Trois Gnossiennes No. 1 - 3

Satie's coining of the word gnossienne was one of the rare occasions when a composer used a new term to indicate a new "type" of composition. Satie used many novel names for his compositions (vexations, croquis et agaceries and so on). Ogive, for example, had been the name of an architectural element until Satie used it as the name for a composition, the Ogives. Gnossienne, however, was a word that did not exist before Satie used it as a title for a composition. The word appears to be derived from "gnosis"; Satie was involved in gnostic sects and movements at the time that he began to compose the Gnossiennes. However, some published versions claim that the word derives from Cretan "knossos" or "gnossus"; this interpretation supports the theory linking the Gnossiennes to the myth of Theseus, Ariadne and the Minotaur. Several archeological sites relating to that theme were famously excavated around the time that Satie composed the Gnossiennes.

It is possible that Satie might have drawn inspiration for the title of these compositions from a passage in John Dryden's 1697 translation of the Aeneid, in which it is thought the word first appeared:

Let us the land which Heav'n appoints, explore;
Appease the winds, and seek the Gnossian shore.