Londoner Robb Witts thinks of John Cage after the two-minute observance of silence for the victims of the recent London bombing:
Afterwards I couldn't help thinking of John Cage and his rituals of sound and silence. Cage discovered that there is no true silence, that even in the deepest quiet our human ears are filled with the background hum of our own fleshy machinery. By taking our act of remembrance into the streets, we performed a memorial of quiet, in which the presence of our fellow Londoners was audible by the absence of their sound.
I know it's heresy, but I could easily live without Beethoven or Mozart. At one church I served, I worked with a music director who felt the same way. Sure, he played the usual Mozart-Beethoven-Brahms stuff, but he's slip in some Gershwin, some jazz, Erik Satie, John Cage -- once he played Cage's "4' 33''" as the prelude to a worship service. It was one of the most memorable performances of music at any church service I've ever been to.
Recent random quotes on John Cage:
We could get away with this because our theme was "Are You Crazy?" -- and we could say Cage was crazy for writing silent music, while Webern was crazy for writing short pieces. Greg Sandow
Thirty or so years ago, the composer John Cage proposed a different sort of battle strategy: Take the heads of warring nations, give each a 25kg sack of horse manure, lock them in a room, and let them fight it out. David L Ulin
"Mine is a much better silent piece," Batt declared. "I have been able to say in one minute what Cage could only say in four minutes and thirty-three seconds." Henry Kisor
Hawkins set the various scenes to compositions by Arthur Levering, John Cage (his dreamy "Sonatas and Interludes for Prepared Piano''), Ward Hartenstein and Barry Hall. Theodore Bale
Had John Cage's famous silent piece "4'33" " been in her repertoire, she could have played it without the piano. Wilma Salisbury
And how, then, do you categorise such iconic figures as John Cage or Steve Reich, never mind the more recent proliferation of mongrel kids? Kenneth Walton
Johnson reportedly slowed his progress through the backwoods of the Deep South by constantly stopping his convertible to make agonised telephone calls to the composer John Cage, his current amour, in Manhattan. Times Online
Trier says besides using his common ordinary hands with the CMU Percussion Ensemble he also plays marimba, "gong things," timpani, a generator for a John Cage piece, you name it. Janet Martineau
Cage was one of those whacked out white guys whose white-skin privilege gave him the luxury of being whacked out. (Not unlike a certain 8-Miler we all know and love.) Gentle Jones
Beside the Laurie Anderson exhibition, the celebrated composer Kevin Volans will give a series of lectures on contemporary music, discussing among other things Jasper Johns’ connections with John Cage. ArtDaily.com
After blogging about who is sweeter -- Jennifer Love Hewitt, Sarah Michelle Gellar, or Sarah Jessica Parker? -- Gabe and Tony ask who is lamer -- Marcel Duchamp or John Cage? While Cage's place in history is acknowledged:
John Cage was a revolutionary musical artist throughout much of the 20th century. On the sweet side, he was one of the first to experiment with electronics in music. Of course, disco couldn't have happened without electronics in music, but neither would the sweet intro to Baba O'Reilly, so you be the judge.
So why is Cage lame?:
Why, you ask? Because of 4'33. What is 4'33? It is a "song," or more accurately a "performance," as simply playing the song on a cd is a bit hollow, in more ways than one...I say: Shennanigans!... And just for the record, I do think these are all works of art. Very lame works of art.
For regular readers, you might notice I really enjoy hearing how listeners love Samuel Barber's Adagio for Strings. I may have a new interest: those listeners who hate the music of John Cage in general and/or 4' 33" specifically.
Which is a lead-in to a post by Mr. Appoggiatura about the three factors that determine musical taste: exposure and musical training, culture and social ties, and genes and personality. He uses jazz as an example of an art form suffering due to lack of exposure and thus lack of familiarity with its more complex harmony and rhythms. As for the genetics/personality dimension, I'll reiterate a relevant John Cage quote:
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.'
looking askance since '63 has posted his own MP3 recording of 4' 33", John Cage's infamous silent piece. He also mentions the Frank Zappa version on a John Cage tribute album. I have this on my MP3 player. When it pops up via shuffle mode, it always gets my attention and then my focus turns to ambient sounds. Entertainment and art.
Notes: According to iTunes, this interpretation is in fact 4:33.084 long. Alan Little on yoga, listening and 4'33". Essay by Larry Solomon. Sheet music available for $4.95 with a look inside the music.