The uses and aesthetics of musical borrowing in Erik Satie's humoristic piano suites, 1913-1917

Hare, Belva Jean
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By positioning well-known existing pieces in new and sometimes contradictory musical surroundings, Erik Satie’s musical borrowings offer a fresh perspective on traditions and stereotypes in society and in music, both historic and current. While previous authors have discovered and classified the various sources of Satie's musical borrowings, the treatment and usage of these borrowings has not been thoroughly categorized before. Utilizing J. Peter Burkholder's taxonomy of Charles Ives' musical borrowings, as put forth in his book, All Made of Tunes: Charles Ives and the Uses of Musical Borrowing (Yale University Press, 1995) as a model, I explore four significant vi borrowing types in Satie’s humoristic piano suites of 1913-1917 and identify previously unrecognized instances of borrowing within them. I adapt Burkholder’s definition of collage to “Españaña” (1913), identifying it as a unique compositional procedure in Satie’s output, encompassing a variety of his borrowing methods in a single work. Then I extend Burkholder’s exploration of extended paraphrase to Embryons desséchés (1913) and Sonatine bureaucratique (1917), in which Satie borrows entire pieces. I show how this wholesale borrowing not only informs the structure of the new works, but also allows Satie to manipulate the forms so as to critique the musical conventions inherent in the sources. In following chapters, I define two borrowing types unique to Satie found in Chapitres tournés en tous sens, Vieux sequins et vieilles cuirasses, “Sur une lanterne” from Descriptions automatiques, and “de Podopthalma” from Embryons desséchés, all of 1913. Periodic settings and reiterative settings rely on repetition of borrowed phrases, their distinction lying in the function of the borrowed tune and the formal structure of the new work. Periodic settings correspond with Satie’s borrowings of stage works and have straightforward programmatic functions, while reiterative settings create very complex forms that reflect musically Satie’s interest in the aesthetic of simultaneity. By analyzing how Satie engaged with and used existing music in his own works, this study assists understanding of his musical aesthetics as well as his attitudes toward music of the past and contemporary musical styles.