What does the title mean?
Nocturnal night-time piece reflecting the calm after a busy day.
What are the genre and subgenre?
A character piece and Nocturne.
What is the form?
Theme A. Theme A varied. Theme B. Theme A, heavily ornamented. Theme B. Very short Codetta.
How is it similar to his Ballade?
It starts in one key and ends in another (starts Em ends E major).
Describe the one bar introduction.
Played solely by the left hand and is based on the tonic of Em, with 2 middle C appoggiaturas. The tempo is andante and metronome speed is 69 crochets per bar.
Describe the accompaniment.
Wide-ranging and arpeggio like which is found in much Romantic music.
What happens when the melody enters in bar 2?
There are further playing instructions- espress (expressively), dolce (sweetly) and sempre (always). Molto (very, much), legato (smooth, joined) showing Chopin’s intentions.
What are the dynamics like throughout the piece?
They change a lot, with a crescendo and diminuendo in almost every bar.
Describe the harmony supporting the Theme A melody.
The harmony is rich and full, using a wide range of notes and typical Romantic chords. It starts in Em then modulates to Bm via a pivot chord and the use of vii7 twice, adding color and warmth.
Describe the changes in bars 10-18 which contain the first variation of Theme A.
It’s marked mf instead of p.
The theme begins with octaves in the melody.
The dotted quaver/semiquaver rhythm of bar 3 is replaced with triplets in bar 11.
The quavers in bar 4 are replaced with triplets in bar 12.
Bars 5-7 are quite different from bars 13-15.
The 2 crochets of bar 7 are used in diminution in bar 15(4) and this is extended into bars 16 and 17 making the theme 1 bar longer.
What happens from the middle of bar 18 into Theme B?
There’s a quiet interlude for 4 bars with the key remaining in Bm until the introduction of the D# in bar 22, setting the key of B major for theme B.
How is Theme B marked?
Aspiratamente (breathy, flowing, smooth).
What does Theme B consist of?
An opening 4 bar phrase, followed by a similar 4 bar phrase with a variation.
Are different phrase lengths common in Romantic music?
Yes they are, Chopin used them frequently to add interest and unpredictability.
Whats the accompaniment like for Theme B?
It continues with rolling triplets and the chord sequence is the same for each 4 bar phrase, along with a tonic pedal on the first and second beat of each bar.
B major: I - ii - vii7 - I.
When does Theme A return?
What’s different about the returning Theme A?
It’s heavily decorated with acciaccaturas, mordents, slides, and trills; irregular groupings (6, 8, 10, 11 notes to a beat).
What’s the same about the returning Theme A?
The underlying chord pattern is the same which is still played in quaver triplets.
How many statements are there in Theme A?
Describe the second statement of the Theme A variation.
Bars 39-42 which is very similar to bars 10-13 just louder and more intense, forming a climax of the piece. It starts in octaves (again) and is marked forte with more of an assertive tone. The only significant change is in bar 41, which has fuller chords and more triplet movement than bar 12.
When does the link passage enter?
How is the link passage different to the rest of the piece?
The mood quietens, the quaver triplets continue in the bass and the melody is simpler (slow moving minims and crochets).
Describe the modulation in the link passage?
Bar 45- The B7 chord is used as a pivot chord which then resolves to an E major in bar 46. The gives the effect of a Tierce de Picardie but it is actually a regular modulation.
Describe the second appearance of Theme B.
It’s heard in E major (not B major) with a lighter, more gentle tone marked dolce. It’s similar to before, except bars 51-52 which are different from bars 27-28; instead of strong forte chords, there are gentle piano triplets. From bar 46 to 57 (the end) a low E sounds at the beginning and middle of each bar, creating a tonic pedal point.
Describe the codetta.
3 bar section rounding off the whole piece. It consists of a pianissimo perfect cadence in E major with Calando (dying away) indication.