I'm looking at Erik Satie's Gnossiennes, specifically Nos. 1-3, but for simplicity let's just consider Gnossienne No. 1.
Most editions (see IMSLP) are engraved without a time signature nor with any bar lines. This suggests unmetered "free time".
A tempo indication of "Lent" (AKA Lento/Slow) is also provided, and text (in french) also gives some rather obscure expression instructions.
Looking at the music, and in several recordings I have heard, the bass line and chords definitely look and sound like they provide undeniable (yet somewhat syncopated) beats. There is a repetitive pattern that I would describe as: being in a 2/2 meter, with the bass notes on 1, and the chords on the-and-of-1, and the-and-of-2. (Or if you prefer 4/4, the chords on beats 2 and 4.)
But this contradicts the idea of "free time", and doesn't explain the lack of time signature and bar lines.
Admittedly a significant amount of rubato is applied by the various performers (and it does suit this piece). But rubato only affects the tempo, not the meter right?
- Are the Gnossiennes really in "free time"?
- Is there some other reason that the time signature and bar lines are absent?
- Does omitting the time signature and bar lines make it easier or harder to perform this piece?