Tuesday 7 November 2023

Experimental Music: Erik Satie and Software Practice [Music Students Example]

 In my project, I will create an EP of three pieces of avant-garde experimental music.  To understand and to consider how I might do this I will begin by discussing the music of Erik Satie.

Erik Satie was a French composer whose music was; 'anti-emotional, anti-virtuosic and anti-Wagnerian music, basically rejecting all the major trends of 19th-century classical music and blazing a new trail — maybe unwittingly — for modernism.' (Rowat, 2019) Satie was prone to a joke and often created ridiculous titles and poked fun at the audience and other composers. some of those titles included;  'Trois morceaux en forme de poire (1903; Three Pieces in the Shape of a Pear) and Embryons Desséchés (1913; Desiccated Embryos), and directions to the player such as “with much illness” or “light as an egg,” meant to mock works such as Debussy’s preludes.' (EncyclopædiaBritannica: Erik Satie, 2023) Satie was also a favourite composer of the surrealists who found an affinity with his experimental work. He drank with Man Ray and contributed to Dadaist publications. Satie himself, in life, was eccentric, not allowing visitors into his apartment, he founded his own mystical sect, when he started out his acquaintances called him 'Mr Poor' and he carried a hammer with him at all times for protection which he continued to do even as he became well-known (Alper, 2023).

Satie's music could be considered the first example of minimalism in music, there is a simplicity and beauty to his work.  His chordal changes and reputation for repetition reach their peak in his work Vexations (1893) 'this piece consists of a single bass phrase to be accompanied with chords notated above it. It is assumed that the piece was written for keyboard instruments, but the score does not specify. Text instruction above the staff reads as follows: “In order to play the theme 840 times in succession, it would be advisable to prepare oneself beforehand, and in the deepest silence, through serious immobility.”'(Alper, 2023)

A piece I would like to share here is Choses vues à droite et à gauche (sans lunettes) (1914) - this translates as 'Things seen to the right and to the left (without glasses)' which is a three-movement suite for violin and piano. (Please listen below)  This piece again is simple, and minimal, and reworks the fugue and choral forms.  The set of three he used often which reflected the Trinity and also Satie was working on the idea of music and The Golden Ratio.

This is a very small and inadequate introduction to Satie however I wanted to include this before I added my own experiment with music.  I created this with Satie in mind and I was hoping for something simple and also, I am hoping with a little aural beauty.  I created this on Ampedstudio which is a quite basic online music studio.  I played with the various sounds available and placed them on the track timeline, as it was an experiment I was very much just sketching an idea in sound.  Once I had layered the tracks I downloaded this and I opened this in Adobe Audition as I also wanted to work on this software to create my music this term.  

Please find my two finished sample pieces here these are in G Minor and Eb Major

Betel Nut Blues

Prelude to Pleasure

I want to expand on this sound continuing to work in G minor and considering further the form and structure of the piece.


Alper, M. (2023) Composer Erik Satie was so much weirder than you realize, Flypaper. Available at: (Accessed: 07 November 2023). 

Rowat, R. (2019) Essential Erik Satie: 10 pieces you should know | CBC music read, CBCnews. Available at: (Accessed: 07 November 2023). 

Encyclopædia Britannica (2023). Erik Satie, Available at: (Accessed: 07 November 2023). 

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