Piano Tutorial: Chopin Nocturne, Op. 48, No. 1

In this viewer requested tutorial, we look together at Chopin Nocturne Op. 48, No. 1.

Today, the work is one of Chopin’s best known nocturnes. It’s popular with piano students and is known to be technically challenging, almost listed in places. The work is firmly in the key of C minor in 4-4 time and there are no surprising harmonies or key changes. The work reminds us of contemporary descriptions of Chopin’s amazing skill at improvisation.

I wonder if you feel, as I do, the nocturne might have originated as some kind of late-night free improvisation, Chopin pouring out his feelings at the piano in a mixture of sadness and anguish. And somehow, miraculously, these fleeting notes got magically written down on paper. If you don’t have the time or inclination to memorize the nocturne, here are a few sheet music recommendations.

If you don’t mind page turns, I recommend the Mikuli edition, as a free download from the IMSLP music library linked below. There are seven pages in this edition, so the music is not crammed together, so it’s easy to read from. If you aim to make a recording but would prefer to read from the score, I’ve linked to the four-page Scholtz edition below, which fits easily on the music stand. I practiced the nocturne in sections from the McCoolie edition and used the shots in my first attempt at a recording.

Before you begin practicing, you need to have experience playing octaves. Hopefully, this work won’t be the first time you encounter octaves in scales. That said, if you don’t have much experience with octaves, the best way to start, in my view, is by practicing the chromatic scale with fingers 3, 4 and 5. I’ve linked to my homemade practice score below, which you can download free, which will get you up and running with the 3, 4, 5 chromatic scale. …


Take 1

Take 2


Listen to this song on Spotify.



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