ceg.

An interesting

leap of a seventh

from a


is seen in meas. 24:

£ to a, leaving a sustained dfa and moving to an ace.

Measure 25 is full of accented dissonances a, c, f#,

against a sustained e-b and a ^

against ace,

Such freedom in treatment would probably have made

Palestrina shudder, but here it seems perfectly natural

and adds vigor, pungency and interest to the overall


Since all works discussed are based on one of the

psalm tones, either in original or transposed versions,

attached hereto is a manuscript representation of each

of the tones as they appear in the Liber Usualisô

^Benedictines of Solesmes, ed., The Liber Usualis,


Example 20: Th.- Eight Psalm Tones


—\ /^

>^ ^



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The following outline summarizes the characteristics

of Andrea Gabrieli's Toccata del decimo tono per organo;

I. Structure:

Based on the fourth psalm tone.


Harmony: Centered on a.

  • A. Cadences: meas. 12-13, 21-22, and 28-29.

  • B. Harmonies used: ace-47%, dfa-22%, ceg and egb-9%,

fac and gbd-6%, and eg#b-27o.

  • C. Root movements: Either by step or by fifth most frequently.

Down fifth-43jo, Up fifth-21%, Down third-37o, Up third-67o,

Down second-9% and Up second-157.

  • D. Rhythm:

  • 1. Usually one chord per measure.

  • 2. Most often two chords per measure at cadence points.

  • 3. Overall rhythm from slow opening to gradual

quickening of pace.

  • E. Spacing:

  • 1. Right hand: usually chords in close triadic structure.

  • 2. Left hand: usually open fifth, ootave, or combination.

No triad below small d.

  • F. Doubling:usually root or fifth, rarely third.

  • G. Range: overall

F to f7_, scales embrace

the interval of

an octave to a twelfth.

  • H. Consonance-Dissonance: Many accented dissonances

but always occuriing in either eighth or sixteenth notes,

except for suspensions.




  • A. Stepwise in both chordal and scalar passages,

  • B. Ornamentation: written-out trills at cadences.

  • C. Altered Tones: raised leading tones at cadences (m. 12,


13, m 0 16, m. 19-20, m. 23.)

  • D. Phrase lengths : 4 + 3 + 3+3+2+2+5\^+2^Vj

  • E. Several unusual leaps : descending eleventh, ni. 10,

descending seventh, m. 24.




  • A. Increasing from slowly paced whole and half notes

to alternation of eighth and sixteenth*note passagcs.

  • B. Unusual bit of syncopation in m. 21-22.

  • C. Eighth and sixteenth-note passages in one voice only, against whole and half—note clusters.



  • A. Basically four-voice in opening section.

  • B. Basically two-layered in succeeding sections, i.e.,

flowing scalar figures under and above sustained


The following study score, #1 , is taken from Torchi's

L*Árt Musicale in talia.pp. 77-78:




SCORE #1 .

Andrea Gabrleîî

Toccata del deciTno tono per organo











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