Thursday 10 June 2010

Erik Satie - Gnossienne No.1

French composer Erik Satie (1866-1925) used for his pieces novel names such as "vexations", "croquis et agaceries" , "ogives". In 1893 he published the first of the "gnossiennes", a new word meant to describe a new type of composition.

There are different theories as to the meaning of the word, some relate it to the apparent involvement of Satie's with gnostic movements, others link it to the Theseus, Ariadne and Minotaur myth.

Satie was part of the early 20th century Parisian avant-garde, and according to critics his work "prophesied the major movements in classical music to appear over the next fifty years".

Several of the Gnossiennes were used for film soundtrack since the 1960's, this particular one - the first - proving to be a rather popular choice, featured in the Poirot episode "Five little pigs", "The painted veil" and "Chocolat" to mention just a few.

His work was also popular with modern performers like Frank Zappa, Steve Hackett and Blood Sweat & Tears who made various arrangements of Saties's piano pieces.

Trivia: word is that at the time of his death in 1925 his room was entered for the first and only time in 27 years, and in there amongst hordes of objects were found 4 pianos (never used for composing judging by the amount of dust and cobwebs), a total of 7 velvet suits (concealing several unknown compositions) and his portrait by Suzanne Valadon painted during their romance in 1893, all mixed with letters, drawings, other memorabilia from various periods of his life, and a great number of ...umbrellas.

Gnossienne 1 has been composed in 1890, before he met Suzanne Valadon, yet to me it somehow speaks of the feeling of "nothing but an icy loneliness that fills the head with emptiness and the heart with sadness" Satie was left with at the end of the 6 month relationship, the only love affair he ever had.

This is only a small extras of info from Wikipedia, where you can find more details and references to books on Satie.

And if you're wondering what's with the pics, well no, is not Halloween yet (in fact I wore this exact outfit, of which the dress is actually a skirt, to a Christmas meal). It's only what's happening to one when they play, unsupervised, with photoshop.


  1. oh la la Tres dramatique, exotique, avant garde. J'adore ces photos! I immediately recognized this song when I heard it, but had no idea about the composer and his fascinating life (and hoard of umbrellas). Thanks for sharing this. You've done some amazing things with Photoshop here! Awesome!

  2. glad you like it!
    as for the photoshop exercise, i am a total novice, and was merely experimenting with one effect per photo - i used the diffuse glow, ink outlines, watercolor and dark strokes filters.