Thursday, November 25, 2004

Sou um medidor de sons

Com os cumprimentos de um mestre da ironia

Erik Satie: Memories of an Amnesic (Fragments) (1912-13)Translated from the French by R. Motherwell.First published in S.I.M. (Journal of the Société Musicale Indépendent), Paris, 15 April 1912, and 15 February 1913.

1. What I Am

Everyone will tell you that I am not a musician.1 It's true.
From the beginning of my career I classed myself among phonometrographers. My works are pure phonometry. If one takes the "Son of the Stars" or the "Pieces in the Form of a Pear," the "In Riding Habit"2 or the "Sarabands," one can see that no musical idea presided at the creation of these works. They are dominated by scientific thought.
Besides, I get more pleasure from measuring a sound than I do from hearing it. With phonometer in hand, I work surely and joyfully.
What haven't I weighed or measured? All of Beethoven, all of Verdi, etc. It's very curious.
The first time I used a phonoscope, I examined a B flat of average size. I have, I assure you, never seen anything more disgusting. I had to call my servant in to show it to him.
On my phono-weigher an ordinary F sharp, of a very common type, registered 93 kilograms. It came out of a very fat tenor whose weight I also took.
Do you know how to clean sounds? It's a dirty business. Cataloguing them is neater; to know how to classify them is a meticulous affair and demands good eyesight. Here, we are in phonotechnics.
In regard to sonorous explosions, often so disagreeable, cotton placed in the ears attenuates them quite comfortably. Here, we are in pyrophonics.
For writing my "Gold Pieces," I employed a caleidophone register. This took seven minutes. I had to call my servant in to listen to it.
I believe that I can say that phonology is superior to music. It is more varied. You get paid more for it. That's how I made all my money.
In any case, with a metodynamophone, a phonometry expert with practically no experience can easily note down more sounds than the most skilled musician, in the same time, with the same effort. It is thanks to it that I have been able to write so much.
The future therefore belongs to philophonics.

1 Cf. Séré's "Musiciens francais d'aujourd'hui."2 (Satie is referring to the horse, not the rider. trans.)

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Day 1

Let there be sound!

In the beginning there was only white noise...