Musique d’Ameublement (Furniture Music) is perhaps one of Erik Satie’s boldest compositions, a seminal work for a wide range of modern and contemporary music styles and theories, sound art and design. This composition was played during the interludes of Max Jacob’s play Ruffian toujours, truand jamais. It was Satie’s purpose to merge, with his particular humour and irony, the music with the environment. The programme for the Parisian Barbazanges gallery—where the composition was premiered on March 8, 1920— states:
“We urge you to take no notice of it and to behave during the intervals as if it did not exist. This music…claims to make a contribution to life in the same way as a private conversation, a painting in a gallery, or the chair on which you may or may not be seated” (Gillmor: 1988).
To mark the 95th anniversary of this event, Modelab invited six sound artists and composers to reflect on the evolution of functions of music within a specific space. This dialogue, translated into sound compositions, will be available through portable devices on March 8, 2015, at the ex-Galerie Barbazanges in Paris.
While time is the canvas for the composer, a specific device containing music also becomes a living sculpture revealed only by the audience. In this manner, the space for which the music is intended also becomes an instrument, as Satie playfully envisioned in Musique d’Ameublement.
By celebrating Satie’s life and work, “You may or you may not be” also looks into the evolving essence of music and its relations with public space, understood in the same manner as a recording: “a limited set of sounds that can nonetheless have a variable relationship in the environment in which they are played” (Pisaro: 2009).