Nocturne is a neo-classical tone poem for full orchestra. It is scored for: strings (violin, viola, cello, contrabass), harp, tubular bells, percussion (chinese gong, snares, tin toms, whip, crash & glass cymbals), 4 timpani, celesta (or glockenspiel, if played with wrapped mallets), woodwinds (bassoons, cor anglais, oboes, clarinets, piccolo, flutes) and brass (tuba, bass trombone, trombones, french horns, trumpets) and takes approximately 8 – 9 minutes to perform.
Nocturne is structured as a series of loosely connected vignettes that take place from sunset to sunrise in the deep forest. There are 6 sections (the times in parentheses are approximate start times from the MP3 performance below):
- Sunset (0:00)
The piece starts with a beautiful sunset. The simple melody in this part, which figures throughout the piece, came to me fully formed in a dream, and I had to scramble to get it down one morning.
- Night Creatures (1:10)
With the night arrived, the nocturnal creatures stir and begin to emerge. Bullfrogs can be heard, and especially fireflies, that flash and flit about seemingly at random. However, their peace is short-lived, because they are interrupted by…
- Bat Attack (1:58)
…a flock of bats who swoop in from the darkness to feed on the fireflies, throwing them into panicked disarray.
- Hunting Tiger (2:33)
As the bats move on, a tiger emerges stealthily from the forest, and begins to hunt for prey. Quickly, a possible victim, a young deer, is spotted, represented musically by the original melodic refrain from the first section in a minor key, on the clarinet. The music piles on the tension, building on an octatonic scale (which Stravinsky used extensively in the Rite of Spring), and upward-ratcheting dissonant chords in the horns as the tiger stalks his prey, whose clarinet refrain punctuates things, getting more agitated as the deer senses something is amiss. Finally, with the tiger nearly upon it, the deer cries in alarm, and the tiger responds with a roar (from the bass trombone, at the bottom of its range) and pounces, and the section ends with a furious but (unfortunately for the deer) short-lived struggle.
- Starry Skies, Deep Night (4:51)
Later, in the deepest part of the night, the forest is completely calm and quiet, and in the sky, falling stars.
- Dawn (6:30)
The first light of dawn touches the eastern sky, and we watch as the sun rises into a glorious new day, ending the piece with a rousing full-orchestra finale.
Listen to Nocturne
Get the Score
Use the Contact link at the top of the page, to contact me and request the score for your orchestra! Includes all parts and conductor’s score, with comprehensive performance notes.