crockett architects | Friedrich


“Gravity in music is experienced as a tendency for all musical tones to move towards one, where a feeling of rest is achieved i.e. tonal center / center of gravity. Eric Satie’s Première Gymnopedie is 78 bars in length, divided into two analogous parts of exactly equal length, 39 bars each (A and AI). Each 39 bar half is subdivided into groupings of 8, 8, 5, 5, 5, and 8 bars. Furthermore, the first 32 bars of both halves are identical. The last seven bars of the first part lead gracefully back to the reprise, while the last differing seven bars of the second part more dramatically establish a conclusion.  Satie’s two parts were developed by the architect into two stories. One bar of music equals one foot in length. The ground floor measures 39 feet from west to east extending into the front. The second floor also measures 39 feet in total length, from the front exterior wall to the rear wall. Each is articulated in groups of 8+8+5+5+5+8 feet by various means. The seven foot projection of the ground floor at the front of the residence reflects the differing seven bar endings of the piece’s two sections.  Gymnopedie is persistent tonal ambiguity. Tonality is consistently implied, but its specific center is just as consistently obscured. The piece, implies both G and D, creating immediate doubt. This is achieved through a recurring oscillation between two major seventh chords. At various moments in the piece, gravitational elements extend from the tonal center downward. At bar 8 (the first time a tonal sense of grounding occurs in the piece) the buildings seismic structural column connects the second and first floors and “grounds” them. However, as the piece continues, tonal ambiguity develops and the second time grounding occurs in bars 28/29, it is perceived as false, reflected in the second steel column down from the ceiling, which stops short of the ground floor. Other elements, the living room moving panel, the fireplace, and the coat/china cabinet all describe similar events in the piece……..”  Michael Eagan, Los Angeles