Thursday, February 23, 2006

Erik Satie

I've been getting into ambient music lately, which in the modern context is becoming a slightly ambiguous genre label. I've been trying to shift from modern incarnations, however, and focus on the genre's roots, which basically means I've been getting more into Brian Eno's ambient work. Eno was a part of Roxy Music, leaving them in the early 70's to produce a series of excellent, ahead-of-the-curve, electronically influenced pop records. However, during the 70's he also started going into an unexpected direction that came to be known as his ambient period, and, because it had never truly been "done before", consequently the advent of ambient music itself. This period was most fully realized with the release of Ambient 1: Music For Airports, an album consisting entirely of largely non-melodic piano music over a background hum. He accompanied the release with an essay on ambient music theory, and in it he cites a French classical composer named Erik Satie as an influence.

Erik Satie was a pianist producing work in the late 19th century and through the early 20th, until his death in 1924. During that time he fashioned a revolutionary idea of "simplicity in the extreme," which is pretty self-explanatory, as a new method of piano composition. Perhaps the best realization of this idea comes in his piece Trois Gymnopedies, a short three section piece of sparse piano music. Described by Satie as a piece that was meant to set the tone for an activity but never draw attention to itself, it basically is the first ambient piece ever composed, and it was composed in 1888.

Anyway, I recently was able to grab a huge box-set of Satie's work, titled Trois Gymnopedies & Other Piano Works, released in 1999. Trois Gymnopedies itself is just great. I made a post a while ago about music to study to, and this is just an extension of that idea, if not the basis for all the music I reccomended. Really cool stuff for being so old. You can download the piece below.

Download Trois Gymnopedies


Blogger Kevin Avery said...

Interesting article. Glad I came across it. Speaking of Eno, this morning I posted some thoughts about the first Roxy Music album on my blog Mere Words. Enjoy.

7:54 PM  

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