Author Topic: John Cage (1912-92)  (Read 44869 times)

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Offline edward

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Re: John Cage (1912-92)
« Reply #40 on: May 31, 2009, 02:51:55 PM »
I don't buy into the "heavier is better" mantra.  And the light touch of the Sonatas & Interludes for prep. piano, the Concerto for Prepared Piano & Orchestra, and the Four Seasons is expert music.
Agreed. To me, the music of the late '40s has a very distinctive faux-naif tone to it which I find very charming.

But obviously Cage felt the need to grow artistically beyond that, hence some of the more "experimental" work. I do think that something of the lightness of touch of the '40s music does return in the late 'number pieces'--also returning is the manner in which the music can be very conventionally beautiful.
"I don't at all mind actively disliking a piece of contemporary music, but in order to feel happy about it I must consciously understand why I dislike it. Otherwise it remains in my mind as unfinished business."
 -- Aaron Copland, The Pleasures of Music

karlhenning

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Re: John Cage (1912-92)
« Reply #41 on: June 01, 2009, 04:15:23 AM »
I have nothing to say, and I am saying it, and that is poetry.

CD

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Re: John Cage (1912-92)
« Reply #42 on: October 03, 2009, 02:58:34 PM »
(x-posted from the listening thread)



The notes on the pieces written by Tilbury speak of Cage's use of the dichotomy of music (musical pitches) and noise (non-pitched sounds). That's no problem for me I'm used to this concept as it has been applied (whether the people applying it know it or not) in popular electronic music (from which I came indirectly to classical music). Several of the pieces are pretty mesmerizing, using the non-pitched sounds created by the "preparations" to offset rhythmically the simple melodies (often quite beautiful) created by the pitched keys. Though, much of the pieces have an improvisatory, meandering character and feel somewhat diffuse. Additionally, novel though the percussive sounds are, after a while they can be a bit wearying on the ear.

CD

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Re: John Cage (1912-92)
« Reply #43 on: October 03, 2009, 03:01:42 PM »
(x-post from the listening thread)



The aleatoric piece (here in two different performances) is surprisingly Scelsi-like, but I'm not sure how exactly to listen to these kinds of compositions. What bothers me is the question of how much control exactly does the composer have in creating something like this? Does he simply mark out the orchestration and let the players do what they will? The result sounds too homogeneous for that to be the case. At any rate, the only thing one can go by for want of knowledge of any conceptual intent on the composer's part is to go by what one hears -- and I like what I hear, but am not intrigued enough to listen for more than once or twice.

The other, more conventional (for Cage, anyway) pieces seem more substantial. The suite for toy piano is an interesting way of composing for extremely limited means, and yet achieving a result that transcends the means. The Harrison orchestration seems to be a spectacular missing of the point, but I could be wrong.

The Seasons is still in somewhat familiar territory for me. I am not sure if I understand his representation of the different character of the four seasons, but the spare orchestral textures and gentle melodicism are immediately appealing.

The prepared piano concerto I have yet to crack. The dichotomy of the soloist and the orchestra (they rarely sound simultaneously) and the sparseness of the scoring reminds me of Webern, but the strange timbres of the prepared piano remind me that this is another soundworld entirely. Listening as sound-qua-sound, it's mesmerizing, even if I don't really get it.

karlhenning

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Re: John Cage (1912-92)
« Reply #44 on: February 10, 2010, 12:05:18 PM »
John Cage performed on the accordion.

Discuss.

Franco

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Re: John Cage (1912-92)
« Reply #45 on: February 10, 2010, 12:41:00 PM »
It is still too early to know of Cage or Boulez which will be the more important composer/thinker of the 20th Century.

My own opinion, this even though I prefer Boulez's music to Cage's, is that John Cage's work, writing and thought will live longer and influence more artists than Boulez will.

karlhenning

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Re: John Cage (1912-92)
« Reply #46 on: February 10, 2010, 12:45:32 PM »
James, just because Boulez was invested in this "if you're not part of my musical revolution, you're nothing" mindset, doesn't mean that you have to be a Boulez groupie.  And the fact remains that Boulez will be remembered for the art he's made, not for his acerbic (and at times narrow-minded) opinions.  A head-nodder who assents to all the blather of a great artist, does not thereby become artistic.

karlhenning

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Re: John Cage (1912-92)
« Reply #47 on: February 10, 2010, 12:52:07 PM »
Here's something more to the point:

...and here (bottom of this post) is a page of it, from one of my very earliest mystery scores  ;D

Never mind JQP's sourness, Cage could compose in the traditional sense, btw, very well indeed. One only needs to listen to the Sonatas and Interludes and other pieces of around this time to know quite how well - and pace James, this music has a great deal to say and says it beautifully (James isn't satisfied unless what it's saying is Teutonically Profound with a capital P). The Seasons is at times astonishingly sensuous - another work I really recommend - and there are plenty of piano pieces (In a Landscape, Four Walls etc) which are simply beautiful. In these and other works - no Guido, the other prep piano works aren't as great as the S+I, but are well worth hearing - Cage reveals himself as a sensitive melodist in the traditional sense: the 13th Sonata (for instance) is a gorgeously intimate little piece in a diatonic E minor (give or take a few vagaries of preparation). Cage's use of very limited modes - of three notes, often - allows him to write these straight-to-the-memory melodies (as in The Wonderful Widow of 18 Springs (not songs); Forever and Sunsmell, Experiences, and others of the sort)

I find it ironic that JQP loves to slam Cage so much, given that Cage comes closer than most other 20th century (and indeed 19th century) composers to writing music which is akin in spirit to that of the medieval masters he (and I) admire so much. Cage's approach to rhythm and to form is closer to these (and to Satie) than to anyone else. But perhaps if JQP actually listened to some Cage he'd realise that...

karlhenning

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Re: John Cage (1912-92)
« Reply #48 on: February 10, 2010, 12:53:56 PM »
And the occasion for my reviving this thread is, finding an accordion version of Cheap Imitation, of all things.

Offline Luke

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Re: John Cage (1912-92)
« Reply #49 on: February 10, 2010, 01:28:56 PM »
I'd add that I clearly didn't mean JQP, I meant JDP!!

karlhenning

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Re: John Cage (1912-92)
« Reply #50 on: February 10, 2010, 01:33:15 PM »
Well, you get the important details right ; )

Franco

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Re: John Cage (1912-92)
« Reply #51 on: February 10, 2010, 01:35:20 PM »
I'd add that I clearly didn't mean JQP, I meant JDP!!

I was wondering about that.

Franco

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Re: John Cage (1912-92)
« Reply #52 on: February 10, 2010, 01:42:21 PM »
Well, Elliott Carter nails it too ...
>> http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio3/johntusainterview/carter_transcript.shtml

James, if you are attempting a gotcha moment, don't waste your time. 

Yes, I consider Elliott Carter arguably the greatest composer of the last 100 years, but I also consider the contribution of John Cage to transcend his composing.  John Cage has offered a way of seeing the world, a way of thinking about art that I consider very important - despite that this may put me in conflict with Carter.  And while it is true that I do not consider Cage's compositions as important as Carter's or Boulez's, his importance is as a thinker, and I believe he will end up influencing (has probably already influenced) more artists than either Carter or Boulez.

karlhenning

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Re: John Cage (1912-92)
« Reply #53 on: February 10, 2010, 04:00:10 PM »
Poor James . . . he imagines that one artist's dislikes really are aesthetic absolutes . . . .

Franco

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Re: John Cage (1912-92)
« Reply #54 on: February 10, 2010, 05:15:23 PM »
James,

Where have you been for the last 50 years?  Figuratively speaking. 

John Cage's influence is evident, obvious and considerable in several fields.  He does not need validation by Pierre Boulez, Elliott Carter, and least of by you.


karlhenning

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Re: John Cage (1912-92)
« Reply #55 on: February 11, 2010, 11:41:08 AM »
. . . and there are plenty of piano pieces (In a Landscape, Four Walls etc) which are simply beautiful.

One incidental benefit to me from having 'rediscovered' Luke's post here, is that in the interval I have chanced to purchase a disc with this very (and this very lovely) work:
 

John Cage Complete Piano Music, Vol. VIII, Hommage Satie


karlhenning

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Re: John Cage (1912-92)
« Reply #56 on: February 11, 2010, 11:57:32 AM »
Again!
 
Cage
In a Landscape (1948)
Perpetual Tango (1984)
Steffen Scheiermacher, pf



John Cage Complete Piano Music, Vol. VIII, Hommage Satie


It's one of those pieces which must be as enchanting to sit and play, as it is to sit and listen to.

karlhenning

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Re: John Cage (1912-92)
« Reply #57 on: April 09, 2010, 09:19:20 AM »
I cant understand why people are frightened of new ideas.  Im frightened of the old ones. John Cage

Franco

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Re: John Cage (1912-92)
« Reply #58 on: April 09, 2010, 11:00:58 AM »
Boulez is famous for his militant dismissals (he's just about poo-pooed every major composer of the 20th C.), and he's almost as famous for his reversals of opinion.  I would not be surprised if he no longer held that view about John Cage, not that it matters.

In any event, John Cage's place in music history is secure.

karlhenning

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Re: John Cage (1912-92)
« Reply #59 on: April 09, 2010, 11:04:10 AM »
Perfectly right: Boulez's scorn means absolutely nothing.

(Well, means he's pissy, of course.)

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