The Man From S.A.T.I.E. – Delayopedies

My man Connor Ashton asked me for a piece for his ID3S release, and of course I said yes.  And obviously the thing to do was to run a bunch of delay lines over some Satie.

There’s a little more to the piece than that though.  I was thinking about the use of audio as a control signal, and about Michael Finnissy’s Gershwin transcriptions, which are amazing, cloudy recollections of some of George’s solo piano works.


And, with those things in the back of my mind, I bought a used copy of Satie’s complete piano works, as played by Bill Quist, while I was in New York, and I did not check the quality of the record, and it was scratched beyond belief.  So, I recorded the Gymnopedies, and thought about what to do with them.

It turns out that if you scratch a record that badly, you get rhythms that have nothing to do with the music, but that have a sort of strange life and wonder of their own (or, they do if you’ve spent a lot of time with vinyl, which I certainly have).

And, keeping the idea of audio-as-control in mind, you can use those rhythms to control things.  For the Delayopedies, each click turns on a delay line, then toggles to the next delay line, and so on.  There are three in total, long (~3 seconds), medium (~1.5 seconds) and short (~0.5 seconds).  Once that automation was made, I replaced the scratched version of the audio with a clean version:  projecting a dubbed out,  abused record on to a pristine one.

As a non-piano player, I don’t know these pieces well.  Like Finnissy’s recollections of Gershwin, I can’t say for sure that the edits and melodies that the delays create are not correct, that they’re not the Real Music, hidden by Satie until now.