Form and transformation in the 'nocturne' from britten's 'serenade for tenor, horn and strings'

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The 'Nocturne' from Benjamin Britten's Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings (1943) presents a number of interesting melodic and motivic features effectively modelled by aspects of diatonic transformational theories. Following a brief review of important transformational operations in diatonic set theory (transposition within Mod-7 diatonic space, diatonic interval cycles, and 'signature transformation'), this article presents an analysis of the 'Nocturne' drawing upon both traditional and recent developments in diatonic transformational theory. Doing so illustrates an intricate compositional technique, one that traces motivic associations in the vocal line, the horn part and the accompanying strings. A close reading reveals that these motivic techniques stem from the generic concept of echoing and reverberation at the heart of Tennyson's poem.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)30-39
Number of pages10
JournalTempo (United Kingdom)
Issue number264
StatePublished - Apr 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Music


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