GO FILES
I am making these midi files (The Complete Nocturnes of Chopin) available now (rather than later) because I have reached a point of diminishing returns in their editing. That is, theoretically the pieces can always come closer still to the way I think they ought to be interpreted--but not by so much that it justifies my spending all that much more effort on it. Although it was fun while it lasted, it's time to work on something else now.

COPYRIGHT NOTICE: Copyright (P) 1999 Mr. S. D. Rodrian

Although any transcription of Chopin's music is by definition in the Public Domain, these 'interpretations' ARE copyrighted as performances:

This music may not be reproduced by any means without the expressed written permission of S. D. Rodrian... with the one exception that these Midi files may be freely distributed through the WWW as long as they are not modified in any way.

As a point of departure you must understand that I use the SoundBlaster AWE32 card (on a P.120 PC): This card comes with digitally sampled instruments. [I use Master Tracks Pro.]

On other software (provided the hardware is capable of digitally-sampled instruments), if you don't know how to avoid the FM banks of computer-generated instruments try the Midi Mapper (which might have been properly programmed with your card's wave table instruments).

These files are set to a minimum 'stereo' pan. The following set of 'controls' instructions are for the AWE32 card, but users of other cards may deduce the effect I'm after from them...

for the CREATIVE MIXER: set the Treble, Bass, and MIDI Volumes to their loudest possible settings. Then set MAIN VOLUME to play at your own particular comfort level. NOTE that the note 'velocities' in these files are set to the loudest possible setting (whenever and wherever possible).
Set all right/left 'balances' as close as possible to the center.

for the AWE32 CONTROL PANEL: Use the Qsound (not Reverb and Chorus).

for the BOB (break-out box): Make sure all the controller 'boxes' (under the M's) are unchecked... Save this setting to the default.bob file if need be: When any box is 'checked' it interferes with the controller information sent by the midi files for proper playback....

There is the Chopin of the music boxes and the Chopin of the dreamy-eyed Romantic, all very sweet and lovely... and then there is the serious composer of some of the world's greatest works for the piano. Unfortunately, the playing tradition for Chopin is, for the most part, introspection almost to the point where oftentimes an interpreter will plays the music inside his/her own head and only allow his/her fingers to give an audience hints of the piece he/she is playing. (Yes, I've even heard Bach played this way, but it's usually Chopin who is the victim most victimized.)

And so, as a departure, these particular interpretations of mine are as musical as I know how to make them ('musical' in the sense that my interpretations are always intended to make the music as easily understood by the audience as I can manage it). A major component of this is to eliminate as many of the interpreter's peculiar eccentricities as possible so that the music alone comes through.

This approach is like giving the audience itself access to the score (as opposed to forcing them to try to figure out exactly what it is the interpreter wants them to see in the music).

I myself have always preferred to be given the chance to figure out the 'meaning' of a piece of music on my own--If you like, you can read (below) some of these 'poetical meanings' which have crossed my mind... or you can simply skip those and just sit back, listen, and find all sorts of meanings of  your own in the infinitely meaningful treasury that is the music of Chopin.

PLEASE NOTE:  When I was preparing these pieces on my computer I used a special group of setting and one commercial sound card in particular: The AWE64 card.

These are the settings I used (if you wish to recreate the sound I was hearing while preparing these piano works):

Windows 98 audio controls (open the little speaker icon in the tray): Click on the lever you wish to work on--The following values will make the settings more exactly like mine:

MIDI BALANCE:
Push the lever all the way down then PAGE-UP 3 times

VOLUME CONTROL:
Push the lever all the way down then PAGE-UP 2 times
                                       followed by 16 DOWN ARROWs

Then, click on the ADVANCED button:

BASS: PAGE-DOWN to "high" followed by 2 PAGE-UPs

TREBLE: PAGE-DOWN to the highest setting

For the ADVANCED AUDIO PROPERTIES (under PERFORMANCE):

Choose FULL AND BEST for WAVE IN

For The AWE CONTROL:

REVERBERATION: PLATE (or ROOM 3 is also acceptable)

CHORUSING: SHORT DELAY

EFFECT:    TREBLE = +12dB

                    BASS = +8dB

NOTE that these settings are for the piano font only... Other instrument fonts will sound weird with these settings and it's best to avoid ANY Reverberation and Chorusing with them.

MP3 versions of these files are available at:
Complete_Chopin_Nocturnes   or at either:
http://mp3s.sdrodrian.com   or:
http://mp3.sdrodrian.com

FILES:

Nocturne No. 1 E minor Op. 72, 1 (posth.) (Br. 19 composed 1827)

It's truly amazing to realize Chopin was only 17 when he came up with this marvelous musical idea. The drama here is of almost operatic proportions; and, in fact, few moment in opera are its equal. But every last little bit of song by this composer always seems to be spectacularly gorgeous. (The MP3 file -above- is a little bit closer to my final intention.)

Nocturne No. 2 in C sharp minor "Lento con gran espressione"

One looks at a piece of music through one's personality, and my personality rides a perennial high-horse which to despair dismounts its rider seldomly... I always pick myself up quickly enough when afoot. So this passionate song has always struck me as quite filled with almost delicious youth and joy.

Nocturne No. 3 in B flat minor Op. 9, 1 (Br. 54 composed 1830-31/spring)

Probably the most evocative of night of all the nocturnes, one can sense here the unstoppable sweep of some all-conquering force of Nature (although no less the overwhelming seas as the advancing night, or evening/dawn)... And so it's all too easy to overlook how full of human passion this piece really is. Too many interpreters overlook the fact that there is already enough of the night in this music and that consequently it may not be at all helpful if they themselves also add their bit of it.

Nocturne No. 4 in E Flat Major Op. 9, 2 (Br. 54 composed 1830-31/spring)

Easily the most popular piece in the cycle, unfortunately it is also too often played (on the piano) as if it were a work for the violin, elongating its bittersweetness, yes, but also denuding it of much of its thrilling shimmer. This is a very delicately-drawn aria forever bursting forth with  very personal emotions.

Nocturne No. 5 in B Major Op. 9, 3 (Br. 54 composed 1830-31/spring)

We have, in this nocturne, almost a carrousel spinning the world out of sight: For a moment we forget everything, lost in this sweet ride. There is a section filled with troubled thoughts, perhaps, as if the carrousel had momentarily spun out of control--But it's momentary... soon enough the sweet ride takes up where it left off... ending in a (successful?) slow reach for the brass ring.

Nocturne No. 6 in F Major Op. 15, 1 (Br. 55 composed 1830-31)

The 6th nocturne is a kind of a mini force of Nature: Threads of clouds, a sudden storm, followed by everything clearing away before we've even had the time to reflect on exactly what it was that hit us.

Nocturne No. 7 in F Sharp Major Op. 15, 2 (Br. 55 composed 1830-31/spring)

This work is as pensive as one of those solitary walks where the walker is hardly ever aware of the world around him--and suddenly the flight of his mind takes him so high above the reality around him that it wakes him. And he discovers he's God-knows where... from where he must find his way home.

Nocturne No. 8 in G minor Op. 15, 3 (Br. 79 composed 1833)

This is an oddly monolithic piece: filled with stark Greek islands under a scorching Sun... and contrasting cool marble statuary.

Nocturne No. 9 in C sharp minor Op. 27, 1 (Br. 91 composed 1835)

The 9th nocturne is at once so tender and passionate, at once so delicate and assertive that I can never touch upon this piece without feeling that I've somehow intruded upon Chopin's privacy.

Nocturne No. 10 in D Flat Major Op. 27, 2 (Br. 96 composed 1835/autumn)

On the other hand, the 10th nocturne is a wonderful dance as only the best of the impressionist painters could conceive of one.

Nocturne No. 11 in B Major Op. 32, 1 (Br. 106 composed 1836-37)

Joy and humor fill the 11th nocturne, which is almost a coy chase between lovers through some delightful private garden. It has a shockingly dark conclusion, though; as if it were Chopin's commentary on the short-lived nature of human happiness.

Nocturne No. 12 in A Flat Major Op. 32, 2 (Br. 106 composed 1836-37)

This work is a wild and exhilarating ride on some impossibly wondrous stallion. It seems to start and conclude on the musical equivalent of the well-known equestrian rearing up on the animal's hind legs... perhaps accentuating the fact that the thrilling ride really leads nowhere but right back to where it all took off from.

Nocturne No. 13 in C minor (Br. 108 composed 1837)

This is the most dispassionate work in the cycle. An (unpublished) work that goes along for the ride like a child skipping through the morning on her way to some delight or other to be had at the end of her journey.

Nocturne No. 14 in G minor Op. 37, 1 (Br. 119) composed 1838

The 14th nocturne is more obviously overwhelmed with some unspoken darkness which the composer seems to be trying to break through... a melancholy journey which in the end seems almost to swallow itself.

Nocturne No. 15 in G Major Op. 37, 2 (Br. 127 composed 1839/7/2)

And so it is most fitting that the very next nocturne should be a joyous affair alternating between dances and episodes of sheer, unadulterated fun.

Nocturne No. 16 in C minor Op. 48, 1 (Br. 142 composed 1841/10)

The 16th nocturne is nothing short of majestic: An almost Napoleonic call to arms which quickly becomes carried away with dizzying heights of megalomania until we march away to what Waterloo?

Nocturne No. 17 in F sharp minor Op. 48, 2 (Br. 142 composed 1841/10)

This great lyrical piece sweeps on as involved and involving as the rushing currents of a stream (with a middle section full of white water and rocky outcrops)... back to the hasty, almost unstoppable rush it sought from the start, and, apparently, ever seeks down to its rushing conclusion.

Nocturne No. 18 in F minor Op. 55, 1 (Br. 152 composed 1843)

This is undeniably the familiar stroll of the window shopper... a going from one casual object to the other with (surely) no real intent to commit oneself to anything in particular (in spite of the fact that there is a section giving the matter some serious thought)... until, maybe tired out, in the end we simply head back home.

Nocturne No. 19 in E Flat Major Op. 55, 2 (Br. 152 composed 1843)

A dizzyingly Romantic episode whose only fault is its briefness, the 19th nocturne teases us with breathtaking sweeps of some runaway love that somehow could never be destined to die.

Nocturne No. 20 in B Major Op. 62, 1 (Br. 161 composed 1846)

Easily the greatest of the nocturnes (I would have no qualms saying this great musical thought is the equal of any of the greatest works by Beethoven), this piece is as profoundly human as anything else ever written for the piano. There is a tinge of the snowy Winter here, but it strikes one as oddly distant as if we were staring at the falling snow across a window pane all the way from within somewhere warm inside us.

Nocturne No. 21 in E Major Op. 62, 2 (Br. 161 composed 1846)

A fitting conclusion to this cycle, this great work never fails to evoke in me a sense of what might have been... had this great musical genius not died at the relatively young age of 39. It has that same nostalgic quality also found in the fifth fugue of the WTC Book I by Bach; and I always prefer an extended moment of silence immediately after its conclusion.

Click CHO_NOC.ZIP to retrieve all the nocturnes in one zip file.

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