Author Topic: Erik Satie  (Read 44382 times)

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Offline Mahlerian

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Re: Erik Satie
« Reply #200 on: May 21, 2018, 07:31:56 AM »
Satie, like Cage, is one of those composers I admire more for their musical philosophies rather than the music itself. Satie did compose some cool works, but I can’t really say I’ve heard any masterpieces from him.

Both of them spurned the very idea of musical masterpieces, though, so this is entirely in line with their philosophies.
"l do not consider my music as atonal, but rather as non-tonal. I feel the unity of all keys. Atonal music by modern composers admits of no key at all, no feeling of any definite center." - Arnold Schoenberg

Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Erik Satie
« Reply #201 on: May 21, 2018, 07:44:49 AM »
Both of them spurned the very idea of musical masterpieces, though, so this is entirely in line with their philosophies.

Be that as it may, I still haven’t heard a work from either composer that made me think “Gosh, now that’s an incredible piece of music."
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Offline k a rl h e nn i ng

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Re: Erik Satie
« Reply #202 on: May 21, 2018, 07:53:48 AM »
[...] that made me think “Gosh, now that’s an incredible piece of music."

Socrate.

And, yes, even the overworked Gymnopédie № 1.
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Re: Erik Satie
« Reply #203 on: May 21, 2018, 08:05:54 AM »
And, yes, even the overworked Gymnopédie № 1.

Lucky me, I must have heard the work, but can't call to mind anything about it. Ripe for discovery! (Mental note, Toch gets pushed incrementally back.)

Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Erik Satie
« Reply #204 on: May 21, 2018, 11:25:55 AM »
Socrate.

And, yes, even the overworked Gymnopédie № 1.

Socrate is pretty good, but I never came away from it thinking “OMG! I absolutely loved that!” Gymnopédie № 1 is a lovely work, too.
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Offline Mahlerian

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Re: Erik Satie
« Reply #205 on: May 21, 2018, 11:40:01 AM »
Socrate is pretty good, but I never came away from it thinking “OMG! I absolutely loved that!” Gymnopédie № 1 is a lovely work, too.

It strikes me that Satie and Cage were also probably the only two composers considered among the most important who had significant deficits in traditional technique (harmony, counterpoint, etc.).

Which actually makes their accomplishments all the more impressive, because they found original voices in spite of their difficulties.
"l do not consider my music as atonal, but rather as non-tonal. I feel the unity of all keys. Atonal music by modern composers admits of no key at all, no feeling of any definite center." - Arnold Schoenberg

Offline San Antone

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Re: Erik Satie
« Reply #206 on: May 21, 2018, 01:17:19 PM »
It strikes me that Satie and Cage were also probably the only two composers considered among the most important who had significant deficits in traditional technique (harmony, counterpoint, etc.).

Which actually makes their accomplishments all the more impressive, because they found original voices in spite of their difficulties.

It has not been my impression from reading about both composers that they had a deficit in harmony or counterpoint.  Both had formal studies, Cage studied two years with Schoenberg (known for his rigorous harmony and counterpoint classes).  They chose to explore other aspects of composition; e.g. Cage rejected Schoenberg's insistence on harmonic movement (and Schoenberg predicted Cage would not amount to much of a composer). 

But, I agree they did both have original voices.  That is what I value more than a composer exhibiting a perfect command of academic techniques.

Offline Mahlerian

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Re: Erik Satie
« Reply #207 on: May 21, 2018, 02:11:09 PM »
It has not been my impression from reading about both composers that they had a deficit in harmony or counterpoint.  Both had formal studies, Cage studied two years with Schoenberg (known for his rigorous harmony and counterpoint classes).

Yes, and he is supposed to have done quite poorly at them.  According to writers I've read, this was why he focused on percussion music for the next several years.

They chose to explore other aspects of composition; e.g. Cage rejected Schoenberg's insistence on harmonic movement (and Schoenberg predicted Cage would not amount to much of a composer). 

But, I agree they did both have original voices.  That is what I value more than a composer exhibiting a perfect command of academic techniques.

Academicism is a separate issue.  Surely there wasn't an academic bone in Debussy's body (unlike, say, Rimsky-Korsakov), but he showed mastery of traditional technique in a way that Satie, for example, never did.

Anyway, Satie's music shows command of neither functional harmony nor counterpoint, but as you imply, this is irrelevant to what he actually does, so it's not an issue in itself.  It does make him somewhat unique compared to other well-regarded composers.
« Last Edit: May 21, 2018, 02:16:42 PM by Mahlerian »
"l do not consider my music as atonal, but rather as non-tonal. I feel the unity of all keys. Atonal music by modern composers admits of no key at all, no feeling of any definite center." - Arnold Schoenberg

Offline San Antone

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Re: Erik Satie
« Reply #208 on: May 21, 2018, 02:30:16 PM »
Yes, and he is supposed to have done quite poorly at them.  According to writers I've read, this was why he focused on percussion music for the next several years.

Cage was not interested in functional harmony, and someone might confuse that with "doing poorly".  But Cage focused on percussion because he had no access to ensembles, since he would have to pay out of pocket for the musicians.  This is why he created the prepared piano.  He could not even afford to pay for percussionists and thought of using the piano as a percussion ensemble "in a box".

I also think it is unfair to say that Satie did not have command of counterpoint and functional harmony.  Satie's entire orientation was to deflate the importance of those two traditional techniques.  You appear to think that because he did not use them in his composing, he was unable to. 

I am not convinced this is evidence of a inability.  But am grateful for what he did accomplish.
« Last Edit: May 21, 2018, 02:32:03 PM by San Antone »

Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Erik Satie
« Reply #209 on: May 21, 2018, 03:00:57 PM »
Cage was not interested in functional harmony, and someone might confuse that with "doing poorly".  But Cage focused on percussion because he had no access to ensembles, since he would have to pay out of pocket for the musicians.  This is why he created the prepared piano.  He could not even afford to pay for percussionists and thought of using the piano as a percussion ensemble "in a box".

I also think it is unfair to say that Satie did not have command of counterpoint and functional harmony.  Satie's entire orientation was to deflate the importance of those two traditional techniques.  You appear to think that because he did not use them in his composing, he was unable to. 

I am not convinced this is evidence of a inability.  But am grateful for what he did accomplish.

People often forget also that Satie committed himself to taking rigorous musical studies with Vincent d’Indy at the Schola Cantorum de Paris while in his late 30s. He had the ability to write the most technically-assured piece one could write, but he chose to follow his own muse, which is admirable. But, the reasoning for him entering academia again was that he felt he needed the formal training.
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Offline Mahlerian

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Re: Erik Satie
« Reply #210 on: May 22, 2018, 06:33:34 AM »
People often forget also that Satie committed himself to taking rigorous musical studies with Vincent d’Indy at the Schola Cantorum de Paris while in his late 30s. He had the ability to write the most technically-assured piece one could write, but he chose to follow his own muse, which is admirable. But, the reasoning for him entering academia again was that he felt he needed the formal training.

And, once again, he passed, but he struggled at it.  His exercises were filled with the proverbial red ink.

It's probably true that a huge host of talented conservatory students out there today could write counterpoint and traditional harmony better than Satie or Cage.  It's not true that they could write the works that Satie or Cage wrote, which takes imagination, not merely technique.
"l do not consider my music as atonal, but rather as non-tonal. I feel the unity of all keys. Atonal music by modern composers admits of no key at all, no feeling of any definite center." - Arnold Schoenberg

Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Erik Satie
« Reply #211 on: May 22, 2018, 06:36:52 AM »
And, once again, he passed, but he struggled at it.  His exercises were filled with the proverbial red ink.

It's probably true that a huge host of talented conservatory students out there today could write counterpoint and traditional harmony better than Satie or Cage.  It's not true that they could write the works that Satie or Cage wrote, which takes imagination, not merely technique.

To the bolded text: where in anything I previously wrote did I say that Satie or Cage weren’t individual composers with unique styles that were their own? My point was I don’t think much of either composers' music regardless if it was loaded with dumbfounding technique nor had no technique at all. As I will say, again, I admire them more for their musical concepts than their actual music.
« Last Edit: May 22, 2018, 06:39:22 AM by Mirror Image »
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Offline Mahlerian

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Re: Erik Satie
« Reply #212 on: May 22, 2018, 06:41:55 AM »
To the bolded text: where in anything I previously wrote did I say that Satie or Cage weren’t individual composers with unique style that were their own?

Nowhere, nor am I responding to such a notion.  In my eyes, this is a discussion, not an argument.  I am stressing the fact that I do not think of Satie's or Cage's deficits in technique as fatal flaws in their work.  If anything, those deficits probably helped them develop the talents they had in unique directions.
"l do not consider my music as atonal, but rather as non-tonal. I feel the unity of all keys. Atonal music by modern composers admits of no key at all, no feeling of any definite center." - Arnold Schoenberg

Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Erik Satie
« Reply #213 on: May 22, 2018, 06:44:42 AM »
Nowhere, nor am I responding to such a notion.  In my eyes, this is a discussion, not an argument.  I am stressing the fact that I do not think of Satie's or Cage's deficits in technique as fatal flaws in their work.  If anything, those deficits probably helped them develop the talents they had in unique directions.

Okay.
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Offline San Antone

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Re: Erik Satie
« Reply #214 on: May 22, 2018, 06:56:45 AM »
I am stressing the fact that I do not think of Satie's or Cage's deficits in technique as fatal flaws in their work. 

I suppose that since I have no interest in learning to play the bassoon or violin, one could say that I have deficits in bassoon and violin performance technique.

Offline kyjo

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Re: Erik Satie
« Reply #215 on: May 22, 2018, 07:02:40 AM »
I find his two waltzes for piano, Poudre d'or and Je te veux, to be really catchy and charming. Don't know much else of his music besides these and the Gymnopédies.
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Re: Erik Satie
« Reply #216 on: May 22, 2018, 07:53:06 AM »
Nowhere, nor am I responding to such a notion.  In my eyes, this is a discussion, not an argument.  I am stressing the fact that I do not think of Satie's or Cage's deficits in technique as fatal flaws in their work.  If anything, those deficits probably helped them develop the talents they had in unique directions.

To speak of an artist's deficits is condescending and contemptuous. Albert Einstein's first advisor rejected all of his dissertation submissions. Einstein had to find a new advisor to be granted his PhD. We don't speak of Albert Einstein having success despite his deficits in physics. We speak of Albert Einstein having insights into physics that his stuffy old professors could not comprehend. If anything, Schoenberg had a deficit as a teacher, to the extent that he could not understand that Cage had a genius that transcended pedantic rules of counterpoint and harmony. The same for Satie and d'Indy. (Or Berlioz and Cherubini, for that matter.)

« Last Edit: May 22, 2018, 08:04:11 AM by Baron Scarpia »

Offline Mahlerian

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Re: Erik Satie
« Reply #217 on: May 22, 2018, 08:58:25 AM »
To speak of an artist's deficits is condescending and contemptuous.

I disagree.  I think that most observers would agree that even the greatest composers had weaknesses in one area or another, which they turned into sources of inspiration.  Stravinsky had difficulty with development, so he mined a vein that stressed juxtaposition.  Wagner struggled to write convincing instrumental music, but his stage works kindled a fire in him that burned brightly indeed.  Takemitsu said that the Japanese had no sense of allegro time, and he made an entire career out of intricate works of a meditative pace.

Albert Einstein's first advisor rejected all of his dissertation submissions. Einstein had to find a new advisor to be granted his PhD. We don't speak of Albert Einstein having success despite his deficits in physics. We speak of Albert Einstein having insights into physics that his stuffy old professors could not comprehend.

This is not analogous.  If later musicians found that Cage and Satie actually excelled in counterpoint and traditional harmony, but their teachers failed to understand this because of the novelty of their ideas, we could make a comparison, but their strengths were elsewhere, and they developed them accordingly.

If anything, Schoenberg had a deficit as a teacher, to the extent that he could not understand that Cage had a genius that transcended pedantic rules of counterpoint and harmony. The same for Satie and d'Indy. (Or Berlioz and Cherubini, for that matter.)

Schoenberg's teaching didn't stress rules at all (Cherubini's, I believe, did, which is why the iconoclastic Berlioz had a difficult time fitting in).  Reading his Theory of Harmony or his text on counterpoint, both of which grew out of his teaching experience, we see that above all he emphasizes the contextual nature of any guidelines and the fact that when an artist reaches maturity even these lose their initial relevance.  The point of proficiency in traditional technique is not to provide a set of strict rules to follow, but rather to allow a composer to gain fluency in handling materials that can be transferred into a variety of idioms.

It's similar to the utility of draftsmanship in the visual arts.  Are there artists who have painted meaningful works, even masterpieces, without a thorough command of perspective?  Sure.  It's not a necessary condition.  Does that mean we should not bother to teach it?  I don't think so.

I think we can say both that learning these idioms is useful to composers and also that a few have managed successful and meaningful careers without being particularly adept at them.
"l do not consider my music as atonal, but rather as non-tonal. I feel the unity of all keys. Atonal music by modern composers admits of no key at all, no feeling of any definite center." - Arnold Schoenberg

Offline San Antone

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Re: Erik Satie
« Reply #218 on: May 22, 2018, 09:51:06 AM »
Mahlerian,

You apparently have a severe misunderstanding of these composers.  Why are you talking about counterpoint and functional harmony with regard to John Cage or Erik Satie?  Those techniques were of no use to them for the kind of music they wished to compose.  Hence those techniques are not evident in their music.  I am sure that, had they wished, they could have mastered these techniques to your satisfaction.

Can you not see the irrelevance of your comments?



Offline Florestan

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Re: Erik Satie
« Reply #219 on: May 22, 2018, 09:55:31 AM »
Can you not see the irrelevance of your comments?

Can you not see the irrelevance of arguing with Mahlerian?
"Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent.”  --- Victor Hugo