By Eric Lee, Yearbook Student
Frederic Chopin is a renowned composer and pianist from the Romantic Era. As a musician, listening to his piano compositions opened my eyes to a whole new world of Waltz. Though Chopin wrote many different genres of classical music, the pieces that caught my ears were his Waltz pieces.
In particular, it was when I heard an improvisation of Chopin’s Waltz Op. 64 No. 2 in C# minor from an iconic piano battle scene from the film Secret. I started teaching myself the improvisation and though I am still in the process, I gained at least an idea of Chopin’s Waltz.
A Waltz is relatively easy to recognize because of its characteristics. Its time signature is ¾ with a rhythm of “Oom Cha Cha” for the bass line. However, what separated Chopin’s Waltz pieces from other famous Waltz pieces was his use of minor keys and ornaments he used to decorate the notes. Another major characteristic of Waltz is that its melodies are clear and memorable. Because of this, I have decided to remake the familiar “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” as a Chopin Waltz.
First, the original time signature of “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” is 4/4, while the time signature for a Waltz is ¾. So first, I had to figure out a way to change up the rhythm so it can be classified as a Waltz. From playing around with my keyboard, I figured out a way to do so. Instead of playing a straight rhythm, playing it with syncopation was the answer. Another obstacle I had to go through was changing the key signature. “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” is written in a Major key, while Chopin used minor keys frequently. Therefore, I researched a way to transpose from a Major key to a minor key. I found out that in order to transpose from a Major key to a minor key, only a few adjustments had to be made. I started with C Major and decided to transpose it to C minor, C Major’s parallel key. Only the 3rd, 6th, and occasionally the 7th notes of the key had to be flatted or lowered half a step. After some practicing, I got the hang of it and created the minor melody for “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star”.
In my opinion, the biggest characteristic of Waltz that separates it from other genres of music is the rhythm of the bass line: the “Oom Cha Cha” rhythm. I borrowed the improvisation of Op. 64 No. 2’s bass line to accompany the melody. I also transposed it half a step up and made it C# minor like Op. 64 No. 2. And most of the process was finished. I have the hefty process of writing the music down, however. But before that, I needed to add one more major characteristic: ornaments. In music, ornaments are used to literally decorate the melody. With the use of trills and chromatic scales, this can be achieved.
Today, I started working on the sheet music of my rendition of Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star. I found a very useful and easy-to-use website called “Flat”. I used the website to create sheet music. It still works, but I have completed more than 80% already of it today. I am going to try my best to go as far as I can today, but keep researching to try to pick up more of Chopin’s staples in his music. I’m planning to ask my music teachers and friends to proofread my sheet music. I am excited to hear how this will come out.
I have completed the sheet music. I tried my best to sound similar to Chopin’s Waltz pieces. I asked several people to proofread the piece for me. I even asked Mrs. Clark and Dr. Yoder, who are music teachers at Eastern Christian. After editing the sheet music from feedback, I decided to edit the audio file. The program I used gave me an audio of the piano to use. I thought it would be great to mix and master the audio and make it into a track itself. I genuinely believe that I grew as a musician and a person through this project. I worked for 4 hours in a row one day without even noticing that time went by.
Here is the link to the audio recording:
Dunnett, Ben. “Waltz.” Music Theory Academy, Music Theory Academy, 14 Oct. 2019,