Satie Gnossiennes

The Gnossiennes are several piano compositions written by Erik Satie in the late 19th century. Satie's coining of the word gnossienne was one of the rare occasions when a composer used a new term to indicate a new "type" of composition. Satie used many novel names for his compositions: 'Ogive', for example, had been the name of an architectural element until Satie used it as the name for a composition, the Ogives. 'Gnossienne', however, was a word that did not exist before Satie used it as a title for a composition. The word appears to be derived from 'gnosis': Satie was involved in gnostic sects and movements at the time that he began to compose the Gnossiennes.  However, some published versions claim that the word derives from Cretan "knossos" or "gnossus"; this interpretation supports the theory linking the Gnossiennes to the myth of Theseus, Ariadne and the Minotaur. Several archeological sites relating to that theme were famously excavated around the time that Satie composed the pieces. Like the Sarabandes and the Gymnopedies, the Gnossiennes are sometimes considered as dances, though it is not certain that this title comes from Satie himself. The musical vocabulary of the Gnossiennes is a continuation of that of the Gymnopédies, and which later led to more harmonic experimentation in compositions like the Danses Gothiques. These series of compositions are all at the core of Satie's characteristic 19th century style, and in this sense differ from his early salon compositions, his turn-of-the-century cabaret compositions, and his post-Schola Cantorum piano solo compositions, starting with the Préludes flasques in 1912.
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