Inspiration Through Music: Erik Satie

Welcome to another wonderful year of Inspiration Through Music! Last year, I posted three separate Inspiration Through Music blogs, treating them as stand alones or promotional pieces for my up and coming books. Never did I imagine that I’d follow through with a weekly music blog all year long. Doing this has taught me that no matter what the genre, there is something in each song that really speaks to me and shows me a different scene in my head almost every time. I love music. I love its diversity, how the notes speak to you, the lyrics make you comprehend situations deeper and the melodies string you along on adventures waiting to be told. I had so much fun going between artists that I’ve been fans of for long periods of time and also brand new bands that I’d only just discovered. That is the wonderful thing about being a writer: no matter what you listen to, you can always come up with a story to put to it. And it helps as a writing exercise, warming you up for that novel you’ve been itching to write for so long. This year, I intend to keep up Inspiration Through Music every Monday with a new band, artist, or song. My goal? To help you get in touch with your inner music lover and writer. Now, let’s listen to some music!

I’ve always been drawn toward listening to the piano over most other instruments. There is an elegant simplicity to touching its keys that I have always been fascinated by. It wasn’t until a few years ago when I saw a wonderful film called “The Painted Veil” that I was introduced to Satie’s Gnossienne No. 1. I was instantly spellbound by the combination of notes, alluding to a very mysterious character or circumstance that other characters couldn’t see beyond. I eventually saw a play, “Proof” at USM in which every scene was accompanied by Satie’s music. I fell more and more in love with the haunting pieces that I heard. They’ve been helpful to listen to in dark, contemplative writing pieces that I’ve worked on. And I’ve looked forward to doing an Inspiration Through Music with Satie’s works for a while. Today, I’ll be sharing 5 of his pieces with you and telling you what it is that I see when I listen to them.

Gymnopédie No.1:  She watches the cyclist moving further down the road from her bedroom window. Her eyes catch on the pedals as they go round and round, the familiar comfort that sits on the rider’s face as he soon disappears down into the mist. She wishes she remembered what it was like to be able to ride like that, to be free, to feel the wind on her face as she peddled into it at rapid speed. She looks down at the wheelchair she now sits in, at the place where her legs once had been. It was a bane, being shut up in this great house, not having the freedom to go out whenever she felt. She listened to the piano in the neighboring room, wondering when and if she would ever get the chance again to feel like flying, feel like that cyclist had. She wheels herself away from the window. It would be some time for sure.

Gnossienne No. 1: The firelight flickered in the hearth across the room. She sipped at her wine, feeling its dry oak taste roll down her throat pleasantly. When she looked up again, she noticed a man standing across the room, his eyes on her. She had never seen him before. Something about him snatched her interest, and held it hostage. She wondered who he was, what he had come to this party for, who did he know. She stared at his dapper suit and cane that he carried. But then there was something else in his eyes, too, something dangerous, something… striking. She wanted to ask him about himself, but she couldn’t make herself move. Her legs felt stuck in place and a strange burning sensation had crawled up her throat the longer she’d stared at him. Maybe he wasn’t a safe person to know. That dangerous vibe she felt from him made her second guess herself. Who was he?

Caresse: He watches the village lights from the window as they go out, one by one. Sleepiness envelopes the town beneath the pleasant blanket of night. In the snow, it looks like something out of a pastoral painting, the soft edges blurring in the frosty glass and the trees like a smudge of dark green beneath the single spot of the moon in the sky. He is suddenly glad he lives here, glad that he was brought here in spite of the unfortunate circumstances that caused it. He’s never thought of places in terms of being special, but somehow, this place has become so. It has become a place tied to his ambitions, his love, and his history. It is a place worth protecting, worth keeping under his wing. He knows that despite his need to travel, this place will always be home.

Gnossienne No. 3: The swans were gliding through the water, to and fro. The glassy green surface trailing in their wake. She sat on the garden bench, watching them. Spring had never been more beautiful. The temperature was warm, the wind light, and the flowers all full and lush around her. And yet, something was missing. She wasn’t sure whether or not she was okay with that. Things were no longer the same at home. The shift in power had been subtle after her father’s demise. All of the responsibility now rested on her shoulders, more than she could bare. Her mother was still ill, her brother at war. What could she do? What had her father expected of her? There were vital decisions that needed to be made and they needed to be made soon. She was going to have to make them. But with what guidance? She shook her head and continued to stare at the swans. Breathe, she tells herself. Take a moment and collect yourself. Go about this slowly. Gently. Don’t rush. Her heart rate drops and she settles into a pleasant rhythm of cool, collected thoughts. Somehow, the swans unknowingly, have helped.

Gnossienne No. 4: She thinks back to the night, by the candlelight. How he’d taken her hand and held it in his, how uncomfortably warm her skin had felt as he’d asked her to be his. What a fool she’d been! It had taken her by surprise. She wasn’t ready. She hadn’t had an answer for him. She’d just stared into his gaze for the longest time, searching for something there that would tell her that things would be alright. But she hadn’t found it. Instead, what she’d seen was emptiness. She’d heard her sister say that you could see emotions, promises, futures in someone’s eyes. But she saw none of that. And it had all been a great shock for some reason, discovering this. She’d pulled away. And then his eyes had given way to something; fear. Regret had stained her mind ever since. She wished she could take it back, wished she could say something that would alter what had already passed between them. But it was too late.

Next week on Inspiration Through Music, I’ll be taking a look at a gorgeously orchestrated video game score that has most recently been nominated for a Grammy award (the first time a video game score has EVER been nominated for a Grammy!) Austin Wintory’s “Journey” soundtrack is next week. Stay tuned!



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