Issue 94: Composition, Satie-Style

MusicTeacher     ‏@DailyMusicQuote 17 May       

“Before I compose a piece, I walk around it several times, accompanied by myself.”” ~ Erik Satie, born on this day in 1866.

That’s an interesting idea!

Satie is most famous for the Gymnopedies and the Gnossienne piano pieces, which are a standard part of my teaching repertoire for young adults who have reached around Grade 4-6, don’t want to do exams, don’t want to work too hard, but are still keen to come to lessons and learn pieces. There are recordings of these works on the Wikipedia website here.

How do you “accompany yourself” as you “walk around an composition”? It makes a very clear image in my thoughts, of turning over ideas, fragments, phrases, possible structures, before getting stuck in.

It’s rather like how I lead up to a class composition over several weeks of teaching music.

We would start by exploring timbre and rhythm, experimenting with pitch and combinations of notes, dischords and harmonies, playing with layers and textures. This would be in the context of stories, songs, looking at pictures, listening to recorded music.

That much is worth several lessons already.

Then we would set about the composition. Perhaps we would have some kind of storyboard, and split the events between different groups. The groups would choose instruments and create some kind of notation to record their ideas. We would take time to listen to each other, comment, record and assess. maybe there would need to be some kind of linking theme.

I reckon this would be half a term’s work, starting from the simple quotation above.

Snake keyboard divider


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