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Toccata in D Minor by J. S. Bach - Intermediate Version

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Welcome to Hoffman Academy! Today I'm going to teach you the very dramatic "'Toccata" in D minor.
This is a level 3 tutorial so you should have intermediate skills in order to tackle it. If you're less experienced please check out our preparatory tutorial for this piece. Check below this video to download the free sheet music. When you're ready, come join me at the piano.
Alright, first let's look at the sheet music to see what we can learn from this.
The first thing I hope you'll notice is that there are a lot of fermatas.
And if you're one of those students that doesn't like to count, or rhythm just isn't your favorite thing, well, I've got good news for you.
Toccatas like this one aren't really meant to be in strict time.
There's going to be a lot of long notes, a lot of long pauses, and notes that kind of speed up and slow down all over the place.
Everybody performs this piece a little different and that's okay.
So you're not going to hear me counting out beats as much as we go through this. Looking at the sheet music, you might notice some other markings you might not be familiar with. These little commas up here are called breath marks.
They're called that because they're used a lot in vocal music to show where you can stop to take a breath.
For us they mean to lift the hands and let the music breathe for just a quick moment before going on.
The other thing I need to mention is concerning finger numbers.
You'll see a lot of finger numbers in here and a lot of them are going to be very helpful
and I'll try to point out the ones will be the most important to follow. Other finger numbers will be mere suggestions
where if you discover a different finger number that works better for you, then go for it.
At the end of the day all that matters is that it sounds great and that you have an easy time playing it.
If those two things are good, then nobody will care which fingers you use.
All right, let's start.
So it starts up here on this treble high A with finger 5. You're going to be like in a D minor position.
Just like that, and hold it with the fermata and then you're going to slide down. This is going to be just like C position except your thumb is going to go to the C-sharp.
Normally I don't like doing thumbs on black keys but in this case,
that's going to be the easiest bit right there.
So that first measure goes,
and then slide down.
and fermata on that one.
Great, now this second measure both hands now play, and you're in D minor position down here an octave lower.
fermata
And then you're going to move down a little further this time to E F C-sharp D. Just a little bit further than the C position. It's kind of like B position. You've got E and F with finger 4 and 5. C-sharp D, and the left hand is finger 2 on E. C-sharp finger 4, D and you'll notice those will be a little slower
than the first measure.
Now the third measure is an octave lower in D minor position down here.
But let's stop there for a second.
Whenever you see a bunch of notes in one staff and it looks like you'll never be able to play all those notes with one hand,
often it's because you actually get to use two hands like this.
There are a couple clues to look for so that you know what to play in each hand.
First, if you see that the other staff is completely empty, meaning not even a whole rest that's a good indication that both hands
are working in the same staff.
See how measure one has notes up here, and a whole rest down here?
That means your left hand is just hanging out and getting ready for the next measure.
The other thing you'll notice in measure three is that some notes played together have stems in opposite directions.
When this happens, stems up means it's for the right hand, and stems down means it's for the left hand.
Sometimes you can actually see a little LH or RH written somewhere in the measure to show you which hand plays what. So let's play that measure. It's just like measure one. You're going to go:
SO FA SO, fermata, and then slide down to C position in both hands, again with that C-sharp.
Just like that.
Now we could stay in D position for this part, but that means a little extra finger crossing under which might get a little complicated.
So I like this C position just with that extra C-sharp it's going to be a whole lot easier to do both hands together.
See that? Super easy.
All right, let's do those first three measures all together.
Starting with right hand only.
Cool, now before we get to measure four let's talk about something else here. You'll notice in measure four we have our first pedal marking.
The places in this music where there are pedal markings are just the places where you definitely should have pedal, but that doesn't that you can't have some pedal in other places.
You might notice sometimes that I'll add pedal even when there's no pedal indication and that's okay.
Just be sure not to overdo the pedal.
That's usually a student's first mistake with the sustain pedal is to leave it on for too long and too often.
So in measure four I'm still going to be down here in my left hand.
And there's a little RH there so I know my right hand is going to play that C-sharp with finger 2 this time.
So I'm going to play my D and hold it, and I'll make sure my pedal is down,
and I'll play C-sharp, cross the thumb under play E G this is a B-flat C-sharp E.
Cool, now you'll run into trouble if you try to hold all those notes. I have a pretty big hand so I can hold this
if i wanted to, but most people don't have the stretch like that, so you don't have to hold them you just play one note at a time.
Just like that.
But with the pedal let's do that again. Measure four first the D in the left hand, C-sharp E G B-flat C-sharp E.
Now this chord here is really cool. You can keep your left hand there on the D.
You're just going to add the A this time,
And then the upper three notes are for your right hand.
Now that looks kind of funny because you see the two whole notes A and D
and it looks like that G comes after. You might be tempted to try to play it like that but you're actually going to play it all together
like it's one chord. It's written that way because the G is the half note, and the A and the D are whole notes,
which means you're going to let go of that G and change to the E.
Right there.
Now if you have smaller hands,
you can play that G with the thumb. That's a little easier, but that means then you have to stretch down there,
and then like that to the F-sharp. So I like to do this. It's a little more stretchy but then it makes a smooth transition
to those three notes. See that? Let's do it again.
And I gotta hold this A and D that whole time
that I'm changing those notes. So that might be a little tricky if you're not used to holding some fingers while moving the other one.
So be sure and take some extra practice if that feels weird to you.
Let's play measures four, five, six, and seven all together. Ready? Starting with that low D and the pedal down.
C-sharp
Hold it and crescendo.
Now that big chord.
Now freeze here. Notice I'm actually not playing with my 2nd finger on this G. I'm using my thumb, but watch this little trick.
See that? I started here, but I can change that that way I get my thumb ready,
and that's okay too. You can do little tricks like that if you need to.
Here's that chord again.
Cool. Let's do this next section. It starts with a pickup into measure eight,
and it goes through measure eight, nine, and ten.
Now the rhythm here looks a little bit wild, but
it's a lot easier than it looks. You have these triplets which if we were counting really strictly would be three notes per beat. Like TRI-PL-ET TRI-PL-ET TRI-PL-ET
And then you have eighth notes at the very end of each measure. So that'll just be TI-TI TI-TI, like that slow.
So basically if you just play a little bit faster on the first nine notes of the measure and then just a little bit slower
on the next two notes, you'll be good.
And you'll hear when I play it, it doesn't sound that complicated.
So let me just play it once so you can kind of hear how it goes.
Cool, let's talk about the fingering. You'll start with finger 2, and then you'll start the pattern on measure eight with finger 3, and it's going to be these three note three finger patterns. And there's three of them. There's a lot of threes there. Three fingers, three notes, three patterns. Here we go.
So starting on C-sharp, and you do this
that thing three times. Now when you play this next D you don't want to oops and play with the 3rd finger. Watch that thumb
and play the thumb on the D. So let's start at measure
pick up to measure eight again. Here's the C-sharp here it comes. 3
Here's the second one and the third one, and here's the thumb coming under.
And then you got the same sort of pattern, this time there's no black key but it's the exact same thing.
3 4 2 3 4 2 3 4, and again the thumb comes under. That'll be really helpful if you get that thumb under, and then the next measure, measure ten. Same thing now you got the black key right here, the B-flat.
3 4 2 3 4 2, now this time you're just going to finish on the A.
So these are one of those times where the finger numbers are really important.
If you get that thumb on the 4th beat of measures eight and nine you'll be golden.
Otherwise you'll have a hard time getting through this section.
Last time let's try and play it with me. I'm going to go a little slower starting with pick up to measure eight. C-sharp, ready, go.
And, 1-&-a 2-&-a 3-&- thumb. There it is 1 2 3, here comes the thumb again,
and 2 3, and you're done.
Now a cool way to memorize this is just look at the keyboard.
You're starting here, you have all these white keys, then you're going to end there.
Just think of it as a smiley face. There's going to be a few sections in this piece where you'll use the same smiley face group of notes.
Now let's move on. Okay, the next section measures eleven, twelve, and thirteen are exactly the same just one octave higher.
So start on C-sharp here to pick up finger 2, and then
same thing, here comes the thumb
and thumb
See that smiley face?
Now I guess I lied. The only difference is the dynamics might be different.
Now in this music it has that your piano on the first part, and then mezzo piano in the second part.
But there's lots of ways to do that. Some people do really loud on the first one.
And then they'll do really soft on the second one. And now either way you do it is cool,
just make it something that you like and enjoy and we will like it also.
All right, I think we can go on to the next section.
So there's a pickup into measure fourteen,
but that is a little different than before. You have a third finger on A.
Now this pattern is really cool. it looks really complicated but again it's a lot easier when you actually play it. These triplets are kind of like it's doing a a MI SO DO pattern. It does like MI SO DO MI SO DO,
and then it moves down, MI SO DO MI SO DO, and then it steps down again, MI SO DO
It's not actually MI SO DO, it's actually
what FA LE RE FA LE RE, and there's some black keys to worry about.
Now if we did that with one hand,
that wouldn't be terrible, but I've got this really cool fingering you're going to love.
So start with the 3rd finger on A, and this is your pickup.
You're going to do the top two notes always with fingers 2 and 4 in the right hand.
And your left hand is going to play that bottom note with finger 2
and it's going to sound like this:
Just like that.
And then you move down, no black keys this time.
And then move down again, and just keep moving down. Now every time you get to a B-flat or a B, make sure it's a B-flat.
So here comes a B-flat right here.
Keep going down, there's another B-flat.
Here's a B-flat again.
Now stop right here because this time it changes. See the fingering changes? And now all the stems are up.
Remember, stems up means right hand.
Now you could also do the thumb instead of the 2nd finger on C-sharp.
Either way it works. I like my 2nd finger.
Here comes the B-flat.
Good.
There's the last one before you change to your right hand.
Good now that might sound kind of boring, because I played it really strict in time. Remember I said the time is kind of out the window and you can speed up and slow down a lot. So let's hear what it might sound like if you're going to play it for reals.
Oh, I can't wait to play that next note.
But let's go ahead and move on. So yes the next note in measure nineteen is that low D.
That's one of the reasons why we have to only use our right hand on the end of measure eighteen.
So that our left hand can get ready for that big boom on that low D.
So let's go ahead and play those last six notes of measure eighteen, and get ready for that D.
Right there. It's got to come right in. Let's do it again. Ready, go.
TRI-PL-ET TRI-PL-ET boom!
Now this chord is pretty awesome. It's G, B-flat, C-sharp, E, G, B-flat.
And now some of you might want to use a different finger if you've got big hands like mine,
but I still actually recommend the fingers written in the music. Doing 1 3 5 because of what's coming in in measure twenty.
Now you might notice that squiggly line right there. That's an arpeggio line.
That means instead of playing all those notes in the chord together, you're going to roll it from bottom to top like this:
So if you want to practice that a few times.
That would be smart, because that's kind of a new thing to get used to.
Now, you can let go of that D because there's a pedal marking there. Once you play that D, let go and find your position and roll that chord.
Now also there's a curious thing there's a tie only on that B-flat.
Now what I really like to do is to play that chord. And then let go of everything else except the B-flat including the pedal.
So that all you hear is that little leftover B-flat. Let's hear it again.
Let go of everything.
Oh, check out that B-flat, because that's actually the starting of the next little line in measure 20.
So I'm going to start there as if i just played that B-flat.
Measure twenty goes 4 3 2 1 cross over with 4th finger on D, C-sharp, B natural this time, back to C-sharp, A.
C-sharp, cross the thumb under, 1 3, and let's stop on this F,
because there's a trill right there.
Trill means you kind of wiggle on the note that's written and the note above it.
Now trills don't always have finger numbers written. Usually you just play whatever finger's next to it. But I really like to use fingers 1 and 3 even though you land on finger 2.
You can just switch to fingers 1 and 3.
There's a good reason why you're doing fingers 1 and 3 because the next note is
going to be finger 2 on E, so you'll want to have it ready to go.
To get to that E.
But before we get to ahead of ourselves, let's go back to measure nineteen and see how those all connect.
Let's do measures nineteen, twenty, and end on twenty-one. Starting with the pedal down and low D, ready, go:
Here we go, and 4 3 2 1 4 3 2 3
And good, now here's a big chord you'll kind of come back to that same spot where we were before down low on the D, and you'll just switch to 1 and 3 there for the D and the F.
Cool, let's do that one more time because that's a tricky spot.
Measure nineteen, pedal down.
D, here's that cool chord.
Keep the B-flat, lift the pedal.
Something like that, and you can do as many of those wiggles as you want.
Some people might do two or three and five or seventeen. Whatever you want.
Be really dramatic about it.
Great let's go into the next section.
This next note is a pickup, but look at there it says LH, so that A you're going to play with left hand finger 2.
Now if this looks really crazy here at measure twenty-two, be grateful that it doesn't look like the original.
Those are just TI-KI-TI-KI's, but alternating the hands.
Now this is just meant to look easier so that all the stems up again are right hand, and all the stems down are left hand.
And it's just a little back and forth like this. So let me play that for you. Starting with the left hand pick up note A, and then
and I'll stop there.
Now there's a really easy pattern to help you memorize this.
It goes up three notes and then back down.
and then it does it again, up three notes, back down.
Up three notes, back down, and same thing up three notes and back down.
This again is where it does that smiley face, that smile shape, except it just starts on the D.
And every time you play a note in between you're going to play that left hand A.
Up three notes, down, up three notes, down, up three notes, down, up three, and then from here it just does a skip down, skip, down, skip, down, skip, down. Now make sure you get your 4th finger here. Because that C-sharp is going to be easier with your 2nd finger going 4 to 2 right there. Let's do that together one more time. Starting with the pickup, and A, here we go:
Make sure you get your thumb under right here.
Thumb and skip, down, skip, down, skip, down, 3 1 4 2
Good, now let's hear that fast, because I bet you want to play that really fast when you get practiced really good. Here it goes:
Doesn't that sound cool?
All right, let's go on to the next section measure twenty-five.
Measure twenty-five, twenty-six, twenty-seven, and twenty-eight all kind of have a very similar pattern to it
where your right hand is going to play
fingers 2 and 5 starting on F and B-flat, and you're going to do a little wiggle, and then step down to E and A, and step down again. It's easy to just use the same fingers each time: 2 5 2, 2 5 2, 2 5 2
and then you're going to do this cool chord C-sharp E and A like that. Let's go back to that again.
See that?
C-sharp, E, A. Now I'm showing you this because the next measure does the same notes but they're not wiggling. They're just a chord.
This time with fingers 1 and 4 on the D and G, and then you block that chord.
And then before we go on let's look at the left hand. This is a really easy part you just play four notes.
D, C, B-flat, A, and then you go down an octave same four notes D, C, B-flat, A.
You'll always start with the left hand and these little TI-KI-TI-KI's Like that, so left right, right, right, and then you'll step down.
Let's do that one time slow. Ready, go.
TI-KI-TI-KI TI-KI-TI-KI TI-KI-TI-KI TI-KI-TI-KI
then the left hand jumps down here, and you play chords back and forth.
And then all together this time. So they're alternating the first three left, right, left, right, left, right, and then together.
And then in the next measure, twenty-seven, is just about exactly the same as twenty-five,
and twenty-eight, and the same as twenty-six, so you basically play the same two measures twice.
So let's hear that from measure twenty-five starting on the 2nd beat.
And when you get a practice real good you might want to go a little faster, maybe like this:
That just sounds so cool.
Now I'm holding this chord because at measure twenty-nine we got to go into the next chord, but look at that finger
number under the left hand. It's finger 4-1.
This is one of those times where you start on 1 finger but you got to switch to another finger without changing the note,
and you got to do all that without replaying the note or changing notes at all. You just play the A on finger 4,
and switch like that.
So watch me land on that chord with finger 4, and then switch to the thumb.
That's because we got to go lower and I need more fingers I can't do it with just my finger 5 there. So here's the finger 4.
Switch to 1.
This next chord is G-sharp, D, F, B.
And the next one is G natural, and E, A, C-sharp. And those chords together should sound like this. Here's measure twenty-nine.
We've got some right hand runs. Let's try this. It goes B natural, A, C-sharp, E, G, B-flat. We've seen this chord before back in measure nineteen, but now it's just written out note for note, and it's an octave higher.
Let's do measures twenty-nine and thirty again.
I'm going to start with finger 4 here to
show you that cool move.
Switch to finger 1.
and then
Get ready for that B. I'm going to use my 4th finger, and then 1 3 cross under.
And now we've got this cool run in measure thirty-one.
These finger numbers are going to be super helpful. It looks weird to do finger 4
and then to do finger 5 that means I have to squish my hand.
But you're going to be glad you did because you're gonna need these fingers.
Just like that, and then finger 4, and then the next one is group, uh is with the left hand.
So these are little four note groups starting with finger 4, finger 5 with the C-sharp, and then finger 4 with a C natural and B-flat, and then left hand.
Let's do that faster.
TI-KI-TI-KI TI-KI-TI-KI TI-KI-TI-KI TI-KI-TI-KI
And again, this is one of those spots where you could change the tempo. You could start slow and get faster. You could even start fast and get slower and see what you like. So let's try this. That was kind of a slow, then fast, then slow. Yeah, let's try another one. Let's start slow and get faster and all the way to the end.
That sounds pretty cool too. Try some different things and see what you like.
Now I am actually going to start slowing down right before the end because this big chord at measure thirty-two,
and I got to get my pinky on that C-sharp, which is a little tricky to get my hand turned over that way. And it's just a little easier if I can slow down, and it's pretty dramatic that way too.
Now this chord also has one of those squiggly arpeggio lines so you don't want to just wham, land on that chord. You can kind of C-sharp, E, G, B-flat, and roll it up kind of like that.
Let's go back to thirty-one and see how those connect.
Something like that.
Now also what you want to do is crescendo those, because that's really cool. Start kind of soft.
Then a big loud chord.
With a fermata.
Now this next part is a bunch of triplets.
Now this finger here, if you don't like stretching between fingers 2 and 3 right there,
you could also do the thumb.
And if you like that, you can try that, but I think even the 2nd finger will work, and if you want to make it easier just turn the hand
this way so they're pointing to the right a little bit.
And that makes that stretch a whole lot easier. If I try to stay with a straight wrist,
I can feel that kind of awkward stretch.
So let's talk about the pattern that's happening in these measures.
In measure thirty-three we have this same six notes that happens twice.
and then in measure thirty-four there's a different six note pattern.
And does that same thing in measure thirty-five. A six note pattern that just repeats twice.
Now the finger numbers in this entire section from thirty-three to thirty-eight
you're definitely going to want to follow these finger numbers as best you can.
Unless there's something that's like I said, that finger 2 could be finger 1 if it's too big of a stretch.
But there's a lot of hidden finger numbers you want to make sure you watch for, and I'll let you know when we find them. Here we go. Let's start with that C-sharp.
Remember that B-flat,
and here comes a new pattern, so I gotta do my thumb on the G, and squish to my 4th finger here,
and then finger 2 1 2
And then I gotta cross over with my 3rd finger. Now this measure is actually just like thirty-three, so I'm going to use my 2nd finger, but you could use your thumb.
Now here's measure thirty-six. Now this one you'll want to use your thumb.
That's one of those tricky things that if you don't catch it in time, it'll get you. so start thirty-six with 3 5 1 3 5
C-sharp again. Here's another finger number that's important finger 1 on that last E,
because now I gotta get finger 2 and finger 4 for measure thirty-seven. Let's go that far one more time from thirty-three. Finger 1 on the G and 4 2 1 2
Here comes the crossover 3rd finger, 5 and
Here comes the finger 1 right here.
And another finger 1 right here, 2 4,
and then now this is weird because measure thirty-seven, it's the same notes all the way across,
and you might think, why am I changing finger numbers halfway through?
Well we need more finger numbers to get to measure thirty-eight, all those high notes there.
And I like changing exactly halfway through the measure because it helps you keep in time. So if I go 1 2 1
2, I have different finger numbers for each half. Again measure thirty-seven is 1 2 1 2, and then 3rd finger on this C-sharp with my thumb.
3 and a 4 and, it cuts off right there.
Getting louder at the end, nice job. Now this was one of those spots that could go really fast if you really wanted to.
Let's hear what that would sound like.
And I love that cutoff because it's like a surprise. Whoa! Where did that left hand come in?
We've missed him he's been gone so long.
So right there this is measure thirty-nine. We're almost at the end.
We have this surprise G and it's finger 4 for a good reason. We have finger 4,
and then later we've got finger 5, and then finger 2 coming up on the B-flat with the step down.
And we'll just go that far for now. Let's add the right hand in. You're going to go finger 4 on the G, and then hold it while you play this chord: C-sharp, E, and A,
And then land on this next chord. This is a D minor chord with an F down here.
And then this G minor first inversion with a B-flat, and then all by itself left hand.
Then land on this chord A, C-sharp, G.
Now if that's a too big of a stretch, the most important notes is the C-sharp and the G, so if you want you could just play those two.
Because we already have an A down here we don't need this A, but it sounds pretty cool with it.
One more time for measure thirty-nine in time. Ready, go. G, chord, chord, hold it, next chord,
and step, step, chord.
Great now we have a left hand solo. Real soft and quiet starting on this E with 2nd finger.
Now these finger numbers again is one of those spots you really want to check, because this is a weird spot with a lot of sharps and flats and you'll want to follow these finger numbers.
Okay, here it comes: E, step up to F, D, E-sharp, D, B natural, C-sharp,
A, now 3rd finger on B-flat, 4th finger on G-sharp, and then finish with this 3rd finger on A.
Now memorize this pattern, because this will help too. You're going to do lots of 1 3 1 3 1 3, and the only time you do 2 and 4 is when you have a black key because thumbs don't really like black keys like that.
So let's do this again. E here we go: E, F D, C-sharp, D, B, C-sharp, A,
B-flat, G-sharp, A.
Now let's go on. I'm going to stretch my thumb up here to get to this G natural, and get my right hand on this chord. This is E, A, C-sharp.
And then this next chord. F F A and D. Now again, see that finger numbers down there: 2-1 means I can switch to my thumb.
And then the next one skip down to the D and this is a big leap there. This right hand has to go from here,
All the way to there A D F.
So maybe practice that one a few times.
These are just two different inversions of D minor.
And then now both hands in the bass clef left hand plays this A.
Right hand plays A D E altogether, and this measure looks weird because you're holding the A,
and the E because it's tied across, but this middle note D is going to change.
It's going to be the only one that changes. These other two notes have to stay the same, and this D is going to change
to become C-sharp, and then after that this A moves down to G while these two stay.
So that's kind of complicated so let me say that again. You're going to start with A D E.
This D will let go and turn into C-sharp. This A you can just step down like that to G.
And we have another 5-1 on this left hand, so you're going to hit that A.
I would change it early, so right when you land on it, change to the thumb. C-sharp, G.
Now you might recognize this chord from measure six. It's the exact same chord so you can land on it with these fingers.
Or with these fingers.
Now it doesn't do the same as measure six with the E, F-sharp, this one goes,
steps down to F natural, and then E, and then finishes right there.
Let's do those chords again and then we'll do the whole thing. So starting at measure forty-four. This is the last beat.
Let's just hear that all together. Let's practice that with me, so here it is.
And then step down and step up.
Switch to the thumb.
Here comes the pinky.
Move to C-sharp, oops forgot the thumb. Gotta remember that, and then the G. Great, what do you say we play the whole thing? From beginning to end.
So you can play along with me, but that might be kind of hard because I'm going to do a lot of slowing down and speeding up.
So I'll just play it. You can try to play along with me or just sort of listen and then you can
practice on your own and have fun with it. So here we go. I'm going to play from the very beginning with no stops.
Thanks for learning the "Toccata" in D minor with me today.
This song was originally written to be played on an organ, so if you have a digital piano that can change its sound,
It might be fun to try different instruments.
Be sure to like this video and subscribe to our channel for more music tutorials every week, and as always happy practicing!