Marie-Noëlle Masson

Formal Analysis, Structural Analysis, Rhetorical Analysis: F. Chopin’s Nocturne op. 27 No 1

This paper purposes to investigate both traditional oppositions, form/structure and continuity/discontinuity, from theoretical legacy of 20th-century linguistic thought (E. Benveniste, Groupe m). This research will be initiated by a critical analysis of F. Chopin’s Nocturne op. 27 No 1.
The nocturne will be analysed into its component parts (melodic material, harmonic sequences, contrasts of texture, etc.) using the traditional typology of formal theory as well as several analyses of this work. However, such a segmentation leads to an impasse from an analytical point of view: juxtaposition and listing of successive units of this work – as technical as they are – fail to point out the singular and problematic unity of this nocturne. We have to think about the form of the nocturne through a new opposition: consecution/integration, and bring in notions of function and level. In this way, Chopin’s nocturne stands between two structural types (‘tripartite’ structure and ‘strophic’ structure). To analyse this ambiguous aesthetic, we have to reckon, in the ‘concrete form’ (A. Souris), with some of its component parts which are not systematised by any theory. This last stage focusing on the notion of figure, gets musical analysis into the sphere of the rhetoric analysis and shows the way for a new poetic analysis of the work.