Author Topic: John Cage (1912-92)  (Read 74346 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline petrarch

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 1425
  • Luigi Nono (1924-1990)
  • Location: Boston, MA
Re: John Cage (1912-92)
« Reply #160 on: July 04, 2011, 05:43:38 AM »
//p
The music collection.
The hi-fi system: Esoteric X-03SE -> Pathos Logos -> Analysis Audio Amphitryon.
A view of the whole

Offline petrarch

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 1425
  • Luigi Nono (1924-1990)
  • Location: Boston, MA
Re: John Cage (1912-92)
« Reply #161 on: July 05, 2011, 02:49:28 AM »
Music for Merce Cunningham: Five Stone Wind, for amplified violin, bamboo flute, clay pots, tapes and live electronics (1988)



The dance by Merce Cunningham called Five Stone was first performed in Berlin and lasted about 30 minutes. Later, that same year (1988) it was presented in Avignon as Five Stone Wind. It then lasted nearly an hour. Using chance operations I composed a framework of time-brackets with flexible beginnings and endings for three players, one who did not begin playing until after 30 minutes (Takehisa Kosugi). I did not in any way give details to David Tudor or Kosugi for the realization of their parts. However, for Michael Pugliese's part I made specific plans with him for the use of the clay drums within particular time brackets and the subsequent alternation of these plans for performance on tour. These included, in addition to the playing means mentioned in the notes by Pugliese, the use or not while improvising of electronic feedback produced by moving the drum closer to the microphone.

--John Cage

In the part of Wind after 30 minutes from the beginning, I begin my performance playing alternatively with violin (pizzicato), "piezzo tree" for sound transducer (percussion) and bamboo flute (blowing). The sounds are processed occasionally through a sampling machine (time modulation), and all the time through digital multi-effector (reverberation).

--Takehisa Kosugi

One day during the spring of 1988 I was having a telephone conversation with John Cage. He was speaking of his new "clay pot drums" that he had purchased, modeled after African "Udu" drums.  Since Mr. Cage is always full of unique musical ideas I got very excited when he told me I was to perform on these drums for the new Merce Cunningham dance Five Stone Wind. I then visited Cage's home to see the drums and discuss the particulars of the composition. There are nine drums in all, varying in size and pitch. Oval in shape with a jug-like opening, each drum has a hole in its side for tone production. Either hole can be struck, rubbed or slapped with hands or fingers to produce a jug-like sound. When the body of the drum is hit, a ceramic sound is made. A timeframe was given according to the length of the choreographed dance. Chance operations are used for each performance to determine when to begin or end the musical events, which drum to use, what to play on the drums (i.e. rhythms and dynamics) and the number of prerecorded tapes to be played. During each performance there is a combination of live and taped music resulting in many different and sometimes simultaneous rhythms and textures.

--Michael Pugliese

Five Stone Wind, composed during June and July 1988, is an electronically generated work, basically percussive in nature. The sounds are derived from recordings of earth-vibrations (not earth-quakes) passed through an electronic "gate". The gate can be "tuned," both as to frequency and duration. The resulting sounds are further treated by other electronic components, which produce a variety of timbres.

In the second part of the work, Wind, the action of the gate is sometimes reversed, controlling the release of the sounds rather than the attack, allowing the sounds to have a more continuous character.

--David Tudor

Five Stone Wind is the result of commissions received by Merce Cunningham from Werkstatt Berlin 1988 and the Paris Festival d'Automne. Rather than make separate works, Cunningham decided to create one long piece of which the first part, Five Stone, was performed for the first time at the Freie Volksb├╝hne Berlin, 16 June 1988. The complete work was first given at the Festival d'Avignon, in the Cour d'honneur of the Palais des Papes, on 30 July 1988. Contributions to the score were also made by Tudor, Kosugi and Pugliese. The decor was by Mark Lancaster.

Five Stone Wind is a company work for thirteen dancers, including Merce Cunningham himself. As the dance proceeds, it increases in virtuosity, complexity, and velocity. As usual, Cunningham used chance procedures to determine the length of the individual sections, the sequence of the dance phrases, their location in the performing space, and their distribution among the dancers.

--David Vaughan
//p
The music collection.
The hi-fi system: Esoteric X-03SE -> Pathos Logos -> Analysis Audio Amphitryon.
A view of the whole

Offline petrarch

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 1425
  • Luigi Nono (1924-1990)
  • Location: Boston, MA
Re: John Cage (1912-92)
« Reply #162 on: July 05, 2011, 05:10:10 AM »
There is no stretching at all, it is complete focused musical composition by a composer right down to the last detail, just in a different medium at a time when it was all very new territory .. no chance, no randomness, no cryptic texts, no issues of authorship, no bullshit etc. Just a composer in a studio using his musical ear & compositional tools and putting a musical composition together.

Comments provided on the Stockhausen thread here: http://www.good-music-guide.com/community/index.php/topic,3533.msg533216.html#msg533216
//p
The music collection.
The hi-fi system: Esoteric X-03SE -> Pathos Logos -> Analysis Audio Amphitryon.
A view of the whole

Offline petrarch

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 1425
  • Luigi Nono (1924-1990)
  • Location: Boston, MA
Re: John Cage (1912-92)
« Reply #163 on: July 06, 2011, 02:52:06 AM »
Music for Merce Cunningham: Cartridge Music, for phonograph cartridges and amplified small objects (1960)



Cartridge Music, composed at Stony Point, New York, July 1960, makes use of phonograph "cartridges," the old-fashioned kind in which a needle could be inserted. In its performance, various objects are used: pipe cleaners, wires, feathers, slinkies, matches, etc.; anything which fits the aperture of the cartridges. In practice, it was found convenient to attach the cartridges to pieces of furniture (tables, ladders, moveable carts, chairs, waste baskets, etc), to which contact microphones are attached. Sounds are produced by striking or rubbing the objects; these sounds are picked up by the cartridges and then amplified and played over loudspeakers.

Each performer makes his own part, from score materials supplied by the composer. These consist of twenty sheets of paper with between one and twenty irregular shapes drawn on them; the sheet with the same number of shapes as there are cartridges is used in realizing a performance. This sheet is overlaid with four transparencies marked with points, circles, a curved line and a circle marked like a stopwatch. The points and circles represent events in the performance. Points are sounds made either on or off the cartridges (depending on whether they land inside or outside the shapes), while circles mark changes of amplitude and "tone" (again depending on their location inside or outside the shapes), or they can indicate that a new object is to be inserted into the cartridge (if the circle lies on a shape). The curved line is read from one end to the other and gives the sequence of events by its intersection with various points and circles. The intersections of the line with the "stopwatch" give the time brackets in which these events take place.

Since each player prepares his own part independently, indications can easily arise which will contradict or interfere with the actions of other players. This situation helps to make Cartridge Music one of the first theatrical pieces of "live electronic" music. The composer has remarked about this work: "I have been concerned with composition which was indeterminate of its performance, but in this instance performance is made, so to say, indeterminate of itself."

Cartridge Music can be extended to other media by the abstraction of this method: the materials can be used to control any medium in which there are one to twenty amplified instruments. Points inside or outside the shapes then represent sounds made on or off the instruments, and circles represent amplitude and tone alterations made at the amplifiers, or radical changes in the timbre of the instruments. In the instructions to Cartridge Music, Cage gives two examples of its use with other media: a Duet for cymbal, in which there is one instrument (the cymbal), and a Piano duet in which the piano is treated as two instruments, one for keyboard sounds and the one for sounds made on the strings. In addition, Cartridge Music was used by Cage to create several lectures and articles, such as Where are we going? and what are we doing? (1960), Rhythm, etc (1962) and Jasper Johns: Stories and ideas (1963). Here, rather than sounds occurring on or off an instrument, the materials were used to indicate passages to be written "on" or "off" a list of various subjects.

(taken from notes by David Tudor and The Music of John Cage, by James Pritchett)
//p
The music collection.
The hi-fi system: Esoteric X-03SE -> Pathos Logos -> Analysis Audio Amphitryon.
A view of the whole

Offline petrarch

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 1425
  • Luigi Nono (1924-1990)
  • Location: Boston, MA
Re: John Cage (1912-92)
« Reply #164 on: July 07, 2011, 04:00:40 AM »
Empty words (1973-74) with Music for Piano (1952-56)



Before 1970, Cage was inclined to apply his compositional techniques to the task of making lectures or essays, so that these might thus become not only writings about his work, but demonstrations of it. Thus, one finds him using rhythmic structure in Lecture on Nothing, chance in the Juilliard Lecture and 45' for a Speaker, simultaneity in Where are we going? and what are we doing? and amplification in Talk I. In these lectures, Cage applied his approach to music: in particular, he substituted the subjects of his writings for the sounds of his music. Thus the structure of Lecture on Nothing controls which aspect of music he will discuss, and the chance procedures of 45' for a Speaker determine which topic to write about and for how long. After 1970, Cage felt the need to do more than this; as he said: "I must say that I have not yet carried language to the point to which I have taken musical sounds. I have not made noise with it." As a result, he began to pursue writing with more purely artistic goals--he began to write poetry, not communicative or demonstrative prose.

Cage saw the solution to this problem as lying in the approach to the materials of language: sentences, words, letters. In particular, he saw his failure to create "noise" with language as being the result of dealing solely at the level of sentences or phrases--i.e. larger units of meaning:

"As soon as you surpass the level of the word, everything changes; my essays in Silence and A year from Monday didn't deal with the question of the impossibility or possibility of meaning. They took for granted that meaning exists."

Cage experimented with manipulating smaller units of language in creating the texts for some of the solos in the Song Books. In Solo 5, for example, the text was made from a chance-determined mix of letters and syllables taken from a single page of Thoreau's journal, producing lines such as "a e his not m ct th t s for e eat." The text Empty words, written in 1974 is a large-scale application of these ideas, but drawing on the entire fourteen volumes of Thoreau's journal. Cage divided the text at random into lines and stanzas, based on the punctuation marks found in the original journal. The work as a whole is divided into four parts, which form a progression in terms of the kinds of materials used: the first part uses phrases, words, syllables, and letters; the second uses words, syllables and letters; the third uses syllables and letters; and the fourth is made up solely of letters drawn at random from the journal. As Cage put it: "The approach to music is made by steadily eliminating each of the aspects of language, so that as we start Lecture One, we have no sentences . . . in the second one, the phrases are gone, and in the third, the words are gone, except those that have only one syllable. And in the last one, everything is gone but letters and silences." The effect of this is that the text makes less and less sense--it changes from something that is recognizably drawn from a work of literature to a pure vocalise with more and more empty space around each event. In the publication of the text, Cage included reproductions of drawings from Thoreau's journal as well; these were chosen at random and distributed among the columns of text.

Empty words has a dual musical-poetic nature: it is a poem that is meant to be read aloud, not silently. In this regard, as well as in his use of chance to manipulate language, Cage drew upon the work of poets such as Jackson MacLow. Empty words was performed on various occasions. In this work, his idea was to time the reading so that it would last all night long; at dawn, the fourth and final part was to commence and the windows were to be opened, allowing the morning sounds into the performance hall. During the performance, slides of Thoreau's drawings were projected. The long duration of the work, more than 10 hours when presented in its entirety, allows the process of transformation to happen in something approaching real time, so that we become extremely aware of the process as it unfolds. Still, at no point is Empty words a conventional text: even at the beginning of the experience, the separate phrases function less as conveyors of meaning than as pointers to many possible meanings including no meaning at all.

This recording, done in Buffalo, New York in April 1991, probably comes from the last part, which consists of silences and single sounds, and only represents less than a third of the entire section, which lasts 150 minutes. Excerpts of the Music for Piano series, written some forty years previously, are added to the reading. The single sounds, many of them quiet, make for a beautiful counterpoint with the mysterious and somewhat lonesome voice of the elderly Cage; this particular combination of music and voice reinforces the eminently musical nature of Cage's work.
//p
The music collection.
The hi-fi system: Esoteric X-03SE -> Pathos Logos -> Analysis Audio Amphitryon.
A view of the whole

snyprrr

  • Guest
Re: John Cage (1912-92)
« Reply #165 on: July 07, 2011, 05:33:51 AM »
Empty words (1973-74) with Music for Piano (1952-56)



Before 1970, Cage was inclined to apply his compositional techniques to the task of making lectures or essays, so that these might thus become not only writings about his work, but demonstrations of it. Thus, one finds him using rhythmic structure in Lecture on Nothing, chance in the Juilliard Lecture and 45' for a Speaker, simultaneity in Where are we going? and what are we doing? and amplification in Talk I. In these lectures, Cage applied his approach to music: in particular, he substituted the subjects of his writings for the sounds of his music. Thus the structure of Lecture on Nothing controls which aspect of music he will discuss, and the chance procedures of 45' for a Speaker determine which topic to write about and for how long. After 1970, Cage felt the need to do more than this; as he said: "I must say that I have not yet carried language to the point to which I have taken musical sounds. I have not made noise with it." As a result, he began to pursue writing with more purely artistic goals--he began to write poetry, not communicative or demonstrative prose.

Cage saw the solution to this problem as lying in the approach to the materials of language: sentences, words, letters. In particular, he saw his failure to create "noise" with language as being the result of dealing solely at the level of sentences or phrases--i.e. larger units of meaning:

"As soon as you surpass the level of the word, everything changes; my essays in Silence and A year from Monday didn't deal with the question of the impossibility or possibility of meaning. They took for granted that meaning exists."

Cage experimented with manipulating smaller units of language in creating the texts for some of the solos in the Song Books. In Solo 5, for example, the text was made from a chance-determined mix of letters and syllables taken from a single page of Thoreau's journal, producing lines such as "a e his not m ct th t s for e eat." The text Empty words, written in 1974 is a large-scale application of these ideas, but drawing on the entire fourteen volumes of Thoreau's journal. Cage divided the text at random into lines and stanzas, based on the punctuation marks found in the original journal. The work as a whole is divided into four parts, which form a progression in terms of the kinds of materials used: the first part uses phrases, words, syllables, and letters; the second uses words, syllables and letters; the third uses syllables and letters; and the fourth is made up solely of letters drawn at random from the journal. As Cage put it: "The approach to music is made by steadily eliminating each of the aspects of language, so that as we start Lecture One, we have no sentences . . . in the second one, the phrases are gone, and in the third, the words are gone, except those that have only one syllable. And in the last one, everything is gone but letters and silences." The effect of this is that the text makes less and less sense--it changes from something that is recognizably drawn from a work of literature to a pure vocalise with more and more empty space around each event. In the publication of the text, Cage included reproductions of drawings from Thoreau's journal as well; these were chosen at random and distributed among the columns of text.

Empty words has a dual musical-poetic nature: it is a poem that is meant to be read aloud, not silently. In this regard, as well as in his use of chance to manipulate language, Cage drew upon the work of poets such as Jackson MacLow. Empty words was performed on various occasions. In this work, his idea was to time the reading so that it would last all night long; at dawn, the fourth and final part was to commence and the windows were to be opened, allowing the morning sounds into the performance hall. During the performance, slides of Thoreau's drawings were projected. The long duration of the work, more than 10 hours when presented in its entirety, allows the process of transformation to happen in something approaching real time, so that we become extremely aware of the process as it unfolds. Still, at no point is Empty words a conventional text: even at the beginning of the experience, the separate phrases function less as conveyors of meaning than as pointers to many possible meanings including no meaning at all.

This recording, done in Buffalo, New York in April 1991, probably comes from the last part, which consists of silences and single sounds, and only represents less than a third of the entire section, which lasts 150 minutes. Excerpts of the Music for Piano series, written some forty years previously, are added to the reading. The single sounds, many of them quiet, make for a beautiful counterpoint with the mysterious and somewhat lonesome voice of the elderly Cage; this particular combination of music and voice reinforces the eminently musical nature of Cage's work.

Here is an example of the kind of thing that generally makes the vein in my forehead start to throbulate. What 'Art' would I be 'creating' if I burned down the auditorium in which this was being performed. Yea, I'll go with Stockhausen, that 9/11 was a much greater work of Art than ANY THOUGHT that Cage ever had (yea, still have questions about Building 7 (as a matter of fact, that is the title of my new piece)).

I mean, if we're going to go this route, no Great Art is made without spilling a little blood. Perhaps, instead of using 'words', or any part thereof, I used meat cleavers and punjee sticks to 'realize' my 'Art'.

In this regard, Cage is a kindergartener compared with Manson, and other 'Great Artists', who, truly, have 'impacted' our lives and caused us to ponder things we normally wouldn't.

Self amputation is a MUCH greater art form than merely sputtering around vowels and consonants. Straight up genocide reaches waaay more people than a lecture at Julliard.

I mean, who is the Monster here? The guy who foists 'the emperor has no clothes' on everyone, or the guy who 'relieves' society of the first person (by, say, slow torture).

Hey, apparently there IS a segment of society, for whom 'Art' has translated into what goes on in the movie Hostel. I certainly don't discount that these types of charnel houses exist.

Yes, Cage doing what he's doing equates in my mind to heinous murder, and should be dealt with as such.


btw- petrarch, if you keep this up, you're going to force me to buy a Cage cd just to spite you!! :-*

Offline petrarch

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 1425
  • Luigi Nono (1924-1990)
  • Location: Boston, MA
Re: John Cage (1912-92)
« Reply #166 on: July 07, 2011, 05:41:08 AM »
btw- petrarch, if you keep this up, you're going to force me to buy a Cage cd just to spite you!! :-*

Your posts often sound like they are half-way through the disintegration process Cage applied on Empty words, so perhaps you are just in denial :D
//p
The music collection.
The hi-fi system: Esoteric X-03SE -> Pathos Logos -> Analysis Audio Amphitryon.
A view of the whole

Offline petrarch

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 1425
  • Luigi Nono (1924-1990)
  • Location: Boston, MA
Re: John Cage (1912-92)
« Reply #167 on: July 08, 2011, 05:47:46 AM »
Europeras 1-5 (1985-1991)



A commission from the Frankfurt Opera resulted in a series of works drawing on existing music: the Europeras. Opera is a medium that is closely tied to its history and tradition: as a result, Cage made his opera out of the materials of other operas. This is an opera about Opera, not based on any one work or composer, but on the genre as a whole. In Europeras 1 & 2 (1985-87), Cage took the components of opera, assembled collections of materials relevant to each, and subjected them to chance operations. The singers select arias from eighteenth- and nineteenth-century operas and sing them within given time frames. Their costumes, taken from the opera repertory, are chosen at random. The sets, lighting, props, and stage directions were all designed using chance. The orchestral musicians play excerpts from the orchestral music of other operas, and so on. Even the synopses printed in the program books (there are twelve different synopses of the two operas) are chance-derived:

"Dressed as an Irish princess, he gives birth; they plot to overthrow the French. He arranges to be kidnapped by her; rejuvenated, they desert: to him she has borne two children. He prays for help. Since they have decided she shall marry no one outside, he has himself crowned Emperor. She, told he is dead, begs him to look at her. First, before the young couple come to a climax, he agrees. Accidentally, she drowns them."

The turns of phrase, the character-types, the plot twists are all reminiscent of nineteenth-century opera stories, but transformed. The result here, and in the work as a whole, is an homage to the genre. The Europeras 1 & 2 are extravagant spectacles in which anything, no matter how far-fetched, seems possible (towards the end of the second opera, a radio-controlled Zeppelin flies out into the audience). Cage went on to make Europeras 3 & 4 (1990) and Europera 5 (1991) using similar collage techniques, but with an eye towards concert performances, using piano accompaniments and no costumes or props.

(from The Music of John Cage, by James Pritchett)
//p
The music collection.
The hi-fi system: Esoteric X-03SE -> Pathos Logos -> Analysis Audio Amphitryon.
A view of the whole

snyprrr

  • Guest
Re: John Cage (1912-92)
« Reply #168 on: July 08, 2011, 06:57:13 AM »
wow, how many of those Mode discs ARE there? ???

Offline petrarch

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 1425
  • Luigi Nono (1924-1990)
  • Location: Boston, MA
Re: John Cage (1912-92)
« Reply #169 on: July 08, 2011, 02:55:44 PM »
wow, how many of those Mode discs ARE there? ???

About 40.
//p
The music collection.
The hi-fi system: Esoteric X-03SE -> Pathos Logos -> Analysis Audio Amphitryon.
A view of the whole

Offline petrarch

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 1425
  • Luigi Nono (1924-1990)
  • Location: Boston, MA
Re: John Cage (1912-92)
« Reply #170 on: July 09, 2011, 05:52:05 AM »
Solo with obbligato accompaniment, arranged for three alto recorders (1933-34)
Three, for three players having a variety of recorders (1989)



Solo with obbligato accompaniment, completed on 5 April 1934, is a three-part composition "for any three or more instruments encompassing the range g below middle c to g one and one half octaves above middle c." The Trio Dolce, planning to include this work in its repertoire, wrote Cage for permission to perform it on three alto recorders, one octave higher than the prescribed range. Cage acceded, and in 1988 it was performed with Cage in attendance. The composer's enthusiastic reaction to this performance ultimately led to the creation of Three, dedicated to the Trio.

The compositional method Cage used in Solo with obbligato accompaniment required that repetitions of the twenty-five chromatic pitches within the two-octave range were to be avoided, both within and between the voices. Imitations of the solo (the third and opening voice) by the accompanying voices were also an objective, duration and voice leading being respected but not pitch relations, while at the same time the first voice imitates the second one in a strict canon at the unison. The subjects of the six brief inventions with which the work concludes were derived from the first fifty tones of the solo (two expositions of the complete range). Although the method Cage employed in Solo is unmistakably related to twelve-tone technique, the succession of pitches was in no way predetermined, as is the case in twelve-tone technique. It was decided upon during, not prior to, the actual process of composition. Hence, nearly all intervallic types occur, and although minor and major seconds prevail, perfect fifths and octaves are not avoided. The interval structure is heterogenous, a static, even distribution of pitches being paramount to the coherence between them.

The interval structure in Three, "for three players having a variety of recorders," is no less heterogenous. For each of both outer movements of the work, numbered 1 and 2 respectively, Cage composed seventeen groups of three tones. Using the chance mechanism of the I Ching, he first selected the individual tones of these three-tone groups from the entire range of all recorder types used, F to c''''', or sixty-eight chromatic pitches, and then distributed them in time--mostly as a melody and occasionally as a chord--and among the instruments (there are fifteen instruments used in the piece, of seven different types). As a consequence, the three players--player 1 using sopranino, soprano, alto and tenor; player 2 using sopranino, soprano, alto, tenor, basset and bass; and player 3 using soprano, alto, tenor, basset, and double bass--change recorders constantly. The performance instructions state that the indication "as legato as possible" preceding both outer movements not only refers to the playing of individual parts but also to all three parts together. The virtuosity and breath control needed to fulfill both requirements at the same time--changing recorders and maintaining a continuous legato throughout both movements--determines the sometimes fragile balance between the resulting durations and dynamics.

Both outer movements of Three are interpolated by nine movements lettered A through I, one or any number of which may be played. As Cage's sketches show, he derived the pitches in these movements from an unexpected source: a collection of harmonies which he used to compose many of his later piano works. The collection, which consists of nothing but abstract constellations of interval relationships, includes all conceivable harmonies consisting of three, four or five tones playable by a single hand--and hence having a range not exceeding a major ninth--on a keyboard instrument. Having selected twenty-seven harmonies from this collection, three for each of the nine lettered movements, Cage then assigned actual pitches to them. The starting point for this assignment was a "basic tone" selected from the twelve-tone range from g' to f'' sharp. The double restriction in range Cage subjected himself to--a major seventh for the basic notes and a major ninth for the harmonies--evidently furnished him with a contrast between the wide ranges in the outer movements and the modest ones in the middle movements, which indeed do not exceed the range from g sharp to c''' or twenty-nine chromatic pitches, close to the two-octave range employed in Solo with obbligato accompaniment. Players only use altos, tenors, and a basset in these movements.

Cage then redistributed the constituent tones of the original harmonies among the three parts, mostly in descending sequences, a transformation process which in effect almost completely conceals the original interval structure. Finally, in each of the nine middle movements there are three time brackets.

When the decisive factor in the compositional process of Three proves to be the chance-determined selection and distribution of pitches in time and among the parts, that process reveals an intervallic heterogeneity reminiscent of that of Solo. Whereas the succession of pitches in the latter work was based on free invention, it was at the same time governed by a strict control of all tones of a given chromatic collection. Conversely, the strict chance mechanisms operative in Three brought about pitch successions which were essentially unpredictable and which only potentially used all tones of a given chromatic collection. The common factor is that a disavowal of inherent relationships between sounds and an emphasis on the identity of each individual sound exist at the expense of unifying factors. Cage's conception of tones manifesting themselves in a universe of sounds "to each element of which equal honor could be given," as he wrote in 1981, underlies both works. What has changed in Three is the profundity of using these techniques. Indeed, when in Three one hears the equal-tempered chromaticism also characteristic of Solo, but now manifesting itself in a static, non-hierarchical harmony, this can be said to be worth a life's work. At the aesthetic heart of the music, the compositional techniques of both works at the outer limits of Cage's compositional career that seemed at first to be mutually exclusive prove to be in complete agreement.

--Paul van Emmerik
//p
The music collection.
The hi-fi system: Esoteric X-03SE -> Pathos Logos -> Analysis Audio Amphitryon.
A view of the whole

Offline petrarch

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 1425
  • Luigi Nono (1924-1990)
  • Location: Boston, MA
Re: John Cage (1912-92)
« Reply #171 on: July 09, 2011, 09:55:13 PM »
Thirty pieces for five orchestras (1981)



http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B00005RZVK/?tag=goodmusicguideco

The compositional process of Thirty pieces for five orchestras (1981) was derived from methods Cage used in his work in the visual arts. This was a field he was very actively involved in especially since the late 1970s, producing numerous etchings, prints, drawings and watercolors. His visual sense was always acute, and he had strong connections with artists of various sorts, having befriended Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns and played chess daily with Marcel Duchamp.

For each of the thirty-six etchings of On the surface (1980-82), Cage used the I Ching to determine how many and which of the sixty-four plates of randomly-cut scrap copper to use, and where and at what angle they should be placed. There is an imaginary horizon line in each print; it lies at the top of the page in the first etching, and moves down gradually to the golden mean point by the last. No plates were allowed to extend above this horizon. If, by its random placement, a plate would extend above the line, that plate was cut at that point, thus creating more and smaller plates. No images were engraved on the plates at all, but any random scratches that happened to occur during the printmaking process were accepted. The results are very subtle: only the pale outlines of the plates show up in the prints, along with the tiny scratches and imperfections. The near-invisibility of the images and the use of gradually falling horizon suggest the inspiration for this piece, a quotation from Thoreau: "All sound is nearly akin to silence, it is a bubble on the surface which straightaway bursts."

In Thirty pieces for five orchestras, a piece of cardboard the size of one score page was cut up at random, producing a large number of unique templates, much like the copper plates of On the surface. Holes were then punched at chance-determined locations in these templates. A different set of templates was made for each of the five independent orchestral groups. For each of the thirty pieces, the I Ching was used, as it was in the etchings, to determine which of these templates would be used and in what positions. The notes of the piece were then inscribed through the holes in the templates. No "horizon" line was used here--such a purely visual element would be inappropriate--but a similar effect was produced by distinguishing between those templates that lay wholly within the space of the page and those that extended outside it. The notes of these latter templates were added together to form a single chord, and this chord was then repeated in a randomly-derived ostinato pattern. The notes produced by the other templates were given randomly-chosen durations, pitch inflections, dynamics, vibrato, and so forth. The result of this is that within each piece, there are free curves and outbursts, distinctive and unique, set against the grid of the irregularly repeated sonorities.

Each of the thirty pieces for each orchestra is placed within a flexible time bracket. For each piece, an earliest and latest time is given for its start and end: for example, the first piece can begin anywhere from zero and forty-five seconds of elapsed time, and must end at any time between thirty and seventy-five seconds. The unused portion of the time bracket is left silent. Thus the pieces have no fixed locations in time, and can "float" in the brackets allotted them. The overall effect of the five spatially-separated orchestral groups playing both repeated patterns and spontaneous outbursts of sound, all of these overlapping and drifting freely in time, is very similar to the visual effects of some of Cage's prints--the flexible time brackets emulate the freely-moving engraving plates.
//p
The music collection.
The hi-fi system: Esoteric X-03SE -> Pathos Logos -> Analysis Audio Amphitryon.
A view of the whole

Offline petrarch

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 1425
  • Luigi Nono (1924-1990)
  • Location: Boston, MA
Re: John Cage (1912-92)
« Reply #172 on: July 09, 2011, 09:59:59 PM »
petrarch (does he actually like this stuff?)

I do, otherwise I wouldn't have every single one of the CDs I have been posting about. Some of it is outright wonderful and amazing.
//p
The music collection.
The hi-fi system: Esoteric X-03SE -> Pathos Logos -> Analysis Audio Amphitryon.
A view of the whole

Online some guy

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 2190
  • Location: Somewhere else
  • Currently Listening to:
    Music
Re: John Cage (1912-92)
« Reply #173 on: July 09, 2011, 11:50:53 PM »
petrarch (does he actually like this stuff?)
James is still struggling with the notion that things he does not like can be likable. (Other people and hence other opinions exist besides him.)

As for syprrr, he at least is struggling with aesthetic matters. So for him, since he's still worth talking to, I think, try this; see how it works:

All art is a collaboration between an object and an observer. Quite a lot of art seems to leave very little for the observer to do aside from a more or less passive admiration. I say seems, because I think that that's an illusion. But it certainly seems so. Art that's so complete in and of itself that it transcends any individual response to it.

Since most, perhaps all, art that's like that is from the past, I'm pretty sure that what we're seeing here is the operation of time. People respond to a work of art. Beethoven's ninth, say. At first, the responses are pretty active, and vary widely. There's more of the negative responses for sure. "We can sincerely say that rather than study [the ninth symphony] for beauties which do not exist, we had far rather hear the others where beauties are plain." But as time goes on (in the case of the ninth, several decades of time), the negative responses fall away, and we're left with a colossus of music, a supreme achievement of Western art. The more the assumption is that it's great, the more passive the consumption. It's no longer a living, breathing, aggravating piece, one that insists on being dealt with, one that dealing with is a struggle; it is now "standard repertory," to be admired, unquestionably great. Even the people who admit to being bored by it would never question its pre-eminence.

Contemporary art oftener seems questionable, its premises suspect, its relation to the past (the familiar, the known, the accepted) tenuous, its motives impure. That's largely because it's contemporary. It's strange and different and uncomfortable. Never mind that Beethoven's ninth was also strange and different and uncomfortable at one time. It's none of those things now. Never mind that strange and different and uncomfortable just takes a little time to become familiar and thus accepted. Now is now, and things that are uncomfortable to us now seem like they will always be uncomfortable forever and ever, amen.

All of these are perceptions, not descriptions of the musics but observations about how the musics are being perceived. Intelligent, sympathetic, engaged perceptions are of course going to differ from unsympathetic rejections.

Which are more valid is an interesting question, but the point here is that no music, no art, exists in some eternal vacuum, but only truly exists when a human mind is experiencing the sounds or pigments or stones or movements that make it up. Which is only to say that questioning Cage's validity as an artist by applying older standards of what art is is to ask the wrong question. Cage's music can be judged like any other music, by looking at how it engages the minds of those that understand and appreciate it. Not really the music that's being judged, in other words, but the experience.

Is it possible to have a positive experience with Cage's music? Can otherwise knowledgable and intelligent listeners find something of value in Cage's work?

Yes.

End of story.


Offline mjwal

  • Full Member
  • *
  • Posts: 525
  • Location: Lagorce/France - Berlin
  • Currently Listening to:
    Goehr, Beethoven, William Lawes, Giuffre Trio, Steve Lacy, Eisler
Re: John Cage (1912-92)
« Reply #174 on: July 10, 2011, 03:15:00 AM »
James is still struggling with the notion that things he does not like can be likable. (Other people and hence other opinions exist besides him.)

As for snyprrr, he at least is struggling with aesthetic matters. So for him, since he's still worth talking to, I think, try this; see how it works:

All art is a collaboration between an object and an observer. Quite a lot of art seems to leave very little for the observer to do aside from a more or less passive admiration. I say seems, because I think that that's an illusion. But it certainly seems so. Art that's so complete in and of itself that it transcends any individual response to it.

Since most, perhaps all, art that's like that is from the past, I'm pretty sure that what we're seeing here is the operation of time. People respond to a work of art. Beethoven's ninth, say. At first, the responses are pretty active, and vary widely. There's more of the negative responses for sure. "We can sincerely say that rather than study [the ninth symphony] for beauties which do not exist, we had far rather hear the others where beauties are plain." But as time goes on (in the case of the ninth, several decades of time), the negative responses fall away, and we're left with a colossus of music, a supreme achievement of Western art. The more the assumption is that it's great, the more passive the consumption. It's no longer a living, breathing, aggravating piece, one that insists on being dealt with, one that dealing with is a struggle; it is now "standard repertory," to be admired, unquestionably great. Even the people who admit to being bored by it would never question its pre-eminence.

Contemporary art oftener seems questionable, its premises suspect, its relation to the past (the familiar, the known, the accepted) tenuous, its motives impure. That's largely because it's contemporary. It's strange and different and uncomfortable. Never mind that Beethoven's ninth was also strange and different and uncomfortable at one time. It's none of those things now. Never mind that strange and different and uncomfortable just takes a little time to become familiar and thus accepted. Now is now, and things that are uncomfortable to us now seem like they will always be uncomfortable forever and ever, amen.

All of these are perceptions, not descriptions of the musics but observations about how the musics are being perceived. Intelligent, sympathetic, engaged perceptions are of course going to differ from unsympathetic rejections.

Which are more valid is an interesting question, but the point here is that no music, no art, exists in some eternal vacuum, but only truly exists when a human mind is experiencing the sounds or pigments or stones or movements that make it up. Which is only to say that questioning Cage's validity as an artist by applying older standards of what art is is to ask the wrong question. Cage's music can be judged like any other music, by looking at how it engages the minds of those that understand and appreciate it. Not really the music that's being judged, in other words, but the experience.

Is it possible to have a positive experience with Cage's music? Can otherwise knowledgeable and intelligent listeners find something of value in Cage's work?

Yes.

End of story.

Quite. May I add, as an "innocent" bystander, that the performance of Europeras 1 +2 in Frankfurt way back in the day was one of the most sheerly liberating and delightful experiences I have ever had in the opera house. Cage's rationale and his technique for creating this are mind-boggling and hard to take seriously if you come from a traditional "great composer" angle, but in art (alone) the end justifies the means.
We saw quite a lot of John in Frankfurt in those days - what a totally charming and attention-holding man.
The Violin's Obstinacy

It needs to return to this one note,
not a tune and not a key
but the sound of self it must depart from,
a journey lengthily to go
in a vein it knows will cripple it.
...
Peter Porter

Offline petrarch

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 1425
  • Luigi Nono (1924-1990)
  • Location: Boston, MA
Re: John Cage (1912-92)
« Reply #175 on: July 10, 2011, 03:17:52 AM »
Just checking. I have a fair number of cds in my collection too, so the simple fact of 'owning a recording' doesn't = wonderful & amazing.

That's not what I said; it works the other way around.

And really .. amazing musically? amazing in what way? Which ones ..

I have already said that I like the Freeman Etudes a lot and here are a few others:
  • Music of changes
  • Roaratorio
  • Concerto for prepared piano
  • Fourteen
  • Atlas Eclipticalis
  • Winter music
  • Music walk
  • Four
//p
The music collection.
The hi-fi system: Esoteric X-03SE -> Pathos Logos -> Analysis Audio Amphitryon.
A view of the whole

Offline petrarch

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 1425
  • Luigi Nono (1924-1990)
  • Location: Boston, MA
Re: John Cage (1912-92)
« Reply #176 on: July 10, 2011, 03:43:01 AM »
OK .. I've heard all these, in what way are they musically amazing?!?!?

Check my posts, it's all there.
//p
The music collection.
The hi-fi system: Esoteric X-03SE -> Pathos Logos -> Analysis Audio Amphitryon.
A view of the whole

Offline Grazioso

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 2324
  • Currently Listening to:
    notes
Re: John Cage (1912-92)
« Reply #177 on: July 10, 2011, 04:02:41 AM »
James is still struggling with the notion that things he does not like can be likable. (Other people and hence other opinions exist besides him.)

I think you credit him too much by saying he still struggles with the notion. By all indications, he's never seriously considered the possibility. What he feels to be true is true.

Quote
All art is a collaboration between an object and an observer. Quite a lot of art seems to leave very little for the observer to

Or perhaps a collaboration between a creator and an observer via an artistic medium: two minds interacting indirectly.

Quote
do aside from a more or less passive admiration. I say seems, because I think that that's an illusion. But it certainly seems so. Art that's so complete in and of itself that it transcends any individual response to it.
...
It's no longer a living, breathing, aggravating piece, one that insists on being dealt with, one that dealing with is a struggle; it is now "standard repertory," to be admired, unquestionably great. Even the people who admit to being bored by it would never question its pre-eminence.

Which is just as foolish as rejecting it out of hand. Any passive, unthinking admiration of art is indicative of a lack of knowledge and/or effort. All art leaves as much for the observer to do as the observer is willing to do. Do you want to use music for sonic wallpaper and say, "That's pretty. And it's great because lots of conductors have recorded it," or do you choose to study it, contemplate it, engage with it, and formulate a considered opinion? Until doing the latter, one has no real ground for either praising or damning it.

Quote
Contemporary art oftener seems questionable, its premises suspect, its relation to the past (the familiar, the known, the accepted) tenuous, its motives impure. That's largely because it's contemporary. It's strange and different and uncomfortable. Never mind that Beethoven's ninth was also strange and different and uncomfortable at one time. It's none of those things now. Never mind that strange and different and uncomfortable just takes a little time to become familiar and thus accepted. Now is now, and things that are uncomfortable to us now seem like they will always be uncomfortable forever and ever, amen.

I of course take your historical point, yet even now for many listeners, Beethoven would be strange and confusing since all they know is Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber. Just as Cage will seem ridiculous, ugly, or confusing for people with a different musical indoctrination, for people who aren't willing to do what you should, in fairness, do with any art: approach it first and foremost on its terms, not yours.

There is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact. --Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Offline petrarch

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 1425
  • Luigi Nono (1924-1990)
  • Location: Boston, MA
Re: John Cage (1912-92)
« Reply #178 on: July 10, 2011, 04:07:29 AM »
Typical response. I'm sure if I asked Cage why he thought non-art like 4'33 was his favorite he'd hand me an essay or give me some long drawn out explanation. I wasn't referring to the stitched essays & liner notes you read ..

Nor was I. There is enough in the other posts.
//p
The music collection.
The hi-fi system: Esoteric X-03SE -> Pathos Logos -> Analysis Audio Amphitryon.
A view of the whole

Offline petrarch

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 1425
  • Luigi Nono (1924-1990)
  • Location: Boston, MA
Re: John Cage (1912-92)
« Reply #179 on: July 10, 2011, 04:10:21 AM »
art: approach it first and foremost on its terms, not yours.

+1
//p
The music collection.
The hi-fi system: Esoteric X-03SE -> Pathos Logos -> Analysis Audio Amphitryon.
A view of the whole