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#1894218 - 05/09/12 02:43 PM Double flats
PianoStudent88 Online   content
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/16/11
Posts: 2977
Loc: Maine
On another thread I mentioned double flats in two of Erik Satie's Sarabandes for piano. Here they are. The question up for grabs: why does Satie use double flats in these passages? And what is going on harmonically?

I'm going to put the images one page per post in the next several posts.
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#1894232 - 05/09/12 03:06 PM Re: Double flats [Re: PianoStudent88]
Gary D. Online   content
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4649
Loc: South Florida
Originally Posted By: PianoStudent88
On another thread I mentioned double flats in two of Erik Satie's Sarabandes for piano. Here they are. The question up for grabs: why does Satie use double flats in these passages? And what is going on harmonically?

I'm going to put the images one page per post in the next several posts.

I never commented before because I was waiting for a picture. smile
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#1894233 - 05/09/12 03:08 PM Re: Double flats [Re: PianoStudent88]
PianoStudent88 Online   content
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/16/11
Posts: 2977
Loc: Maine
I know! I'm having some technical difficulties getting the picture together. Will try again this evening. They're really lovely double flats, great gobs of them. I hope you'll think they're worth the wait smile .
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#1894235 - 05/09/12 03:11 PM Re: Double flats [Re: PianoStudent88]
Gary D. Online   content
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4649
Loc: South Florida
Originally Posted By: PianoStudent88
I know! I'm having some technical difficulties getting the picture together. Will try again this evening. They're really lovely double flats, great gobs of them. I hope you'll think they're worth the wait smile .

My difficulty is always trying to upload from my computer. There is a way to do it. Currawong gave it to me some time in the past. On other sites I just click on the link button and it allows me to connect to my hard drive. I'm fairly sure that does not work here, not in that straight-forward way.
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#1894238 - 05/09/12 03:22 PM Re: Double flats [Re: PianoStudent88]
Gary D. Online   content
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4649
Loc: South Florida
Three Sarabandes

There they are. Which page, which measures?
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#1894258 - 05/09/12 04:00 PM Re: Double flats [Re: PianoStudent88]
PianoStudent88 Online   content
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/16/11
Posts: 2977
Loc: Maine
Oh cool! Thank you! Now why couldn't I find that? Let's just start on the first page, Sarabande 1, mm. 5-10.
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#1894260 - 05/09/12 04:05 PM Re: Double flats [Re: PianoStudent88]
Gary D. Online   content
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4649
Loc: South Florida
Mini Rant:

I can't think of a more stupid way to write the music that Satie wrote. <cuss>

Fighting a kidney stone attack here, and looking at Satie's notation is like a kick in the back. HEADACHE just dealing with this nonsense. <blech>


Edited by Gary D. (05/09/12 05:37 PM)
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#1894272 - 05/09/12 04:28 PM Re: Double flats [Re: PianoStudent88]
PianoStudent88 Online   content
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/16/11
Posts: 2977
Loc: Maine
That's brilliant! Thank you! You make it look so sensible. Now I have to try to absorb and apply that before asking you about any more gobs of double-flats in the Sarabandes.

The Sarabande 3 has even more double-flats than Sarabande 1 -- it starts and ends in Db major, so I guess that makes sense that it would lead to more double-flats. At least I think it starts in Db major. It starts with a Db9 chord. That is, a Db(9) chord. So maybe it really starts in Gb major, despite the Db major key signature.

I didn't know that about e.g. C to Db instead of C to C#. Do you know why that is the convention?
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#1894282 - 05/09/12 04:45 PM Re: Double flats [Re: PianoStudent88]
LoPresti Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/07/10
Posts: 1304
Loc: New York
Originally Posted By: PianoStudent88
The question up for grabs: why does Satie use double flats in these passages? And what is going on harmonically?

PianoStudent88,

I could never actually play this (with due compliments to those who can!)

Going back to your original question, and perhaps elaborating on what Gary observes, Mr. S kind of paints himself into a corner by leading off in Ab - Db. He can either do an enharmonic shift to sharp keys, which we have discussed, ad nauseum, OR follow his theoretical training, and wander deeper into the flat forest. It is obvious which way he chose.

Harmonically, of interest to me is the whole-tone scale (in the bass, measures 5, 6), coming to rest on the essentially quartal chord in measure 6 (D + A + G). Treating that D (written Ebb) as the root, Mr. S moves to the dominant for a couple of measures (Bbb), which he emphasizes with a crescendo, then another measure of descending bass, coming to “rest” again on the (somewhat restless) Gb9 in measure 10.

This is not pretty, and I feel that headache slowly returning . . . .
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#1894295 - 05/09/12 05:08 PM Re: Double flats [Re: PianoStudent88]
PianoStudent88 Online   content
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/16/11
Posts: 2977
Loc: Maine
Thank you, Ed. I like it! This stuff doesn't give me a headache, it just fascinates me. I don't want to imply that I can play it, though!

The following isn't a double-flat, but it is in the 2nd Sarabande, and has to do with accidentals, so I'll ask here anyway. On page 4, 3rd system, 1st measure (this is measure 12, marked "diminuer"), there is a natural sign in front of a # sign on the 2nd beat F. It happens again on the next page, 2nd system.

What on earth is that all about?

I can't quite decide if Satie is seriously using these conventions, or if he's slightly thumbing his nose at his conservatory training and saying, "you want academically correct? I'll give you academically correct!"
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#1894352 - 05/09/12 07:00 PM Re: Double flats [Re: Gary D.]
currawong Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/15/07
Posts: 5834
Loc: Down Under
Originally Posted By: Gary D
Currawong gave it to me some time in the past. On other sites I just click on the link button and it allows me to connect to my hard drive. I'm fairly sure that does not work here, not in that straight-forward way.
I did, and I'll do it again when I have a chance - I'm away from home at the moment and using some weird laptop-thingy of my daughter's. I'll get back to you when Life returns to Normal. smile
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#1894356 - 05/09/12 07:18 PM Re: Double flats [Re: PianoStudent88]
LoPresti Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/07/10
Posts: 1304
Loc: New York
Originally Posted By: PianoStudent88
On page 4, 3rd system, 1st measure (this is measure 12, marked "diminuer"), there is a natural sign in front of a # sign on the 2nd beat F. It happens again on the next page, 2nd system.

What on earth is that all about?

Without seeing it, here is my (??educated??) guess: The natural emphatically CANCELS any previous alteration of that F. So I might assume that our F was previously double-sharped, or perhaps flatted. In any event, the natural mark in question brings the F back to "F-natural", AND the following (#) sharp sign now makes the F-natural an F#.

Now, in the context of what you see on the pages, does THAT make any sense?
Ed
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#1894357 - 05/09/12 07:22 PM Re: Double flats [Re: PianoStudent88]
LoPresti Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/07/10
Posts: 1304
Loc: New York
Originally Posted By: PianoStudent88
I can't quite decide if Satie is seriously using these conventions, or if he's slightly thumbing his nose at his conservatory training and saying, "you want academically correct? I'll give you academically correct!"

There is nothing worse than a talented composer carrying a grudge!
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In music, everything one does correctly helps everything else.

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#1894362 - 05/09/12 07:29 PM Re: Double flats [Re: LoPresti]
Gary D. Online   content
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4649
Loc: South Florida
Originally Posted By: LoPresti


This is not pretty, and I feel that headache slowly returning . . . .

LOL!

It is almost as if Satie was trying to prove a point:

"Hey, guys, I can write all in flats. And I'm gonna jam them all down your throats. I DARE you to play my piece without memorizing it first."

You can say what you want about Debussy. He may be a bit hard to figure out sometimes, but his solutions are always logical, common sense, much like Chopin.

Yes, the writing makes THEORETICAL sense. But just looking at Bbb chord makes my brain hurt. I just is not NECESSARY!
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#1894388 - 05/09/12 08:31 PM Re: Double flats [Re: PianoStudent88]
PianoStudent88 Online   content
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/16/11
Posts: 2977
Loc: Maine
In the natural-sharp F: yes, it's double-sharped in the previous measure. Interesting that you see it as adding up to F#. I would have parsed it in the other order, first making it sharp and then making it natural. But your interpretation makes more sense. Of course what would make most sense to me would be to leave out the courtesy accidentals completely, and let the sharp key signature stand for itself. Now I'll have to look and see if Satie tends to use courtesy accidentals throughout, and/or particularly after double sharps. Or maybe this is a context where he suspected the player might think continuing the F double-sharp might make more sense, and he wanted to prevent anyone thinking there was a mistake in the score. Hmmmm.
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#1894398 - 05/09/12 08:50 PM Re: Double flats [Re: PianoStudent88]
PianoStudent88 Online   content
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/16/11
Posts: 2977
Loc: Maine
Ah! This curious natural-sharp follows not one, but FOUR measures of F double-sharp. No wonder Satie wanted to be emphatic about returning to F single-sharp.
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#1894446 - 05/09/12 10:08 PM Re: Double flats [Re: PianoStudent88]
LoPresti Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/07/10
Posts: 1304
Loc: New York
Originally Posted By: PianoStudent88
In the natural-sharp F: yes, it's double-sharped in the previous measure. Interesting that you see it as adding up to F#. I would have parsed it in the other order, first making it sharp and then making it natural. But your interpretation makes more sense. Of course what would make most sense to me would be to leave out the courtesy accidentals completely, and let the sharp key signature stand for itself.

Parsing is from left-to-right, unless we are in China - then, I do not know!

Here's one other thought about Old Erik's use of that "natural-followed-by-a-flat" combo >> Be our eyes on the score one more time, and see if any of the Fx in the prior measure are "tied over" into the measure in question. If so, then this poor, misunderstood composer was FORCED to use that precise notation.

Ed
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