Gymnopédie No. 1 by Erik Satie is such a beautiful song to play on the piano!
In this tutorial, I’ll teach you how to play this lovely classical tune. We’ve simplified the original sheet music for this tutorial, but I’ll also show you how to play it so it sounds more like the original.
This is a lovely, relaxing tune that sounds great at a slow pace, so it should be friendly for beginners. Try not to speed up, though!
Some things to keep in mind when playing Gymnopédie No. 1 on piano:
We’ll start with the left hand. It’s a pretty simple pattern, rocking between what’s essentially a G major triad (G to B-D) and a Dmaj7 chord (D to A-C#).
When you’re ready, add in the right hand melody. Start sloooooow.
In the original piece, that bass note is an octave lower. You can play the Gs and Ds an octave lower if you prefer. Just keep in mind that this will require a little more focus as your left hand will be reaching across a larger distance.
📜🎹 HISTORY BITE! Erik Satie was a bit of an eccentric. He only ate foods that were white, filled his apartment with 100 umbrellas, and didn’t even consider himself a musician, among other things. The French composer was somewhat of an outsider in his own time, but his work has attracted more attention through pop culture in recent decades.
There are a few chord changes in the B section, so go slow!
You’ll also run into several naturals. Remember the rule with naturals: once a note gets a natural in a measure, for the rest of the measure, it’s also un-sharped (or un-flatted).
And watch out for that low D I’ve notated — trust me, though, it’s worth it!
“When I was young, people used to say to me: Wait until you’re fifty, you’ll see. I am fifty. I haven’t seen anything.”Erik Satie, A Mammal’s Notebook
For a demo of how the song sounds as a whole, watch me play through the entire piece at the end of the video.
This is a pretty simple song, but you can do a lot with it. When you’re first learning, break it up into little sections to make it less overwhelming. Then, when you’ve mastered the song, add in your own dynamics and phrasing. Interpret it with your unique take.
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