Wednesday, September 21, 2005

American Composers for 500

As I was saying The interesting part is that the notes in this piece are silent. David Tudor, who was supposedly a very skilled technical pianist in the 50's, I don't know if he's is still alive, performed this piece. When he did he simply went over to the piano, lifted the lid and set the stopwatch. When the time determined by Cage had passed he would close the piano lid, reopen it, and then begin to "play" the next movement. As the titled suggests the piece is 4 minutes and 33 seconds long and consisted of three movements. Since the 1950's there have been a few "recordings" of this silent piece. How about those apples! I have to say that I agree with many of cages perceptions and ideas about music and the theories he had about the way people listen to music.

"I have nothing to say / and I am saying it / and that is poetry / as I needed it" --John Cage

"I certainly had no feeling for harmony, and Schoenberg thought that that would make it impossible for me to write music. He said, 'You'll come to a wall you won't be able to get through.' So I said, 'I'll beat my head against that wall.' " --John Cage

"If something is boring after two minutes, try it for four. If still boring, then eight. Then sixteen. Then thirty-two. Eventually one discovers that it is not boring at all." --John Cage.

"As far as consistency of thought goes, I prefer inconsistency." --John Cage

The first question I ask myself when something doesn't seem to be beautiful is why do I think it's not beautiful. And very shortly you discover that there is no reason." --John Cage.

"Which is more musical: a truck passing by a factory or a truck passing by a music school?" --John Cage

If you are interested in hearing some pieces by John Cage, and you should be, go to This site has some samples, not all musical and by far not cages most eccentric works, that will give you a better understanding of how cage's mind works in creating abstract compositions that stretches the already broad rubric of what music really is.


Blogger david d. mcintire said...

David Tudor died just a few years ago, in 1996. He had stopped playing the piano in the 1960s for reasons that he never made especially clear, choosing instead to create works of live electronic music. He did start playing again in the 90s, recording the Concert for Piano and Orchestra for Mode Records' John Cage series. I've always thought that 4'33" was a bit of a joke on Cage's part, because Tudor could and did play seemingly impossible music with ease. I used to list 4'33" on my repertoire lists for piano juries when I was an undergrad. The piano faculty were amused and annoyed in equal measure.

4:49 AM  
Blogger outofphase said...

Knowing that he composed a piece is very annoying to me because I actually put conscious thought into each note and how it connects to the next...silent my ass. The only reason why it's so known is because it is so far left field. The piece in my opinion almost caused the destruction of western music as me know it. Just me opinion. I find most of his works to be distracting rather than fulfilling. Although John Cage once said that the reason he composed this lind of unintentional music is "musicians are not trained to hear sounds. They are trained to hear the relationship between them." He is right and I like it that way!

7:07 AM  
Blogger Michelle said...

Remember that the purpose of music is to communicate, and therefore great music--and all art-- elicits a response, usually an emotional one. Cage's music seems to have left an impression on you! =) Good, bad, or ugly, I don't think you will be forgetting about this music for a long time...

9:32 AM  
Blogger outofphase said...

I know that's why I am writing my term paper for my English class on him.

2:09 PM  
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