Erik Satie’s music is habitually described in terms of stasis, hypnosis, monotony, even boredom. In the first half of this chapter I trace the discourse on Satie’s musical immobility from its emergence in the early twentieth century to its apotheosis in the post-war polemics of John Cage. For the American experimentalists, Satie’s directionless forms were an antidote to Beethovenian development. But this binary obscures more than it reveals. In the second half of the chapter I propose an alternative set of enquiries alive to the dynamics of motion, sensation and, above all, urban traffic. By considering a chanson about a bus journey (“L’Omnibus automobile”, 1906), a sonatine describing the working day (Sonatine bureaucratique, 1917), and an entr’acte featuring as many modes of transport as you could hope to fit on a cinema screen (Relâche, 1924), this chapter argues that Satie’s music frequently engaged with, and sometimes critiqued, the experience of quotidian mobility.
|Title of host publication||Music, Modern Culture and the Critical Ear|
|Editors||Nicholas Attfield, Ben Winters|
|Place of Publication||Oxon|
|Publication status||Published - 17 Nov 2017|