The inherent microtonal potential of Erik Satie

by Aaron K. Johnson 2013-10-11 @ 21:14:12

To these ears, this is exquisite and juicy music, and really inspires my composer self...it's such strange music at the same time, in a really beautifully unique way. Where would all the innovations of Debussy and Ravel be that exploded the French impact on modernism in music without the seminal influence of Satie? People forget and marginalize him to a degree, but man, what an example of a unique and unprecedented musician and composer!

This music for me inspires the thought: 'what would happen if this music were simply imitated, but with an ear to exploding open the possibilities that present themselves for alternate tunings?'

The closest I've come in my life to the Satie model of musical texture here is perhaps my piece 'Desert Prayer', which exploits somewhat this model of homophonic 'wandering stasis' (my bad attempt at a description for something I hear in this music that is nearly indescribable, but the best I can say is that it is free non-functional harmony, pleasant and sometimes pleasantly pungent in its vertical aspect, but free and loose and chromatic in its melodic and modulatory aspect).

Free wandering via common-tone pivots is one of the 'tricks' here. There are several examples of this here, and Kraig Grady has elsewhere pointed out that aspect, citing another work, 'Trois sonneries de la Rose+Croix'.

(BTW, 'Desert Prayer' is in 53edo)...and my thought when I hear this Satie is: Satie's example is so nice because it's so clear and simple, and also fascinating to think about: what would this example be in 7-limit JI? 11-limit? What would it be in 23edo? 13edo? 17edo? 22edo?

Anyway, two unrelated thoughts: I know I like a certain music very strongly (Satie) when as a composer I find I want to imitate it in my own way, or that inspires variations on some idea.

Thought #deux: Is this microtonal obsession a disease, curse, blessing, or all three? Ha!




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