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M. Porubina

Erik Satie’s vocal miniature: between parody and absurdity

The proposed article is the first in Russian musicology to explore that area of French composer Erik Satie’s vocal music, in which the poetics of parody and absurdity determined the complex character of musical-poetic dialogue. With the help of the interdisciplinary approach which combines traditional methods of musicology with the methodology and analytical techniques of literary studies, linguistics and poetry, the researcher reveals new figurative and semantic content of poetic primary sources, to which Erik Satie referred, and the regularities of their embodiment in the composer’s songs. Theoretically and methodologically this aspect is based on the works of Russian authors dedicated to the analysis of parody and absurdity phenomena in different kinds of art, but first in music (A. Denisov, O. Solomonova, A. Velikovskiy, etc.).

In the main part of this article, we first use parodic songs as examples, and then, in the vocal absurdist cycle of “Ludions”, we show how the plans of content and expression are coordinated. The aesthetic orientations of the poems’ authors, which are oriented either at satirical denunciation of the established system of values through travesty, grotesque, hyperbolisation and excessive detailing (in the process of parody), or at a complete disintegration of rational and logical links on the semantic and linguistic levels (in the process of absurdisation), appear to be in accord with the methods of their musical interpretation. The particular techniques employed by Satie, chief among them being the principles of deceptive expectation, juxtaposition of the incompatible, discoordination of musical and extra-musical plans, aural representativeness, and hyperbolisation through repetition create a configuration of music and words which preserves the parody or absurdist modus of the original source.

Key words

Erik Satie, parody, absurdity, vocal work, song, сomic, music and poetry dialogue.

For citation

Porubina M. Erik Satie’s vocal miniature: between parody and absurdity // South-Russian Musical Anthology. 2022. No. 1. Pp. 99–105.


10.52469/20764766_2022_01 _99