Why Was Satie Right? (NS)


I. Prelude

– une inspiration ésotérique de John Cage-

Paris, welcoming the 20th century with all its splendor. The city where the newest ideas in science, philosophy, art, technical fields and the codes of the capitalist modern individual are processed. An urban life that has made its existence a medium of art, and a consistent radical avant-garde in the musical language of this aestheticized city, among “respectable” composers seeking a new French identity while remaining one foot in Romanticism. A mystic poet who has fallen into the capital of the modern soul, almost from the future. Erik Satie.

The tendency to not belong in his identity and music production, which started in his conservatory years, paved the way for Satie to turn to productions that are opposed to the academy and art market throughout his life.

In the early 1900s, the hegemony of the German style and especially R. Wagner continued in French music. French academies and halls were run in accordance with the traditions and composition techniques of the Romantic Period, perpetuating the myth of the "creative-genius" composer. Satie, who has been turned into the "other" of the "serious" academic environment since the early stages of his music education due to his unique differences, turned his frame to the political, philosophical and artistic pursuits of the new century he was born into, turned to bohemian life, was interested in subcultures, and the most important radical avant-garde movements of his period, Surrealism. and by establishing close relations with Dada, he made collective productions and became a member of the French Communist Party.

Since his first composing period, Satie did not keep his life separate from his art, opposing the traditional patterns of art, which was the dominant element of the Dada movement, with which the composer would later establish close relations. The composer, who worked as a pianist in cabarets where the 20th century avant-garde art was shaped, developed various personas in his life in parallel with his aesthetic and counter-art approaches in different periods. As a result of her consistent stance, Satie spent her life in the shadow of poverty.

 From his stable and repetitive minimal works, in which he deals with meditative and mystical elements, written long before the Minimalism movement, he considers concepts such as parody-satire-musical quote-irony as a form in music for the first time; From his ironic rebellion to the identity of the composer with a Dadaist stance before the emergence of Dadaism in the sound universe in which he deconstructs the melodic and tonal line, Satie's deliberate dealing with taboos on performer-listener-listening practices and his quest to break the catharsis effect on the performer and the music receiver. It is miraculous that he produced almost all the concepts that the 20th century art brought into discussion.

Dominating not only the world of music but also all areas of art; Satie as a response to the authority, the canon of virtuosity inherited from Romanticism, the uniqueness of the work of art, the "high" understanding of art disconnected from everyday life, the artist's "genius" egocentrism; He was able to transform deconstruction into a form of counter-hegemonic discourse in music by using humorous elements.

Satie coined the term "furniture music" long before his time, as a counter-art/anti-music concept of muzak, which was used to mean industrial background music. Cinéma, composed by Satie to be performed simultaneously with the screening of the surreal experimental cinema Entr'acte, shot for the Relâche ballet overture and anthracite, is the first synchronized soundtrack in history.

Satie; As can be seen in his Musique d'Ameublement or Parade works, Happening, which will appear in contemporary art approximately twenty-five years after him, with the questioning and approach he brings to the field of performance and performer practices, breaks the melody from its tonal bonds and divides it into its smallest parts, and sets off on an indefinite journey in the universe. With his non-utopian utopian work Vexations, he anarchically introduced the archetypes of the Minimalism movement that would emerge approximately fifty years later, and continued to be the anti-hero of the mainstream art/music fields like a ghost until these concepts emerged.

Inquiries into the fields of art and music in Satie's works will remain current until the commodification of art comes to an end and will be a companion to performers and composers who are in pursuit of the new in the space age. Just as it has been a comrade to J. Cage, M. Feldman, H. Wolff, E. Varèse, T. Riley, S. Reich, M. Cunningham, G. Bryars (the list goes on) in the past century…

After a massive 20th century, Erik Sate remains the anti-hero, still…


“… with your mind and ear   

I'm starting to realize that being separated from each other distorts the sounds

– had to start from the beginning. it just me

not contemporary, but also "avant-garde". I used the noises

. They were not intellectualized. …”

J. Cage – Talking About Nothing[1]

[1] Selected Articles by John Cage, 2011, p.119. (S. Fırıncıoğlu, Trans.) Istanbul: Pan Publications.


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