My First Nocturne: Behind the Scenes

 

This year has been a rich one for me on my journey as a budding composer of piano music. I wrote many smaller works at the beginning of the year and finished a sonata in the summer. In the fall my free time has been occupied by writing in another genre, the nocturne. First pioneered by John Field and further popularized by Chopin, the nocturne is a piece for solo piano meant to be played at night. Like much of Chopin’s music it features a steady left hand with a right hand that often moves in an improvisatory way. The right hand is meant to mimic the silky smooth melody of a vocal work such as an aria. Nocturnes are normally peaceful but can become tempestuous and virtuosic at times such as in parts of Chopin’s Nocturne in C Minor op. 48 no. 1.

I must admit that this time the creative process was, for lack of a better term, quite constipated. I had some basic ideas when I began but the first hurdle soon came when I realized that I had subconsciously recreated the harmony and even some of the melody of Chopin’s Nocturne in F minor, op. 55 no. 1. I even wrote it in the same key! While I could have simply treated the main theme as an homage to Chopin, I wanted it to be more my own. What got me moving forward again was realizing I could make the first theme modal instead minor. Simply put I used a D-natural instead of a Db which put it in F Dorian for the first part, giving it a Satie-like sound with a smirking melancholy feel.

The rest of it came together a bit each day. The patchwork of ideas eventually turned into sections and the structure of the piece gradually unfolded. The inner theme, which is in Db major, is much more characteristic of the nocturne sound, with a rolling, repeated bass line and a lyrical melody in the right hand, with embellishments upon the repeat of that theme.

When I reflect on this piece, I hear the influence Erik Satie in the first part, followed by Chopin with a dash of Rachmaninoff and even some Final Fantasy video game soundtrack as one friend pointed out.

I hope you enjoy it. I plan on making it the first of many in the genre. As always the sheet music can be downloaded on my Compositions page free of charge. I simply want to get my music out there!

 

 

2 thoughts on “My First Nocturne: Behind the Scenes

  1. This is absolutely gorgeous, Darryl! I see small creeks, water slowly and softly brushing up against rocks and stones; light reflected by the water. I hear birds chirping in the background, putting me in a mildly longing mood, a melancholy of sorts; longing for solitude and connection while receiving it at the same time.

    Like

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