Straining Belief: The Toccata

Susan Mcclary

in Desire and Pleasure in Seventeenth-Century Music

Published by University of California Press

Published in print March 2012 | ISBN: 9780520247345
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520952065 | DOI:
Straining Belief: The Toccata

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“Straining Belief” examines manifestations of religious ecstasy in the keyboard toccata: an instrumental genre that pushes simulations of unbridled desire to unsurpassed limits—and, moreover, without the benefit of words. Like the pieces discussed in previous chapters, toccatas build on modal structures: from recitation formulas in the case of Gabrieli to madrigal-like complexes in Frescobaldi. The chapter concludes with a discussion of the French unmeasured prelude, a genre that sought to produce the improvisatory effect of the Italian toccata through radically different notational means.

Keywords: toccata; unmeasured prelude; Giovanni Gabrieli; Girolamo Frescobaldi; Jean-Henry D'Anglebert

Chapter.  9970 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Musicology and Music History

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