Sunday, September 7, 2008

Erik Satie

No, he was not my last date.

Let’s take a break from dating, shall we? Let’s explore classical music.

Click. Was that the sound of you closing this post? Hey, come back here!

I rarely play the piano anymore. But sometimes (when I’m a tad depressed) I play something by Erik Satie. His simple harmonic pieces are whimsically forlorn, funny and original.

In some parallel universe I am a piece of music composed by Erik Satie: Gnossiene I or II, maybe a Gymnopedie. But I flatter myself…no one else will.

They are simple. But don’t let that fool you. Their simplicity requires the most profound level of interpretation to reveal the hidden, haunted beauty within. Most people cannot interpret his music well enough to do it justice.

After my father died, I was 20 and fond of pounding out with intensity, an exquisitely morose Funeral March by Chopin. I was particularly fond of playing it loudly. Loud enough to make the crystal jiggle in the china cabinet. I wanted everyone to know what I did not have the words to express. As in most Irish families even a Funeral March played at 100 decibels in the middle of the living room can be ignored. My Uncle was visiting and gave me a book on Satie. (I was butchering the more complicated Funeral March and giving everyone a headache.) I didn’t stop playing the Funeral March until the neighbors called the police. I remember opening the door to greet the officer. It was 2:00 AM. My response was, “What? They don’t like Chopin?”

Satie was an ECCENTRIC man. (You might have heard his music in the film, The Blue Veil”. ) He would walk across Paris in the pouring rain. A passerby once queried, “why don’t you use your umbrella?” He responded, “It is far too valuable to get wet”. When he died, they found 8 umbrellas in his room.

He was the father of the modern or “Impressionist” movement in classical music. Most people are familiar with music from the “Romantic” period. Chopin, Schubert…etc. But I’m not sure. Sometimes I just make stuff up.

In music, the pianist (performer) reads the notation (music) of the composer, which offers instruction as to interpretation (how to play) a particular movement or passage. An example of an instruction might be, “with great feeling” “very quickly” or “slowly”. In one of Satie’s pieces the instruction was to play like “a hummingbird with a toothache”.

After his friend, Debussy, suggested that his music would be improved by more attention to form, he wrote a piano duet, Three Pieces in the Form of a Pear.

That crazy guy.

He never achieved success until after his death. (That way they don’t have to pay you.) Maybe after I'm dead and gone some future civilization will find my blog and see what it was like to be a woman over 40 dating in Orange County, CA. Maybe I'll get a posthumous medal, for bravery.

The following youtube link contains an example of someone interpreting Satie correctly. The link after that is an example a cross dressing punk band, oddly, also doing it well.

That’s what’s so great about classical music, life, and middle aged dating…

It’s all in the interpretation.

Bonus Link: Below is the Funeral March I was playing, until the cops arrived. Try to make it to the 2 minute mark. If you do, you will learn exactely how it feels to be 20 with a dead dad.



Michelle J said...

Wow, i have never heard of Satie!! But, after watching and listening to the videos you posted i am intrigued. This is a brilliant post for sure!!! Your writing is amazing my friend!!


Greying said...

thanks for Satie...ever Jarrett?

Charmaine said...


I checked out your link to Jarrett. All I can say is that the two men have little in common.

JIMSIGHT said...

Very nice, thank you, all to often the avant garde often disapear without a trace. Bravo to Satie and thanks C...

Greying said...

my link to jarrett was meant to ferret out how far away from classical piano you might stray: I surmise from your response that you prefer to stay away from modern jazz. Still, I throughly enjoyed your post on Satie.

Charmaine said...


I like all kinds of music, even contemporary jazz.

I did not, however, understand Jarrett.

Mike said...

Been to enough Irish parties to know that with enough alcohol anything can be ignored. However they where would all the great family stories be.

Greying said...


Spicy Latina said...

You just reminded me of the things I don't miss about you. lol kidding Whats going on with work? dating? Vern? surfer dude? I want the juice!

Briana said...

The music is great, Charmin, but you just brought me back to being just shy of 18 with a dead dad. Thanks a lot. Now I need a beer!

Erik Satie said...

Charmaine If you would like some music of the present living Erik Satie please go to ,email me and I'll send you some. I am still avoiding fame. Erik Satie