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The spaces inhabited by an individual or by a ‘school’,
what do they sound like?
And how much time do such spaces need in order to convey sound?
The space of an individual, is that a room, or rather a forest?
The space of a ‘school’, is that the auditorium, a city, or in fact a very small and cramped room?
I’ve tried to translate these questions into sound, as a frame for ‘le Fils des Etoiles’, an unfinished score by Erik Satie.
The score for ‘le Fils des étoiles’ was finished, but clearly not ready.
It consists of 3 acts, each preceded by a prelude.
The preludes were published during Satie’s life; they have been performed many times and are widely known by now.
I made 2 extra interludes, to be played over the speakers.
They are placed between act 1 & 2, and between act 2 & 3.
The interludes transform into Satie’s preludes; known as they are, I’ve placed them at a distance: they are played on an old piano (prelude 1), from a gramophone-record I had made (prelude 2) and over the radio (prelude 3).
The interludes are small acoustic parcels, in which I play a game with half-eroded material. Old recordings of radio and morse code signals (the first experiments with radiowaves were done around the time of ‘le Fils’), footage of Madeleine Milhaud’s voice (who cleared Satie’s room after his death), Cocteau (reference to ‘Orphée’).
I have added 3 new chords as foreign bodies, the rest of the material is all Satie, and all from ‘le Fils’.
The third act I considered incomplete, and I have recomposed it.
It’s more van Rossum than Satie.
I placed Satie’s chords into new combinations and wrote new material with those.
The third act also has a more ample structure now, with more silences, and more space for the material.
How I had the courage to touch Satie’s material?
I just dared to do it.
It was an ungrateful job, because I could already hear my peers shout:
‘Who does he think he is?’
In the end it comes down to what Satie himself says: ‘which shows us that everything passes, everything changes & everything wears off.”
The material pointed me in a certain direction and I walked down that route, that’s all.
I did this with the greatest respect for Satie, whom I hold very dear. In the last 15 years, the name Satie has regularly appeared in reviews of my work, something I did not always understand, but did thankfully accept.
Obviously there is a link somewhere.
Satie is a very good example of how difficult it is not to let oneself be intimidated by a ‘school’ and how difficult it is to follow your own path when one is continuously asked to take the main road and connect to the rest of the group.
Satie, an outsider in spite of everything.
In his small house in Arcueil, with the occasional performance in the margins of his life.