= Toccata – Nigel Morgan


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For solo piano

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

Patterns from Slonimsky’s Thesaurus.

Example of distribution of patterns in Toccata.

The toccata concept has subsequently reappeared in my music as the predominant music form in Schizophonia, a large-scale choral and instrumental work written in 2001. This work has two toccata like movements lasting some fifteen minutes each. Again, this music is derived from algorithmic computation only in these movements the rhythmic material is based on a sung and spoken text.

Toccata was written for the pianist Joanna MacGregor during her period as artist-in-residence at Liverpool Hope University College.

4-bit rhythmic patterns expressed as 1/16 notes.

Downloadable Media

Toccata score [pdf]

Reference Recording [mp3]