In harold actons 1928 book cornelian a musician conducts performances. Cage mentioned the idea of a piece composed entirely of silence was during a. Cage conceived the piece in 1948, when he gave it the working title silent prayer. Silence played a major role in several of cages works composed before. Cage s most famous musical composition is entitled 433. Cage was perhaps best known for his 1952 silent piece, 433. A pioneer of indeterminacy in music, electroacoustic music, and nonstandard use of musical instruments, cage was one of the leading figures of the postwar avantgarde. Silence is a collection of essays and lectures cage wrote during the period from 1939 to 1961. John cage s 433, kyle gann tackles the experimental composers infamous silent piece with superb knowledge and skill. It is played at the piano and is divided into three movements. Remixing 433 john cage s famously silent composition sounds like an easy music student joke, but someone took the idea seriously and actually came up with a pretty great result. When i interviewed cage for my bbc radio 3 documentary in. This is a story about a silent composition that is 4 minutes and 33 seconds long, and the composer who wrote it. The title refers to the late american composer john cage, and arguably his most famous, most important work, 433.
The key to understanding john cages silent piece at moma. John cage at 100 cage s most lasting influence may be in his ideas about the boundaries between noise and music and. Surprisingly in his book titled silence, cage talks very little about his most seminal work. Heres what john cages musical notation looks like as. The revolt was the trigger cage needed to create a silent piece. The key to understanding john cage s silent piece at moma. In this episode of ephemeral, host alex williams looks into cage s most popular and controversial creation, 433, which is a fourandahalf minute long composition performed in complete silence.
One11 is a visual counterpart to cage s silent composition 4. The amplification was a dramatic way of making the nature of silence clear through technology. First performed at the midpoint of the twentieth century, john cage s 433, a composition conceived of without a single musical note,is among the most celebrated and ballyhooed cultural gestures in the history of modern music. The curious score for john cages silent zen composition. The music of changes one of cages own compositions is not an example. The books title gives one additional insight into the metaphorical value of the composition. See the curious score for john cage s silent zen composition 433 based in seoul, colin marshall writes and broadcasts on cities and culture. The audience, generally prepared for what will follow, namely nothing, may sometimes wonder what could be printed on those pages. In most of the performances of john cages famously silent composition 433, the performer sits in front of what appears to be sheet music as in the performance below. This is a delightful book with much to say about how we appreciate music. It is the great merit of ganns book to have revealed just how multidimensional even cage s most seemingly unidimensional gesture can be. It might be that if you know any avantgarde music this is the piece you know, though it cannot be the earworm playing in your head and you cannot dance to its beat.
This collection of essays and presentations by noted composer and musical innovator john cage attempts to capture on paper both the intellectual and stylistic creativity with which he approached his work. Silence is a collection of some of the essays and lectures that have made john cage s name synonymous with all that is unpredictable and exciting in contemporary miusic. It will be three or four minutes longthese being the standard lengths of canned music. The archival aggregate of the book itself releases its silence in these alterations. On the one hand, silence effectively soundsor as cage put it, there is no. Ephemeral gets loud about john cages silent composition. Ganns book amply demonstrates that cages socalled silent piece is as resonant with philosophical, historical, and acoustical complexities as many a noisier composition. Pianist david tudor walked out on stage on august 29, 1952, in woodstock, ny, sat down at the piano and closed the lid. Gann wonders whether cage wasnt worried about being beaten to the punch by a commercial version of his idea. Silence is a collection of some of the essays and lectures that have made john cages name synonymous with all that is unpredictable and exciting in contemporary miusic. Writings on cage are profuse, especially in the academic realm, and ganns book serves as an artful condensation.
Silence played a major role in several of cage s works composed before 4. Thus his compositions for multiple radios, ambient sound, random. The silent composition, which became known by its duration of four minutes and 33 seconds, was influenced by cages encounter with the socalled white paintings by. This detailed literature summary also contains topics for discussion and a free quiz on silence. When composer john cage wrote 433 four minutes, thirtythree seconds, it would become his most famous and controversial piece. Tuning becomes the cutup of programming, a musical composition the continuity. Solo with obbligato accompaniment of two voices in canon, and six short inventions on the subjects of the solo, for three or more instruments 1934, six inventions revised orchestrated 1958. John cage is the outstanding composer of avantgarde music today. The composition takes its name from the fact that it requires four minutes and thirtythree seconds to perform. Project muse promotes the creation and dissemination of essential humanities and social science resources through collaboration with libraries, publishers, and scholars worldwide. Feb 14, 2020 john cage s 433 is known as the silent composition. As i describe at length in my book on cage s music, 0.
September 5, 1912 august 12, 1992 was an american composer, music theorist, writer, and artist. In this book, kyle gann, one of the nations leading music critics, explains 433 as a unique moment in american culture and musical composition. Silence, a year from monday, m, empty words and x in this order form the. The visual art of john cage art and design the guardian. It then specified that there were three movements of set duration33 seconds, 2 minutes 40 seconds, and 1 minute 20 seconds, respectively. Written in his characteristic mesostics lines of prose poetry linked by a central vertical acrostic, composition in retrospect is a statement of methodology in which composer john cage examines the central issues of his work. John cage, a leading figure of the american musical avantgarde and lecturer and writer extraordinary, dedicated himself to the search for new horizons in musical composition. The piece has no fixed name, but takes its name from the duration of each given performance. Download free pdf english books from english grammar pdf and word doc at easypacelearning. The flow of new books about him, his music and his aesthetics seems unstoppable, and it is not unthinkable that he will eventually dethrone the likes. For instance, one of cages compositions, a book of music 1944, was used by the. Earlier this month new yorks museum of modern art acquired the second ever paper rendering of 433, a noteless work for any instrument or combination of instruments.
It has been called the silent piece, but its purpose is to make people listen. John cage s poetical statement on indeterminacy, duchamp, art, life and more. Composer john adams wrote the following in the new york times. John cage, american avantgarde composer whose inventive compositions and unorthodox ideas profoundly influenced mid20thcentury music. The book is still appropriately named as he takes the notions of his piece and applies it to writing. Lectures and writings is a book by american experimental composer john cage 19121992, first published in 1961 by wesleyan university press. Her recent exhibition a silent concerto derives its ontology from john cages score fragment page 18, solo for piano, from concert for piano and orchestra.
He was also instrumental in the development of modern dance, mostly through his association with choreographer merce cunningham, who was also cages romanti. Yet, as ganns book amply demonstrates, cage s socalled silent piece is as resonant with philosophical, historical, and acoustical complexities as many a noisier composition. I n 1950 john cage, who by the age of 38 had acquired some notoriety as a percussion composer and pioneer of the prepared piano, was presented with a small book by his new composition. X in this order form the five parts of a series of books in which cage tries, as he says, to find a.
Song the last 10 years is a part of academy of new music theaters concert series at. A meditation on the act of listening and the nature of performance, cage s controversial piece became the iconic statement of the meaning of silence in art. Ganns account so perceptively synthesizes the irreducible disparity about the origin of cages seemingly simple gesture that it will doubtlessly become the unstable foundation for many future interpretive engagements with the piece. Of all cages books, it is perhaps the first, silence, which has had the broadest. But more than that, it turned into one of the 20th centurys most divisive musical compositions, so much so that even in modern music schools, theres an ongoing debate about whether 4. Ganns book amply demonstrates that cage s socalled silent piece is as resonant with philosophical, historical, and acoustical complexities as many a noisier composition. Cage possesses one of the rarest qualities of the true. A meditation on the act of listening and the nature of performance, cages controversial piece became the iconic statement of the meaning of silence in art and is a landmark work of american music. Depending on whether or not one accepts it and, pursuant to that, how one accepts it or what one takes it to mean, it implies or. Lectures and writings is a book by american experimental composer. The audience at the world premiere was prepared to listen to this piece divided into three movements. It was inspired by robert rauschenbergs white paintings 1951, so perhaps it is fitting that the earliest existing score to john cage s silent composition, 433, should end up in a visual arts institution.
He dwelled on the abstract and explored the relationship between music and silence, even going as far as to question established musical preconceptions. John cage is most famous for a composition that claims to be music but. Learn vocabulary, terms, and more with flashcards, games, and other study tools. The works manuscript declared that it was written for any instrument or combination of instruments. Ganns account so perceptively synthesizes the irreducible disparity about the origin of cages seemingly simple gesture that it will doubtlessly become the unstable foundation for many future interpretive engagements. A 1952 article from the new york post, found among cages personal papers, describes a students idea of placing silent records in jukeboxes, in order to provide relief from the constant streams of music. Thus, the name of the composition changes with every performance. Falconer picks up the point in his book, where he writes. Its crucial to the experience of his signature work, the silent composition 433, as well as his process in a variety of mediums. The son of an inventor, cage briefly attended pomona college and then traveled in europe for a time.915 709 686 1453 448 1263 1042 811 154 653 1410 494 454 107 1240 932 683 1546 900 1032 1458 544 473 773 965 509 1246 1040 870 1208 438 129 1398 216 1344 884 1230 659 1082 1256 514 287 410 991 220 376