Sounds like Gymnopédies
May 2, 2015 12:44 PM   Subscribe

I need help trying to find a song similar to Erik Satie's Gymnopédies No. 1. for use in a film.

The problem with Satie's song is that it might be a little over-used in movies and would really like to find something along the same lines. It doesn't need to be obscure, just something not so familiar.

The key elements I'm searching for is something slow and melancholic, perhaps even romantic.

*And this is the hard part. Ideally it would start out the same way as Gymnopédies, with the bass clef played first for a measure before the treble clef enters. The reason for this is that the song is being played by two people on the same piano and we introduce the second character this way.

Thanks for your help.
posted by cazoo to Media & Arts (20 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
I feel like you could find something fitting in Nils Frahm's oeuvre .
posted by ludwig_van at 12:49 PM on May 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

Ravel's Mother Goose suite (Ma mère l'oye) is written for piano four hands. The first piece is the Sleeping Beauty Pavane (Pavane de la belle au bois dormant) which begins at 0:20 in this video.
posted by in278s at 12:56 PM on May 2, 2015

This may be obvious, but there are two other pieces in that set that have quite the same feel but they're not well known.
posted by BillMcMurdo at 1:14 PM on May 2, 2015

All three Gymnopédies.
posted by BillMcMurdo at 1:25 PM on May 2, 2015

The accompaniment for Purcell's Music For a While is like this. I'm not sure if you'd like the sung part, but if the film centers around music, it might be appropriate.
posted by amtho at 1:42 PM on May 2, 2015

Debussy's Estampes. The first and second movements both start out with bass chords, and then introduce the treble melody soon afterwards. Actually, they both start with two hands from the beginning — but for movie purposes, you could start either movement with just the right hand. It would be technically proper, but you could fake it. They're more sophisticated than Satie but with the same impressionistic atmosphere.
posted by John Cohen at 2:02 PM on May 2, 2015

I should add that it probably wouldn't work very well to play that piece with two people each using one hand. That happens to work with many Satie compositions because they're unusually simple. If this is an issue, I'd recommend either sticking to Satie or limiting your search to two-person piano compositions, since they're less than 1% of all piano compositions.
posted by John Cohen at 2:06 PM on May 2, 2015

You want Erik Satie's Gnossienne #4.
posted by saladin at 2:08 PM on May 2, 2015

Oh, I've got it — Debussy's Reverie.
posted by John Cohen at 2:14 PM on May 2, 2015

This might count as too familiar too, but I think Avril 14th by Aphex Twin meets all your requirements.
posted by telegraph at 2:31 PM on May 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

Second Movement of Ravels G Major Piano Concerto 9 mins in. Any excuse to link to Martha Argerich!
posted by smugly rowan at 2:40 PM on May 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

Have you listened to all the other Gymnopédies variations?
posted by deathpanels at 3:47 PM on May 2, 2015

Have a listen to Alexandra Streliski's Pianoscope - particularly Automne, Le leçon, New-York, and Berceuse.
posted by Naanwhal at 4:24 PM on May 2, 2015

It's a little syrupy, but what about Philippe Sarde's Les Choses de la Vie (final)?

Yann Tiersen and Max Richter compose music that could verge on sentimental but evokes feelings similar to the Gymnopédies.
posted by Queen of Spreadable Fats at 5:01 PM on May 2, 2015

Federico Mompou's Secreto is definitely in the same vein, and I've never heard it used in any soundtrack, ever. Similar melancholy, similar tone -- Mompou was influenced by Satie, Fauré et al. considerably, from what I gather. It's also a little romantic in either sense of the word (to my ear). You get two measures of introductory rhythm, although you get four with the Gymnopédies, and that combined with the fact that most pianists will take the Gymnopédies at a somewhat slower tempo means considerably less time for whatever you're trying to accomplish. You could record an interpretation at a slower tempo than usual, if necessary. I have experimented with tempo on this piece, and I think that taking Secreto at a slower tempo (but not so slow as to be sluggish) than most of the recordings you'll find online take it is valid. Mompou himself might disagree.
posted by Gymnopedist at 5:02 PM on May 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

It's been used in a few scattered films, most notably Wit, but Spiegel im Spiegel might fill the bill for you.
posted by laconic titan at 5:03 PM on May 2, 2015

Thanks everyone. A lot of good suggestions here. And thanks Gymnopedist (!), slowing down the tempo is something I should consider.
posted by cazoo at 9:45 PM on May 2, 2015

Brian Eno's "Music for Airports" has a similar mood.
posted by bhnyc at 10:08 PM on May 3, 2015 [1 favorite]

Maybe something by Ludovico Einaudi?
posted by Edna Million at 7:37 AM on May 5, 2015

I'd recommend either sticking to Satie or limiting your search to two-person piano compositions, since they're less than 1% of all piano compositions.

Along the lines of finding something that will "look" well as a duet, why not look at Satie's piano duets? Many of them are in a similar melancholic mode as the Gymnopedies. Just looking through the collection I have most immediately at hand, the "In Addition" movement from "Pieces in Pear Form" has a quite similar character with just a little bit more for each partner to be doing (the treble clef first two measures can easily be dropped to allow the introduction effect you're looking for). He also has a number of fugue duets; for instance, the "Fugue Litanique" from "In Riding Habit" starts with just the bass clef part and is a bit livelier with more variations in the melody than the Gymnopedies, some interesting conversations between the duet partners, while still being slow and fairly solemn overall.

(I'd also second the Sleeping Beauty Pavane for the same reasons, but as an aspiring Satie scholar I get excited when somebody says they want something *other* than Gymnopedie No. 1. :) )
posted by C. K. Dexter Haven at 6:23 PM on May 5, 2015

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