Listening: Erik Satie

By Cliff Yung on February 4, 2014

It seemed to me like a timbreless tumbling through toneless twirl. An unannounced traveler from Paris, the sounds of Erik Satie’s Gymnopédies had snuck into my cold room. The tune seemed to remind of a time forgotten in a time where speed and stress was a bit ethereal, wavering lightly on the corporeal essence of a bedtime story and within the bedtime story, itself. Something about being awake never felt more like being asleep, as the coronation of ambience drifted me amid a sea of notes.

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A taste for the father of ambient classical music has a selective nature. Patience is a key to listening to each composition. They do not give away their secrets easily. Erik Satie’s music ranges from the generally playful pieces, like Sonatine Bureaucratique, to his more famous fantasy-like works, the Gnossienne series. These compositions often were paired with films such as Gnossienne, and Gymnopédies has been in the 1963 French film Le Fou Follet (The Fire Within). However, each piece already has a life of its own. Thus, many, as myself, have become listeners.

Still, many others contemplate listening classical music. It is a little boring here, a little boring there. And, often they miss the whole few lines between a testament to uncover some meaning and a confusion of where it is. Eventually, they lead themselves into a labyrinth without an escape sign in sight. The key is patience: to not look for the beat, but to let it lead you through each of the composition of half bars full of notes. An exercise a little lost in our time.

Erik Satie’s compositions draws out a timeless feeling that is recursive, bring you back to yourself, subscribing to Louis C.K.’s idea on loneliness. Take a moment with a cup of warm milk to listen to a cloud-like echo between the self and an ocean, welcome to Erik’s dreams. Have a listen: Gymnopédies, Lent et Triste.

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