Gymnopedie 1, m. 1 and portion of first pageI'm learning Gymnopedie no 1 from the Faber-music Piano Anthology but I'm confused about the key signature of B-flat. All of the B-flats within the piece are written as a natural and there's an abundance of F# and C# accidentals. Why not just write the key signature in D major? Why is a B-flat used instead? A detailed explanation would be greatly appreciated, thank you!

3 Answers 3


Autograph manuscript...

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First edition...

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I did a little analysis of the piece here: https://music.stackexchange.com/a/122476/23919

If it is not a mistake, I think maybe the Faber edition made a choice to notate it in D minor, because the piece ends in D minor.

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Personally, I wouldn't change the key signature for that, because Satie used the key signature of two sharps, and there is no reason to think he was making some twisted musical joke via the key signature in this case.

  • 1
    That's great, I completely understand and appreciate your detail!
    – Jgrant
    Commented Oct 8, 2022 at 19:58
  • Though, Satie is known for making twisted musical jokes, he was quite the eccentric. Don't think that's what's going on here, but it wouldn't be entirely out of character for him. Commented Oct 10, 2022 at 14:26

Seems like a mistake.
All the versions of Satie's Gymnopedie No. 1 on IMSLP (including a manuscript) have two sharps in the key signature.

Maybe at some point someone got D minor and D major mixed up?

  • 1
    I'm not sure, it's from a reputable book - Faber with the Foreword by Melanie Spanswick. I just don't understand why it's in the key of D major but there's a b flat in the key signature!
    – Jgrant
    Commented Oct 7, 2022 at 13:49
  • 1
    @Jgrant I wouldn’t take that as a guarantee for anything. Probably just a lack of QA. Also the scores of this edition (from the few previews I could find) do not not look particularly good (not extremely bad, but a bit bottom line of a reputable publisher ...). You need to keep in mind that such editions usually do not sell particularly well, so the publisher will not put in that much effort into such a thing. Most likely they print what the Editor (Spanswick) gives them, without looking too much into it. And then you just get mistakes.
    – Lazy
    Commented Oct 7, 2022 at 15:15
  • 7
    Computers have made it possible for us to make many more mistakes per hour than we ever could before Commented Oct 7, 2022 at 15:45

I don't know for sure, but I can't help wondering if Faber have changed the key signature to create a "new edition" that's protected by copyright.

  • Their edition would be protected regardless. The piece itself is no longer under copyright, but a publisher's engraving and formatting are protected even with no editorial changes to the content.
    – Aaron
    Commented Oct 8, 2022 at 23:57
  • @Aaron, you're probably right. But it may not be equally clear-cut across all jurisdictions. And I don't find the other answers here at all convincing, so I'm putting forward an alternative hypothesis. Commented Oct 9, 2022 at 2:57

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