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[tuh-kah-tuh; Italian tawk-kah-tah] /təˈkɑ tə; Italian tɔkˈkɑ tɑ/
noun, plural toccatas, toccate
[tuh-kah-tee; Italian tawk-kah-te] /təˈkɑ ti; Italian tɔkˈkɑ tɛ/ (Show IPA).
a composition in the style of an improvisation, for the piano, organ, or other keyboard instrument, intended to exhibit the player's technique.
Origin of toccata
1715-25; < Italian: literally, touched, past participle feminine of toccare to touch Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for toccata
Historical Examples
  • Mr. Moulton seemed interested about the reading, and I read him the 'toccata' after dinner, and other poems.

    Louise Chandler Moulton Lilian Whiting
  • But the music was not all to the tune of “A toccata of Galuppi's.”

  • The compass of the pedals in this toccata shows that it must have been written for the organ in the Lutheran Church at Cthen.

    Bach Charles Francis Abdy Williams
  • I wish you would send me Handel's six fugues and the toccata and fugues by Eberlin.

  • The toccata of Galuppi left behind as its relics the melancholy of mundane pleasure and a sense of its transitory existence.

    Robert Browning Edward Dowden
  • In the Bachgesellschaft edition the toccata is called fantasia.

    Bach Charles Francis Abdy Williams
  • The toccata contains three movements—allegro moderato, allegro, adagio.

    Bach Charles Francis Abdy Williams
  • I have no doubt that the toccata by Chaminade, which I do not know, is written on similar lines.

    Piano Playing Josef Hofmann
  • The toccata is in two movements—allegro moderato and adagio.

    Bach Charles Francis Abdy Williams
  • toccata—a brilliant composition for piano or organ, usually characterized by much rapid staccato playing.

British Dictionary definitions for toccata


a rapid keyboard composition for organ, harpsichord, etc, dating from the baroque period, usually in a rhythmically free style
Word Origin
C18: from Italian, literally: touched, from toccare to play (an instrument), touch
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for toccata

1724, from Italian toccata, from toccare "to touch." A composition for keyboard instrument, intended to exhibit the touch and technique of the performer, and having the air of an improvisation.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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