Like a Nightingale with a Toothache

Mingus sometimes drew a picture of a coffin rather than chords for musical direction. Erik Satie had a similarly free sense of guiding musicians.

Some of our favorite things Satie wrote under musical passages:

Light as an egg
Like a nightingale with a toothache
Wonder about yourself
Meant to mock works such as Debussy’s Preludes
Don’t leave

Of course, there’s a charming, jazzful poetry about such directives. But – honestly – aren’t they also more helpful to the musician than “mezzo forte”?

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