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JSngry

Vexations Live (RIGHT NOW!)

9 posts in this topic

If I don't know what you look like, how would I know it was you? Serious question.

I just loaded the site up, rewound back as far as it would go (12 hours from wherever it begins?) and am just going to let it play i(in the foreground or in the background, wherever I am at any given moment) until it stops.

It raises an interesting question, though. Why does it look like everybody's reading this (or are every time I stop to look)? Does nobody know it well enough to just sit down and play it? Or is that part of the concept?

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Nice!

 

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Posted (edited)

54 minutes ago, JSngry said:

If I don't know what you look like, how would I know it was you? Serious question.

I just loaded the site up, rewound back as far as it would go (12 hours from wherever it begins?) and am just going to let it play i(in the foreground or in the background, wherever I am at any given moment) until it stops.

It raises an interesting question, though. Why does it look like everybody's reading this (or are every time I stop to look)? Does nobody know it well enough to just sit down and play it? Or is that part of the concept?

If I remember correctly, I played the ten repetitions beginning at repetition 488!

I'm not sure if it's part of the concept as such, but the score is fascinating, and the way it's written is definitely one of the piece's many 'vexations'. If you take a look, you can see some of what I mean: https://images.app.goo.gl/BkkqQFk96GoqTM457

For example, Satie has seemingly deliberately written the notes in unhelpful ways - flat/double flats/etc. used for the sake of it, rather than grammatically, or at least conventionally (although of course with so much of the harmony being augmented or diminished, what would be 'grammatical' or 'conventional' is up for debate!)...so if you look at the 7th and 8th beats of the second system, a melody which appears in print to fall actually rises.

Notice also that the structure is written totally unhelpfully - there would be a much easier solution.

I think part of the process of the piece is mind games with the performer - how awkward can he make this apparently simple little thing, and how badly is this going to mess with your head as you attempt to repeat it all those times. I haven't checked, but IIRC I made a slip on my 7th repetition: as you can see, the notes aren't tough as such, but after a while, they really play tricks. (I played it for a long time yesterday, just to see how it felt to go for many more than the 10 repetitions of this performance: the answer is, stuff gets *weird*, and indeed, there are plenty of tales from people who have attempted extremely long stints in the past...)

So I think that playing it with the music is arguably part of the point. For sure, it wouldn't be that hard to memorise (although again, there are tales that people who have done long stretches of this piece have just had a complete 'block'.)

I would also guess that some performers have simply rewritten Satie's notation into something much simpler to read. This would virtually guarantee no errors, and I toyed with it, but it didn't quite seem to capture the full 'vexatiousness' of the piece to me personally..!

Also the little text at the start: 'Pour se jouer 840 fois de ce motif, il sera bon de se préparer...' - 'To play this motif 840 times, it would be a good idea to prepare'...I always think that 'would' is significant...he doesn't seem to be *telling* the performer. And it's a 'motif' rather than anything more concrete: so although most people play the notes 'as written', on some repetitions that I saw as I've dipped in and out during the day, there is the occasional octave transposition etc. (Also - the instrument itself appears to be up for grabs - so I think at the least any keyboard instrument would be valid!).

Sort of incredible to think this was probably written in the 1890s!

 

Edited by Alexander Hawkins

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Who is that on 312/313? Pretty..non-literal!

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I'm curious now - I can't wind back that far. According to the list I was sent, those repetitions should be Wayne Marshall!

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Wonderful to see/hear the different interpretations, let alone to see into so many different piano rooms/studios!

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1 hour ago, Alexander Hawkins said:

I'm curious now - I can't wind back that far. According to the list I was sent, those repetitions should be Wayne Marshall!

A name you appear to be fortunate to know, and one that I have just gotten to know as of this exchange!

Any way to get the entire list, if only by link?

3 hours ago, Alexander Hawkins said:

Sort of incredible to think this was probably written in the 1890s!

Indeed. I can certainly hear what was probably then considered allusions to Wagner in the harmony, but looking forward...there's Webern in the concision, a little bit of Monk, and a little bit of Wayne...so may great minds getting to the same type of place in their own ways/times....

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