A Musical Irresolution by Erik Satie
This chapter explores the furniture music of French composer Erik Satie (1866–1925). Satie's pieces of furniture music are each fundamentally based on a short musical fragment, to be repeated ad lib (at one's pleasure). As such, they are intrinsically monotonous and can retain the attention of the active listener for only a short span before boredom inevitably sets in. Vexations (1893), for instance, is a short piece consisting of four repetitive phrases to be repeated 840 times. Strictly speaking, three sets of furniture music by Satie exist. The first set, from 1917, is composed for flute, clarinet, and strings, plus a trumpet for the first piece. The second set, from 1920 and labeled Sons industriels [Industrial sounds], was performed at the Galerie Barbazanges. The last piece of furniture music for small orchestra from 1923, was commissioned by Mrs. Eugè ne Meyer Jr. of Washington, D.C. Tenture de cabinet préfectoral (approximately: Upholstery for a Governor's Office) was delivered by Satie to furnish the library of her residence.
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