After listening to one8 the other day and blogging about it, I feel like I have walked through the looking glass, thanks to Mr. Cage...
Yesterday, inspired by Devin Hurd's comment to my post that said, live anyway, one8 was "haunting," I made a quick trip to Amoeba/SF to see if I could find another recording of one8 just to see if maybe the recording I had was deficient. Allas, nothing in stock (although kudos to Mr. TSR for pointing out the 70s retro Everything Comes & Goes which I did buy). Today, after a fast lunch in downtown San Jose, I stopped at the San Jose State/City of San Jose library to look for a book on a particular subject. After not finding what I was looking for, I decided to make a quick pass through the SJS music library (which is surprisingly good). Of the 5000 or so available CDs, mostly classical, the third CD I happened to thumb through was the Irvine Arditti recording of one8. Eerie.
I also did a quick search on the shelves for James Pritchett's The Music of John Cage, a good overall text on the subject. That led me to Christopher Shultis' Silencing the Sounded Self: John Cage and the American Experimental Tradition, which I've started to read (and which is also available via Amazon for $427.10!).
Shultis posits that experimental tradition as revolving around two archetypes: the Emerson/Ives "controlling selves" and the Thoreau/Cage "co-existing selves". The author says he will try to place various poets and composers in the context of three criteria:
- "a controlling or co-existing connection with nature"
- "symbolism versus the thing itself"
- "intention versus non-intention, manifested as either projection/observation or sound/silence"
In a comment to my prior post, Steve Layton points to the Rob Haskins website with some relevant notes on Cage's number music. Then today, I read, wait for it, Rob Haskins' liner notes to the Arditti recording on Mode I just checked out. He has a good quote from Cage about studying the violin's capabilities as he wrote Chorals and Cheap Imitation in preparation for his Freeman Etudes:
I study under [Paul] Zakofsky's patient tutelage, not how to play the violin, but how to become even more baffled by its almost unlimited flexibility.
There are aspects of both Ives and Cage I like and aspects I don't; I'm curious if a little study in this area results in any synthesis in my musical perspective. In any case, I like the little Cage-ian lesson about non-intentionality I've just had.