© 2024 Western New York Public Broadcasting Association

140 Lower Terrace
Buffalo, NY 14202

Mailing Address:
Horizons Plaza P.O. Box 1263
Buffalo, NY 14240-1263

Buffalo Toronto Public Media | Phone 716-845-7000
WBFO Newsroom | Phone: 716-845-7040
Your NPR Station
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Guitarists Discover Timelessness of Erik Satie

Erik Satie.
Wikimedia Commons/Sonia y natalia
Erik Satie.

The spare, haunting melodies of composer and pianist Erik Satie have inspired a wide range of musicians, from his contemporary Claude Debussy to The Velvet Underground's John Cale. Guitarists Jonathan Stone and Adrian Bond come from different backgrounds — Stone from bossa nova and Bond from ambient music — but find a common interest in the composer's work.

"His music is still relevant, because it was unique in its time and it was a departure at its time," Stone says. "In a way, to me, Satie creates a timelessness in much of his music. It's just as fresh now as it was a hundred years ago."

When Stone introduced Bond to Satie's work in the late '70s, Bond found an immediate connection to the music. Bond comes from the ambient and avant-garde music community and quickly recognized Satie in just about every musician he'd come to appreciate.

Stone says that Satie's music achieves its effects in spite of — or maybe because of — his lack of technical ability. As an anti-authoritarian, Satie constantly found ways to break the rules of composition, including the use of the flat-fifth, an atonal chord.

Most music includes notes and instructions on the performance of a piece, but Satie took things one step further: He'd write very personal notes and give advice on the state of being for the performer. For example, "Don't be proud" or "Think like a pear." The absurdist phrases and asides became famous, and in this interview, the duo has host Andrea Seabrook perform "Yachting" on the spot.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.