Anda di halaman 1dari 2

Jacob Hammonds Music History 3510 Essay 2

Erick Satie, Trois Gymnopedies no. 1

The last 19th century piece I have played is Gymnopedie no.1 by Erik Satie. The piece was published in 1888 and is considered to be classified as furniture music. Furniture music is a term Erik Satie created to describe pieces he had written as background music. Like other late nineteenth century composers, Satie's music breaks from conventions established by romantic composers and even mocks them. Satie was considered an avant-garde composer and nineteenth century concert goers would expect his music to comment on romantic conventions by his treatment of romantic devices. Satie's piano music was composed for and premiered on the concert stage, but is strikingly similar to character pieces meant to be played at home.

Gymnopedie no.1 features minimal melodies and accompaniment while keeping its complexities in tact. The melody is composed using only quarter, and dotted half notes making it seem simple, but the treatment and development of the melody with different tone colors is complex. The piece has elements from established form but breaks from them in tricky ways. The main form of the piece is AA'BC AA'BC' with some transitions. The transitions between sections are six bar phrases, which use minimal harmony to transition to new tonal areas. The transitions indicate a break in form conventions which were being experimented with by other avant-garde composers of the time. The piece contains harmonic innovations such as modal mixture and unconventional cadences and the use of major seventh chords.

The late nineteenth century was a time of innovation in music. Composers were breaking away from the musical language established by Mozart and perfected by Beethoven and inventing new musical devices. Avant-garde and impressionist composers used floating unclear harmonies, chord plaining, minimal melodies, and often time viewed harmony as a way to color melody in a way that wasn't as strict as romantic composers. Debussy's music contains many of these devices and in fact, Debussy even transcribed Gymnopedies one and three for orchestra.

Gymnopedie 1 is in three, but isn't a waltz. It makes statements and then makes similar statements that counteract the original statement's logic. The piece to me doesn't seem to agree with it's self. Many composers convey conflict in their music, but Satie almost seems to portray inner conflict. The tempo markings on this piece are unique as well. The tempo is marked Lent et doureux, which translates to slowly and painfully. When performing this piece I try to express pain, but due to my lack of skill it is usually played painfully slow, which may be painful to the listener, but I can't be sure that's not what the composer wanted. Most of Satie's music features unconventional tempo markings as well as other odd notations. Satie would often times leave out bar lines and key signatures from his music.

All of these breaks from convention and general oddities added to Satie's reputation as an avantgarde composer. His music was often programmatic and alluded to non sensical topics but the progams of his music were not to be shared with the audience and to be interpreted by the performer. Satie's compositions comment on music of the past and sometimes on the nature of music in general often times producing strange and unconventional sounds. Satie's music in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries would have been seen as strikingly different and minimal and is still regarded in that way.