In this piano sheet excerpted from Erik Satie's "Gymnopédie No.1":

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(in 3/4), the right-hand's F# is supposed to be hold for several measures (a 3/4 note), meanwhile being pressed in the 2/4 chord.

How is it supposed to be played?

I suppose it is different from this:

enter image description here

If so, in what is it different?



3 Answers 3


Satie is a practical joker, but one still wants to do this justice. You'll start with the initial f♯ in the top voice which is a continuous note (probably held over already from previously in which case you don't restrike it on the first beat). You use every chord of the second voice to "refresh" that f♯, meaning that you restrike it (without letting go of the key enough to dampen the string) for every chord in the second voice. However, you don't let go of they key at the end of the second voice chord but keep it pressed until the first voice gets its next refresh by virtue of the second voice.

So each bar, including the first, starts with releasing the chord notes in the right except for the top f♯, giving the impression that it is staying around continuously.

For an actual continous-tone instrument like a harmonium or organ, it would be unnecessary to doctor this illusion into the composition and execution.


If the F# on top needs to be held for several bars, the sustain pedal would do it, leaving the F# on beat two to be played again. However, that would stop the note at the end of the bar when the bass note changes, necessitating a pedal change, meaning the F# at the beginning would need playing again, so it's not continuous.So, I reckon what's written is impossible to play exactly as writ on piano.

Other versions show no continuous F# note, so possibly it's taken from another arrangement for more than just piano. I can imagine a sustained flute, for example on the top voice.


You need to understand that since every note played on the piano starts to fade away as soon as it is played, almost everything in piano music is actually an "audible illusion". What you "hear" is not what the sound that you would measure with a scientific instrument!

What Satie means is that the tune ends with a long F (the tied notes) but at the same time the chords in the accompaniment also include F's.

The attached picture shows "how to play it", but unlike the original it doesn't show what it means musically.

enter image description here

Using the sustain pedal as shown means there is no audible gap between each successive F. If you graduate the dynamics correctly, the listener will "hear" the tune ending in single long F, as Satie wrote it.

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