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#3141836 07/30/21 11:25 AM
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Jeff NC Offline OP
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I've had some music theory in college about 400 years ago, and am basically a beginner piano player. I like to know the chords and structure rather than simply read notes (which I suck at, but I digress.) I'm learning to play said piece, and I'm confused about the key it's in and the names of the chords.

It's supposedly in D major but it doesn't really seem to play that way.

Also, I've seen online the chords listed differently. For example, right out of the gate I've seen the first 2 chords listed as G7 and D7. Then another source I just saw called the first chord B minor. Well, that's what I thought it was at first, but then I saw the G7 and D7 mentioned and I thought well, they must be considering the single bass notes together with chord, which I didn't know you would do. But as I play it's a lot easier for me to think of it as B minor because those are the keys you're actually hitting.

What's up?

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It's a tricky piece! I'd say if it helps you to think to think of the 1st chord as B min, not G7 - then do it. Technically it is G7 because you have G in the base and b min in RH. But that distance between bass and a chord can be confusing, that's why I'm saying if B min is easier for you in the process of learning, think of it as B min.

Satie is an eccentric composer that likes to play with harmonies, tonalities to create the mood/atmosphere and he's pushing lots of boundaries in his music. It would be much easier to analyze composers from Classical era. I hope it makes sense smile

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Someone shared a link to a video analyzing Gymnopodie I... I think maybe that was posted here, I can't remember, but it I remember thinking that it was a really well-done explanation and the next time I played it (Gymnopodie) after watching the video, I thought it made things much easier.

Wait, I think I found it! Definitely watch this and see if it helps you.



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Thanks @ShiroKuro, that video is a gem!


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When using a pedal point, the harmony on top can be aligned with the bass or dissonant. In this case it makes sense to consider the first chord as a 7th. The harmony used by Satie can not be fully explained by the common theory. He is using a combination of major and D dorian and his chord sequence does not fully follow standard sequences. In particular he often uses the subdominant in place of the dominant, that allows to create a sense of tonal undetermination which is integral to his music.

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This "tonal indetermination" is kind cool, I think. I worked on this piece a while back and it was super fun. I continue to work on it so that it stays fresh and part of my "can play from memory at any moment" repertoire. One thing that struck me when I first learned it is that it ends in what appears to be D minor, leaving the listener thinking "is this really the end?" :-)


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Jeff NC Offline OP
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Thanks for the comments everyone, and the video too - all were helpful to me.

From the video: spends the first 7 minutes explaining how weird the piece is. Then 7:45 "OK now comes the really weird part" lol

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Glad the video was helpful! I don’t very often try to analyze pieces I play, but it makes a big difference for Gymnopodie.


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Thanks for the video, I need to purchase the full copy of the music now, I only know a truncated version. This video is excellent thanks again for posting.


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When I first listened to this piece I absolutely loved it and heard it on loop several times.

When I picked up this piece to learn and practice, I hated every single atonal chord and the demand for stretching and precision.

I kept pushing through for about a month and when everything finally came together for my first decent recording of this piece, I decided that this was an absolute gem of a composition by Satie! I was happy I didn't give up.

I don't have anything more valuable to input - that video is a great help. I wish you the best with this piece!


A man must love a thing very much if he practices it without any hope of fame or money, but even practice it without any hope of doing it well. Such a man must love the toils of the work more than any other man can love the rewards of it.
G. K. Chesterton

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