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Every* Recording of Erik Satie’s “Gymnopedie 1″ Played at the Same Time

A sound experiment in opulent minimalism by Brendan Landis

Minimalism can be luxurious, an opulence of absence. Brendan Landis, who records as Hey Exit, has found an opulent minimalism by taking some of the most spare music ever, Erik Satie’s classic “Gymnopedie 1,”and maximizing its presence through simultaneous repetition. What he’s done is taken multiple renditions of the piece (“Every Recording of Gymnopedie 1”is the reworking’s title) and layered them atop one another. There’s a joke about being hit by either a ton of bricks or a ton of pillows, and how either way it’s a ton — at some point weight trumps texture. Landis’ experiment reveals that amassed pillowy music doesn’t gather in density so much as exaggerate its inherent properties: a cloud becomes the sky.

To adjust the varying lengths, Landis took the longest piece as the norm and stretched the others to match it. Stretching is, along with supercuts (like the one of every time Metallica’s singer says “yeah”in a song) or the layering of related videos (like Michael Bell-Smith’s version of the first 12 chapters of R. Kelly’s Trapped in the Closet), a popular means by which pop-culture audiences examine the objects of their affection. In supercuts, you can marvel at the mastery or mundanity of repeated elements. In the layered videos, you can note structures, tempos, and other commonalities. A major stretched-audio milestone was an 800% extension of a Justin Bieber track. This gained a lot of notoriety for turning the rakish pop figure into an angel — the thing being, you can stretch just about anything and eventually it becomes angelic. Arguably the key benefit of exaggerated stretching is getting inside the tonality of a piece, witnessing it as architecture: frozen music amid which you can wander.

Landis here uses stretching in a much more functional manner. By matching the start and end of the source recordings, he draws attention to variations in tempo and phrasing. By combining so many Saties in one place he honors the work by bringing an orchestral gravitas to a solo piano piece. At the same time, he also manages to put it off at a distance. “Every Recording of Gymnopedie 1”sounds like nothing so much as one person playing it at the far end of a very long hallway lined with glass — an opulent hall perhaps — the echoes triggering echoes triggering echoes.

The track was originally posted at soundcloud.com/hey-exit, found thanks to Gretchen Jude. More from Hey Exit, aka Brendan Landis of Brooklyn (I met him when he was living in San Francisco and performing with Erik Schoster) at heyexit.com.

*Let’s take Landis’ word for it.

By Marc Weidenbaum

Tags: , / Comments: 14 ]

6 Comments

  1. frank
    [ Posted January 16, 2016, at 9:37 pm ]

    Sounds like one of Eno’s tape loops. Great!

  2. Rich
    [ Posted January 17, 2016, at 7:03 am ]

    Gorgeous, I love it!

  3. Paul
    [ Posted January 18, 2016, at 10:22 am ]
  4. Amy Schuyler
    [ Posted May 29, 2016, at 8:05 pm ]

    It’s unfortunate that Brendan Landis didn’t cite the names of the pianists whose recordings he used out of “laziness.” I’m sending links to copyright/intellectual property attorneys as well as pianists who have recorded Satie. Give credit.

    • Bill
      [ Posted August 3, 2016, at 7:20 am ]

      There’s got to be a fly in every ointment.

8 Trackbacks

  • By Infovore » Links for January 17th on January 18, 2016 at 6:00 am

    […] Every* Recording of Erik Satie’s “Gymnopedie 1″ Played at the Same Time Merged together in the way that makes most coherent sense: using the start/end of the longest track as the markers to stretch the others to; turning rubato in performance into what sounds like granular synthesis, almost. Good write-up, too: the more I listen to this, the more thoughtful it gets. (tags: music satie repurposing sampling delay ) […]

  • By Links of the Day | mondo arcana on January 18, 2016 at 10:10 am

    […] Every Recording of Erik Satie’s Gymnopedie 1 Played at the Same Time […]

  • […] Brendan Landis writes on Disquiet: […]

  • By Satie, This Time with Feeling on January 25, 2016 at 6:51 pm

    […] initial “Every Recording of Gymnopedie 1” gained quite a following in the past week. When I first wrote about it it had about 2,000 listens on SoundCloud. As of this writing it has just over 50,000 listens. […]

  • By January Links | Extra sharp. Good rubber. on February 1, 2016 at 1:31 pm

    […] A lotta Gymnopedies. […]

  • […] This orchestration continued and can be seen in various guises today. Any search on the Internet can bring up these maximalist provocations. One that especially summons the spirt of the open system is Brandon Landis’ collage of every recording of Erik Satie’s “Gymnopedie no. 1” (here). […]

  • […] Marc Weidenbaum of Disquiet, who […]

  • By Every Gymnopedie 1 is out now - Hey Exit on June 21, 2018 at 6:58 am

    […] them to the same length (about six minutes, in this case – the length of the longest recording). Marc Weidenbaum gave the piece a really nice writeup over on Disquiet, and Echoes and Dust talked to me about it as […]

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