In Bach's Toccatas for keyboard works (BWV 911-916), I would like to know if there is a name for the style of music that is sometimes put in the middle of the toccata.

For example: in the G minor toccata, BWV 915, we have a toccata-style opening. After that is a second section starting bar 18 in B-flat major, which has fugue-like elements: it sounds like it has a subject and small episodes. But it doesn't really sound exactly like a fugue either. The toccata style returns on bar 68. The fugue proper starts on bar 79.

So, for this second section: is there a name for this kind of style (second section as indicated, Bars 18 to 67)? It does not really sound like the many dance styles that occur in the English suites or the French suits.

In fact, the closest style of Bach that I found that I feel sounds similar to this is the duet in F major BWV803.

This type of section does not seem to appear in all toccatas, like BWV911 in C Minor.

1 Answer 1


A toccata has neither a fixed form nor a fixed purpose, and it surely does not consist of dances like the suites.

Looking at Wikipedia: Bach Toccatas indicates five parts for BWV 915, and the booklet to Glenn Goulds recording states in its text by Peter Eliot Stone:

... comes the urbane Toccata in G Minor (BWV 915), which features long fugues like those in the D Minor and F-sharp Minor Toccatas, but its five sections are not long enough to be called movements. In the first part a brief introductory allegro improvisational flourish leads to a somewhat longer prelude, and adagio arioso or developed recitative. (My emphasis).

I'm not sure, whether there is a more succinct term than one of those.

  • 1
    Toccatas are generally showpieces for displaying impressive technique.
    – Aaron
    Dec 22, 2020 at 18:25

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