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Matthew Cochran :Toccata for Joe: DOz

Matthew Cochran

Les Productions D’Oz: 11 pages

The Joe in the title is none other than Joe Pass, the great jazz guitarist, who loved playing fingerstyle. This piece is certainly not for any player who hasn’t got a brilliant technique as the music is extremely complicated and really does take some playing, as you can discover if you go onto YouTube and see the composer’s wonderful performance of it.

It is a real Toccata that uses many techniques unique to the guitar that are usually written in very short, very fast notes, and not only that but the composer has utilized a number of very recognizable fragments from the Rodgers and Hart song, Have You Met Miss Jones written in 1937 for the musical comedy I’d Rather Be Right.

The piece opens with a five note motif that begins in the treble, and then moves swiftly through a number of different keys whilst moving onto the bass line, and then being harmonised in chords. After a varied repeat of those first three bars the speed increases, and the motif continues on its journey, never standing still in one key at all. Therefore the piece which has no key signature is littered with accidentals, continuously moving and changing, whilst the music itself never sits still and is often in two or three voices racing around the fingerboard constantly. Then there is another speed increase involving a repeating three note motif in semi-quavers which then takes over the motif on long held chords in between the three note motif.

There are a number of other speed changes in the final section before the fastest speed re-enters and the themes , slightly varied, return for a final time before the piece finishes on an excitingly fortissimo set of chords and a final A , played as a Bartok Pizzicato.

This is an exciting work, well written, modern but not too much, and yet is really only playable by someone with a wonderful technique , but if you fit the bill, then firstly give the piece a listen on the YouTube performance and you can see what you would be up for!

Chris Dumigan

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