Luís Zanforlin


Gnossienne 1 Analysis:

Microtonal Theory and Application:


The piece’s initial maqamaat is a Nakriz in F though the En grace note in the end of the first system suggests a momentary modulation to a Nawa Athar in F. In the middle

of the fifth system the harmony advances to a Bb minor chord and the lower jins changes to a Nahawand in F in order to accommodate the Bb in the melody. At the seventh system

Satie uses an F melodic minor melody starting on the C and descends it on a Nawa Athar in F to include the Db in it’s approach to the C.

The harmony in the piece is very simple and atmospheric, there are only three chords: F minor, C minor and Bb minor functionally working as a i, iv, v. The use of only

minor chords gives the piece a heavy tone with a sense of depression with the exclusion


of the leading tone from the v minor chord (C minor). The initial theme has a slightly dark tone emphasized by the minor second generated between the Bn in the melody

line and the C from the harmony’s F minor chord. The piece has a moment of clarity and brightness when the melody goes to a melodic minor scale on system seven though

as the melody falls back into a Nawa Athar in F so does the mood of the piece. The

emotional characteristic of the piece is also a result from the /:ABCB:/ form which has

B as a recurring section instead of the typical A, perhaps contributing with a deceptive expectation. The repetitive rhythm also adds to the mood by imitating an echoing call with no response, the rhythm is performed very fluidly due to the absence of bar-lines giving the piece a dream-like quality. The piece’s simplicity and deep emotional character makes it a satisfyingly intense experience to listen to it.


April, 02, 2017