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Trail: ErikSatie



Erik Satie (1912–13) Memories of an Amnesiac (Fragments)
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 nomusical 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.)

2.  The Day of a Musician

     An artist ought to regulate his life.
     Here is the exact time-table of my daily life:
     Get up: at 7:18 a.m.; inspired: from 10:23 to 11:47.  I lunch at 12:11 p.m. and leave the table at 12:14.
     A healthy turn on the horse to the end of my grounds: from 1:19 to 2:53.  More inspiration: from 3:12 to 4:07.
     Various occupations (fencing, reflections, napping, visits, contemplation, dexterity, swimming, etc.…): from 4:21 to 6:47.
     Dinner is served at 7:16 and ends at 7:20.  Then symphonic readings (out loud): from 8:09 to 9:59.
     Going to bed to takes place regularly at 10:37.  Once a week I awake with a start at 3:19 a.m. (Tuesdays).
     I eat only white foods: eggs, sugar, minced bones; the fat from dead animals; veal, salt, coconuts, chicken cooked in white water, the mould from fruit, rice, turnips, camphor sausages, pâtes, cheese (white), cotton salad and certain fishes (without the skin).
     I boil my wine, which I drink cold with fuchsia juice.  I have a good appetite, but I never talk while eating, for fear of choking to death.
     I breathe with care (a little at a time).  I dance very rarely.  While walking I hold my sides and stare fixedly straight ahead.
     Having a very serious expression, if I laugh it is without meaning to.  I apologize afterwards, affably.
     I sleep with only one eye closed; my sleep is deep.  My bed is round, with a hole to put my head through.  Hourly a servant takes my temperature and gives me another.
     For a long time I have subscribed to a fashion magazine.  I wear a white cap, white socks, and a white vest.
     My doctor has always told me to smoke.  To this advice he adds, “Smoke, my friend: if it weren’t for that, another would be smoking in your place.”

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