February 5th: Nocturne and Scarlatti

1) F. Chopin, Nocturne in E flat major, Op. 9 no. 2

A nocturne is a piece evocative of night.  The Nocturne was popularized by Chopin but was actually invented by Irish composer, John Field.  Chopin was inspired by the Composer, Bellini, and the "bel canto" (beautiful singing) style of Italian Opera.  Listen to the crystal clear operatic melody singing over a lightly floating left hand.  This nocturne is a popular favourite you might have heard before.  The musicality - the singing clarity of Chopin's music comes as the biggest challenge - after being able to play all of the right notes!


  • There are many notes but the melody is clear throughout.  In your own playing, how can you make a  certain part of of your music stand out over other parts?


2) D. Scarlatti, Sonata in D minor, K 141

Flying fingers, leaps and jumps are often viewed as difficult & dazzling; however, staying in one spot, playing fast repeated notes with great clarity is difficult & dazzling as well - just try this on your own piano!  This piece is from the Baroque period - a time where the modern day piano did not exist.  Keyboard instruments in this time included the harpsichord and clavichord which function and sound very different from the pianos you play today.  You can actually see some of these instruments in the National Music Centre right here in Calgary!


  • Set your metronome at 100 and try playing as many repeated notes as you can in 1 beat.  How many notes can you play clearly?
  • Do you notice any technique the pianist is using to play fast repeated notes? (Hint: look at close ups of the hands)
  • Try playing repeated notes again with this technique.  How many repeated notes can you play now?