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Topic: Toccata (& Fugue) in C Minor

  1. #1

    Toccata (& Fugue) in C Minor

    In case anyone's interested, I've written a toccata for the C minor fugue I wrote last year:

    Toccata & Fugue in C Minor

    http://www.box.net/shared/zy7mtk8gos, 9.3Mb, 6:44

    The file contains first the new toccata, immediately followed by the fugue.

    As a bit of backstory, I had shown the fugue to a couple local organists, but they both declined. However, the third time seemed to be the charm. The lesson learned is, one needs to find an organist who actually specializes in premiering new works, as organists are a settled and often busy bunch, and unless playing new works is what they routinely do, they may well not be too interested. Logical, I know, but it was less than obvious to me.

    However, the organist wanted something in front of the fugue to make for a more satisfying concert experience, so I obligingly wrote a little toccata as a preface. Hopefully, the organist will find the work not too technically challenging and will soon schedule a premiere.

  2. #2

    Re: Toccata (& Fugue) in C Minor

    Toccata has too many notes. When you want some fast runs, don't overdo this. It sounds a bit "Liberace-like". The Fugue is good. Try to insert some "softer" parts. In real life it is not all at that same level of volume you know.

    I advice you to revise that Toccata, let it be more an introduction to the fugue. You may steal themes from the fugue, at last it is your own work.

    I like you organ handling,


  3. #3

    Re: Toccata (& Fugue) in C Minor

    Hi Raymond,
    Too many notes, Your Majesty?

    Exactly. Very well put. Too many notes.

    I don't understand. There are just as many notes, Majesty, as are required. Neither more nor less.

    My dear fellow, there are in fact only so many notes the ear can hear in the course of an evening. I think I'm right in saying that, aren't I, Court Composer?

    Yes! yes! er, on the whole, yes, Majesty.

    (to Salieri) But this is absurd!

    My dear, young man, don't take it too hard. Your work is ingenious. It's quality work. And there are simply too many notes, that's all. Cut a few and it will be perfect.

    Which few did you have in mind, Majesty?
    Pause. General embarrassment.
    Well. There it is.
    - from the film version of Amadeus.

    Joking aside, one of the "functions" of the toccata is as technical display piece for the organist (and the organ for that matter), so in the event that it sounds a bit Liberace-like, perhaps that's all to the good. However, I never thought of it in those terms. If this were a prelude we might well be more in agreement. "Softer" parts arrive whenever the texture thins out. I could experiment with registration and swell, but I'd as soon work that out in consultation with the organist. The thematic material between fugue and front-piece are kept separate intentionally. There are little things in common, but they may not be entirely evident.

    I do appreciate your sincere feedback.

  4. #4

    Re: Toccata (& Fugue) in C Minor

    I know that piece of discussion, as I've seen Amadeus quite recently.
    In the case of Mozart this is right on the spot. In the case of your piece, and you asked for comments, it is not. Showcasing the technical skills of the player or the instrument, may not lead to meaningless note-consumption.

    IMO those fast played broken chords at the beginning destroy the piece.


  5. #5

    Re: Toccata (& Fugue) in C Minor

    Wow, what a majestic piece this is. I guess it all comes down to personal taste. I didn't find anything over done in the Toccata. In fact I found it quite a worthy introduction for the amazing fugue. I enjoyed it very much. Outstanding recording by the way. Did you do this in notation or is it played live? Thank you.
    Kind Regards

    Louis Dekker
    My Music Site

    Pour être grand, il faut avoir été petit.

  6. #6

    Re: Toccata (& Fugue) in C Minor

    Hi Raymond,

    I'm sorry, whenever someone says "too many notes" I always get the giggles, recalling that little dialog above from Amadeus.

    I guess one man's decorative, fluid arpeggiation is another man's meaningless note-consumption. In any event, perhaps in these passages try focusing on the melody in the lowest voice. The arpeggios are simply frantic burbling over a mournful bass which gradually becomes more and more agitated and finally, animated. Perhaps your treble is set too high?

    One the bright side, any strong reaction, positive or negative is exactly what I am seeking, so I thank you. And again, I do appreciate your taking the time to write your honest opinion.

  7. #7

    Re: Toccata (& Fugue) in C Minor

    Hi Louis,

    Wow, what a majestic piece this is. I guess it all comes down to personal taste.
    Thank you for that flattering descriptor, and yes, most art music is subjective (i.e. personal taste), both for composer and listener, which is what keeps it interesting.

    Outstanding recording by the way. Did you do this in notation or is it played live?
    This was done with Overture notation and the decrepit version of GPO, v1.2. I have thought about how one would go about playing an organ composition live via GPO and, to do it "right" would, at the least, call for some sort of 2-1/2 octave midi pedal set along with one or more midi keyboards.

  8. #8

    Re: Toccata (& Fugue) in C Minor

    I look not for a fight Raymond. I agree with Darwin, note quantities are at the discretion of the composer. And of course, disliking note quantities, Darwin, are at the discretion of the listener.

    I though, enjoyed the cluster of notes, because after all, that is the Italian translation of its musical term. The only difference is a toccata is usually plucked strings or piano. In your luck, an organ is a "keyboard" oriented instrument, so I'll let it slide. All joking aside, great work on this. Glad to hear it's finally finished after 12 long months. I know how it feels to shelve a piece for months and revisit it longtime after. Great work!
    Yours Truly,
    May the Fourth Be With You

    My demos:

  9. #9

    Re: Toccata (& Fugue) in C Minor

    I'm quite impressed with the huge amount of work that you put into this project!

    Although it is named 'toccata and fugue', I don't think one is compelled to compose such a work in the strict style of the period.
    That's why I don't hear anything that strikes me as too much or too little composition-wise.

    What I would like to suggest is more variety in volume levels at the appropriate parts.

    Well done!


  10. #10

    Re: Toccata (& Fugue) in C Minor

    Hi TubaJedi,

    I was actually quite finished with this last year, having done only the fugue. And although Bach wrote several free-standing fugues, I suppose one could argue they'd be even better with something up front. As it is, I wasn't really inclined to add anything else, but in order to get a performance I am willing to go the extra yard.

    Thanks for the listen and feedback!

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