terminal degree on experiencing John Cage's 4' 33" for the first time:
What I found the most interesting about this work was the tension that was created (dissonance, if you will) through imposed "silence"--which was anything other than truly silent. Resolution came only after the work was finished.
And Stephen Hicken on 4' 33" performance practice:
The emptiness of Cage’s structure is filled with the unintentional sounds of the audience, the heating/air conditioning machinery, outside noises, etc. These sounds occur during performances of other pieces, too, but we work (with greater or lesser degrees of success) to keep them from our consciousness. Cage asks us do the opposite in 4'33", and a good performance makes that easier to do. If a performer camps up the beginning and ending of the movements, the effect is lessened, much as the effect is lessened in a performance of Beethoven’s “Tempest” Sonata if the important structural points aren’t articulated, for example.