Engaging Chopin’s Nocturnes: Model Composition and Nineteenth-Century Diminutions

Author(s): 
Gilad Rabinovitch
Volume: 
33
Year: 
2019
Material: 
Abstract: 

This tribute to Prof. Peter Schubert reflects my experience teaching a model composition unit on Chopin’s nocturnes, as part of a master’s-level course for “classical” performance majors that was dedicated entirely to hands-on model composition. I discuss Chopin’s rhythmic contours and their significance to this stylistic modeling, which is abstractly inspired by Schubert’s (2008) discussion of rhythms in Renaissance counterpoint. I reflect on post-classical echoes, both in terms of Caplin’s formal types as well as in terms related to Gjerdingen’s harmonic-melodic schemata, as they inform teaching model composition in Chopin’s style. I also discuss possible ways of adapting Kalkbrenner’s (1849) treatise on keyboard improvisation to this context. The article highlights the tension between “thinking in music” and “thinking about music” (Schubert 2011) and some challenges and scaffoldings for teaching model composition.