The Gymnopédies, published in Paris starting in 1888, are three piano compositions written by French composer and pianist Erik Satie.
These short, atmospheric pieces are written in 3/4 time, with each sharing a common theme and structure. Collectively, the Gymnopédies are regarded as an important precursor to modern ambient music. The first few bars of Gymnopédie No. 1 consist of an alternating progression of two major seventh chords, the first on the subdominant, G, and the second on the tonic, D.
The melodies of the pieces use deliberate, but mild, dissonances against the harmony, producing a piquant, melancholy effect that matches the performance instructions, which are to play each piece "painfully" (douloureux), "sadly" (triste), or "gravely" (grave).
From the second half of the 20th century on, the Gymnopédies were often erroneously described as part of Satie's body of furniture music, perhaps because of John Cage's interpretation of them.