Friday, February 4, 2011


As you might have noticed, from the time stamps on these blog posts, I am a bit of a night owl. I've always had a tough time winding down at the end of the day, clearing my mind of cares. For a long time I combated this by watching one of a few favorite movies. After a while, the movies provoked a Pavlovian response and I'd be asleep within the first few minutes.

Last year, however, I read an article about sleep behavior and it made me rethink some of my bedtime habits. One of the things it suggested was that, "...even the most relaxing program or movie can interfere with the body’s clock due to the continuous flickering light coming from the TV or computer screen. Television is also noisy, which can disturb sleep if the set is accidentally left on." So I decided to change things up. I put together a cd of relaxing music and started listening to it at bedtime. I found it occupied my mind enough, after a while, and soon I had weaned myself from the television.

Unfortunately, Adam and I don't have a cd player in our bedroom and Adam is used to falling asleep with the television on. So, we've come up with a compromise! We put on one of the music channels (Light Classical) at bedtime. I'm always up later than Adam is and one of the bonuses of this new system is that I'm learning a lot more about classical music. There are little tidbits about the composers, conductors and orchestras. It's so gratifying to have more of a working knowledge of classical music. Instead of just humming the refrain, I can identify the composer and title! So satisfying!

One of these compositions that I've really come to love is GymnopĂ©dies by Erik Satie. He was quite a character - for more information on the curious life of Satie, take a peek at this fellow's site. The piece is achingly beautiful - simple and slightly melancholy. When first published, it began a new style of ambient, minimalist music, which Satie himself called 'furniture music'.  It is perfect music to relax the body, the mind and the soul.

Take a listen by clicking HERE.

Brian Eno, who is one of the twentieth century's innovators of ambient music said, "[it] must be able to accommodate many levels of listening attention without enforcing one in particular; it must be as ignorable as it is interesting." (Eno has worked with many pop artists as a producer and collaborator, including one of my favorites - David Bowie.) It's the type of music that lingers without being obtrusive. I could play this piece by Satie over and over again and never tire of it.

Or maybe the point is that I do tire. It allows me to reach that state where satisfying sleep is possible. Merci bien, Satie.

1 comment:

  1. I will always love that Satie piece... it was one of the first songs Luke chose to learn on the piano. And I love Eno... great choices, Jessica!