B A R R Y L A N D .



memoirs of an amnesiac.








a musical offering.
the strange recipe for a sunday morning instrumental

killer music.
my score for sea world's shamu show, and the story behind it

some clips from my first solo CD

southern crossing.
adventures in uruguay, argentina, and brazil

things I did in 99.
how do you measure a year in the life

hedonist's paradise.
a nice newspaper review of my music


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Erik Satie was weird, even for a composer. He may be the first musician on record to wear sunglasses for effect.

Among other things, he also wrote prose, in the same epigrammatic, witty, and trancelike voice as his best compositions. His Memoirs of an Amnesiac is a classic of absurd nonsense, right up there with Edward Lear.

And, by the way, his accounting of the musician's day is remarkably accurate, even a century later!


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W H A T   I   A M
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 E veryone will tell you that I am not a musician. That is correct. From the very beginning of my career, I classed myself as a photometrographer. My work is completely photometrical. Take my Fils des Etoiles, or my Morceaux en Forme d'une Poire, my En Habit de Cheval, or my Sarabandes — it is evident that musical ideas played no part whatsoever in their composition. Science is the dominating factor.

Besides, I enjoy measuring a sound much more than hearing it. With my phonometer in my hand, I work happily and with confidence. What haven't I weighed or measured? I've done all Beethoven, all Verdi, etc. It's fascinating. The first time I used a phonoscope, I examined a B flat of medium size. I can assure you that I have never seen anything so revolting. I called in my man to show it to him. On my phono-scales a common (or garden) F-sharp registered 93 kilos. It came out of a fat tenor whom I also weighed.

Do you know how to clean sounds? It's a filthy business. Stretching them out is cleaner; indexing them is a meticulous task and needs good eyesight. Here, we are in the realm of phonotechnique.

On the question of sound explosions, which can often be so unpleasant, some cotton wool in the ears can deaden their effect quite satisfactorily. Here, we are in the realm of psychopyry.

To write my Pieces Froides, I used a caleidophonic recorder. It took seven minutes. I called in my man to let him hear them.

I think I can say that phonology is superior to music. There's more variety to it. The financial return is greater, too, I owe my fortune to it. At all events, with a motodynaphone, even a rather inexperienced phonometrologist can easily note down more sounds than the most skilled musician in the same time, using the same amount of effort. This is how I have been able to write so much.

And so the future lies with phonometrology.


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T H E   M U S I C I A N ' S   D A Y
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 A n artist must organize his life. Here is the exact timetable of my daily activities:

I rise at 7.18; am inspired from 10.23 to 11.47. I lunch at 12.11 and leave the table at 12.14. A healthy ride on horse-back round my domain follows from 1.19 pm to 2.53 pm. Another bout of inspiration from 3.12 to 4.07 pm. From 4.27 to 6.47 pm various occupations (fencing, reflection, immobility, visits, contemplation, dexterity, natation, etc.)

Dinner is served at 7.16 and finished at 7.20 pm. From 8.09 to 9.59 pm symphonic readings (out loud). I go to bed regularly at 10.37 pm. Once a week, I wake up with a start at 3.19 (Tuesdays).

My only nourishment consists of food that is white: eggs, sugar, grated bones, the fat of dead animals, veal, salt, coco-nuts, chicken cooked in white water, fruit-mould, rice, turnips, camphorised sausages, pastry, cheese (white varieties), cotton salad, and certain kinds of fish (without their skin). I boil my wine and drink it cold mixed with the juice of the Fuschia. I am a hearty eater, but never speak while eating, for fear of strangling.

I breathe with care (a little at a time). I very rarely dance. When walking, I clasp my sides, and look steadily behind me.

My expression is very serious; when I laugh it is unintentional, and I always apologize most affably.

I sleep with only one eye closed, very profoundly. My bed is round, with a hole to put my head through. Once every hour a servant takes my temperature and gives me another.

I have subscribed for some time to a fashion magazine. I wear a white cap, white stockings, and a white waistcoat.

My doctor has always told me to smoke. Part of his advice runs: 'Smoke away, dear chap; if you don't someone else will.'


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I N T E L L I G E N C E   A N D   M U S I C A L I T Y   I N   A N I M A L S
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 T hat animals have intelligence cannot be denied. But what is Man doing to improve the mental condition of his resigned fellow-creatures? He offers them a mediocre education so sporadic and incomplete that even a child would not choose it for himself: and he'd be right, the dear little thing. This 'education' consists mainly of developing the cruel and vicious instincts which are inherent in people. In these courses of instruction there is never any question of art, of literature, of natural or moral science, or of any other subject. Homing pigeons have absolutely no preparation in geography to help them in their job; fish are excluded from the study of oceanography; cattle, sheep and calves know nothing of the rational organization of a modern slaughter-house, and are ignorant of the nutritive role they play in the society Man has made for himself.

Very few animals learn anything from humans. The dog, the mule, the horse, the ass, the parrot, the blackbird and a few others are the only animals to receive even a semblance of education, and that can only be called education in that it isn't clearly anything else. Compare, I beg you, the teaching given to animals with that given by the universities to young human undergraduates, and you will have to admit that it is not worth speaking of and couldn't possibly widen or make easier the knowledge that an animal can pick up through its work and steady industry. But what about music? Horses have learned to dance; spiders have remained underneath a piano during the whole of a long recital put on for them by a respected master of the keyboard. And what then? Nothing. Now and then people will mention the starling's musicality, the crow's ear for a tune, the owl's ingenious harmony as it taps on its stomach to accompany itself — an artificial method yielding only slender polyphony.

As for the oft-cited nightingale, its musical knowledge would make even the most ignorant of its listeners shrug his shoulders. Its voice is not properly placed, and on top of that it knows nothing about clefs, or keys, or modes, or time. Has it any talent at all? It is possible; it is even probable. But one has to say that its artistic grounding is very much inferior to its natural gifts, and that the voice it is so proud of is really a very poor instrument and of no worth in itself.


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P E R F E C T   S U R R O U N D I N G S
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 L iving in the midst of Wonderful Works of Art is one of the greatest joys anyone can know. Among the precious monuments to human thought which my limited fortune has obliged me to choose as my life companions, I would single out a magnificent fake Rembrandt, wide and deep, so good to press with one's eyes, like a fat but unripe fruit. You could also see, in my study, a canvas of undeniable beauty, a unique object of admiration: the delicious "Portrait Attributed to an Unknown Artist."

Have I told you about my imitation Teniers? It's adorable, a lovely thing and a real rarity. Aren't those divine, those gems mounted in hardwood. Aren't they? And yet, there is something which surpasses these masterly works; which crushes them beneath the colossal weight of its majestic genius; which makes them grow pale with its dazzling radiance - it is a forged Beethoven manuscript (a sublime apocryphal Symphony by the Master) piously purchased by myself ten years ago, I think.

Of all the works of this grandiose composer, this 10th Symphony, which nobody knows, is one of the most sumptuous. Its proportions are on a palatial scale; its ideas are fresh and plentiful; the developments are exact and appropriate. This Symphony had to exist: the number 9 just wouldn't suit Beethoven. He liked the decimal system: 'I have ten fingers,' he used to explain.

Certain admirers who came dutifully to take in this masterpiece with thoughtful and attentive ears, quite wrongly felt it to be one of Beethoven's inferior works, and went so far as to say so. They even went further than that. In no way can Beethoven be inferior to himself. His form and technique are always portentous, even in his slightest works. In his case, the word rudimentary cannot be used. As an artist, he can easily stand up to any counterfeit attributed to him.

Would you think that an athlete, who had been famous for years and whose skill and strength had been acknowledged in many a public triumph, was made any the less worthy because he was easily able to carry a bouquet of mixed tulips and jasmine? Would he be any the less admirable if a child helped him as well? Of course not.