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The Music Room => Composer Discussion => Topic started by: Lethevich on October 02, 2008, 09:22:06 PM

Title: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: Lethevich on October 02, 2008, 09:22:06 PM
I agree with this. I've often said that if Cage had remained on the path he had set for himself in the 1940s, he's be up there with Stravinsky today. His imagination was that good. Then he moved into aleatory stuff, the "music I do not have in mind," and even then, the results are often interesting, if sometimes unlistenable. (I can't bear the Freeman etudes, for example.) Copland once said of him that he didn' really care to write enduring masterpiees as to keep himself entertained for a few hours. That's accurate, but it doesn't make him an idiot or a charlatan.

Inspired by the quoted post, I wonder whether any knowledgeable people can offer guidance to getting a good introduction to and overview of Cage's work. The thought that he may have composed a lot of "musical" works alongside the random ones for which he is famous has piqued my interest.

Without wishing to make the thread excessively personal (this should be used for general Cage discussion as well, naturally), I should mention that I own but have yet to listen to this disc (http://www.amazon.com/John-Cage-Seasons-Russell-Davies/dp/B00004RKK4/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=music&qid=1223014614&sr=1-2), due to being unsure how decent an intro it will be... I don't want to be scared off 0:)
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: Ugh! on October 02, 2008, 11:26:45 PM
Inspired by the quoted post, I wonder whether any knowledgeable people can offer guidance to getting a good introduction to and overview of Cage's work. The thought that he may have composed a lot of "musical" works alongside the random ones for which he is famous has piqued my interest.

Without wishing to make the thread excessively personal (this should be used for general Cage discussion as well, naturally), I should mention that I own but have yet to listen to this disc (http://www.amazon.com/John-Cage-Seasons-Russell-Davies/dp/B00004RKK4/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=music&qid=1223014614&sr=1-2), due to being unsure how decent an intro it will be... I don't want to be scared off 0:)

Oh yes, there are definitely a lot of works that you might be interested in. "Randomness" may be an integral element in the composition of them, but yet they sound more "conventional" than say Williams Mix etc. Try these:

http://www.amazon.com/John-Cage-Works-for-Percussion/dp/B000025RWV/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&s=music&qid=1223022249&sr=1-4 (http://www.amazon.com/John-Cage-Works-for-Percussion/dp/B000025RWV/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&s=music&qid=1223022249&sr=1-4)
http://www.amazon.com/Cage-Sonatas-Interludes-Prepared-Piano/dp/B000025R7X/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&s=music&qid=1223022249&sr=1-3 (http://www.amazon.com/Cage-Sonatas-Interludes-Prepared-Piano/dp/B000025R7X/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&s=music&qid=1223022249&sr=1-3)
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: Guido on October 03, 2008, 12:58:26 AM
I have the wonderful Sonatas and Interludes for prepared piano played by Berman on Naxos - a great pianist. I was wondering whether Cage's other music for prepared piano was up to much: http://www.amazon.com/John-Cage-Music-Prepared-Piano/dp/B00005A8A6/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&s=music&qid=1223027774&sr=1-3

Isn't there a prepared piano concerto?
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: Ugh! on October 03, 2008, 05:26:31 AM
he's widely regarded as a charlatan by many, and saying he could have been as great as Stravinsky is just down right silly...but he managed to produce a few things, nothing deeply profound, and 1-dimensional in scope

It's the way you assert this opinion that is the problem, not Cage's abilities as a composer in whatever way he wanted to express himself, remember that.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: Josquin des Prez on October 03, 2008, 05:36:25 AM
not Cage's abilities as a composer in whatever way he wanted to express himself

Cage had no abilities as a composer, which is why he expressed himself the way he did. Hence, why i call him a charlatan.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: Guido on October 03, 2008, 05:43:57 AM
He was free do what he wanted, to 'express himself'...for better, or for worse.

I assume that's an ironic statement...?
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: Ugh! on October 03, 2008, 05:46:14 AM
Cage had no abilities as a composer, which is why he expressed himself the way he did. Hence, why i call him a charlatan.

I find it terribly boring that you tend to turn every thread you participate into a classical/modernist discussion. I think we got the message  ;)
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: Kullervo on October 03, 2008, 05:53:10 AM
I was turned off of Cage by his late "number" pieces, but thanks to this thread I'm now interested in hearing his early "composerly" music. This seems to be happening more and more with composers I initially dismissed — At this rate I doubt there'll be a composer I hate unconditionally.  :'(
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: CRCulver on October 03, 2008, 06:51:27 AM
Cage had no abilities as a composer, which is why he expressed himself the way he did. Hence, why i call him a charlatan.

Just like people who claim Picasso was a charlatan for his cubist works even though he had really mastered traditional paintings in childhood and just wanted to move past that, people who think Cage was an incompetent composer because of his avant-garde works are irresponsibly overlooking the fairly conventional works that came first.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: Josquin des Prez on October 03, 2008, 07:10:09 AM
Just like people who claim Picasso was a charlatan for his cubist works even though he had really mastered traditional paintings in childhood and just wanted to move past that

http://www.picasso-fraud.com/

 >:D
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: karlhenning on October 03, 2008, 08:29:58 AM
Cage had no abilities as a composer . . . .

I'll ask again, the rhetorical question which you convenient ignore: And you have heard how much of Cage's music, exactly?

You have no abilitites as an evaluator of compositional ability, where you fatuously pronounce upon music you have no experience of.

Which is why, expressing yourself the way you do, you're ripe to be called a charlatan.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: springrite on October 03, 2008, 08:33:48 AM
I have come to appreciate Cage more and more. Interestingly, at the lecture I gave a month ago, Cage was the one composer that arouse the most interest from the audience.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: karlhenning on October 03, 2008, 08:44:14 AM
Isn't there a prepared piano concerto?

The disservice of the thread derailment like "Josquin's" ritual reactionary blather, isn't so much the worthless noise of the anti-Modernist boilerplate, as the fact that actual inquiry and discussion gets lost in the wake of that blah-blah-blah.

There is indeed (http://www.arkivmusic.com/classical/Drilldown?name_id1=1794&name_role1=1&comp_id=56467&bcorder=15&name_id=58379&name_role=3), Guido.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: lukeottevanger on October 03, 2008, 09:32:51 AM
...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...
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: karlhenning on October 03, 2008, 10:00:20 AM
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...

Don't confuse him with the facts: his mind is made up.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: karlhenning on October 03, 2008, 10:04:20 AM
Without wishing to make the thread excessively personal (this should be used for general Cage discussion as well, naturally), I should mention that I own but have yet to listen to this disc (http://www.amazon.com/John-Cage-Seasons-Russell-Davies/dp/B00004RKK4/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=music&qid=1223014614&sr=1-2), due to being unsure how decent an intro it will be... I don't want to be scared off 0:)

Looks a very sweet disc, Sara.

And . . . all music is personal  8)
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: lukeottevanger on October 03, 2008, 10:51:36 AM
It is, it's a real treasure!
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: Guido on October 03, 2008, 01:46:49 PM
It is, it's a real treasure!

*ordered*

I have a real problem.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: Guido on October 03, 2008, 02:15:18 PM
I never said that, speak for yourself.

I think he's commenting on your general attitude that you seem to project on ths board, rather than your comments on this specific thread.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: Guido on October 14, 2008, 09:06:56 AM
Just recieved the CD that was mentioned in the first post and having listened to it, want to strongly reiterate what Luke said about it - it's just great! I never expected Cage's music to be so beautiful and interesting, even if it is not in a traditional sense. The prepared piano concerto is wonderfully subtle and beautifully austere, the use of silences amongst the most potent I have heard in a work. The Suite for Toy Piano is a great little piece, and Harrisson's orchestration of it is another real gem (though perhaps the intent of the original piece is lost somewhat. But no matter! It still works wonderfully). Then there are two versions of the piece Seventy Four - which are subtly different due to the aleatoric nature of the work. Again, from descriptions, I never imagined that these late works could be so subtle and beautiful, even in a fairly traditional sense. Great stuff.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: some guy on October 14, 2008, 09:54:37 AM
Then there are two versions of the piece Seventy Four - which are subtly different due to the aleatoric nature of the work.
Not that this battle is worth fighting, or is as vital to fight as some others, but the word for Cage's practice is "indeterminacy," aleatory being a European word (coined by M. Pierre Boulez) describing a European concept of having some chance elements inside a determined structure. (In this, it is not much different from any piece, ever, as there are always little things different in each performance of each piece. That goes for each playing of a fixed recording, too.)

Indeterminacy, on the other hand, is about finding ways to let go of control, finding ways to bypass one's own tastes and desires (this goes for performers as well as composers, hence the distinction Cage always made between indeterminacy and improvisation). Aleatory basically leaves the whole Western art tradition intact, leaves the audience still in the position of admiring "works." Indeterminacy, briefly, overturns the tradition, inviting the audience to take more responsibility for their enjoyment, inviting the audience to become more aware of if not even enjoy the sights and sounds of every day life.

Superficially, they all seem similar, aleatory, improvisation, indeterminacy. But they really are all three quite distinct.

That concludes this week's lecture. Next week, wave synthesis or granular synthesis, which will get you the babes? (In truckloads.)
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: karlhenning on October 14, 2008, 10:23:28 AM
Hey, I thought it an excellent point.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: Guido on October 14, 2008, 02:18:38 PM
Not that this battle is worth fighting, or is as vital to fight as some others, but the word for Cage's practice is "indeterminacy," aleatory being a European word (coined by M. Pierre Boulez) describing a European concept of having some chance elements inside a determined structure. (In this, it is not much different from any piece, ever, as there are always little things different in each performance of each piece. That goes for each playing of a fixed recording, too.)

Indeterminacy, on the other hand, is about finding ways to let go of control, finding ways to bypass one's own tastes and desires (this goes for performers as well as composers, hence the distinction Cage always made between indeterminacy and improvisation). Aleatory basically leaves the whole Western art tradition intact, leaves the audience still in the position of admiring "works." Indeterminacy, briefly, overturns the tradition, inviting the audience to take more responsibility for their enjoyment, inviting the audience to become more aware of if not even enjoy the sights and sounds of every day life.
 (In truckloads.)

I certainly think this is a point worth making, and thanks for correcting me... Lutoslawski is a very different beast from Cage in both intention and effect when it comes to these performer decision/chance elements in their works.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: Ugh! on October 15, 2008, 10:18:25 AM

That concludes this week's lecture. Next week, wave synthesis or granular synthesis, which will get you the babes? (In truckloads.)

Beware of the granular synthesis groupies my friend, word of advice.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: Superhorn on October 18, 2008, 09:32:01 AM
   I've  never  found  Cage's  music  interesting  at  all, although  I  haven't  heard  everything  of  his.  Basically, his  music  is just  a  collection  of  gimmicks.  There is no  there  there.  I  don't  mind  radical experimentation  on  the  part  of  composers, but  I  can't  accept  this  if  the  music  is not  interesting.
  He  was  just  looking for  an  excuse  to  show  how "different"  he  was  from  the  mainstream  of  western  classical  music, and  what a  "maverick" he was. (Where  have  we  heard  that  term  before? Is John MCCain  the  John Cage  of  politics?).  The wonderful book "The Rest Is Noise" by Alex Ross  quotes Cage as having declared that "Beethoven was wrong". 
  I suppose this means that Cage considered HIS way of composing vallid and that Beethoven's wasn't. But this is like blaming Goya for not painting like Picasso.  Cage was a colorful and amusing character,though.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: Lethevich on October 18, 2008, 09:39:15 AM
The wonderful book "The Rest Is Noise" by Alex Ross  quotes Cage as having declared that "Beethoven was wrong". 

Vaughan Williams went as far as "The Beethoven idiom repels me" - a lot of good composers say dumb stuff...
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: lukeottevanger on October 18, 2008, 09:54:15 AM
   I've  never  found  Cage's  music  interesting  at  all, although  I  haven't  heard  everything  of  his.  Basically, his  music  is just  a  collection  of  gimmicks.  There is no  there  there.  I  don't  mind  radical experimentation  on  the  part  of  composers, but  I  can't  accept  this  if  the  music  is not  interesting.
  He  was  just  looking for  an  excuse  to  show  how "different"  he  was  from  the  mainstream  of  western  classical  music, and  what a  "maverick" he was. (Where  have  we  heard  that  term  before? Is John MCCain  the  John Cage  of  politics?).  The wonderful book "The Rest Is Noise" by Alex Ross  quotes Cage as having declared that "Beethoven was wrong". 
  I suppose this means that Cage considered HIS way of composing vallid and that Beethoven's wasn't. But this is like blaming Goya for not painting like Picasso.  Cage was a colorful and amusing character,though.

This is all pretty uninformed. Have you read the article in which Cage says 'Beethoven was wrong'? Do you know to what he was referring? In his own terms - and that's all anyone can ask of any composer - he was exactly right.

The 'he was just looking for an excuse...' line is your interpretation, but it's unsubstantiated - and as everything I know of Cage breathes sincerity, thought and conviction, I rather doubt its truth.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: karlhenning on October 18, 2008, 10:08:31 AM
Vaughan Williams went as far as "The Beethoven idiom repels me" - a lot of good composers say dumb stuff...

Well, but I should take it (as a rule) more on the order of, for an artist to find his own voice, part of the process is a rejection of What Has Already Been Done.  The rejection may be temporary or not.

The other thing is, sometimes it is a matter of actually rejecting some aspect of the past.  Some of it is putting the public on notice that one is going to write nice music, but it isn't going to fit into the Nice Music boxes of the past.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: lukeottevanger on October 18, 2008, 10:27:42 AM
The VW Beethoven rejection implied by that quotation is also not really the case. He certainly had 'issues' with certain aspects of the style - with what he saw as occassionally routine variation for the sake of variation, for instance, and felt the influence of the salon too much in the odd place - but his respect and reverence for Beethoven was profound. His article on the Choral Symphony expresses all of his thoughts on Beethoven - he saw it as a supreme masterpiece.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: lukeottevanger on October 18, 2008, 10:50:07 AM
Heavy's good, right?
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: lukeottevanger on October 18, 2008, 11:32:44 AM
Sometimes, James. Not always.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: Guido on October 18, 2008, 02:17:06 PM
  He  was  just  looking for  an  excuse  to  show  how "different"  he  was  from  the  mainstream  of  western  classical  music, and  what a  "maverick" he was. (Where  have  we  heard  that  term  before? Is John MCCain  the  John Cage  of  politics?).

This is utter, utter tosh. His brilliant writings very well illustrate what he was trying to do - I have a feeling that you have just created that explanation of his work from a mixture of your own dislike of the music and a complete lack of interest in truth. I have absolutely no quarrells with anyone who dislikes Cage's music, but the reasons people give for their dislike are almost always based on ignorance, closed mindedness and their own imagination. People say some really stupid things when they try to rationalise why they dislike something. It's better to just say "I don't like it".

As a side note, I'm not sure if anyone has brought this up but your posts are really visually off putting to read because they all appear to be double spaced. Is this intentional?
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: karlhenning on March 31, 2009, 07:52:06 AM
Hey, that's very interesting.   I read that Cage went into a totally insulated anechoic chamber in order to experience TOTAL SILENCE.   To his surprise, he could still hear two noises, one high and one low.     The high one was his nervous system in operation and the low one was due to his blood circulation.   This was one of the triggers for 4'33".     Another one was seeing Rauschenberg's series of totally uniform white paintings .... he was inspired to create the musical equivalent.

Hmmm .... I should have started a separate thread on 4'33" ..... we got grossly off-topic  :-\

And, honoring the current 'buzz' (http://www.good-music-guide.com/community/index.php/topic,9.msg293348/topicseen.html#msg293348)  8)
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: Brewski on March 31, 2009, 08:02:16 AM
I wonder if anyone in this forum has ever attended a live performance of 4'33" ??     It would surely be a memorable and unique experience.   And it is maybe the ONLY way for anyone to experience the composer's intentions for the listener .... I mean you could debate whether listening to a recording is a valid way of experiencing 4'33", or simply a different way (I suspect that Cage would say the latter ....).

I have heard it in live performance at least five times, in versions for solo piano, cello and clarinet, as well as string quartet and chamber orchestra.  And yes, it is memorable; there is something about this piece--part stunt, part philosophy, part music--that pulls you in.  It's not too long (e.g., 4'33" is much more doable than say, 48'33"), and inevitably some tiny sounds in the room enter the picture, and you notice them in a way that you might not have otherwise. 

And yes, people do laugh: some nervously, or responding to a particular sound.  Some laughter comes afterward, discussing it, e.g., at the chamber music version a friend wanted them to repeat the "rondo" section.

--Bruce
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: karlhenning on March 31, 2009, 08:22:49 AM
. . . there is something about this piece--part stunt, part philosophy, part music--that pulls you in.

And Cage himself was that selfsame tangle, Bruce.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: istanbul on May 14, 2009, 03:01:26 AM
i read last year a essay from BRANDEN W. JOSEPH (in turkish)
it was wonderfull.
this is original name:
"BRANDEN W. JOSEPH / John Cage and Architecture of Silence"
OCTOBER, Number: 81, Summer 1997, Page:80-104

i want to read cage's books (for the birds; silence...) but my english is awful
and turkish is very poor for music literature too,
you can't find anything cage's books in turkish.
but the music is solves problems, you haven't to speak english;
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: jowcol on May 14, 2009, 08:24:45 AM
Vaughan Williams went as far as "The Beethoven idiom repels me" - a lot of good composers say dumb stuff...

Wandering a bit off topic, but this recalls the famous conversation between Proust and Stravinsky that goes like this:
<snip>
The first exchange between Proust and Stravinsky was a taste of what was to come. Perhaps a little maladroitly, Proust attempted to engage the composer on the subject of another composer.
Proust: “Doubtless you admire Beethoven?”
Stravinsky: “I detest Beethoven.”
Proust: “But, cher maître, surely the late sonatas and quartets . . .”
Stravinsky: “Even worse than the rest.”
<snip>

My knowledge of Cage is limited-- but there are some artists whose contributions may not be so much in the works themselves, but in the context they create around it.  Malevitch, the painter of "White Square on White Background" wrote some wild essays that really let you appreciate his work in another dimension.  I've enjoyed Cage's writings very much-- and am curious about the earlier works cited here.  At worst, I'd compare him to Andy Warhol-- a controversial artist who had valid insights and stimulated the community, but I would not pay as much for one of his works as I would for a Van Gogh.

He was interviewed in a Buddhist magazine and had a couple of points I found worthy of reflection.  He said that if you use chance methods, you had to accept the results. (I heard he liked reading Finnegan's Wake in random order).   He also said it was terrifying to answer the phone, because "you never knew if it was Creation or the Buddha calling".

(Ned Rorem has a good zinger about how Cage was "tirelessly promoting his selflessness")



Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: karlhenning on May 14, 2009, 08:38:49 AM
Rorem's zingers are better than his music (what little I've heard, anyway).
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: istanbul on May 22, 2009, 05:40:20 AM
.......................
.......................
.......................
.......................
.......................
(for john cage :))
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: karlhenning on May 30, 2009, 03:50:54 AM
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.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: edward on May 31, 2009, 01:51:55 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.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: karlhenning on June 01, 2009, 03:15:23 AM
I have nothing to say, and I am saying it, and that is poetry.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: CD on October 03, 2009, 01:58:34 PM
(x-posted from the listening thread)

(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51Mc1pPOsnL._SS500_.jpg)

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.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: CD on October 03, 2009, 02:01:42 PM
(x-post from the listening thread)

(http://g-ecx.images-amazon.com/images/G/01/ciu/e4/15/dca8319f8da0d5f5c8e77110.L.jpg)

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.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: karlhenning on February 10, 2010, 12:05:18 PM
John Cage performed on the accordion.

Discuss.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: Franco 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.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: karlhenning 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.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: karlhenning 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...
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: karlhenning 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.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: Luke on February 10, 2010, 01:28:56 PM
I'd add that I clearly didn't mean JQP, I meant JDP!!
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: karlhenning on February 10, 2010, 01:33:15 PM
Well, you get the important details right ; )
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: Franco 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.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: Franco 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.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: karlhenning on February 10, 2010, 04:00:10 PM
Poor James . . . he imagines that one artist's dislikes really are aesthetic absolutes . . . .
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: Franco 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.

Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: karlhenning 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:
 
(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51MFEZENCWL._SL500_AA240_.jpg)
John Cage – Complete Piano Music, Vol. VIII, Hommage à Satie
(http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000062YLR?ie=UTF8&tag=goodmusicguide-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B000062YLR)
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: karlhenning on February 11, 2010, 11:57:32 AM
Again!
 
Cage
In a Landscape (1948)
Perpetual Tango (1984)
Steffen Scheiermacher, pf


(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51MFEZENCWL._SL500_AA240_.jpg)
John Cage – Complete Piano Music, Vol. VIII, Hommage à Satie
(http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000062YLR?ie=UTF8&tag=goodmusicguide-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B000062YLR)

It's one of those pieces which must be as enchanting to sit and play, as it is to sit and listen to.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: karlhenning on April 09, 2010, 08:19:20 AM
I can’t understand why people are frightened of new ideas.  I’m frightened of the old ones. — John Cage
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: Franco on April 09, 2010, 10:00:58 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.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: karlhenning on April 09, 2010, 10:04:10 AM
Perfectly right: Boulez's scorn means absolutely nothing.

(Well, means he's pissy, of course.)
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: petrarch on April 10, 2010, 03:39:17 AM
He said that a few months back http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/10/arts/music/10boulez.html ...

...its no surprise that a musician of his calibre is right on the money, and it's a view shared by most accomplished serious musicians.

I like the veiled judgment through the use of "accomplished" and "serious", as if the appeal to majority would give the statement any credence and transitively back you up. We already know you don't like Cage and that you put Stockhausen in the highest pedestal. Luckily, I can listen to the 3 of them unencumbered by such judgmental shortcomings.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: jowcol on April 10, 2010, 05:49:03 AM
I like the veiled judgment through the use of "accomplished" and "serious", as if the appeal to majority would give the statement any credence and transitively back you up. We already know you don't like Cage and that you put Stockhausen in the highest pedestal. Luckily, I can listen to the 3 of them unencumbered by such judgmental shortcomings.

It is a dangerous idea to listen with your ears and not with preconceived notions..... :P

Of course, irony aside, one of Cage's key themes was not applying preconceived notions, but one could say that insisting on the absence of preconceived notions is also a preconceived notion...

My take on Cage that his contributions were valuable and influential, -- but limited in specific guidance.


Sounds like a Cage vs Boulez poll is becoming likely.  Although World Wide Wrestling Federation steel cage match may have preserved more dignity....







Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: petrarch on April 10, 2010, 07:42:11 AM
No that would be Bach not Stockhausen ... and I have listened to quite a bit of Cage well before I've read and talked to many a musicians who's opinions & doubts mirrored my own feelings about his flimsy musicianship.

Same here (talking to many musicians--and I mean professional composers here--who didn't care much about Cage), but that did not affect my great enjoyment of him or his works. In fact, you could replace Cage with Xenakis or Nono in that statement to gauge what composers have told me in conversation. A few others just couldn't stand Stockhausen or Boulez, even!

If it weren't for tastes, yellow would be in frank disuse.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: karlhenning on September 18, 2010, 03:57:42 PM
All right, so this was a year and a half ago . . . .
 
Asymmetry recently visited Halberstadt, where a 639 year performance of Cage’s Organ2/ASLSP is playing. (http://asymmetrymusicmagazine.com/uncategorized/aslsp2-in-halberstadt/)
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: some guy on September 18, 2010, 04:59:59 PM
Not only that, but I did not make it to Halberstadt this July to hear the changing of the chord.

Yikes!! I've got only a little over six hundred years to get back there. ;D
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: karlhenning on September 18, 2010, 05:53:34 PM
Time's a-wastin'
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: canninator on April 01, 2011, 10:18:23 PM
According to the reviewer on amazon.co.uk the Cage complete piano on MDG Scene is available as a complete box but I don't seem to be able to find it anywhere. Can anyone shed any light on whether this is true. I'd like to get this rather than pay a premium for the individual editions.

Cheers
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: listener on April 01, 2011, 10:45:56 PM
news from Gothic records today  01-04-11

New recording on the Wanamaker organ announced!

Gothic Records is pleased to announce a new recording by Peter Richard Conte on the fabled Wanamaker Grand Court Organ. In keeping with 21st century technology, this new recording will be available only by download, and not as a CD.  It is a single work---John Cage’s eponymous work 4’33”.  “This performance will be made available just before the 60th anniversary of its composition in 1952,” said Conte.

To add to the excitement, an entire new division of the organ will be employed in the performance after extensive renovations were carried out earlier this year. “It will be the first time we will use these 120 ranks in a public performance---pipes which have not been heard since before Cage’s work was composed,” said Ray Biswanger, Executive Director of Friends of the Wanamaker.  “It seems particularly appropriate,” adds Conte, “that this work will be performed on the largest, and loudest functioning musical instrument in the world.”

Gothic Catalog President Roger Sherman said that the release of a “download only” performance is part of the company’s strategy for more widely disseminating organ music. “The performance can be rendered globally on almost any device with loudspeakers and a mute switch.”
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: The new erato on April 01, 2011, 11:48:58 PM
news from Gothic records today  01-04-11

New recording on the Wanamaker organ announced!

Gothic Records is pleased to announce a new recording by Peter Richard Conte on the fabled Wanamaker Grand Court Organ. In keeping with 21st century technology, this new recording will be available only by download, and not as a CD.  It is a single work---John Cage’s eponymous work 4’33”.  “This performance will be made available just before the 60th anniversary of its composition in 1952,” said Conte.

To add to the excitement, an entire new division of the organ will be employed in the performance after extensive renovations were carried out earlier this year. “It will be the first time we will use these 120 ranks in a public performance---pipes which have not been heard since before Cage’s work was composed,” said Ray Biswanger, Executive Director of Friends of the Wanamaker.  “It seems particularly appropriate,” adds Conte, “that this work will be performed on the largest, and loudest functioning musical instrument in the world.”

Gothic Catalog President Roger Sherman said that the release of a “download only” performance is part of the company’s strategy for more widely disseminating organ music. “The performance can be rendered globally on almost any device with loudspeakers and a mute switch.”
I prefer it played on electronic organs, so I guess I won't buy that version.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: petrarch on June 10, 2011, 09:00:58 PM
Atlas Eclipticalis with Winter Music



Notes from the label here (http://www.moderecords.com/catalog/0036cage.html).

Quote
After listening to this performance of Winter music with Atlas eclipticalis, the question that arose in my mind was: What did John Cage mean by the title Winter music? What is its significance? I know of no explanation of it in Cage's writings or interviews. It does not fit into any of the titling schemes that he employed in the 1950s. At that time, Cage was partial to very plain, functional titles: Music for piano, Aria, 26' 1.1499'' for a string player. Occasionally he would name pieces for their dedicatees: For Paul Taylor and Anita Dencks, Williams mix. A handful of pieces have evocative titles derived from some aspect of their compositional means (Music of changes, Seven haiku) or from their sonic material (Sounds of Venice, Water music). I can't place Winter music in any of these categories. The title is not functional; the piece is not named after a Mr. or Ms. Winter; there is nothing in the manner or method of the piece that makes "winter" an obvious reference.

Without any obvious answers from the composer, I was left to make my own solution to this puzzle. The answer to which my mind turned was that the title refers to the content of the music: Winter music is about winter. What could this mean? Certainly it sounds severe, minimal, static. This suggests the stillness of winter. I began to explore this connection, a poetic image that reveals much about the work.

Before proceeding further, it is perhaps best for me to describe Winter music and its composition. The work consists of twenty pages of music that can be used by anywhere from one to twenty pianists. Varying numbers of events are scattered on the twenty pages, but all the events have an identical profile: single chords. The number of notes per chord and their specific locations on the staff were determined by chance procedures. The notation can be ambiguous with regards to pitch, and Cage provides precise rules on how to interpret these situations. But he is absolutely clear that each event should be played as a single attack. There is to be no breaking up of the chord in any way. If the notes are too widely-spaced for the pianist's hands to reach, then a technique involving sympathetic vibrations is used to compensate.

There is nothing in the notation of the piece to indicate time, sequence, or continuity. One could, perhaps, read the notations left-to-right and top-to-bottom on the page, but Cage does not indicate this in his instructions, and the way in which he has laid out the notations on paper does not encourage such a reading. Instead, each chord is separate from all the others, potentially sounding at any point in time, before, after, or during any other event.

The method of Winter music explains its severe quality. Other pieces of this same period in Cage's work may incorporate a wide range of possibilities, but Winter music limits itself to one. The same simple event -- the single attack -- occurs over and over again with no contrast, no development, no change. And because every event in the piece is an ictus -- a downbeat -- there is no sense of motion here at all. Events do not lead to one another. Events do not have the inner motion of a phrase or even an arpeggiation. It is not surprising that Cage was a little disappointed to find it becoming melodic to his ears over time.

Considered in this way, the title of Winter music begins to make sense. This is a music in which time no longer exists, or in which it is frozen. The sparse and isolated chords of Winter music have more in common with points in space than with events in time. They stand out in the silence, totally separated from one another, the way that twigs, stones, and trees appear against the blank whiteness of the snow.

Winter music is a work about space, separation, immobility, and timelessness. Considered in this way, its pairing with Atlas eclipticalis takes on additional meaning. Cage thought of Atlas eclipticalis as the companion of Winter music from the very first; his early sketches refer to the piece as "Winter music for strings." He discovered the key to the work when he found the astronomical atlas of the title. The star maps provided him with a way to discover the pitches of the music: he used elaborate chance operations to produce tracings of the stars on music paper. Tracings from the maps also determined the location of orchestral events ("constellations" as he called them) in the overall time of the piece.

The stars served more than technical ends, however. They provide another dimension to the theme of timelessness and space. Since the orchestral instruments cannot play chords, the events of Atlas consist of a number of tones played in succession. But as in Winter music, the pacing of the tones is glacial. The individual notes are as "really separated in space, not obstructing one another" as in Winter music. In a joint performance such as the one recorded here, the connection between the quiescent Winter music and the timeless quality of the starry Atlas eclipticalis is clear. It is a connection between earth and heaven; a look up into the sky on a cold, clear night.

James Pritchett (http://www.rosewhitemusic.com/cage/texts/Atlas103.html)

Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: petrarch on June 11, 2011, 04:34:17 AM
Winter Music, for pianos (1957)

The piece consists of twenty pages of music to be played in whole or part by one to twenty pianists. There are anywhere from one to sixty-one chords scattered over each page. Each chord consists of one to ten pitches or it can also be a cluster. There are two clef signs for each chord. If the two clefs are identical (treble or bass), then all the notes of the chord are read in that clef. If the clefs differ, then some of the notes are read in one clef and some in the other. For chords with two notes, one note is read in each clef. For chords with more than two notes, a pair of numbers above the chord gives the proportion of notes to be read in the different clefs. The assignment of clefs to notes is decided upon by the performer. In performing Winter Music, each chord is to be played with a single attack, that is, with no arpeggiation.

The compositional system of Winter Music used paper imperfections to generate points on a page. The subsequent application of staff lines and clefs turned these points into notes. Indeterminacy also results from the possibility of combining the pages of the score in different ways, and from not imposing any order on the chords within a page. The use of ambiguous clefs results in configurations of notes in each chord that can vary from performance to performance. These are like little mechanisms or mobile structures that are fixed only for a single performance.

Atlas Eclipticalis, for orchestra (1961)

Early compositional notes for this piece indicate that Cage was trying to compose a version of Winter Music for orchestra. Like in Winter Music, events contain from one to ten notes, divided randomly into two groups. Whereas in Winter Music this division is between the two clefs, in Atlas Eclipticalis it is between short and long durations. In the score, pitches are indicated unambiguously, although instead of accidentals, it is the spacings of the staff lines that reflect the number of semitones between them. The relative sizes of notes gives their amplitudes. Numbers above the events divide the notes with regard to durations--6-3, for instance, means to play either six short notes and three long ones, or three short ones and six long ones.

The compositional process is similar to others Cage used at the time: The random inscription of points followed by the superimposing of the staves to create musical notes. In this case, however, the points were to come from the large star charts of the Atlas Eclipticalis 1950.0. By placing tracing paper over any of the thirty-two star maps in any of several different orientations, Cage was able to trace the star locations, thus producing random points. The brightness of stars is shown in the maps by their size, which translated into the size of notes in the score.

The structure of each of the eighty-six orchestra parts is identical: Four pages with five staves each. The location of events in each page of a part, and then the individual notes within each event, were both determined using the star charts. In performance, the score can be played in whole or in part by any number of players up to a full eighty-six-member orchestra. The systems are to be read from left to right proportionally in time, but the tempo is not given: The conductor determines the duration of each system and then signals the passage of time to the performers.

Atlas Eclipticalis can be performed simultaneously with Winter Music, thus reflecting their compositional similarities.

(paraphrases and interpolations from the CD booklet and from The Music of John Cage by James Pritchett)
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: petrarch on June 11, 2011, 05:29:30 PM
Etudes Australes, for piano (1974-75)



The pieces consist of single tones and chords, derived from star charts of the southern hemisphere. In composing the chords, Cage made a table of all the possible chord formations that could be played by a single hand on the piano, and then used these tables in conjunction with his star charts. There are thirty-two etudes, and the number of chords increases through the series: The first is almost entirely single notes, the last is almost entirely chordal. Cage designed the etudes as a duet for two independent hands, with both the left and right hands having to cover the entire range of the piano. Hence the hands cross constantly, and the pianist must manage tremendous leaps within a single hand's part. The score does not prescribe a specific tempo, apart from the requirement of using a uniform tempo and also does not include any dynamic markings. Individual note durations are not indicated, with time to be inferred from the spacing between notes measured horizontally and the indication that closed note heads are to be played briefly and open note heads indicate notes that need to be held until just before the second following note in the same hand. At the beginning of each etude, up to a maximum of seven tones in the bass range are to be played mutely and then to be held, either with the middle pedal or on the keys themselves with wedges or pieces of rubber. These tones do not occur in the piece, but the free vibration of the strings forms a resonance space for the other tones, so that complete silence never really occurs. Even during the rests, some tones always continue to vibrate delicately, as if in the background.

(paraphrases and interpolations from the CD booklet and from The Music of John Cage by James Pritchett)

Additional information on Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Etudes_Australes).
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: petrarch on June 11, 2011, 07:11:02 PM
Etudes Boreales, for a percussionist using a piano (1978)



Etudes Boreales is really a double set of etudes, one set for cello and another for piano, composed with input from star charts of the northern sky. The two sets were written independently, but can be performed together or as solos. The piano etudes are really more like percussion pieces, the player using beaters and making noises on the piano construction. In fact, Cage himself warned in the very first of his preliminary remarks that the piece was for solo piano but had to be performed by a percussionist. Rather than indicate precise pitches, Cage used star charts to determine where on the piano the performer is to play: Keyboard, strings or construction. The playing of traditional piano tones on the keys forms more of the exception in this piece. The music nonetheless remains piano music; it is only that here many more sounds are produced by employing the instrument as a whole than by mere playing on the keys. The prescriptions for how the piano is to be hit are spelled out in minute detail and do indeed make the piece seem more suited for a percussionist.

(paraphrases and interpolations from the CD booklet and from The Music of John Cage by James Pritchett)

Additional information on Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Etudes_Boreales).
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: petrarch on June 12, 2011, 01:45:06 AM
101, for orchestra (1989)



In 1987 Cage started his series of more than forty works generally called the "number" pieces, named after the number of performers used. All of these pieces have a common compositional technique: That of the time bracket, fixed or flexible.

A bracket is a small fragment of notated music, from single notes to small phrases of two to four notes, with a time indication of when the bracket is to start and another time indication of when it is to end. The times are given in ranges, which means the exact placement and duration of the music is free within the ranges. The times are indicated in elapsed time in relation to the whole piece.

All the number pieces consist of several independent parts which are series of such brackets, one after the other. Performers do not coordinate their interpretations of the brackets with each other. Parts can overlap, so it happens at times that two or more sounds follow each other directly, without a break. At other times, a pause of some duration may occur while a performer, having finished a phrase, waits for the next time bracket to begin.

Cage has favored bracket configurations that result in long notes (of at least 10 seconds in duration) rather than short. In some of the later pieces, the durations became even longer, with notes extending for several minutes.

Although early pieces in the series indicated dynamics for each note, with later pieces the indication became simply that if the notes are long they should be very quiet and when short they may be somewhat louder. The attacks of notes should be unclear: Notes should be "brushed into existence".

The overall result of this approach is that of fragments of sound floating within a total space of time; single sounds, mostly quiet and long, with silence surrounding them. These works are of an exquisite beauty, because they show Cage's compositional strengths: Concentration, spaciousness and simplicity. Because each bracket contains a single sound, there is an intensity to each and every note, a focused concentration to every event. Nothing here is "filler"--every note is meant deeply. The relationships among sounds arise of themselves, springing forth from silence. The music is effortless and transparent.

101 is one of the largest pieces in the series. It is greatly expanded chamber music, with each musician having a separate part and playing without being conducted. Strings, piano, harp, flutes and clarinets all play quietly throughout, creating a kaleidoscopic web of sound that shifts almost imperceptibly from chords of only three or four notes to massive clusters. This continuous net is punctuated by a number of events from the piano, harp and a large percussion section. The rest of the winds and brass play only two short, loud, screeching outbursts, one near each end of the work.

Each of the instrumental parts of 101 contains the following commentary by the composer:

Quote
Thoreau said, "The best form of government is no government at all and that is the form we'll have when we are ready for it".

This piece rightly or wrongly assumes we are ready for it. Though we don't have them, we need utilities: Good air, good water, good homes, good food, transportation, clothing, communication, etc., including intelligence. But we don't need government: The struggle for power between nations, the protection of the rich from the poor, the deprivation of the poor, and the demoralization of both the poor and the rich, the ruination of the environment by means of government's collaboration with the military and the corporate.

A performance of music can be a metaphor for society.

In this music there is no conductor. There is no score. The parts are written in flexible time brackets. You may use a stopwatch, or you may find that an ordinary watch will do. Or you may use your own "built-in" sense of time. This twelve-minute piece is not complicated. It opens with a ragged burst of high, loud sound from the brass and all of the woodwinds except the flutes and clarinets. At the same time, the sound of strings playing col legion and mezzo-piano begins. Now and then it is accompanied by pianissimo events from the flutes and clarinets that one is not always sure he has actually heard. Other percussion events take place sporadically: Two soft timpani rolls, seven angklung events, twelve bowed piano events and a single whirring bullroarer intensified sometimes by one, two or three other bullroarers joining in.

Towards the end, but not at the exact end, actually, but approximately between 9'00" and 10'15" from the inexact beginning, the brass and all the woodwinds except flutes and clarinets are heard fortissimo and in their highest range, a second and last time, falling apart, so to speak, rather than holding together as a group. The strings, flutes and clarinets and the percussion continue, and then after a minute or so stop playing, each at his own time.

Throughout there is another kind of music being played on the piano and on the harp. It is mezzoforte, more articulate. It stands out like a duet or two solos, and though we hear them, we hear everything else too and not in the background.

(paraphrases and interpolations from the CD booklet and from The Music of John Cage by James Pritchett)
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: petrarch on June 13, 2011, 02:57:53 AM
Apartment House 1776, for four vocalists and chamber orchestra (1976)

Ryoanji, version for four soloists with orchestra (1983-85)



Apartment House 1776, for four vocalists and chamber orchestra (1976)

This work was a commission to commemorate the bicentennial of the American Revolution and Cage thus wanted to do something with early American music that would let it keep its flavor at the same time that it would lose what was so obnoxious to him: Its harmonic tonality.

To create the individual pieces, Cage transformed music from the period of the American Revolution with the aid of chance operations. Forty-four of the pieces (not all the material provided need be performed) are variants of four-part hymn settings from which some of the original notes in each of the four voices have been subtracted, either leaving the gaps as silences or extending the remaining notes to fill them (as though they have faded over the distance of two centuries, allowing us to hear more clearly the underlying silence). Each of the four lines became a series of extended single tones or silences.

Quote
The cadences and everything disappeared; but the flavor remained. You recognize it as eighteenth century music; but it's suddenly brilliant in a new way. It is because each sound vibrates from itself, not from a theory . . . The cadences which were the function of the theory, to make syntax and all, all of that is gone, so that you get the most marvelous overlappings.

--John Cage

These "Harmonies" can be performed by quartets or keyboard instruments (the instruments are not specified). Similar to the Harmonies are the two Imitations (one each for clarinet and cello), single lines based on Moravian church music. Isolated notes from these different pieces often intermingle, creating lines which move about from player to player, piece to piece, making a kind of virtual counterpoint with the independent pieces themselves. Along with the Harmonies and Imitations, Cage provides four Marches for solo drums and fourteen Tunes for melody instruments, each of which is a set of four variations on a dance or military tune of the period. In addition, the composer calls for four singers who perform unaltered songs of the Protestant, Sephardic, Native American and African American traditions. With the given materials, the players create their own performing schedules within a pre-determined time length, making each performance of Apartment House 1776 unique.

This piece follows Cage's "musicircus" principle--a number of independent, non-coordinated, overlapping pieces presented simultaneously, each piece occupying its own center. Like a three-ring circus, or an apartment house, many events, lives, or musics take place at the same time.


Ryoanji, version for four soloists with orchestra (1983-85)

The twenty musicians of the orchestra each independently choose a single sound which they use for the entire performance. Cage asks them to play in "Korean  unison"--in the style of traditional Korean music, their attacks close but not exactly together. The parts are an identical series of quarter tones and rests, the same as the original percussion part. Added to each note are indications (different in each part) to play slightly before, slightly after, or "more or less on" the beat, as well as notations for microtonal slides around the chosen pitch, and the occasional staccato. The soloists play "music of glissandi", sliding pitches in various ranges, whose shapes were traced from the outlines of fifteen stones Cage had used throughout his series of musical and graphic works named after Ryoanji, the celebrated Zen rock garden in Kyoto which itself contains fifteen large stones. The orchestra supports the soloists as the raked sand of Ryoanji supports the stones, not as accompaniment, but "imperceptibly in the foreground". The placement of stones within an empty space begs the comparison with Cage's own conception of music as "sounds thrown into silence".

(paraphrases and interpolations from the CD booklet and from The Music of John Cage by James Pritchett)
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: karlhenning on June 13, 2011, 05:11:18 AM
Ryoanji, version for four soloists with orchestra (1983-85)

The twenty musicians of the orchestra each independently choose a single sound which they use for the entire performance. Cage asks them to play in "Korean  unison"--in the style of traditional Korean music, their attacks close but not exactly together. The parts are an identical series of quarter tones and rests, the same as the original percussion part. Added to each note are indications (different in each part) to play slightly before, slightly after, or "more or less on" the beat, as well as notations for microtonal slides around the chosen pitch, and the occasional staccato. The soloists play "music of glissandi", sliding pitches in various ranges, whose shapes were traced from the outlines of fifteen stones Cage had used throughout his series of musical and graphic works named after Ryoanji, the celebrated Zen rock garden in Kyoto which itself contains fifteen large stones. The orchestra supports the soloists as the raked sand of Ryoanji supports the stones, not as accompaniment, but "imperceptibly in the foreground". The placement of stones within an empty space begs the comparison with Cage's own conception of music as "sounds thrown into silence".

(paraphrases and interpolations from the CD booklet and from The Music of John Cage by James Pritchett)


The fine flutist I frequently have the privilege to work with, Peter Bloom, was talking about this very piece (version w/o orchestra, I suppose) a couple of times while we were working on How to Tell.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: petrarch on June 14, 2011, 04:24:02 AM
One9, for sho, with 108, for large orchestra (1991)



Cage scored 108 for the largest number of players in any of the number pieces. Its duration of 43'30" makes an oblique reference to his groundbreaking 4'33" (1952). The work can be played on its own or with either of two solo works from the same year, One8 for cello and One9 for sho, a mouth organ with bamboo pipes that acts as one of the harmony-producing instruments in japanese gagaku. Both solo works were composed for artists very important to Cage in his final years. The cellist Michael Bach had invented a curved bow that permitted him to play sustained chords, while Mayumi Miyata had pioneered the sho as a contemporary concert instrument. Cage first met Miyata during his historic return to the 1990 Darmstadt summer course; the composer was enchanted with the sound of her instrument and produced in all three works for her.

As was his habit, Cage wanted to learn as many possibilities for a new instrument or medium as he could before composing a work, and among his papers are copious notes indicating all of the single tones and clusters (aitake) that the sho could play, both familiar and unfamiliar. With this material in place, he could then use chance operations to choose which of all these possibilities would become the sounds for his new pieces, thus producing results that he hoped would surprise and interest him when he finally heard them performed.

When either One8 or One9 are performed with 108, they become concertos. The concerto formed by One9 and 108 is a very unusual one, and a fine example of Cage's aesthetic. The delicate sounds of the sho enter almost imperceptibly, reminding us of Cage's suggestion (in the performance notes for 101) that tones be "brushed into existence as in oriental calligraphy where the ink (the sound) is not always seen or, if so, is streaked with white (silence)." Both orchestra and soloist remain completely silent for the first minute and a half of the piece. The orchestra disappears again in other two sections, but not to herald a grand cadenza: The sho music continues much as it had before, a quiet, serene, almost timeless utterance.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: petrarch on June 15, 2011, 03:14:02 AM
One11 with 103 (1992)



Cage has always linked various media and tried out new techniques in his work. He never loses the will to try out new experiments: 'I am quite old now, and so when I have the opportunity to do something I take it immediately, rather than hesitating, as I don't have much time left.' Cage said this about his first and only film, produced in the year he died. He started to address the perception of emptiness and at the same time the random quality of what happens in a prescribed space as early as 1952 in his piece 4'33", which consisted entirely of silence. Forty years later he says: 'Of course the film will be about the effect of light in an empty space. But no space is actually empty and the light will show what is in it. And all this space and all this light will be controlled by random operations.' This simple concept was implemented professionally and with a great deal of technical input in a Munich television studio under the direction of Henning Lohner.


The film One11 and the musical piece 103 run in parallel, without relating directly to each other, but each has 17 parts. Each of the parts is based on approximately 1200 random operations devised by computer and determining how the lighting is controlled in a completely empty television studio and the movements of a crane-mounted camera. The distinguished cameraman Van Theodore Carlson thus becomes the exponent of the compositions. The result is a film entirely without plot or actors, which Cage hopes will create scope beyond economic and political problems and enable viewers to find themselves.

http://www.medienkunstnetz.de/works/one11-and-103/

One11 is a film without subject. There is light but no persons, no things, no ideas about repetition and variation. It is meaningless activity which is nonetheless communicative, like light itself, escaping our attention as communication because it has no content. Light is, as McLuhan said, pure information, without any content to restrict its transforming and informing power. Chance operations were used with respect to the shots, black and white, taken in the FSM television studio in Munich.

103 is an orchestral work. Like the film, it is ninety minutes long. It is divided into seventeen parts. The lengths of the seventeen parts are the same for all the strings and the percussion. The woodwinds and the brass follow another plan. The shots of the cameraman still another. Following chance operations, the number of wind instruments changes for each of the seventeen parts. Thus the density of 103 varies from the solo trombone of Section Eleven, the trumpet and horn duo of Section Ten, the woodwind trio of Section Six, to the tutti of Section Five and the near tuttis of Sections One, Eight, Thirteen, Fourteen and Sixteen.

--John Cage, notes from the DVD Mode 174

This will be very much to the taste of a specific group, so I’ll try to describe as precisely and succinctly as possible, so that all readers will know what they’re getting into. I also think that this most unlikely of art pieces is profoundly and surprisingly beautiful.

John Cage's One11 is the composer’s only feature-length film. This is not a documentary; rather, it is a piece Cage made—to paraphrase Seinfeld—about nothing. Or more exactly, he describes it as "a film without a subject." And of course there is a subject, but it's the play of light on a wall, in interaction with the actions of the cameraman filming it. The title comes from the structure of the "number" pieces Cage was making in his final period: i.e., it is the 11th in a series of works for one performer (in this case the cinematographer). It is 90 minutes long, and for its entirety it is accompanied by a contemporary piece of equal duration, 103 (for orchestra).

First, the visuals: The film is in black and white, and one watches slow changes of intensity and patterns of light and shadow cast on a white surface. These are often quite complex, because the compositional process required multiple cross fades between simultaneously shot materials. The effect is of a "transcendental" abstract painting animated. If you are familiar with the Suprematist work of Malevitch, late Rothko, or paintings of Robert Ryman or Agnes Martin, this starts to suggest the purity, starkness, and subtlety of the image. I also couldn’t help referencing X-rays and photos from outer space. It is quite dreamlike, and if one starts to internalize its pace, one can become mesmerized.

Second, the sound: it contributes to the effect described above. 103 uses Cage's "time bracket" technique, which gives each player in an ensemble a part within which are indicated a series of prescribed periods where a sound (note or notes) must occur. Thus the players perform an action within one "bracket," then move to the next and wait until its indicated time is reached, at which point they can choose to start anew somewhere within that time field. Though this may sound complex, it's actually quite straightforward in its execution—all the performer or conductor needs is a stopwatch, and these pieces tend to open out into ample fields of sounds, with long sustained tones dappled by little pointillist outbursts. I don't know if Cage knew Scelsi's work at this point (which it resembles), but it does seem that he'd learned a thing or two from his onetime "student" Morton Feldman. Whatever the case, the music seems more "natural" than many would associate with the composer, but it still keeps the sense of non-directionality he prized, even if it sounds more continuous. When combined with the rather glacial pace of the images' development, these tectonic plates of sound start to take on a real drama, even grandeur—though of course that's my construction, not the composer's. Mode also provides the neat option of two different soundtracks, a German and American performance of the same piece, which works because the original film was shot silently, and the accompanying piece's duration is always exactly the same as that of the film.

This was in fact Cage's last piece, and in some ways it feels like a summa. There is a poignant moment in an interview where he says he decided to make the film because "when one is this age one seizes any opportunity . . . because time is short [laughs]." He would be dead within the year, though there's no hint of that in his wonderful impish demeanor. Cage was always a great innovator in media other than music (his visual artworks stand up beautifully in various museum contexts when I've encountered them), and it shouldn't be too surprising that his film would be utterly original. What may surprise, though, is also how beautiful it is. Let me be clear—the effect is literally more like "watching paint dry" than the metaphor usually implies. Thus viewers are forewarned. But I was seduced by its purity and subtle sensuality. And having watched it with a visual artist who was thrilled by it, I think I'm not alone. In fact, this may be one of Cage's great masterpieces.

--FANFARE: Robert Carl
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: petrarch on June 16, 2011, 04:20:32 AM
Etcetera, for orchestra (1973)
Etcetera 2/4 Orchestras, for large orchestra (1978)




Etcetera, for orchestra (1973)

The mechanism

In orchestral music, the conductor plays the role of government. Cage was politically uncomfortable with exploiting this role in his composition.  Thus, in Etcetera, the musicians begin without a conductor (in a state of nature?) and move at their own option to one of three stations. Each station is provided with two, three, or four chairs respectively, facing one of three conductors. When a station is fully occupied, the conductor begins beating.

The two pianists, unable to move with their instruments, are given their own notated instrumental music, which they may play at any time. The become, in effect, stations that consist of one player only.

The notation

Players in each ensemble are provided with music which outlines but does not specify pitch and rhythm. Dynamics are notated conventionally. Rhythm is notated in space, distance measured horizontally being read as time, and divided into conventionally metered measures (2/4, 3/4, 4/4). Within each measure slash marks show the location of each beat. Each player's part consists of a small number of pitches which are not fixed absolutely but notated only relative to each other and chosen by the player. There are four phrases for each ensemble (the conductors have "score" pages without notes, showing only the metrical structure). Each phrase is successively longer, each adds more material onto the previous phrase. Each phrase is to be repeated any number of times. In rehearsal, Cage asked that the notations for the pianists (who play alone) be read as full chords, inviting virtuosity in performance.

Performing forces

Etcetera is written for an ensemble of any size. Music is provided for flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, trumpet, horn, tuba, strings, size percussionists and two pianists. The performing ensemble may deviate from this setup, as Cage's instructions indicate: "Substitutions, additions and subtractions may be made".

Imagery

The sounds of nature pervade Etcetera. Created in the countryside, when Cage was still living in the rural community of Stony Point, the materials of the composition include a tape recording made outside the composer's home. Ninety minutes long--enough to be played throughout the piece (which may last any length)--the tape fills the performance with outdoor sounds (birds, wind, distant traffic) and transforms the musicians' gestures. The repeating loops of the duo, trio and quartet become animal cries and birdcalls. The quiet thumping on cardboard boxes becomes the rustling of leaves and the gentle patter of raindrops.

Unpitched solos

Tapped out on a "non-resonant cardboard box", the non-repeating rhythms of the solos played independently throughout the piece are interrupted by single held tones quietly sustained on one's instrument.

Repetition

Cage's notation provides for the cardboard boxes to be tapped on various points on their surfaces. There is but a limited variety in the quality of sounds. Like the sound of raindrops, like the repeated (conducted) phrases, there is constant, subtle variation--always the same, always different. As well as referring back to Cage's studies with Schoenberg, particularly Schoenberg's observation that music is variation, and variation is but repetition with some elements changed, this constant repetition/variation looks forward to the obsessive repetitions of the late works.

Etcetera 2/4 Orchestras, for large orchestra (1978)

The mechanism

In much of Cage's orchestral music, the conductor functions as a kind of moving clock-hand, showing time lapsed but not indicating precise beats. In Etcetera 2/4 Orchestras, the four conductors beat somewhat more conventionally, giving single downbeat cues for the orchestral chords. Cage had noticed that musicians often prefer to be conducted--to be governed--rather than be given the freedom and responsibility which his own music customarily offered. Thus the players are given a choice: Beginning under one of the conductors, the musicians may move at their own option to one of eight stations, where they play solo material, unconnected.

The notation

Soloists are provided with music similar to that given the ensembles of Etcetera. Each solo consists of two, three, four or five tones, chosen by the performer. The orchestral chords are notated conventionally, with additional markings indicating notes to be played ever so slightly before or after the beat, and calling for microtonal glissandi up or down, toward, away from, or through some pitches--the same technique Cage used in the orchestration of Ryoanji. Although based on a non-repeating metrical scheme, the pulses of the orchestral music are extremely slow (to the point of requiring chronometric rather than rhythmic notation--that is, minutes and seconds rather than quarter notes are used to indicate timing) and are impossible to hear in any rhythmic context.

Performing forces

Etcetera 2/4 Orchestras is for large orchestra, divided into four smaller ensembles, each with its own conductor. The instrumentation is fixed for each ensemble, with between 16 and 23 instruments per ensemble.

Imagery

In Etcetera 2/4 Orchestras, city imagery takes the place of nature imagery, beginning with the thirty-minute tape recording made in Cage's apartment on Sixth Avenue and punctuated with the ringing of the composer's telephone, which plays throughout the fixed length of the piece. In addition, the sound of the orchestral chords bring to mind the squealing of car brakes, car horns in traffic, the scraping of metal against metal.

Freely pitched solos

In the score, Cage suggests "after succeeding in rehearsal in playing a solo having two tones, try one with three, etc." In addition, the solos include an auxiliary short sound, notated with an "x". This sound may or may not change pitch within a single solo.

Repetition

The orchestral chords are repeated several times, with microtonal and microrhythmic variations distributed among the instruments as noted above. As in many of the other late works, the nearly unchanging repetition of sounds can be heard not only as the perpetual renewing of the presumed familiar, but also as an image of the final, unchanging silence at life's end.

(notes taken from the booklet of the CD)
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: petrarch on June 17, 2011, 03:42:44 AM
Roaratorio, for speaker, Irish musicians and 62-track tape (1979)



In Roaratorio, the second "writing through" Finnegans Wake served as both musical material and as structural guide. The work, a composition for magnetic tape, is a translation of Joyce's 628-page novel into sound. Making use of the abundant indices, gazetteers, and other specialized inventories for Finnegans Wake, Cage listed all the references to sounds and music in the book, then grouped them into various categories and made chance-determined selections from these. Similarly, a random selection was made from the huge number of place-names found in the book. With the help of others world-wide, Cage then collected all these sounds on tape, finding instances of all the specific sounds mentioned (such as bells, dogs barking, water running, etc), and recording ambient noises at all the places mentioned.

The tapes were then assembled and mixed. The first step was to record Cage reading the entire text of "Writing for the Second Time Through Finnegans Wake." This tape served as the template for the placement of the other recorded sounds. Since Cage's text goes through the entire book from start to finish, and includes running page references to the original, the recorded sounds could easily be superimposed upon the reading of Cage's text at the exact point that they are referred to in Joyce's book. Thus, the piece opens with the sound of a viola d'amore ("Sir Tristram, viola d'amores, fr'over the short sea") and closes with the cries of gulls ("Whish! A gull. Gulls. Far calls. Coming, far!"). Chance controlled the duration of sounds, their relative loudnesses, and other aspects of the mixing process. Several multi-track tapes were made in this fashion and then mixed together, along with recordings of Irish folk musics, to form a single two-track tape. The effect of this is a thick, joyous collage of sounds, music and reading--as the subtitle explains, this is "An Irish Circus on Finnegans Wake." Although Cage later published an "a posteriori" score for the work which generalizes the process so that it could be applied to any book at all, it is hard to imagine any novel that would be as perfectly set by such an incomprehensible, phantasmagoric soundscape as this.

More information and reviews here (http://www.moderecords.com/catalog/028_29cage.html).

 
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: petrarch on June 18, 2011, 04:14:48 AM
HPSCHD, for up to 7 harpsichords and up to 51 tapes (1967-69)



HPSCHD, by John Cage and Lejaren Hiller, is arguably the wildest composition of the 20th century. Big, brash, exuberant, raucous, a performance is about four hours of ongoing high-level intensity. The sound is a mixture of seven amplified harpsichords playing computer-generated variations of Mozart and other composers along with 51 computer-generated tapes playing what could be off-tuned trumpets sounding some musical charge. The thousands of swirling images, overlayed and mixed, of abstract shapes and colors and of space imagery from slides and films borrowed from NASA, create a chaotic riot of shifting form and color. The audience walks through the performance space, between the harpsichord players, around the loudspeakers.

--

Computer-composed and computer-generated music programmed by John Cage and Lejaren Hiller during 1967-69 was premiered in a spectacular five-hour intermedia event called HPSCHD (computer abbreviation for Harpsichord) at the University of Illinois in May, 1969. The computer-written music consisted of twenty-minute solos for one to seven amplified harpsichords, based on Mozart's whimsical Dice Game music (K. Anh. C 30.01), one of the earliest examples of the chance operations that inform Cage's work. Computer-generated tapes were played through a system of one to fifty-two loudspeakers, each with its own tape deck and amplifier, in a circle surrounding the audience. Cage stipulated that the compositions were to be used "in whole or in part, in any combination with or without interruptions, to make an indeterminate concert of any agreed-upon length."




The university's 16,000-seat Assembly Hall in which the event was staged is an architectural analogue of the planetary system: concentric circular promenades and long radial aisles stretching from the central arena to the eaves of the domed ceiling. Each of the forty-eight huge windows, which surround the outside of the building, was covered with opaque polyethylene upon which slides and films were projected: thus people blocks away could see the entire structure glowing and pulsating like some mammoth magic lantern.

 Over the central arena hung eleven opaque polyethylene screens, each one hundred feet wide and spaced about two feet apart. Enclosing this was a ring of screens hanging one hundred and twenty five feet down from the catwalk near the zenith of the dome. Film-maker and intermedia artist Ronald Nameth programmed more than eight thousand slides and one hundred films to be projected simultaneously on these surfaces in a theme following the history of man's awareness of the cosmos. "The visual material explored the macrocosm of space," Nameth explained, "while the music delved deep into the microcosmic world of the computer and its minute tonal separations. We began the succession of images with prehistoric cave drawings, man's earliest ideas of the universe, and proceeded through ancient astronomy to the present, including NASA movies of space walks. All the images were concerned with qualities of space, such as Mlis' Trip to the Moon and the computer films of the Whitney family. The people who participated in HPSCHD filled in the space between sound and image."



Seven amplified harpsichords flanked by old-fashioned floor lamps stood on draped platforms on the floor of the central arena beneath the galaxy of polyethylene and light. In addition to playing his own solo, each harpsichordist was free to play any of the others. Each tape composition, played through loudspeakers circling the hall in the last row of seats near the ceiling, used a different division of the octave, producing scales of from five to fifty-six steps. Only twice during the five-hour performance were all channels operating simultaneously; these intervals were stipulated by Cage.

More at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HPSCHD
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: petrarch on June 19, 2011, 01:52:08 AM
Indeterminacy, ninety stories by John Cage, with music (1959)



Cage was the most placidly iconoclastic of modern composers. He didn’t deliberately put wrecking balls through buildings, so to speak; the buildings were just in his way. He did what he had to, and if that meant ditching music as we knew it in pretty much every form, then fine. He embraced randomness as a methodology and applied it rigorously in music-making, if only to show that randomness was not something in us, but a property of the world that we could disregard if we just listened closely enough. One of his favorite Zen aphorisms contains the distillation of his approach to music: “If in Zen something is boring, do it for two minutes. If it is still boring, do it for four minutes. If it is still boring, do it for eight minutes, sixteen, thirty-two. Eventually you’ll find it’s not boring at all but very interesting.” He bored more than his fair share of people.

And if you followed Cage (off a cliff, one might say), there was much to be found in doing almost nothing, or in doing things which didn’t seem to have the slightest relationship to the brick-and-mortal job of music making as we’d come to know it. He composed music by superimposing star maps on blank sheet music, by rolling dice, by doing everything except composing. A good deal of this material was not meant to be recorded or enshrined — there is no such thing as a definitive performance of a Cage composition, by definition — but I suspect it was mostly because he was more interested in seeing what could be done than in actually keeping artifacts of the results. He wanted people to participate in experiences, not just passively receive them prepackaged.

Indeterminacy was one of the glowing exceptions, a work that stands on its own as a recording as well as a concept. Cage’s idea was simple: he would sit in one room with a microphone and read ninety anecdotes he had committed to memory, while in the next room, his friend David Tudor would generate noises from tapes, prepared pianos, radios, and a Slinky attached to the tone arm of a turntable (one of Cage’s favorite noises). Neither could hear what the other was doing, and the results would be recorded as they happened. If one person’s work overlapped the other, that was not something to be avoided; Cage described it as being something like seeing a person on the other side of the street, obscured by traffic. The title was itself a clue to the underlying principle of the work. Cage wasn’t trying to force anything; he wanted to see what would happen naturally. If Andy Warhol was trying to make people see by showing us something as forgettable as a Campbell’s Soup can, John Cage was trying to make us listen.

Most of the stories in Indeterminacy are about Cage or his friends, and almost all of them have some kind of joke-ish punchline, usually one derived from Cage’s own observational insight. Some of them have an almost magical-realistic outlook to them (such as the story about the Eskimo lady); some of them are just plain amusingly odd (the story about going through Dutch customs backwards). More than a few of them are explosively funny. Sometimes I wonder if the deadpan delivery on this record was the predecessor to Steven Wright’s flat-affect style of comedy. But the ultimate feeling is not that Cage is just kidding; he uses his little stories as ways of sketching a space. Tudor’s counterpoints wind up complementing everything in ways that we can’t predict, so that just when we think we know what’s coming, we’re given a subtle prod in another direction. What is most striking are not the noises, though, but the moments when neither Cage nor Tudor are not doing anything at all. They seem to be holding their breaths together, the way jazzmen do. Maybe such feelings are just artifacts of how things came together, but that seems to be a large part of why Indeterminacy exists: to show such things and to celebrate them.

Booklet available at http://media.smithsonianfolkways.org/liner_notes/smithsonian_folkways/SFW40804.pdf

The stories are available at http://www.lcdf.org/indeterminacy/
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: petrarch on June 20, 2011, 03:52:59 AM
Music for four, for string quartet (1989)
Thirty pieces for string quartet (1981)



Music for four, for string quartet (1989)

Music for four is part of a series of works, entitled Music for _, which Cage wrote for various combinations of instruments. This string quartet version of the work was composed especially for the Arditti Quartet, for a concert and congress celebrating John Cage's long association with Wesleyan University.

The score consists of four layers, or parts, to be played completely independently of each other. The work, which can last for 10, 20 or 30 minutes, has each part completely notated, the players having the choice only of how to space out the music within each given time-bracket, how many repetitions to give the single tone surrounded by silence, and how much silence to leave in between each line of music. The short interludes (5, 10 or 15 seconds long) are to be played at fixed times. The time coordinations are done with the aid of four stop watches.

There is a further element to the work, that of spatialization, with the players instructed to adopt unconventional seating positions, perhaps far from each other. This allows the listener to perceive the score as four individual lines projected to him from four different angles in space. The result is a sound balance very different from the normal homogenous mixture we are used to hearing.

--Irvine Arditti

Thirty pieces for string quartet (1981)

Thirty pieces for string quartet takes its title from the work for five orchestras written in 1981. Just as that was a coincidence of chamber orchestras, so this is a coincidence of solos. There is no relationship of the four parts fixed in a score. Each solo is either microtonal, tonal, or chromatic or presents these differences in pairs or presents all of them in succession. Each begins at any time within a forty-five second period that overlaps the first by fifteen seconds. Thus a given piece may be played as fast as possible or it may be drawn out to a maximum length of seventy-five seconds. The work is dedicated to the Kronos Quartet resident in San Francisco. Its flexibility of structure makes it a music that is, so to speak, earthquake-proof.

--John Cage
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: petrarch on June 21, 2011, 04:51:55 AM
String quartet in four parts (1949-50)



The String quartet in four parts was written in a transitional period in Cage's career, at a time when he was searching for a new aesthetic and a new style. Through his study of the writings of such authors as the Indian art historian Ananda Coomaraswamy and the medieval Christian mystic Meister Eckhart, Cage became convinced that music should serve a spiritual purpose: It should "sober and quiet the mind thus rendering it susceptible to divine influences." Towards this goal, Cage tried to create a music that would partake of the ineffable, that would allow his audience to "forget themselves, enraptured, and so gain themselves." Throughout the late 1940s, as his goals became ever more spiritual, his musical style became ever more modest. In 1948, he announced that "it is quite hopeless to think and act impressively in public terms," but that "beauty yet remains in intimate situations." He sought to compose a music that would remain expressive, but in a quiet, spontaneous, low-key fashion. Towards this end, he studied the elegantly understated music of Erik Satie, music that Cage considered a perfect model for the work he wanted to pursue. His search led him to become fascinated with silence; he was inspired by the words of Meister Eckhart, who preached that "it is in the stillness, in the silence, that the word of God is to be heard."

On the verge of writing the String quartet, Cage told his parents that it would be a work in which "without actually using silence I should like to praise it."

The String quartet in four parts reflects these concerns in many ways. The piece is programmatic, its four movements or "parts" representing the four seasons. In particular, Cage drew upon the Hindu imagery of the seasonal cycle, in which spring, summer, fall and winter are identified with the forces of creation, preservation, destruction and quiescence. Cage's quartet opens with summer and proceeds--the music becoming slower and slower--through fall to winter, at which point it is "nearly stationary." The final movement, with its sudden increase in tempo, thus suggests the renewed vigor of springtime creativity.

In keeping with his theme of the eternal, imperturbable cycle of the seasons, Cage adopted a musical style in the quartet that was itself austere, limpid, serene. The music is slow and fairly quiet throughout. The flatness of sound one hears in the string playing is due to Cage's stipulation that the performers not use vibrato. The quartet has no great climaxes or dramatic effects; its muted voice is subject only to very subtle inflections.

But none of this was new to Cage's music in 1949. Instead, it was Cage's treatment of harmony in the String quartet that was new, and here he solved a problem that was crucial to his future work. For of all the elements in music, it was harmony that Cage identified as being the most incompatible with a spiritual approach to the art. He called harmony "the tool of Western commercialism," "a device to make music impressive, loud, and big." What he objected to in particular was the intensely progressive use of harmony in 19th-century music--the sense of strong forces carrying the listener along waves of tension and resolution. Whereas previously he avoided harmony altogether by writing for percussion ensembles, or by creating only single lines without accompaniment, in the string quartet, a medium that begs a harmonic treatment, Cage foiled the intense feeling of progression from one chord to the next by treating each one as unique and separate rather than as a harmony in any functional sense.

When writing the piece, before doing anything else, Cage composed a collection of chords--chords chosen carefully, with a sensitive ear for sonority. However--and this is what was new in the Quartet--he crafted each one separately from all the others, paying no attention to what musical contexts they might appear within. The harmonies in this miscellaneous collection were then used to outline a single melody. The decision to use a particular harmony at a particular point in the piece was based solely on whether it contained the necessary note for the melody. As a result, there is no harmonic logic here, no sense of cause and effect, none of the overbearing expressive force that Cage sought to avoid.

In essence, the juxtaposition of chords is accidental, subservient to that single melodic line. The result is a monophony of harmonies: a "line in rhythmic space," as Cage put it, formed by the chords of his collection, just as dissimilar beads can be strung together to form a necklace.

Thus the importance of the String quartet in four parts lies in its simplicity: Its great achievement is a compositional voice that is quiet and yet sure, muted and yet crystal clear. The lesson Cage learned was that in order to achieve this voice, all he needed to do is let his sounds speak for themselves. In the quartet, each chord is expressive all by itself, and the power of harmony is neutralized by Cage's having refused to connect them, by his having remained silent in the spaces between chords.

Although not including extensive silences (these would appear in his music soon thereafter), the quartet provided Cage with the compositional silence he sought: A freedom from the need to place sounds into compelling relationships.

(Excerpts from the CD booklet)

Additional notes at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/String_Quartet_in_Four_Parts
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: petrarch on June 22, 2011, 03:53:43 AM
Four, for string quartet (1989)



The String quartet in four parts was Cage's first work for string quartet; Four, composed especially for the Arditti Quartet, is his most recent. It is one of a series of pieces that are all written by means of the same method of composition, and whose titles are the number of performers involved.

Cage calls these works "parts without scores," by which he means that each performer plays his music independently of the others; there is no master score that coordinates the individual parts. In Four, each player's part consists of short passages made up of sustained tones. Most of these passages contain only a single note; others may be phrases of two to five notes. These simple musical statements are then placed within "flexible time brackets," which is Cage's term for designated spans of time during which a given portion of the music can begin and end (for example, the first passage in each part is marked to begin at any time during the first 22 1/2 seconds, and to end at any time between 15 and 37 1/2 seconds into the performance). The time brackets are of roughly thirty seconds' duration, so that the performers have a fair amount of flexibility in arranging their music in time. Since the brackets overlap one another slightly, it happens at times that two or more phrases follow each other directly, without a break. At other times, a pause of some duration may occur while a performer, having finished a phrase, waits for the next time bracket to begin.

The time brackets, by permitting rhythmic freedom only within certain broad limits, allow the four parts to have a very flexible relationship to one another and yet still remain roughly coordinated. The effect of this kind of composition--isolated long notes placed freely within these floating time brackets--is immediately apparent in listening to the piece. Four presents us with a constantly shifting texture of tones; as notes enter and depart, the four parts together form constantly shifting harmonies. The various lines can be followed like threads in a complex tapestry as they are picked up, combined, dropped and rediscovered.

In Four Cage has decided to deploy his time-bracket method within a severely limited musical domain: He has deliberately removed any possibility of great contrasts among parts. All four players play very slowly, very quietly and without any vibrato. In addition, all four parts are composed within the same relatively narrow range of pitches, so that any member of the quartet can play any of the parts. Cage's instructions for performing Four are designed to demonstrate this interchangeability of parts, as well as the flexibility of the time bracket structure.

First, the four players distribute the parts among themselves in any way. They then play the piece, after which they exchange parts with one another and then play through the piece again from the beginning. The result is that we hear the same music twice, but with subtly different timbres and with varied placement of the music within time. The lack of any distinction in pitch dynamics and timbre create the flat, unmodulated musical surface that we hear. If the interweaving parts resemble a tapestry, then this is a fabric in muted tones, in soft grays and browns.

The austerity of both Four and the String quartet in four parts suggests a connection between the two works. Certainly they have many features in common: Instrumentation, non-vibrato playing, glacial pacing, quietness. It is not only because of these affinities that Cage's latest quartet reminds us of his earliest, however: It is also because in both pieces Cage's manner of going about his work as a composer has been the same. In these quartets, Cage has started by composing individual musical moments--chords in the String quartet in four parts, short phrases of sustained notes in Four. He has then proceeded to throw them into time, into silence. In both works, Cage's exquisite musical moments stand on their own. By attending so closely and sensitively to the profiles of the individual components of his music, he can allow their relations to one another to emerge of themselves, to spring forth from silence.

(Excerpts from the CD booklet)
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: snyprrr on June 22, 2011, 04:21:41 AM
Looking over so many Cage cds has infuriated me. >:D

It's just him. Why do I want to punch him? I do wonder what the after life holds for him.

Nevermind,... I really enjoy what Petrarch's doing here, but I just know if I got any of those cds, I would fall to my knees, arms stretched towards heaven, crying, Why, Why? Nooooo....
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: Brewski on June 22, 2011, 04:28:03 AM
Looking over so many Cage cds has infuriated me. >:D

It's just him. Why do I want to punch him? I do wonder what the after life holds for him.

Nevermind,... I really enjoy what Petrarch's doing here, but I just know if I got any of those cds, I would fall to my knees, arms stretched towards heaven, crying, Why, Why? Nooooo....

 ;D

Very funny...

--Bruce
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: Est.1965 on June 22, 2011, 04:33:18 AM
Looking over so many Cage cds has infuriated me. >:D
It's just him. Why do I want to punch him? I do wonder what the after life holds for him.
Nevermind,... I really enjoy what Petrarch's doing here, but I just know if I got any of those cds, I would fall to my knees, arms stretched towards heaven, crying, Why, Why? Nooooo....

Every time I am invited to hear his work or look at anything by him, I stand (or sit) in complete silence for a good 4 mins and 22 seconds before I do anything...but by then, he has gone...    :-(
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: petrarch on June 22, 2011, 04:51:02 AM
but I just know if I got any of those cds, I would fall to my knees, arms stretched towards heaven, crying, Why, Why? Nooooo....

Afraid you're going to fall head over heels for Cage? ;)

Revisiting my collection of Cage CDs after 5 or 6 years has been wonderful. From the huge pointillistic surfaces of Atlas Eclipticalis to the subdued ebb and flow of the quartets, it's really an occasion to "sober and quiet the mind".

Listening again to these works, I confirmed that I don't care much for HPSCHD and its relentless cacophony, while at the same time the "circus" of Roaratorio is just amazing--and, note, I bought the CD on a whim (it was a gap in my collection) despite not caring much for the work from the limited exposure I had through the Greenaway documentary 4 american composers.

The reason I like Cage so much has quite a bit in common with why I like (e.g.) Feldman, Stockhausen's Klavierstücke and Hymnen and late Nono: It's a sonic delight, an opportunity for contemplation of the sounds themselves, to open the ears and let oneself be moved by the experience.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: snyprrr on June 22, 2011, 06:17:57 AM
Afraid you're going to fall head over heels for Cage? ;)

Revisiting my collection of Cage CDs after 5 or 6 years has been wonderful. From the huge pointillistic surfaces of Atlas Eclipticalis to the subdued ebb and flow of the quartets, it's really an occasion to "sober and quiet the mind".

Listening again to these works, I confirmed that I don't care much for HPSCHD and its relentless cacophony, while at the same time the "circus" of Roaratorio is just amazing--and, note, I bought the CD on a whim (it was a gap in my collection) despite not caring much for the work from the limited exposure I had through the Greenaway documentary 4 american composers.

The reason I like Cage so much has quite a bit in common with why I like (e.g.) Feldman, Stockhausen's Klavierstücke and Hymnen and late Nono: It's a sonic delight, an opportunity for contemplation of the sounds themselves, to open the ears and let oneself be moved by the experience.

haha, I'm jus' teasin'!! ;)

Basically, I use Late Cage as an antidote for Late Feldman, haha. ;D At least I know that what I'm hearing at the moment won't repeat,... when I need the 'Walden' effect, I'll put on Four or Music for Four.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: edward on June 22, 2011, 06:41:48 AM
The funny thing is that some of Cage's 40s output (in particular) is really very accessible to the kind of listener who doesn't even like much 20th century music.

Works like The Seasons or the String Quartet in Four Parts (and perhaps the Sonatas and Interludes) are definitely not a difficult listen, and are pretty damn good too.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: petrarch on June 23, 2011, 02:23:23 AM
Contemplating or presenting 'sounds themselves' hardly constitutes much tho, and isn't all that moving .. it's nothing. Randomness as a base of composition is mindless and unmusical. None of this stuff is 'ear opening' either (that's a load of bunk).. There has to be more going on than just 'sounds' .. (i.e. music).

Oh it is most assuredly mindless, that's the intent. As for the rest, we all know your opinion.

Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: karlhenning on June 23, 2011, 03:44:01 AM
Quote
None of this stuff is 'ear opening' either (that's a load of bunk).

Goodness knows your ears aren't open ; )
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: petrarch on June 23, 2011, 03:47:56 AM
... anyone can do that.

But no one does, do they?
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: petrarch on June 23, 2011, 03:58:31 AM
Chorals, for violin solo (1978)



In 1975, the violinist Paul Zukofsky learned that John Cage had returned to a more conventional notation with his Etudes Australes for piano and hoped that the composer would return to writing for the violin in a similar manner. As Zukofsky put it, the graphic indeterminacy in such works as 50 1/2" and 26'1.1499" (both for string players) doesn't "work perceptually", while a notation with "sufficient specification . . . allows a performer maximum interpretive possibilities." Through the urging of Earle Brown, Zukofsky contacted Cage with this request and the two met early in 1976 to discuss a series of new works for violin.

The main work resulting from this collaboration was Cage's Freeman Etudes. But before Cage could begin on that imposing project, he needed to understand better the violin's capabilities. This he did with two smaller works, an arrangement of Cheap Imitation in 1977 and Chorals (1978). As so often is the case, Cage described his activity in terms of wonder and discovery: "I study under Zukofsky's patient tutelage, not how to play the violin, but how to become even more baffled by its almost unlimited flexibility."

Both Cheap Imitation and Chorals have their origins in Erik Satie's music. In the former work, Cage used chance operations to alter the pitches of Socrate, leaving the rhythms intact. The source for Chorals came from the Douze petits chorals, pieces dating from Satie's years of study at the Schola Cantorum (1905-8), published posthumously in 1968 in an edition by Robert Caby. Cage had first used the chorales in 1970 for his Song Books, but the method by which he altered the music differs from the one he used in Cheap Imitation. As he explained:

Quote
Mme Salabert recently sent me posthumous works of Satie that she published. I was crazy about them. Besides, around the time I wrote Cheap Imitation, I was composing other imitations of Satie. These became part of the Song Books. Each time I finished one, I forced myself by means of chance operations to write the next one differently . . . I finally found one, based on his posthumous chorales, that pleased me. The piece I ended up with amazes me as much as if it were by Satie. You're wondering how I did it . . . I just took the chorale and placed directly over the printed score a transparency with staves giving each half-tone the same amount of space. The staff Satie used was obviously conventional and consequently any major third was written as close together as the minor third adjoining it. This obscures the space between the two on the paper. With my new staff, just by tracing Satie's melodic contour onto it--at no matter what angle, even randomly--I was able to obtain a new melody--a microtonal melody. It's not an imitation, it's a rubbing! Yet, it's rigorously something else entirely . . . a discovery.

The first instance of this technique appeared in Song Books as Solo for Voice 85--alterations of all but the fourth, fifth and sixth of Satie's chorales. The notes are stemless black noteheads. If they are accompanied by accidentals, they are to be sung conventionally. If not, they are microtones, with their placement on the staff roughly indicating to the performer which microtone to sing (the spaces of the staff are much larger than the noteheads themselves).

For the violin version, Cage did not indicate time signatures or barlines, but he notated the rhythmic values precisely, making the relationship between the original chorales easier to see. The notation for the microtonality is more precise, too, and allows for a two-fold alteration of conventional sharps and flats. In addition, the music demonstrated Zukofsky's suggestion "to make a continuous music of disparate elements, single tones, unisons, and beatings". Once again, Cage employed chance operations in order to determine which notes would be single tones, which unisons and which beatings.

None of this description adequately prepares listeners for the actual experience of hearing these pieces for the first time. In the first number of the set, the music undulates in a restricted range of a little more than a major second, the changes resembling a kaleidoscope whose patterns are formed from shadows. Our ears become so attuned to these tiny interval differences that anything larger, for instance a slightly flat E followed by a slightly sharp F in the second piece, comes as a shock. Notable, too, are the subtle changes in register between each chorale, which reach their height in the fourth and fifth pieces.

--Rob Haskins
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: petrarch on June 23, 2011, 03:24:24 PM
Gimme a break .. there is loads out there that falls into the unmusical mindless crap category .. throw any ol' shit against the wall and see what sticks etc. That's not high level music making/composition. It's thoughtless unmusical nonsense ... all the words in the world trying to tell you otherwise won't change that.

Break given; just don't listen to Cage. After all no one is forcing you to.

The 'thoughtless unmusical nonsense' bit is amusing. I wonder (rhetorically) what you would say of Klavierstück XI with its random sequence of fragments, of the series of +/- works and of "play a vibration in the rhythm of the universe".

In any case, and to put it bluntly, you don't know what you are talking about (aka 'pffff').
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: petrarch on June 24, 2011, 01:21:35 AM
44 Harmonies from Apartment House 1776 (1976), arrangement for string quartet



The 44 Harmonies were originally composed as part of the massive Apartment House 1776, a commission by multiple American orchestras in honor of the US bicentennial in 1976. What Cage wanted was a "musicircus" of eighteenth-century American music: A wealth of music performed simultaneously, overlapping, in a rich confusion. So what he needed was a lot of music very quickly. The materials he created for his circus included fourteen tunes derived from dances, four drum solos based on marches by Benjamin Clark, two imitations of Moravian church melodies, and the forty-four harmonies "for the most part both quartets and solos, subtractions of different sorts from anthems and congregational music written by composers who were at least twenty years old at the time of the American Revolution".

The situation Cage faced in the Harmonies, however, was that he had absolutely no connection to the four-part anthems of Billings and the others. If anything, he had something of an aversion to this kind of music. Se he set out to do something that, in his words, "would let it keep its flavor at the same time that it would lose what was so obnoxious to me: Its harmonic tonality."

He tried the systematic transformation of the originals, in this case by removing notes from the different voices of the hymns. He struggled at first, trying to find the correct transformational tool. When it finally came to him--a system involving the extension and silencing of individual tones within each voice--he found himself delighted with the result: "The cadences and everything disappeared; but the flavor remained. You can recognize it as eighteenth century music; but it's suddenly brilliant in a new way. It is because each sound vibrates from itself, not from a theory. . . The cadences which were the function of the theory, to make syntax and all, all of that is gone, so that you get the most marvelous overlapping."

So the Harmonies represent yet another type of opening, this time a transformation from aversion to acceptance, interest, and joy. And again, this led to more transformations. Cage used the same technique with similar music in a series of works that followed the Harmonies: The various versions of Quartets I-VIII (1976), Some of "The Harmony of Maine" (Supply Belcher) for organ (1978), and Hymns and Variations for voices (1979). Once he learned how to love this music, he just couldn't get enough of it.

Like any composer of depth, John Cage shows us various sides to his character in his various works. In these pieces made from transformations, it is not the severe Cage, the disciplinarian of the chance compositions of the 1950s, the renouncer who wrote Lecture on Nothing. Instead, this is the smiling embracer of everything, the yes-sayer, the author of Lecture on Something. As he wrote in that lecture: "And do we need a celebration? We cannot avoid it, since each thing in life is continuously just that." Enjoy.

--James Pritchett
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: petrarch on June 24, 2011, 03:33:38 AM
And you earlier claiming that he's the only one perpetuating the kind-of 'intentional' unmusical mindless crap is no badge of honor either.

Let me rephrase, since I didn't mean it literally... "Anyone" can do it, but most don't really bother.

I keep forgetting your mind only works in absolutes.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: snyprrr on June 24, 2011, 04:57:49 AM
The temptation to say something smart ass here is un-be-liev-able!! ;D


Haha,... I just 'performed' 4:33, if you know what I mean,... wooo :'(... yikes!! :-\
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: snyprrr on June 24, 2011, 05:00:55 AM
Well, I don't even think anyone actually does what Cage was doing.  For the most part, his entire oeuvre was an expression of a philosophy.  But, really those composers who might be thought as writing "mindless crap" (Feldman, Scelsi) are actually very different from Cage since they have a desire to do something purposeful and willful even if doing it with minimal gestures and elements.  Cage wished to remove the compositional will and intention from the work, part of his quasi Zen spirituality, and allow the music to simply exist with as little human involvement as possible.

 8)

That reminds me of a stagnant pool of water.

ugh, this is just not a topic I want to get into, but it feels like driving by a car wreck on the highway! ::) can't help myself...

I jus' wanna be a Hayta!! ;) ;D
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: Gurn Blanston on June 24, 2011, 04:36:45 PM
There are lots of scammers out there that try to pass off complete bullshit as art ..

Man, you are so, so right! :)

8)

----------------
Now playing:
Pinnock, Trevor/English Concert - Hob 07e 1 Concerto in Eb for Trumpet 1st mvmt - Allegro
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: petrarch on June 24, 2011, 07:00:51 PM
Cheap Imitation (1977), for solo violin



Cheap Imitation was the first work that Cage composed via transformation of other music. As the story goes, it was the result of circumstances, an expedient solution to an annoying problem. It all started with Merce Cunningham's desire, in 1947, to use the first part of Erik Satie's dramatic masterwork Socrate as the music for a dance. Socrate is scored for full orchestra and voices, resources well beyond Cunningham's means at that time. Cage's solution was to make a transcription of Socrate for two pianos, and it was this transcription that served as the score for Cunningham's solo Idyllic Song.

In 1968, Cage went on to complete his transcription of the other two movements of Socrate, and encouraged Cunningham to extend his dance, as well, which he did. However, Cage had never received permission from Satie's publisher to make the transcription. In 1947, Cage and Cunningham were relatively unknown, and their small performance was able to fly under the radar of publishers; by 1970 they were very famous artists, and their plan was permanently grounded. The publisher refused to allow the transcription, and so Cage and Cunningham were faced with the problem of a scheduled dance premiere with no music that could be legally performed.

Cage's inventive solution was to compose a new piece that exactly matched the phrase structure of Satie's music, and hence of Cunningham's dance. His technique was a simple one: He took only the vocal line of Socrate (or occasionally the prominent orchestral melody) and systematically transposed it up or down and into different modes. In the first movement, every pitch is transposed separately, but in the second and third the transpositions occur every half-bar. The result is a music that has the phrasing, rhythms and even some of the general contours of Satie's music, but which is otherwise completely different. This solved Cage's copyright problem, and he named the work Cheap Imitation (Cunningham responded by calling his new dance Second Hand).

Cheap Imitation is one of my favorite of Cage's compositions. Not just for its beauty (which is astonishing in itself), but for many other reasons, as well. I love its incongruity (a fully traditional, modal, monophonic score appearing in the chaos of Cage's work of the late 1960s) and its indefensibleness; its stubborn ability to remain untrammeled by any avant-garde theory, philosophy, or expectation; its subversiveness, although not what you expect from Cage, but rather the subversiveness of love. For this piece is completely, fully, and wholeheartedly about Cage's simple love of the beauty of Satie's music.

Even Cage himself found it unexpected--perhaps he more than anyone else. By his own admission he was sucker-punched by his love of Satie and of the beautiful solo work he had made from Socrate. His delight in the result of his clever evasion of intellectual property law led him to transcribe it for orchestra in 1972, and then again for violin in 1977.

--James Pritchett
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: petrarch on June 25, 2011, 06:39:36 PM
Freeman Etudes, Books 1 and 2, for violin (1977-80)

(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51Cr9-FS44L._SL500_AA300_.jpg)

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B000000NYM/?tag=goodmusicguideco

John Cage's Freeman Etudes for violin are extremely difficult pieces of music--one might go so far as to declare them "impossible". Even a brief and casual listening to Irvine Arditti's performance of the etudes on this recording is enough to convey to the listener a sense of their formidable complexity. But to appreciate the extent and unusual nature of the difficulties of these pieces, one really needs to look at the score, in which every nuance--the position of every note in time, every dip and slide in pitch, every change of bowing style--is clearly and precisely notated. If one were to turn to the score for help in understanding these pieces (which can be as challenging for the audience as for the performer), it would be of little use: It is nothing but details, giving no clue as to the source of the dense knots of notes with their impossible number of qualifications.

The profusion of details in this score presents unique challenges to the performer. In most virtuoso music, the primary physical requirements are speed and agility. One might compare the situation of the performer to that of a track-and-field athlete who must run, jump, and throw the shotput, javelin or discus. In the Freeman Etudes, the performer faces hurdles of fast playing and tricky fingerings, but there are two further dimensions to the virtuosity required here. First, the violinist must have the ability to make instantaneous changes of loudness and playing style--to be able to play a fortissimo col legno triple-stop immediately after a pianissimo pizzicato note, for example. And secondly, the Freeman Etudes demand that, in the middle of this bewildering activity, the violinist must pay attention to the most minute detail of each and every note. Many notes are marked to be played slightly out of tune. There are eleven different types of pitch inflections, four types of martellato (literally, "hammered") bowing, and five types of pizzicato. Cage does not just indicate ricochet bowing (in which the bow bounces off the string), but he goes on to say exactly how many times the bow should bounce--six times on this note, eight on that, and so on. To return to the analogy of the athletics, it is as if our track-and-field star had not only to run, jump, and throw, but to do so in rapid succession, and, at the same time, to have a dancer's control of the body, so that the feet always land in precise locations, the arms and legs bent at precise angles.

While it is easy to recognize the accomplishment of the violinist in performing the Freeman Etudes, one should not overlook John Cage's accomplishment in composing them. Consider the origin of a single event in one of these etudes. It began as a point traced onto paper from a star atlas: This tracing determined the positions in pitch and time of the note. Cage then made separate chance determinations to compose every other aspect of the note: Will it be detached or legato? Will it possess any unusual characteristics? If so, what kind? Unusual timbre or bowing? A pitch slide? A chord? An overlapping of another note? Each answer generated more questions to be asked. If this is to be a pizzicato note, will it be normal, done with the fingernail, "snapped", or damped? If damped, will it be damped with the finger or the fingernail? For chords, Cage used the star tracings to determine the first pitch, but subsequent pitches were the result of questions asked of the violinist Paul Zukofsky. Cage would ask him: "If this particular note is played on this particular string, what are all the possible pitches that can be played on this other string?" Zukofsky's answer would then be subjected to chance operations to determine the second note, and the process would be repeated to determine the third and fourth notes, as necessary. Each note of each etude is thus the product of hundreds of different chance operations.

The elaborate--one might even say extravagant--compositional method of the Freeman Etudes was not unusual for Cage. Time and time again, from Music of Changes (1951) through Roaratorio (1979) and beyond, Cage composed music that required an enormous amount of labor on his part. This kind of discipline, devotion, and commitment was central to his life and music. "People frequently ask me what my definition of music is," Cage stated in 1979. "This is it. It is work. That is my conclusion." In the Freeman Etudes, he offers the performer a chance to join in the self-altering experience of such work.

One way to view the Freeman Etudes, then, is as a celebration of the ability to do hard work. Cage saw this as having implications not just for musicians, but for society as a whole. Cage, in composing the Freeman Etudes, and the violinist, in performing them, are models for society--they show that no project is too difficult to pursue, provided that one is committed to "work, hard work, and no end to it." Cage described the larger implications of the etudes in an interview in 1983:

"These are intentionally as difficult as I can make them, because I think we're now surrounded by very serious problems in society, and we tend to think that the situation is hopeless and that it's just impossible to do something that will make everything turn out properly. So I think that this music, which is almost impossible, gives an instance of the practicality of the impossible."

The difficulties of the Freeman Etudes are thus not a perverse torture for the violinist, nor are they just an opportunity for showing-off. They are a kind of fable about the ability to do the impossible. Cage's etudes are optimistic and joyful.

Where does that leave the listener? Considering what was said about the difficulty of these pieces for both the performer and the composer, it comes as no surprise that they pose problems for the audience as well. They are challenging to listen to. Even knowing their history and knowing what to expect, they are bewildering at first listen. In searching for a way to grasp the Freeman Etudes, one just has to recall the task of the violinist: To make sudden and dramatic changes from one note to the next. In these pieces, perhaps more than in any other work by John Cage, there is a sense that anything can happen next: There are no boundaries, no connecting thread. Realizing that every note is completely separate from every other note, we need to try to listen in such a way that attends only to the note being played at the moment--to forget a sound as soon as it stops and not to anticipate what will happen next. This kind of focused, disciplined listening is exhilarating and transforming.

The 32 Freeman Etudes (named for their dedicatee, Betty Freeman) are divided into four books of eight pieces each. The first two books (Etudes I-XVI), were composed between 1977 and 1980. Cage went on in 1980 to compose the seventeenth etude, but with the eighteenth he was stymied. It took over a decade for him to overcome the final compositional difficulties: He did not complete and remaining fifteen etudes until 1990. The ten year hiatus in composition was due to Cage's belief that the remaining etudes were, even in the context of this "almost impossible" music, too difficult to ask a performer to attempt. It was Irvine Arditti's remarkable rendition of the first sixteen etudes that convinced Cage that he should complete the set.

--James Pritchett
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: petrarch on June 25, 2011, 08:19:51 PM
Yea ... I've subjected myself to those .. just terrible, you actually like it?  :(

I do. If I had to pick half a dozen Cage CDs from my collection and throw away the rest, the two CDs with the four books of the Freeman Etudes would be in that set.

I would very much like to know what "long-winded Pritchett bullshit" you are referring to, since little of the text is opinion or propaganda, most of it being a factual account of the content and genesis of the work.

And yes, it is possible to really like Stockhausen, Boulez, Nono, Ligeti, Xenakis... and Cage.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: petrarch on June 25, 2011, 08:30:58 PM
Freeman Etudes, Books 3 and 4, for violin (1980, 1989-90)

(http://static.boomkat.com/images/416801/333.jpg)

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B000000NYR/?tag=goodmusicguideco

This recording presents the second half of John Cage's Freeman Etudes for violin. Like in Books 1 and 2, one can expect bewildering complexity and intricacy, and the astonishing virtuosity of Irvine Arditti's performance. This music is so difficult for composer, performer, and listener alike because every note is completely isolated from every other note, with each detail--dynamic, bowing, microtonal inflection, duration--determined separately for each of the thousands of events in the piece.

Cage wanted to make a music that was almost impossible to play, so that the overcoming of these difficulties could serve as a demonstration of "the practicality of the impossible". The violinist is thus a model for society by showing that no project is too difficult to pursue, provided that one is committed to the hard work necessary for its completion.

Arditti's mastery of the Freeman Etudes is the product of such hard work. But he goes further: He is continuously improving on his performance, playing faster and faster at each performance. This treatment of the etudes as an ongoing project played a pivotal role in the history of the work.

Cage was commissioned in 1977 by Betty Freeman to compose the etudes for the violinist Paul Zukofsky. Cage, following the example of his earlier Etudes Australes for piano, planned a set of thirty-two etudes divided into four books of eight etudes each. Tracings of star maps would determine the rhythms and pitches, and then I Ching chance operations would determine every other aspect of every note--bowing style, dynamic, duration, microtonal inflections, and so on.

Zukofsky had asked Cage to write violin music that was precisely notated, but he surely had not expected the bewildering profusion of details in the music that Cage was composing. He began to have doubts about the entire project. "While every event was in and of itself completely playable," he noted, "a quick succession of events was something else again, and in many instances was quite unplayable due to constraints of time." Zukofsky pressed Cage to change the etudes, asserting that they were impossible to play as they were. Cage, who saw the "practicality of the impossible" as the theme of all his etude sets, was unreceptive to this suggestion. Ultimately, he changed nothing, only suggesting in his performance note that the duration of each measure of the music was flexible. The duration of a measure "should be short rather than long," he instructed, "as short a timelength as the violinist's virtuosity permits, circa three seconds."

Because of the elaborate compositional system and the back-and-forth consultations with Zukofsky that it entailed, it took Cage three years to complete the first seventeen etudes. With the eighteenth etude, however, a serious problem emerged. The densities of notes had been determined by the coincidence of three random factors: A series of I Ching hexagram numbers which gave the number of notes in a given section of the piece, the number of star colors to trace in that section, and the density of stars in that part of the sky covered by the particular star map used. In the eighteenth etude, these factors conspired to produce outrageous numbers of notes in relatively tiny spaces of time. In the middle of the etude, for example, there is a passage of thirty-seven attacks within one measure, each of these having a unique dynamic, the pitches jumping wildly and unpredictably over a four-and-a-half-octave range. In the published score, this passage and others like it are notated simply as a series of closely-spaced lines: Too tightly-spaced to be printed, the notes themselves are given in nearby "blow-ups".

If Zukofsky felt that the first two books of the Freeman Etudes were unplayable, then there was no possibility that he would even attempt the eighteenth etude. Cage, reluctant to press the matter, simply stopped composing right in the middle of the piece. Now even he was convinced that he had gone too far, that his compositional process had run amok and created music that could never possibly be performed. Zukofsky thought that since the more difficult etudes could not be played live, they would have to be created artificially on tape and released in recorded format only. Cage, clinging to his vision of the solution of impossible problems, disliked this plan. Reluctantly, he had to admit his inability to continue. He packed up the unfinished manuscripts of the last fifteen etudes and went on to other projects.

This was the state of things from 1980 until 1989. In the meantime, the first sixteen etudes were published and performed. In particular, Irvine Arditti was drawn to these pieces. He not only refuted Zukofsky's claim that they were unplayable, but played them even faster than the three-second-per-measure tempo given as a probable maximum in the score. In the summer of 1988, he played the sixteen etudes in fifty-six minutes, hence at a tempo of two-and-a-half seconds per measure. He continued working diligently at them, trying, like a track-and-field athlete, to improve his times. By the end of that same year, he had taken ten minutes off his total performance time--down to a tempo of only two seconds per measure. Cage, hearing Arditti's performances, was impressed and baffled at the same time: He did not understand why Arditti continued to play them faster and faster. In directing the performer to play a measure in "as short a time-length as his virtuosity permits," Cage was thinking of this duration as a fixed quantity, different for each performer. Arditti, however, had interpreted Cage's directions in an open-ended way: He thought that it meant to play "as fast as possible." Hearing this, Cage realized the solution to his problem: In those passages of the eighteenth etude where there are an impossible number of notes, the performer would be instructed to play "as many as possible."

So it was that, after having let them sit in a drawer for nine years, Cage again took up the unfinished Freeman Etudes. But now a new difficulty arose: After such a long break, he did not recall the details of the complex system he had used to compose the pieces. Even worse, the etudes were at different stages of that process, and within the troublesome eighteenth etude, the state of completion varied from measure to measure. His working notes were of little use: The long lists of pitches, numbers and cryptic abbreviations were practically indecipherable. From the distance of nine years' time, the Freeman Etudes might as well have been composed by a stranger.

It was at this junction that I entered the picture. I met John Cage in 1984 when I began working on my doctoral dissertation in musicology. My subject was his chance compositions of the 1950s: I took his manuscripts and reconstructed the precise systems of composition used to create each work. In a few cases these systems have been described by Cage in his writings, but in others the procedures used were a complete mystery to me--and, after a thirty-year interval, to Cage himself. Over the next few years I spent many hours at his home poring over his old papers; I completed my dissertation in 1988. The problems I had addressed in my work were identical to those that Cage was facing in completing the Freeman Etudes, and so in 1989 he called me up to ask for my help. I was delighted, since I had been trying to find some way to repay him for his kindness and openness during the course of my dissertation research. In September he gave me all the manuscripts for the last etudes and asked me to tell him what he needed to do to finish them. I delivered a report to him a few weeks later, and he began composing again. The Freeman Etudes were finally completed in early 1990, thirteen years after they were begun.

Considering his role in the history of the final sixteen Freeman Etudes, it is fitting that Irvine Arditti should be the first to record them. Hearing his playing, one can easily imagine how Cage would be inspired by it to resume work on his impossible violin music.

--James Pritchett
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: lescamil on June 25, 2011, 09:14:24 PM
The only pieces by Cage that have really piqued my interest are the works that use elements of world music in them, namely the percussion works and the works for prepared piano. The works that use an extreme amount of difficulty and complexity seem to bore me, and the aleatoric works leave me thinking "what's the point of this music". Then again, I haven't done as much listening to Cage's music as I would like to. Anyone have a good idea where I should go from here?
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: petrarch on June 25, 2011, 10:50:09 PM
Anyone have a good idea where I should go from here?

You could try a cross section of the various "styles": Fourteen; the Concerto for prepared piano and chamber orchestra; the Concert for piano and orchestra; Four for string quartet; Roaratorio; 44 Harmonies; The Seasons.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: petrarch on June 27, 2011, 03:21:45 AM
One8, for violoncello solo (1991)



The title page of John Cage's composition One8 reads:

ONE8
violoncello solo

to be played with or without 108 (for orchestra)

for Michael Bach

John Cage
April 1991
New York City

The notation of the piece is very detailed, and yet at the same time enigmatic ("it's doubtful whether a cellist looking at this piece would even know what to do", Cage later remarked about it). In keeping with the manner of his later "number pieces", the score consists of a series of musical fragments with variable timings. In this case the notation shows one to four notes in each segment, with precise indications of which strings are to be used for which notes, which fingers are to be used to play them, and the exact manner in which harmonics are to be played. Despite the intricacy of the notation of the music, the instructions to the performer are just two simple statements:

"53 flexible time brackets with single sounds produced on 1, 2, 3 or 4 strings. Durations, dynamics and bow positions are free."

Besides the musical notation itself, perhaps the most informative part of the score, the key to its understanding is the phrase "for Michael Bach". I am reminded here of the composer Sylvano Bussotti's 5 Piano Pieces for David Tudor: That the title was not so much a dedication as an instrumental designation. The same is true of Cage's score, since Michael Bach is not just a cellist, but an inventor of playing techniques.

That One8 was composed for him tells us much about the way the music is to be played. First, there is the use of his unique curved bow--the BACH.Bogen. This bow, first developed by Michael Bach in 1989, not only has a curved shape, but also has a mechanism for adjusting the tension on the bow hairs. These two features together allow the cellist to play three or even all four strings of the instrument simultaneously, something which is impossible with a traditional straight bow.

That Cage intended One8 to be played using the curved bow--and hence that the various sonorities in the piece were each meant to be played with a single attack--is stated in the performance notes ("single sounds"), but is also clear from his own comments about the work. In an interview, Cage tells the story of a "very good" Juilliard student who wished to play the piece. "It doesn't matter how good she is", Cage said, "if she doesn't have the right bow to play the music." He had originally thought of leaving open the option of playing One8 with a straight bow and arpeggiating the chords; after hearing Bach play it, however, he found that he so enjoyed Bach's playing that he changed his mind and left it as is.

But the curved bow was only one of the technical innovations that Bach brought to Cage's attention. The other was his astonishing exploration and extension of the use of harmonics. Bach has written a comprehensive study on the playing of harmonics on the cello, titled Fingerboards & Overtones: Pictures, Basics, and Model for a New Way of Cello Playing. The "Fingerboards" are drawings that Bach made on cardboard placed under the strings of the cello, using black ink on his own fingers. He made a simple set of these for Cage in 1990, shortly after the composer had decided to write One8 for him, in response to Cage's question "what can you finger on the cello?"

His intention at that time was to provide Cage with a graphic guide to the hand stretches of which he was capable. However, shortly after this, Bach began to consider more and more the complexities of the situation--what he could play on any given string depended to a large degree on what other notes he was playing on the other strings--and he subsequently made many more of these drawings; to date he has made over a hundred of them.

The book goes on to methodically work through all the possibilities of playing partial tones on the cello: Natural harmonics, artificial harmonics, or combinations of both; harmonics on a single string, on two strings, three strings, or four strings simultaneously. There are tables of all the intervals possible in various situations, discussions of playing in the rarefied atmospheres of the 32nd partial, the difference tones that occur when two simultaneous harmonics are slightly detuned, and the effects possible with pizzicato and glissando playing.

Bristling with abbreviations that resemble mathematical formulas, numbers, charts, and diagrams, it is a formidable treatise. It is also exactly the kind of rigorous treatment of the fundamental variables of music--the systematic exploration of the edges of the possible--that is at the core of Cage's compositional methods; it is not hard to see why John Cage was compelled to write for Michael Bach.

Thus, One8 is truly a work "for Michael Bach," both personally and technically. But One8 is more than this: It is a work "with Michael Bach", in that he was an integral part of its actual composition. The fingerboard drawings that Bach provided did not give Cage all the information he needed to compose the piece. The possibilities were too vast to be neatly summarized in even a very large number of diagrams and charts. And so, when it came time to compose the piece, Cage found it necessary to have Bach there as well.

The process for composing each event was relatively simple: First, decide how many tones the event would have (one to four), and then, for each tone, select one pitch from the entire range of possibilities on the given string. Bach's role was to provide the information on the extent of the "range of possibilities" for each tone of each event. For a three-note chord, for example, Cage would select the first string and the first tone, based on Bach's range on that particular string. Then Cage would choose the next string to use, and Bach would experiment with his cello to see what he could finger on that string while playing the first tone. Cage would select a pitch from that range, and then they would move to the last string in the same manner: Bach experimenting to determine what he should be able to reach while holding the other two tones, and Cage selecting from that range.

They thus proceeded through the fifty-three events in the piece, the two together acting as a kind of living cello oracle: Bach framing the boundaries of the questions, Cage using chance to provide specific answers within these boundaries. It was a process of discovery, slowly working to find the individual components of each sound, one tone at a time.

Knowing this while listening to Bach's performance, it makes one realize that One8 clearly contradicts the "common knowledge" that Cage's compositional processes are largely inaudible to the audience and hence are irrelevant to our experience as listeners. In fact, the piece sounds almost exactly like the way it was composed, and our role as listeners is to discover these sounds exactly as Cage and Bach did: One at a time, carefully, slowly, and with delight.

The sounds themselves are, of course, varied--simple, complex, ordinary, extraordinary, robust, fragile, etc. Michael Bach recalls a particularly memorable moment: The sound of three simultaneous harmonics that takes place about 33:45 into this recording. "Each harmonic, played separately, would be very complicated for cellists and almost impossible," Bach says, "but here all three pitches sound together!" Bach recalls that he and Cage paused after having achieved that particular sound. I like to think that they sat there in Cage's loft, surrounded by his many plants and flowers, considered the beauty of what they had discovered, and just smiled silently for a while.

--James Pritchett
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: petrarch on June 28, 2011, 04:59:59 AM
Music Walk, for one or more pianists at a single piano using also radio and/or recordings (1958)
One, for piano solo (1987)
One5, for piano solo (1991)
Music for Two, for two pianos (1985)



Music Walk, for one or more pianists at a single piano using also radio and/or recordings (1958)

Music Walk has a concern, as many other Cage works, with allowing individual sounds to occur free from any imposed continuity or line while overlapping several layers of such sounds.

Music Walk is for any number of pianists, using a single piano, several radios and unspecified auxiliary noise-making devices. Materials are provided by the composer--a transparent sheet of plastic with five parallel lines drawn on it, ten unnumbered pages with different numbers of single points, several transparent squares with intersecting lines drawn at various angles. The performers, using these materials and following Cage's instructions, independently create parts which call for sounds to be produced at various points in and around the piano, on radios, or with the auxiliary instruments, including their own voices.

One, for piano solo (1987)
One5, for piano solo (1991)

One and One5 are most striking in their unprecedented incorporation of huge amounts of silence, another feature common to many of Cage's late compositions. Here again, Cage uses time-brackets to provide windows in which the given tones and chords may appear.

In One, two sets of chords (containing three to five chords each) share a single window. The order of each set if maintained but the relationship between the two sets is free, creating a variety of possible interpenetrations, simultaneities and overlapping. There are ten such windows in One, roughly one per minute, with the eighth window fixed at 8'15" to 8'45" and the others flexible. Each chord has its own dynamic marking.

In One5, there are two parallel sequences of chords and single notes which run the length of the piece, with each chord or note given its own window. Dynamics are free. Each sound is to be sustained as long as possible either manually or with the pedal, and the number of sounds in terrifyingly low (only forty-five chords and single notes are heard over the course of a twenty-one minute piece).

Music for Two, for two pianos (1985)

Music for _ is a group of pieces written to be played simultaneously by an ensemble of soloists. The number of parts eventually reached seventeen, and although Cage said at one point that he expected to continue adding parts to the piece for the rest of his life (with the goal of creating a chamber music for full orchestra), the last part was written in 1987.

Any number of these parts may be used in a given performance of Music for _; the title is completed by the number of players. Each player's part consists of "pieces" and "interludes". The interludes are short phrases which provide specific articulations but leave dynamics and rhythm free for the performer to determine. The pieces contain two kinds of music: Passages with detailed notations for dynamics, rhythm, and articulation given for each pitch, and single notes to be softly sustained and repeated any number of times. In the two parts for piano which make up this recording of Music for Two, the sustained pitches are produced by bowing the piano strings with a length of rosined nylon fishing line.

Each of the pieces and interludes is to be placed within a certain "window" of time. For the interludes these windows are fixed (for example, from 1'45" to 1'55" in Piano I). The frames for the windows of the pieces, however, are given to varying degrees of flexibility, and often may overlap each other, so that a given piece may be quite short or quite long (played quickly or slowly) and may or may not be surrounded by silence.

Two other features mark Music for _ with signs of Cage's late maturity: The use of restricted pitch ranges and the frequent occurrence of sustained, repeated tones. Each of the pieces in Music for Two explores a certain pitch range of the piano. Occasionally, this range encompasses the entire keyboard, but often it can be quite narrow. In a way, this restriction of range reaches its extreme manifestation in the repeated droning of a single tone. The various pitch ranges, the actual notes used within those ranges, and the drone notes, were selected through chance operations, as has been the case with all of Cage's music from the 1950s on. Here, the composer's task is the asking of questions--what range is to be used, which note is to be sustained--rather than the making of choices.

From his earliest works, John Cage searched for ways to free sounds to be themselves and exist independently of each other. His emphasis on the uniqueness of every sound and his struggle to avoid the idea of "relationship", which places the comparison of two sounds before the experience of the sounds themselves, led Cage away from the idea of melody, in which the sounds are subordinate to the relationships they describe and the expression those relationships evoke. But listening to Music Walk, One and Music for Two, one is reminded of Christian Wolff's comment to Cage that "no matter what we do, it ends up being melodic." The various and unrelated sounds in these pieces really do subversively conspire to create a new kind of melody.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: petrarch on June 29, 2011, 03:40:36 AM
The Seasons, Ballet in one act (1947)
ASLSP (1985)
Cheap Imitation (1969)



The three very different solo piano works on this recording reveal three distinct ways John Cage dealt with the question of melody. Cheap Imitation is clearly a single melodic line; but so in its way is The Seasons, and ASLSP is in effect two simultaneous melodic lines, each played by a single hand. In both The Seasons and ASLSP the melodies consist not only of single notes, but also of chords and, in The Seasons, the quick runs or flurries Cage called aggregates.

Coming out of his experience with the prepared piano, where the striking of a single key on the keyboard can produce a number of clearly distinguishable pitches and timbres at once, Cage developed the technique of selecting a collection of notes, chords, and aggregates prior to the actual composing of a piece. This "gamut" of sounds gives pieces such as the String Quartet, the Concerto for Prepared Piano, and The Seasons each a special flavor, in spite of the fact that all of these pieces are in effect monophonic--melodies made up of combinations of single notes, chords, and aggregates. Collecting the sounds to be used was a crucial compositional action.

The Seasons, Ballet in one act (1947)

The Seasons was created in response to a commission from The Ballet Society of New York (alongside choreography by Merce Cunningham and  decor by Isamu Noguchi) during a period when Cage was beginning to explore a number of philosophical traditions, mostly Eastern. In traditional Indian philosophy, the annual rotation of the seasons is viewed as a metaphor for the larger cycle of dormancy (winter), birth or creation (spring), continuing life (summer), and death or destruction (fall). In Cage's music (which was eventually orchestrated), each season is preceded by a prelude, and the whole piece concludes with a repeat of the opening prelude to winter. The Seasons is also an example of Cage's idiosyncratic use of a self-reflecting rhythmic structure, in which the construction of the entire piece is mirrored in the phraseology of the individual movements. For example, the overall rhythmic structure of 2, 2, 1, 3, 2, 4, 1, 3, 1 is expressed by the relative lengths of the nine individual movements (counting the preludes). Winter, the second movement, has two large sections, each of which is made up of nine subdivisions varying in length according to the above rhythmic structure (two bars, two bars, one bar, three bars, and so on). Summer (apparently a very tropical, sultry summer), the sixth and longest of the movements, has four such sections (the number of bars is changed in some of the movements to reflect shifting tempi and keep the absolute durations in the proper proportion). The final prelude recapitulates the opening movement without the original repeats.

Cheap Imitation (1969)

Cheap Imitation, like The Seasons, was written for the dance by Merce Cunningham, but with a more convoluted history. After many years of Cage's gentle urging, Cunningham created a dance to the music of Erik Satie's "symphonic drama," Socrate. Satie's cryptic comment best describes his own composition: "How white it is! no painting ornaments it; it is all of a piece." In three movements, Satie's music creates a portrait of the most famous of Western philosophers, using as text selected fragments of Plato, including (in the final movement) the famous death scene.

The original plan to use Cage's transcription of Socrate for two pianos was thwarted when, at nearly the last minute, the French publisher of Socrate refused to grant permission for the performance. Since the invention of the prepared piano, Cage had responded to difficult compositional problems with ingenuity, discovering creative and unorthodox solutions (perhaps this is why his teacher Arnold Schönberg once referred to Cage as "not a composer, but an inventor--of genius").

Taking the rhythm of Satie's vocal lines as a basis (and occasionally using the rhythm of the orchestral accompaniment as well), Cage created new melodic shapes which, through the use of chance operations, deconstructed, distorted, refracted and reassembled in an almost Cubist fashion Satie's music (Cage had by this time been using chance operations for many years as a compositional tool to free his music from expressing the intention or will of the composer). The result was a single line in three movements, rhythmically identical to the original Socrate, which could then be used to accompany Cunningham's unaltered choreography. The wandering melodic line of Cheap Imitation, while remaining absolutely true to the spirit of the original Socrate (which Satie himself called "an act of piety, an artist's dream, a humble homage") locates itself firmly within Cage's aesthetic of non-intention. This newly discovered technique of imitation was to prove fruitful for the composer, employed in the Songbooks and modified for compositions such as Apartment House 1776 and the Chorals for solo violin.

ASLSP (1985)

ASLSP, written sixteen years after Cheap Imitation, was the result of a commission from the University of Maryland International Piano Competition. One can only shake one's head in wonder and merriment at the thought of the semi-finalists, drilled to the point of obsessiveness in the standard way of reproducing all the "old classics" at lightning speed and top volume, trying one after the other to make sense of Cage's pointillistic, chance-generated melodies (one for each hand, unrelated but played simultaneously) and his oblique reference: "The title is an abbreviation of 'as slow as possible.' It also refers to 'Soft morning, city! Lsp!" the first exclamations in the last paragraph of Finnegans Wake (James Joyce)." The concession granted by Cage to the nature of the competition was to allow each performer to create his or her own version of the piece by leaving out any one of the eight movements and inserting at some point a repeat performance of any of the other movements. Cage included this "open form" aspect in the piece partly out of an expressed concern for the judges, who would be confronted with fifty or sixty performances of the music in the course of the competition.

One of Cage's most striking keyboard effects, used throughout The Seasons (especially in Fall) and again in a radically different context in ASLSP, is a staccato chord out of which a single pitch is sustained. This technique also has its roots in the sound of the prepared piano, where (like certain percussion instruments) certain sounds will begin with a brief rattle, buzz, or metallic pop which is then followed by a long, sustained tone. In ASLSP the chance operations used by Cage's compositional method frequently yield tones which are held for so long that they die away to the level of complete inaudibility. These open strings, sustained by the fingers of the pianist and free to resonate sympathetically with newly sounded pitches, often produce a gentle cloud of harmonics and overtones which give a faint halo to the music. In its tendency towards extreme slowness, sparse texture, and great delicacy, ASLSP looks forward to the visionary and lonely works of Cage's last period.

--Stephen Drury
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: Luke on June 29, 2011, 05:42:47 AM
Just to say I am really appreciating all these posts, Petrarch. There's some beautiful writing here, making me salivate at the thought of some of these discs! Thank you for posting them.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: some guy on June 29, 2011, 03:38:22 PM
James, are you seriously incredulous that people are not all exactly the same? My God!! :o
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: petrarch on June 29, 2011, 04:04:50 PM
James, are you seriously incredulous that people are not all exactly the same? My God!! :o

I accept proposals for the next composer survey I shall conduct after I finish this one on Cage; composers that James derides are strongly encouraged.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: petrarch on June 29, 2011, 04:14:32 PM
You're a dork ..

Just trying to keep my quota of utility service posts as high as yours.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: Brewski on June 29, 2011, 05:51:15 PM
Just to say I am really appreciating all these posts, Petrarch. There's some beautiful writing here, making me salivate at the thought of some of these discs! Thank you for posting them.

Yes, my appreciation, too. I have heard some of the individual works on some of these discs at concerts, but don't think I have any of these recordings.

So yes, thanks for the posts.

--Bruce
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: petrarch on June 30, 2011, 01:25:01 AM
Thanks for the kind words, Luke and Bruce. From my part, I think Cage was in need of some love in this forum, lest any newcomer face the barrage of 'advice' coming from certain quarters and be forever turned off from a very worthwhile and inspiring corpus of music and ideas.

Going over these CDs lately has rekindled my interest in composition; in the early nineties, when I started dabbling on it, Cage, by way of the Peter Greenaway documentary, was very inspiring and thought-provoking, even if at the time what I wanted to compose was a mix of Stockhausen, Boulez and Xenakis. What was with that composer that absolutely did not share the seriousness and heavy-set demeanor--after all, he spends most of the time laughing in the documentary--of his german and french counterparts?

"Mr Cage, by mixing all those pieces together, don't you fear you'll get white noise?"
"Oh, I am sure it'll be noise, but I doubt it'll be white!"
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: petrarch on June 30, 2011, 01:37:24 AM
... Cage, by way of the Peter Greenaway documentary, was very inspiring and thought-provoking ...

This documentary can now be watched online, here:

http://www.ubu.com/film/cage_greenaway.html

Enjoy!
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: petrarch on June 30, 2011, 01:57:18 AM
Music of Changes, for piano (1951)



The Concerto for prepared piano had been the point of entry to Cage's new musical world of sounds in silence. It is therefore understandable that the first new compositional systems he devised following the concerto should be variants of its chart technique. The use of chance within the chart technique of the concerto was something of an afterthought; Cage realized that the technique of materials organized into charts and ordered by chance was capable of a much greater flexibility and range than the concerto had demonstrated. After completing the concerto, he immediately began work on a more extensive and consistent chart system, first used in the monumental Music of Changes for piano (1951), and then subsequently applied to a number of different media in works dating from 1951 and 1952.

That Cage's next work was to be for piano solo was largely the result of his new association with the pianist David Tudor, whom he had met in 1950 through Morton Feldman. Cage was tremendously impressed with Tudor's virtuosity and meticulous approach to the challenges his music offered. It was Tudor's unique abilities that made Music of Changes possible for Cage; without them, such a work would have been a mere compositional exercise. Music of Changes became a sort of collaboration between Cage and Tudor, who would learn each part of the score as soon as it was completed. "At that time," says Cage, "he was the Music of Changes."

In his new chart system, the first modification Cage made was to the structure of the charts themselves. In the concerto, he had used the I Ching in an indirect way, largely because the 14x16 structure of its sound charts did not allow them to be easily related to the 64 hexagrams. In Music of Changes, he simplified the system: all of the charts contain 64 cells (arranged into eight rows of eight columns each), so that the cells could be related one-to-one with the 64 hexagrams of the I Ching. To select an element from a chart, Cage would simply need to obtain a hexagram by tossing coins, find its number in the I Ching, and then look up the corresponding cell in the chart. This new approach, therefore, did away with the patterned moves on the charts used in the concerto; as a result, each element in each chart was equally possible at every moment.

The next extension of the chart technique--and perhaps the most significant--was the application of the chart idea to all aspects of sound. Every event in Music of Changes was the combination of one element from each of three charts individually referring to sonority, duration and dynamics. Thus in these new chart pieces, the individuality of each event would not be compromised by the conscious choice of dynamics or of rhythm. The use of multiple charts--even though their contents might be arrived at deliberately--would insure combinations that Cage would neve have considered himself, thus widening the scope of the piece.

The charts of sounds for Music of Changes--as with all the related chart works--contain sounds only in the odd-numbered cells, with the even-numbered cells representing silences. The equal division of the sixty-four cells between sounds and silences is clearly derived from the similar arrangements used for the third movement of the Concerto for prepared piano. The result here is the same as well: The equivalence and interchangeability of sound and silence, thus producing a spaciousness and isolation of individual events in time. The sounds used are sonorities of varied complexity and not just simple single pitches. Cage categorized these sounds as single notes, intervals (two-note sounds), aggregates (chords), and "constellations" (more complex arrangements of notes, flourishes, chords and trills). Although the piano is not prepared, a number of unusual timbral effects are used. Tones are produced by plucking the strings of the piano, by muting the strings with the finger, and by using various sticks or beaters on the strings. In some sounds, keys are depressed silently (notated as diamond-shaped notes) while others are struck sharply, creating resonances by sympathetic vibration. The sound charts also include noises produced on or in the piano, such as by slamming the keyboard lid. In some sounds, the use of the sustaining pedal is indicated as an integral part of the sound.

The duration charts differed from the sound charts in that they were completely filled with sixty-four different durations, since duration applied to both sounds and silences. The durations themselves are described by Cage as being "segmented." Rather than being only simple metrical values (such as quarter or eighth notes), the durations used in Music of Changes and similar chart works are the result of adding several different simple durations. The individual components of these durations consist of values ranging from one thirty-second note to a whole note, and include sevenths and fifths of beats as well as the common binary and ternary divisions. Although the durations are measured using traditional rhythmic notation, they are not used within any metrical framework. No attempt was made to fill out whole units of duration (e.g. a sixteenth note can exist all by itself), or to relate all the segments of a duration to a simple common denominator. In order to facilitate both the composition and performance of the odd fractional durations, Cage applied a simple procedure: he standardized the horizontal distance between notes with the same rhythmic value. In the score of Music for Changes, one quarter note is equal to two and a half centimeters of length. All other rhythmic values are related to this scale, so that an eighth note takes up one and a quarter centimeters, while a half note takes up five centimeters. Using this system, Cage was able to display easily the ametrical durations within the framework of the metrical structure.

The charts of dynamics operate in a slightly different manner from those for either sounds or durations. In these, only every fourth cell contains an entry. If, in the course of composing, Cage selected one of the sixteen filled cells, the dynamic marking contained therein would be used. If, on the other hand, he selected one of the forty-eight blank cells, the dynamic used for the previous sound would continue to apply. The dynamics used are notated traditionally and range from pppp to ffff. In addition to simple (single) dynamics, Cage also used combinations of two, such as f > pp, which could be used as accents, crescendos, or diminuendos. The dotted lines beneath some of the dynamics in the charts indicate that the una corda pedal was to be used.

Each event in Music of Changes was thus a product of consulting not one, but three charts. First, an I Ching hexagram number was used to select one of the sixty-four rhythmic patterns of a duration chart. A second hexagram number was then applied to the chart of sounds: If it was an even number, a silence was indicated, and the duration chased was filled with rests. If an odd number turned up, then the sound from that cells of the chart was coordinated with the duration chosen. Finally, if the event was a sound and not a silence, a dynamic marking was chosen from a chart using a third hexagram number: In most cases this number indicated a maintenance of the previous dynamic, as noted above.

The strength of the multi-chart approach is the production of unforeseen possibilities, and this is the usefulness that Cage found in chance operations: To take his own musical ideas and alter them, producing a fresh and spontaneous world of sound.

Both the great diversity of sounds, durations and dynamics and the unusual combinations of these generated by chance operations contributed to a sense of the Music of Changes taking place in a wider musical space than that of the concerto. But even this space would seem cramped if the charts had remained fixed in their content, and if the same elements had thus appeared and reappeared over and over during the forty-five minutes of the piece. For this reason, Cage devised a replacement technique  which operated continuously throughout the work. Each chart alternated between states of mobility and immobility, this alternation controlled by the I Ching. As long as a chart was immobile, its contents did not change. While a chart was mobile, however, any sound, duration or dynamic in it was replaced as soon as it was used. This system assured that the available pool of sounds, durations and dynamics would continually be refreshed with new elements as the composition progressed.

This constitutes the basis of the new chart technique. The remaining changes in Cage's compositional methods were more structural in nature. He continued to use rhythmic structures created as in the past. In the case of Music of Changes, proportions are large: 3; 5, 6 3/4; 6 3/4; 5, 3 1/8. The overall structure of 29 5/8 x 29 5/8 is divided into four large parts of one, two, one, and two sections respectively, and the whole work lasts well over half an hour. In order to make the structure more flexible, Cage decided to have the tempo vary during the course of the piece, with these tempo changes determined randomly by means of a chart and the I Ching.

While the structure in time remained relatively unchanged, the vertical structure of Music of Changes was quite different. Cage's previous works, such as the String Quartet or the concerto, were conceived of as essentially monophonic in texture. In them, he had composed a single series of sounds that followed one after the other. Beginning with Music of Changes, he created a polyphony by simply adding several of these layers--what he called "superimposed parts"--to one another. In Music of Changes, for example, he decided that at any given point in the piece there would be anywhere from one to eight of these layers. The number of layers changed with each phrase unit of the rhythmic structure, the precise numbers being determined by the I Ching and a density chart. Each layer of a given phrase would be composed independently, event by event, in the manner outlined above; each layer had its own unique set of sounds, duration, and dynamic charts.

A large portion of the compositional effort involved here was the arrangement of rhythms in the denser sections so that all the sounds of all the layers could be played and heard. The extent of the strategy and patience necessary to fit the various layers together becomes clear when such a disentangling of the polyphonic structure is studied.

Changes in density are among the most prominent musical features of Music of Changes. When density is low, silences in the layers overlap, producing gaping holes in the texture; the sounds that do occur take up their entire assigned durations, since there are few other sounds to interfere with their rhythmic expression. The result is a spacious sound akin to the last movement of the Concerto for prepared piano. When the density is high, on the other hand, even though each layer individually is half silences, the silences are rarely aligned, so that there is more continuous sound. In sections of very high density, the texture becomes saturated: so many sounds must be expressed within a relatively short time that Cage tends to abbreviate durations to mere attacks. These changes affect the perception of the music. During phrases of low density, the listener attends to the contours of the individual events; during periods of high density, the ears are overloaded, the events become unfocused, and the impression is predominantly textural.

It is the composition of the materials--the charts of sounds, durations, and dynamics--that most strongly determines the effect of Music of Changes and that gives it its unique and unmistakable voice. In this work, perhaps more clearly than in any other, chance appears as a means and not an end in itself. It was necessary for Cage to use the chart technique in order to have his musical materials--which are completely products of his compositional choice and judgment--speak by themselves, without being forced into a particular sort of continuity. Chance here is the mechanism by which materials can assert their dominance of the composition: Cage's primary role as composer is to create the collection of materials that will, through the offices of the chance system, then become the sole identity of the work.

Virgil Thomson, in reviewing the premiere of Music of Changes, compared it to a kaleidoscope, and this seems a perfect analogy: the world of Music of Changes is one of abrupt juxtapositions of a variety of transparent, brightly-colored, and incisive materials.

(from The Music of John Cage, by James Pritchett)
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: Luke on June 30, 2011, 02:53:14 AM
So....you mean you don't like it James? Who'd have thought it!
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: edward on June 30, 2011, 02:58:41 AM
Not only that Luke - I mock and have total disdain for those who do.  ;D
How nice for you. I think it's good when a person has a hobby.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: karlhenning on June 30, 2011, 03:46:27 AM
Thanks for the kind words, Luke and Bruce. From my part, I think Cage was in need of some love in this forum, lest any newcomer face the barrage of 'advice' coming from certain quarters and be forever turned off from a very worthwhile and inspiring corpus of music and ideas.

QFT
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: karlhenning on June 30, 2011, 03:47:42 AM
Not only that Luke - I mock and have total disdain for those who do.

Although it is hardly the first point you have missed . . . your mockery and disdain don't mean much.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: Brewski on June 30, 2011, 07:12:13 AM
Somehow I thought I had posted something on this, but apparently not, so...

One of my fondest concert experiences was seeing Cage's Europeras I and II in 1988, when PepsiCo (believe it or not) was sponsoring an annual summer festival of contemporary music and theater at SUNY Purchase. A group of us went up for the evening, and had our minds pretty well blown. The singers come prepared with an assortment of arias from the standard opera repertory, and there are sets, backdrops, and other props ready to be deployed - all randomly determined by a computer. Even the cast's entrances and exits are left to chance. It was an experience unlike any I've ever had.

Here is an excerpt from John Rockwell's New York Times review (http://www.nytimes.com/1988/07/16/arts/review-music-john-cage-s-quasi-opera-has-american-premiere.html?scp=10&sq=cage%20europeras&st=cse):

''Europera 1'' is a 90-minute first act and ''2'' a 45-minute second act; a large gray radio-controlled blimp flies out over the audience in the second act with ''Europera 3'' and ''Europera 4'' emblazoned on each side. The action consists of a steady, overlapping collage of public-domain operatic fragments. Singers plod on, dressed in some usually outlandish traditional costume, and sing an aria that may or may not be related to the costume or their vocal type. They do this a cappella (itself a sometimes considerable trick), while other arias are being sung and the brass-and-wind-dominated pit band and onstage instrumentalists are tootling away at their own operatic fragments and occasional bursts of amplified noise crash in upon the scene.

In the meantime, leotard-clad ballet dancers prance through the proceedings, and large black-and-white panels depicting dead composers and singers and birds and animals and stage sets, often oddly cropped, descend and ascend.

There are gags and jokes throughout (for instance: a large man in full armor creating scads of bubbles by dipping a red-and-white candy-striped pole and net into a soapy mixture, then slashing at them in rage). But there is no plot (in the program Mr. Cage offers 12 alternative plots, which read like Robert Benchley opera parodies), no tension, no climax. ''Europera 2'' is more darkly lighted than ''1,'' with a seemingly denser concentration of music and images, and the large illustrations are lowered sideways toward the end.


--Bruce
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: karlhenning on June 30, 2011, 07:59:52 AM
more darkly lighted's an ill phrase. It's a vile phrase . . . .
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: eyeresist on June 30, 2011, 04:24:54 PM
more darkly lighted's an ill phrase. It's a vile phrase . . . .

"Lighted" in itself is a bad word.

Apart from 4'33", my only acquaintance with Cage's work is his Chesspiece film. I don't remember where the hell I saw it. Surely it couldn't have been my crappy high school? Anyway, he used the I Ching (I think) to determine how to film and edit a chess match. I thought the process was silly (I still do; I just react against complete arbitrariness as a method), but the result was actually quite effective. It could be described as "filmic cubism". I think the "objective" method of using a randomisation process was more effective than the self-conscious jump-cutting of Goddard.
 
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: petrarch on June 30, 2011, 05:11:34 PM
I just react against complete arbitrariness as a method

How complete is 'complete'? This is a slippery slope, as one could ask what is not ultimately arbitrary in composing music?
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: eyeresist on June 30, 2011, 05:28:18 PM
How complete is 'complete'? This is a slippery slope, as one could ask what is not ultimately arbitrary in composing music?

I mean arbitrariness as opposed to conscious choice. Conventional music theory limits choices, but the choices are still there to be made. Cage deliberately abnegates choice; once the system is in place, he has no input into the final result (at least in the case of Chesspiece). This is a technique I instinctually reject - though as I said it doesn't necessarily mean I reject the result.

I do feel that an artwork should have the stamp of a personality on it. This is something Cage has deliberately rejected; the characteristic of his most "conceptual" work is that the influence of personality (or what we would call "style") is removed. In this sense, what the critics say is true: anyone could do it, and if they did the difference would only be discernable by the material used.
 
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: Luke on June 30, 2011, 08:35:38 PM
all that non-intentionalist crap, huh? pffff

think NOTHING
wait until it is absolutely still within you
when you have attained this
begin to play

as soon as you start to think, stop
and try to retain
the state of NON-THINKING
then continue playing

Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: eyeresist on June 30, 2011, 08:53:08 PM

I'd say non-thinking is impossible. And if you truly had no thoughts, why would you play? I dunno, bloody hippies.... *grumble*
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: petrarch on June 30, 2011, 11:20:45 PM
all that non-intentionalist crap, huh? pffff

think NOTHING
wait until it is absolutely still within you
when you have attained this
begin to play

as soon as you start to think, stop
and try to retain
the state of NON-THINKING
then continue playing

:D

I'm sure the above will be duly rationalized--as an experiment that had to be done and quickly abandoned. And there are all other sorts of unreleased stuff that is more similar to Cage's aesthetics than he would ever admit.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: petrarch on June 30, 2011, 11:24:47 PM
I do feel that an artwork should have the stamp of a personality on it. This is something Cage has deliberately rejected; the characteristic of his most "conceptual" work is that the influence of personality (or what we would call "style") is removed. In this sense, what the critics say is true: anyone could do it, and if they did the difference would only be discernable by the material used.

This is illusory. The style is there, if only in the rules and systems created; even the system of "non-systems". It is just a question of how far removed you want to go. It's turtles all the way down.

Anyone could do it, as much as anyone can come up with a black canvas, or big blobs of color, or a Eb-Eb-Eb-C motif. You can do it; but somehow you don't. Why?
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: petrarch on July 01, 2011, 12:03:30 AM
Quite the contrary, you will gain no serious foundation in music or musical composition from this stuff at all

To paraphrase:

Quote
You honestly don't seem too clued-in on much. Case & point, you are unaware of what composing music is and have to rely on an intention behind every note. And you can't fathom and seem totally unaware of theory & inspiration as a whole (breadth/depth). Add to that, that whenever we have a discussion like this you think it must be approached in an objective 'this is the right way' irrefutable manor (for "it to be valid") which is absolutely daft. (again, you're oblivious to musical ideas & composition, unaware-of what has actually occurred) Furthermore, your lack of insight & understanding is reinforced often by your comments and choices from what I see on this board.

(bold contrafacta are mine; typos are not and were unmodified to preserve the original flavor)
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: petrarch on July 01, 2011, 12:17:11 AM
Prepared piano



The logistics of percussion music--acquiring and transporting instruments, arranging for multiple performers--made it impractical as an accompaniment for small modern dance recitals. This problem let to the invention of the prepared piano, one of John Cage's best known innovations. The story, recounted by him in "How the piano came to be prepared," begins in 1940 with the request by Syvilla Fort, a dancer at the Cornish School, for music to accompany her dance Bacchanale. The piece needed to reflect the African theme of the dance, and hence Cage wished to use percussion instruments. This plan was foiled, however, when he found that there was no room in the auditorium for a percussion battery; the only instrument he could use was a piano. He tried to write a serial piano piece in the proper style, but, not surprisingly, found this impossible. Instead, he decided to change the piano itself--to work inside on the strings of the instrument, just as Henry Cowell had done. After much experimenting, he found that screws and pieces of felt weather stripping placed between the strings would stay in place and completely alter the sound of the piano, turning it into a miniature percussion orchestra. As the story concludes, "I wrote the Bacchanale quickly and with the excitement continual discovery provided."

The alteration of a piano tone by preparing the strings with various objects is a complicated matter, involving many physical factors, some of which are contradictory. The objects add mass to the vibrating strings, thus lowering the pitch; heavier objects (such as large bolts) thus lower the pitch more than light ones (such as small screws). At the same time, the object stretches the strings, thus tending to raise the pitch and making the diameter of the object an important variable as well. The placement of the object along the string is important, in that the muting object will effectively shorten the string; placement at a nodal point will produce a more or less distinct harmonic. Soft objects (such as weather stripping or rubber) will tend to dampen the tone, shortening the decay; at high registers, this effect is less noticeable, since the decay of these notes is already so short. Placing preparations only between the two rightmost strings of a triple-strung note means that the altered sound of these two strings will mix with the unaltered sound of the third string. Thus, such a note will maintain a certain amount of its original pitch, but the altered sonorities of the prepared strings will perhaps conflict with this, causing beating. The una corda pedal can be used to silence the unaltered string by shifting the hammers to the right, thus allowing for two different sounds to issue from the same note. All these factors combine to produce sounds that are complex, inharmonic, microtonal and hence percussion-like.

Cage actually used a fairly small repertoire of objects to prepare his pianos. Both weather stripping  (made of a felt-like material) and pieces of rubber mute the string without altering the pitch significantly. The rubber gives a somewhat more resonant sound than the weather stripping, and in the higher registers the effect is similar to that of a resonant wood block. Screws and bolts provide the metallic, complex, gong-like sounds that dominate so many of Cage's prepared piano pieces. In some cases, metal washers or oversized nuts were included in the screw or bolt preparations, so placed that they would rattle against the string when played. This effect is not unlike that of a tambourine or cymbal. Pennies threaded through the triple-strung notes produce a similar gong-like sonority, but mellower, perhaps because of the penny's ability to mute all three strings simultaneously. Other less common preparation materials include pieces of wood, bamboo, and rubber pencil erasers.

Although all scores include a table of preparations, Cage's practice in notating these changed over the years. In his earlier pieces, he gave only the most general indications of what kind of object to use; in later scores, he became increasingly precise, giving the size of screws and bolts. At the same time, he began specifying the precise position of the preparation on the string, giving measurements from the piano dampers accurate down to a sixteenth of an inch. This precision, he soon found out, was misleading, since different pianos were constructed slightly differently; the same object at the same location on the same string of two different pianos could produce two different sounds. In the table of preparations for The Perilous Night, he took this into consideration, and indicated to which specific Steinway models the measurements are applicable. In Amores, he approached the problem from a different direction, describing the desired results (e.g. "the screw must be large enough and so positioned on and between the strings as to produce a resonant sound, rich in harmonics") but leaving the precise sizes and locations up to the performer.

The shift in medium from percussion ensembles to prepared piano changed Cage's style of composition. In his percussion pieces the music was made up of blocks of sound organized by the rhythmic structure. These blocks were filled up with motivic material strung along in arbitrary sequences, or were just built up of ostinato patterns. The resulting tendency is to hear these masses but not their components, to be aware of architecture and not line. In the works for prepared piano, the solo medium leads to an emphasis on melody, either alone or with simple accompaniment. The rhythms become simpler and more fluid; Cage developed a fondness for ornaments and subtle inflections. Where the percussion pieces strive for large-scale dramatic effects, the new music for prepared piano aims for intimacy and personal expression. Although it may seem strange to use the term "lyrical," it is quite appropriate in describing Cage's prepared piano works and in isolating the essential stylistic difference between these and his percussion compositions.

The majority of the prepared piano works from the 1940s were dance commissions. Of these, works written for Merce Cunningham predominate. As with Bacchanale, the prepared piano was Cage's favored medium for dance accompaniments because of its portability (any auditorium would have a piano, so he need only bring his preparations) and its ability to produce a diverse array of percussive timbres without need of additional performers.

Perhaps for practical reasons the dance works are timbrally and texturally fairly simple. Usually only a few notes (a dozen or less) are prepared, and these use only one or two kinds of preparation. In Totem Ancestor (1943), for example, eight notes are prepared with screws or bolts, two with weather stripping, and one with a screw and free-rattling nut. Texturally these works are often dominated by a single unaccompanied line, or by a line with a simple accompaniment, such as a trill or ostinato pattern (a trilling accompaniment continues intermittently throughout the first seventy measures of Bacchanale, for example). Frequently the pieces fall into a constant eighth- or sixteenth-note motion with regular repeating patterns--a kind of moto perpetuo style. In Bacchanale, the music tends to proceed in straight sixteenth notes, with syncopation arising through the use of accents and the occasional changing of pattern lengths. The melodies are built on a limited set of tones--usually no more than five or six.

Occasionally, Cage could turn the simple dance style to more effective ends. Tossed as it is untroubled (1944) consists mostly of an energetic unaccompanied line improvised on just five tones (these are prepared with weather stripping, so their pitch is quite distinct). Only at the end does Cage add a high trill on two notes prepared with screws. The sparkling metallic sound of this accompaniment changes the entire character of the muted middle-range melody in a magical way. Root of an unfocus (1944) is even more limited, relying on only three sonic elements: an irregularly-repeated, indistinct thud (produced by two low notes prepared by bolts and weather stripping), the crashing sound of a cluster of high screw-prepared notes, and a pair of tones prepared with bolts that touch the sounding board of the piano, thus producing a sharp clack when struck. The brevity, focus and effective overall shapes of these pieces make them two of the best dance works.

Music for Marcel Duchamp (1947), while not a dance commission, was also written as an accompaniment, this time for film. It continues in the style of Tossed as it is untroubled, with an improvised line on a few tones muted by weather stripping. A new idea in this piece is the prominent use of silences to punctuate the melodic phrases. The ending of the piece uses this device to great effect, with the seven-fold repetition of a four-bar pattern: a two-bar phrase followed by two bars of rests. These repetitions provide a sense of tension without the rhythmic propulsion of Cage's earlier prepared piano works.

Music for Marcel Duchamp is perhaps the summit of this style of prepared piano composition. Most of the other dance works lack its cohesion and economy. There is a tendency in these pieces towards the use of repeated patterns as "filler" for the phrase lengths required by the choreography. In pieces like Bacchanale or Mysterious adventure there can be a great deal of frenetic activity that has no particular direction, or the repetitions can become sing-song and trivial rather than static and grand as in Music for Marcel Duchamp.

The perilous night (1943-44) is the first large-scale work for prepared piano. For this piece, Cage made use of a more extensive timbral palette than he had used before: twenty-six notes are prepared, using rubber, weather stripping, screws, nuts, bolts, bamboo, wood and cloth. This suite of six separate pieces was composed with a particular subject in mind: "the loneliness and terror that comes to one when love becomes unhappy." In it, Cage gave the devices and styles of his dance works a fuller musical treatment. The opening movement, with its use of tones muted by weather stripping and a propulsive improvised line, reminds one of Tossed as it is untroubled, but held within a tighter structure. In other movements, the simple dance-style ideas are made more effective simply by keeping them brief. In the second movement, one finds the kind of syncopated patterns over a regular accompaniment common to so many of the dance pieces, but here restricted to a thirty-six measure miniature, so that they do not have time to lose their freshness. The sixth and last movement is particularly effective. Introduced by a very short, violent fifth movement, the finale is based on an idea common to the dance pieces: that of an improvised line based on a limited number of tones. Here, however, there are two such lines, one based on high muted tones reminiscent of wood-blocks, and the other on lower metallic sonorities. The rhythmic drive and obsessive patterning are kept lively not only by the irregularities in both lines, but by the resulting interactions between their patterns. The ending is quite remarkable: the momentum of these lines dies out suddenly, as if their rhythmic drive had just evaporated completely.

(from The Music of John Cage, by James Pritchett)
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: petrarch on July 01, 2011, 02:25:46 AM
If that's the intent instead of creating something musical than it's hardly worth the time.

You're really a lost cause.

On mindlessness vs mindfulness in composition, perhaps this little fragment from Morton Feldman will shed some light:

"I spent the weekend with Karlheinz Stockhausen, and he had a lot of my scores, and he took them to his room and said goodnight. And he came down in the morning and he said, 'I know you have no system, but what is your secret?' And I said to him, 'Well, Karlheinz, I have no secret, but if I could say anything to you, I advise you to leave the sounds alone; don't push them; because they're very much like human beings -- if you push them, they push you back. So if I have a secret it would be, "don't push the sounds".' And he leaned over me and he said, 'Not even a little bit?' "
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: snyprrr on July 01, 2011, 05:00:43 AM
Glad to see things

oh, I can't even,... haha...
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: some guy on July 01, 2011, 08:12:53 AM
I've already commented on this sort-of thing many times before ..
Yes, and ya really gotta wonder, "Why?"

What is your motivation? Do you think you're accomplishing anything good by constantly badmouthing music you don't like and by constantly insulting the people who do like it? Seriously dude (to coin a phrase), do you go to parties and insult the host and criticize what people are drinking and how they dress?

[T]hat question you ask there is pretty stupid. Did you think at all before you asked it? Or did you take some manuscript paper, a spoon, some cottage cheese, a pen, and a paper cup, put it all in a box and shake it up until you ...
God knows this is probably how you do it.

[Wait a minute? Did I just break my own rule to never validate James again by responding in any way to his tactless posts? Damn. Damn damn damn.

Of course, on the bright side, James is more like a parrot or a machine that just churns out the same things over and over again, regardless of what anyone else says or does.

Still, it is a bit embarrassing to be caught yelling at a parrot.]

Anyway, on topic (though I did notice a moderator a few pages back encourage James for going off topic, so I don't know why I'm worried!!): Petrarch, you have done yeoman's service here on this thread. It is very gratifying to see all these recordings and to read Pritchett's notes about them. Some that you've mentioned I haven't even heard of before, and now I want them. Thanks for that.

Funny thing, no matter how much scorn James heaps on me, I still enjoy and value the same things I always have. How is that even possible? :o (I wonder if it's possible for a machine to feel futility?)
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: snyprrr on July 01, 2011, 08:54:17 AM
(munching popcorn)
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: Grazioso on July 01, 2011, 09:07:23 AM
Still, it is a bit embarrassing to be caught yelling at a parrot.

He's probably pining for the fjords  ;D
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: snyprrr on July 01, 2011, 09:21:13 AM
Tell me if I too am suffering from "I don't want to respond but I am...just...so...weak" syndrome.


I just have to admit that I don't care for Cage the man, his legacy, his lifestyle, his smiling face, his...ooo >:D, he just makes me so mad,... seriously....

So, the best thing I can do is avoid him,... which is normally done, but, of course, being the curious nibbler I am, I couldn't help but follow PetrArch's cool Posts (hey, I certainly want to hear ya'll's input on ALL these Composers!), even though I was making a sour face thinking about what the cds would sound like after I paid good money for them (haha ;)),... it's like rubbernecking a car wreck for me, I guess I have such hate in my heart that I want to unleash it against whatever worthy target is there,... such as the notion that if you play any Mozart now you are automatically playing Cage,... that I just want to hate him more and more, so I continue to read more and more (and ya gotta admit, Pet's Posts draw you in,... juuust like James's Posts (all you guys Post very very much information all the time, great Posts,... how do you all have the extra time for the politics??)),...

ok, where am I in this sentence?,...

oh yea, hating Cage, :P...haha,...

I mean, if I superimpose  two opposing speeches and add bells, and call it music,...hey,... whoopie!,... I could sit here and write 1,000 'pieces' like this on summer break if ...

^
do you see how the sheer Cage Hate makes it so I can't even finish a sentence, or thought? ???


I will admit that Late Cage is the only Old School Avant that really works as background music for me,... Feldman's ok, but is too involved,... Cage is really just 'there', like a bump on a log, like a photo of something generic that you just stare at. But I only want to feel that sedated at 3am, so that's when I think about Cage.


In a way,... no,... the more I go on, the worse it will get...

ok, he turned the piano into a gamelan, ok I'm done (I'm not, but...)

James, do you feel that there is an essential 'Cage vs. Stockhausen' situation here, that

no, haha,... I'll just wallow in my own juice,... oy vey!!


snyprrr- take your fingers off the keyboard,... step away from the console,...
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: Brewski on July 01, 2011, 09:28:30 AM
snyprrr- take your fingers off the keyboard,... step away from the console,...

(I'm trying not to laugh, since I'm listening to Grisey...)

 ;D

--Bruce
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: some guy on July 01, 2011, 12:10:38 PM
(munching popcorn)
Move along, folks. Nothing to see here.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: some guy on July 01, 2011, 02:10:25 PM
For what you are about to read, I beg forgiveness:

Adversity breeds introspection ..
Sententiousness breeds risibility....

maybe forcing some here to think a little.
Think=agree with James.

Nope.

Tho with this crowd, I doubt it.
We are a bunch of mindless cretins, aren't we? How dare we think for ourselves?

With you, never - as your post comes off as nothing more than a bundle of hurt feelings.
Hahaha, you wish. Read it again. I was mocking you, you silly billy.

You don't hurt anyone, James. You're more like a fly in the room. Annoying but not very harmful. Just stay away from the food is all I ask!
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: petrarch on July 01, 2011, 04:09:02 PM
You don't hurt anyone, James. You're more like a fly in the room. Annoying but not very harmful. Just stay away from the food is all I ask!

A fly in a room with big open windows (perhaps at a Suzuki lecture ;)) that for whatever reason keeps on banging on the glass and doesn't leave the room.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: karlhenning on July 01, 2011, 04:59:18 PM
I know an old lady
Who swallowed a fly…
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: petrarch on July 01, 2011, 06:08:08 PM
Concerto for prepared piano and chamber orchestra (1951)
Concert for piano and orchestra (1957-58)
Fourteen (1990)



Concert for piano and orchestra (1957-58)

For the Concert for piano and orchestra, Cage created a huge collection of material from which the performers can select any amount, depending not only on the duration of the proposed performance but also on the number of performers available. Each orchestral player independently constructs his or her part from the material available for that instrument. Not every instrument for which Cage wrote a part need be represented in a given performance (in extreme cases, a version may be performed by, say, a solo flute, leaving out even the "solo" piano part). Cage explores the widest possible array of sounds that each instrument is capable of producing--not only using the entire range of standard techniques such as tremolo, flutter tonguing, playing on the bridge of the violin or with the wood of the bow, and various mutes, but also (for example) singing through the flute, bowing on the violin's tailpiece, even to the point of "deconstructing" the instrument--e.g. removing and playing only the mouthpiece. The "theme" of the Concert for piano and orchestra is the ever expanding galaxy of sonic possibilities. Alongside this proliferation of abundance is the principle of independence. There is no master score; a player may start anywhere in his or her part according to that player's independently derived timetable. One has no way of knowing which sounds from which players will happen to coincide or follow each other in a given performance.

Adding yet one more level of unpredictability, Cage provides a "part" for a conductor which translates notated time into real time. In performance, the players read the conductor (whose arms move in large circles) like a clock. Thus a player's part may specify ten sounds to be made in thirty seconds, but following the conductor's motions (the speed of which have been distorted by the conductor's part), that player is given only fifteen seconds to perform those ten sounds.

The part for solo piano is a massive assemblage of notational experiments, sixty-three 11x17" pages containing eighty-four different types of compositional fragments. Nearly every fragment can be realized in a great number of ways. Often several fragments overlap. The pianist swims in (or rather creates) the same sort of musical aquarium as the orchestra, not only producing traditional sounds on the keyboard, but also reaching inside the instrument to play directly on the strings, soundboard, and frame, and even bringing into play unspecified auxiliary noise sources. Cage's comment on the expansive and contradictory nature of the sound universe in the Concert is telling: "The only thing I was being consistent to in this piece was that I did not need to be consistent."

Concerto for prepared piano and chamber orchestra (1951)

In contrast to the Concert, the Concerto for prepared piano and chamber orchestra is created from a rigorously limited universe of sounds. This comes as a consequence of Cage's predominant method of working in the late '40s, a method which is an extension of the prepared piano itself. On this instrument, a normal grand piano altered by the insertion of screws, bolts, strips of rubber, and other materials between the strings, the pressing of a key yields not a single tone but a complex sonority combining several different pitches and timbres along with unhitched buzzes or thumps. A conventional harmonic approach is out of the question, as each different piano key sounds its own fixed, non-modulating harmonic object.

The writing for orchestra reflects this hallmark of the solo instrument. Thus, for example, the opening chord, with the violin sitting on top of the clarinet and horn to sound a D-minor chord, always returns in exactly this configuration, never exchanging voices, never modulating to (say) an A-major inversion. The sonorities follow each other as "a melodic line without accompaniment," in Cage's phrase. At the core of the orchestra is a large array of percussion under the control of four players.

Conventional instruments such as cymbals and timpani are found alongside an amplified slinky, a "water gong" (another Cage invention), and a radio. The orchestra is, in effect, a continuation of the prepared piano by other means.

Cage composed the Concerto for prepared piano with the help of a two-dimensional chart of these sonorities, 14 by 16. The Concerto is about the conflict between structure and freedom, between improvisation and order. In For the birds, Cage described the piece as "a drama between the piano, which remains romantic, expressive and the orchestra, which itself follows the principles of oriental philosophy. And the third movement signifies the coming together of things which were opposed to one another in the first movement." In his virtuoso analysis of the piece, James Pritchett describes how in the first movement, while the piano's gestures are clearly improvisatory in nature and more conventionally "musical" in shape, the orchestra, following rules and diagrams on Cage's compositional charts, "is elusive and cryptic; it does not speak, it simply exists." In the second movement Cage brings the piano under the control of a second, parallel but distinct chart, creating an increasing sense of confluence between the soloist and the ensemble.

The final movement is one of the great revelations of Cage's oeuvre. Throughout the concerto, two governing systems have been at work: the charts containing the sonorities (which control the pitches and orchestration), and a rhythmic structure (which controls the density and phrasing). Although no more discernible by the listener than the pitch charts, there has been throughout the piece a steady rhythmic proportion of 3, 2, 4; 4, 2, 3; 5 (expressed in number of measures) cycling over and over. The first movement is made up of nine of these 23-measure-long cycles (3 cycles, plus 2 cycles, plus 4 cycles); likewise the second movement (4+2+3). In the extraordinary third movement these two governing systems both reach their apotheosis. The prepared piano is brought under the control of the same chart which guides the orchestra, releasing it from the hunger for self-expression. The unified ensemble is then free to reveal the rhythmic structure which has been underlying the entire work: the five-bar phrase which comes at the end of each rhythmic cycle is expressed by total silence. In both Zen philosophy and contemporary theoretical physics, one peels away layers of appearance to discover that at the heart of "reality" lies emptiness. In the Concerto for prepared piano and chamber orchestra, Cage, in stripping away the sounds of he piece and reducing it to silence, shows us the heart of the music. Form is shown to indeed be emptiness.

As Cage's artistic journey continued, silence became a starting point, a governing principle, a trademark or leitmotif. In his final compositions, the extreme sparseness of the written music takes on a dramatic, almost shocking character. Threatening to leave "art" behind (not unlike the late quartets of Beethoven), the "number" pieces are very nearly no longer music as we know it. In this world a single sound is a major event, and the luminescent immobility of the sustained tones becomes a metaphor for the stillness of death.

Fourteen (1990)

As in the Concert, the thirteen instruments plus solo piano called for in Fourteen play independently from each other; but here each instrument produces only simple pitches, which due to Cage's use of flexible time brackets tend to be either very long or isolated, brief events.

Dynamics are left to the players' discretion with the understanding that loud sounds will be short. Except for the piano solo, the parts are missing several time brackets, yielding long stretches of silence from individual players and unpredictable variations of texture.

The solo piano, whose strings are bowed with rosined nylon fishing line rather than struck with hammers activated from the keyboard, is "an unaccompanied solo, one which is heard in an anarchic society of sounds." The characteristics of the bowed piano which mark it as the solo instrument are the unpredictable morphology of its tones and unique, almost ethereal and mysterious nature of sound.

Repeating his feat from fifty years earlier (when he created an entire literature for a profoundly re-configured and re-imagined piano), Cage in his late works returns again and again to the bowed piano, drawn to the way in which the sound seems to arise from nowhere, "brushed into existence". Using the bowed piano as a focus and a vehicle, and bracketing and mirroring the achievement of the Concerto for prepared piano, Cage creates in Fourteen a music which defines silence and is defined by silence.

--Stephen Drury
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: Grazioso on July 02, 2011, 09:17:22 AM
Don't know if this was posted already. Cage on TV:

http://www.youtube.com/v/SSulycqZH-U
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: petrarch on July 02, 2011, 04:06:54 PM
Sonatas and interludes, for prepared piano (1946-48)



The Sonatas and interludes is the work that has almost universally been acclaimed as Cage's masterwork for the prepared piano; one of his most popular works, it is performed regularly and has been recorded numerous times. Whether or not one considers it a masterwork, it is easily the finest of Cage's compositions for prepared piano, and the crowning achievement of his work of the mid-1940s.

Sonatas and interludes consists of twenty short pieces: sixteen sonatas and four interludes. The sonatas are gathered into four groups of four, and the work as a whole is divided into halves, with two groups of sonatas and two interludes in each half. In the first half of the piece, the interludes follow the groups of sonatas, while in the second half they precede them, thus producing a symmetrical arrangement. Beyond this symmetry there is no overall controlling musical structure.

All sonatas except IX-XI are in binary form with both halves repeated. The other three are in ternary forms that consist of two sections marked to be repeated and one non-repeated section--that is, a binary form with an "extra" section. Among these three sonatas, all permutations of this ternary plan are present, with the non-repeated section occurring before, after or in the middle of the basic binary form. The interludes are of two formal types. The first two are through-composed, with no repeated sections, while the last two are four-part forms with all sections repeated.

The use of binary forms has certain effects on the compositions. Since these pieces all make use of the micro-macroscopic rhythmic structure, the binary forms result in rhythmic structures based on pairs of repeated numbers--in the fourth sonata, for example, the structure is {3, 3, 2, 2}. The repeated numbers are the result of the repeated sections; at the small scale they frequently result in parallel phrases. At the large scale, the use of binary forms suggests the compositional problem of how to handle the transitions from the ends to the beginnings of sections: the same music must lead to two different destinations. In "Composition as Process: Changes," Cage indicates that in these pieces "the formal concern was to make the progress from the end of a section to its beginning seem inevitable." In some pieces, this was done by actually blurring the distinction between the endings and beginnings of a section. For instance, in the eleventh sonata, the beginning is occupied entirely by patterns on a handful of tones. This then swells to a more melodic passage: the notes used in the opening, which have taken on an accompanimental role, eventually disappear entirely a few measures later. They reappear at the end of the section, so that when the return to the opening occurs, the listener does not even realize it. A similar strategy is used in the fourteenth and fifteenth sonata, but with an added dimension: the second halves of these two pieces are exactly identical, so that the distinction between pieces has been blurred as well.

The rhythmic structures of the individual pieces of the Sonatas and interludes are more complex than any Cage had used before, largely the result of his inclusion of fractions in the structural formulas. The fractions cause some changes in the way Cage used his rhythmic structures, and lead to asymmetrical phrase patterns. The fifth sonata, with its structure of {2, 2, 2 1/2, 2 1/2} is one of the more interesting pieces from this point of view. The right hand part of the first unit is occupied entirely with a simple undulating scale pattern. At first, the pattern takes up two bars, and is repeated twice. On measure 5 the pattern is extended by half a bar, making up the third element in the structure. The fourth element in the structure is made up of shortening the pattern to only one bar, and then extending the shortened version itself by half a bar. The overall pattern of these alterations is then 2 + 2 + 2 1/2 + 1 + 1 1/2. In the second unit of the piece, the left hand part is subject to similar procedures. The rhythmic asymmetry of the fifth sonata is caused by the half-bar extension implied by the rhythmic structure based on the numbers 2 and 2 1/2. This idea is developed further in the 1 + 1 1/2 subdivision of some of the 2 1/2-bar phrases. Examining pieces such as this (or the third sonata, which uses similar devices) makes it clear what Cage meant in "Grace and Clarity" when he emphasized the relationship between structure and content in his music: this is a perfect example of the musical content playing with and against the rhythmic structure.

Sonatas and interludes is a work that repays a prolonged study--new details jump out from every page. Different listeners will have their own favorite pieces, their own compelling experiences. There are the marvelous organic and dramatic shapes of some of the pieces, particularly the fourth, thirteenth, and sixteenth sonatas and the second interlude. Particularly enjoyable is the way Cage has used repetitive and regularly-pulsed music: a staple in the dance pieces, it is used here not just to fill space, but for dramatic ends (as in the conclusion to the tenth sonata) or as a foil for flexible and irregular rhythms (as in the second interlude). Peter Yates, in his account of the piece, gives a sense of the complexity of the work:
"The principle of tonal balance is to the effect that more highly pitched sounds tend to unrest and sounds of lower pitch to rest. Instead of a dominant and tonic pair of final chords, Cage may repeat the same group of simultaneous sounds, emphasizing first the higher registers as a dominant and then the lower as a tonic, a very reasonable and satisfactory ending process. Many variations of this principle enliven the sonatas. Other means of structure are found in the balance between movement and non-movement, between sound and silence, between the hurrying of many tones at one level of sounds and the slow fall of single sounds upon another level, the two interpenetrating but never mingling as chords."

As suggested by Yates, there is a breadth to the Sonatas and interlaces that is lacking in all of Cage's previous work. Perhaps as a response to the needs of his rather broad "permanent emotion" program, Cage developed a variety of musical styles, techniques, and effects: he appears here as a composer with a broad palette at his disposal and the ability to use it effectively.

But the achievement of Sonatas and interludes goes beyond just the technical aspects: it has a musical and emotional depth that is greater than much of what Cage had composed before. The pieces are vibrant, elusive, and alive. This is the end to which his work since 1939 had been pointing: the development of a broad, satisfying, very personal musical style relying almost entirely on unhitched percussive materials. Cage transcended the obvious musical attributes of noise and rhythm--brutality, vigor, momentum, power--and made music instead by turning these materials towards the expression of intimacy and tranquillity. In the process he himself had changed--from a somewhat bombastic experimenter describing "The Future of Music", to a quiet composer expressing the permanent emotions. Even at its premiere in 1949, the Sonatas and interludes was recognized as a pinnacle in Cage's young career. Said the critic for The New York Times, the work "left one with the feeling that Mr. Cage is one of this country's finest composers and that his invention [the prepared piano] has now been vindicated musically."

(from The Music of John Cage, by James Pritchett)

More notes and comments on Sonatas and interludes at http://www.rosewhitemusic.com/cage/texts/sixviews.html
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: lescamil on July 02, 2011, 05:11:51 PM
And who in their right mind wants to ruin a perfectly fine (and expensive) instrument with such tacky gimmickry. It's never caught on has it?

Actually, quite a few composers have used prepared piano in one way or another, but not to the extent that Cage has used it. It's like Cage wrote the encyclopedia on it, and composers today just look up entries in it and cite them in their compositions, rather than recopying the encyclopedia. And, done correctly and with care, piano preparation (or string piano effects) will not ruin a piano. I've done it to my own piano with no negative effects.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: snyprrr on July 02, 2011, 08:59:20 PM
ok, since both Stockhausen and Cage both are guilty of 'writing' Radio Music (uh... Music for Radios ;D), I am curious as to how one tells,... I mean, there must be sooooome stretch of Improv by both that sounds like either,... no? Surely some Stockhausen off that EMI 2CD (w/ Japan, Pole, etc.,...) would sound something like something Cage must have done sometime? The stuff Stockhausen did before Mantra?

Chance VS System?
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: petrarch on July 03, 2011, 01:00:10 AM
ok, since both Stockhausen and Cage both are guilty of 'writing' Radio Music (uh... Music for Radios ;D), I am curious as to how one tells,... I mean, there must be sooooome stretch of Improv by both that sounds like either,... no? Surely some Stockhausen off that EMI 2CD (w/ Japan, Pole, etc.,...) would sound something like something Cage must have done sometime? The stuff Stockhausen did before Mantra?

Indeed, at least superficially. There are a number of works/installations that Stockhausen composed between the late 60s and the mid-70s that are pretty much along the same vein of what Cage did and was doing for at least a decade. And of course there's the whole 'intuitive music' series of works.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: petrarch on July 03, 2011, 02:10:49 AM
None of it worth mentioning? I personally have always felt that the sound produced was cheap sounding, and not an improvement to the true sound of a piano. It's just surface gimmick in otherwords, nothing musically substantial.

If you took your blinders off and were a bit less clueless, you'd have understood that the prepared piano is not supposed to be an improvement to the true sound of a piano at all.

The big question is why do you bother posting on subject matter you dislike so much.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: Grazioso on July 03, 2011, 04:08:41 AM
A Tale of the Troll, or,

The War 'Twixt Sense and Nonsense

Behold JAMES, seated on the Throne of Taste,
Rend'ring Verdicts with intemperate Haste.
"No Cage for you, only faultless Boulez!"
Quoth he to the Cretins, whilst munching his Pez.
Sure in his Wisdom, some Music once heard,
He could ever rightly judge to be a Turd.
The Cretins all with him strove to reason,
Yet mother Wit 'gainst James stood to Treason.
Again too quick was he to disparage,
Sense and judgment sundered from right Marriage.
"Pfft!" said he, to GMG'ers one and all,
Rememb'ring not that Pride goeth before a Fall.

(With abject apologies to Restoration poets everywhere  ;D )
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: petrarch on July 03, 2011, 04:54:31 AM
Because it pushes your buttons easily, and I get a chance to give my perspective having spent much time listening to so much of Cage's stuff myself. PP makes the piano sound awful, which it does in fact do. Surface novelty ..

:D bring'em on! The rest is simply opinion.

In the case of an electronic music milestone like Hymnen, the transformation & development of the world-themes are composed.

Hymnen is a good example in multiple counts:

Thank God, KS got back to real composing, where he clearly established his musical ideas and thought them through on paper.

Says James, who apparently knows more about what is real composing than Stockhausen himself. It must have been such a waste of time for KS to have revisited Spiral in 1995, when he should have been composing more formulaic stuff...
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: karlhenning on July 03, 2011, 04:57:57 AM
  • The 'score' for the tape part was done after the fact. So much for your idea that it was through-composed.

Oh, man, don't confuse him with the facts, his mind is already so belligerently made up ; )
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: karlhenning on July 03, 2011, 05:00:35 AM
Gotta love the pulp-worship implicit in the claim that only that music you think through on paper is worthy of consideration.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: petrarch on July 03, 2011, 03:57:31 PM
Hymnen was meticulously developed, composed & put together 'in the studio' tirelessly (so it is throughly composed) - as are all of his 'fixed' electronic pieces.

This is where you got it wrong; it was a compose-as-you-go activity, and much different than the approach used in e.g. Elektronische Studie II (to mention one of his other fixed electronic pieces). He catalogued sounds, processes, and made notes, quite unlike what Cage was doing, right? Oh wait...

he had serious doubts about the music and the musical direction he was going in; and this was justified ultimately by his action (he changed direction), getting back to writing .. and ultimately composing better & more substantial music. i.e. Mantra & others.

Whatever. Mantra actually predates some of his 'installation' and 'random' works. The disillusionment you talk about is very specific to the 'intuitive music' approach; however, as mentioned, the experimentation with improv had been long in preparation (since Originale in 1961, and an aspiration of integrating it in Kontakte and Hymnen) and had a long tail-end (see e.g. Alphabet für Liège or Herbstmusik).
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: eyeresist on July 03, 2011, 05:23:26 PM

Plink!
 
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: petrarch on July 04, 2011, 02:05:05 AM
It was the nature of the medium, of course it's compose as you go (...)

This should be continued in the Stockhausen thread, but other than some factual inaccuracies and some stretching of what is the concept of 'through-composed', ultimately we're discussing aesthetics and personal preferences will make that discussion pointless. At the end of the day, what matters is whether the results are appealing, regardless of prejudice towards, and whether one dislikes, the methodologies even if just in principle.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: petrarch on July 04, 2011, 02:20:17 AM
Fontana Mix (1958)



Fontana Mix was the product of a three-month stay in Italy, a part of Cage's tour through Europe in the fall of 1958. Cage had been invited to Milan by Luciano Berio in order to create a work for magnetic tape at the studio of the Milan Radio. Arriving there in November, Cage immediately created a new work, a tool that would generate the score for the tape piece. Both the utility and the tape piece itself were originally to be called Performance Mix; however, during the creation of the tapes, Cage decided instead to name it after his Milanese landlady, Signora Fontana.

The work was derived from notation CC of the Solo for Piano. In this notation, the four curving lines represent the four acoustic variables of frequency, amplitude, timbre, and duration. To obtain values for these variables, measurements are made from the points at which they intersect the slanted straight lines to either the top or bottom horizontal lines. Each of these slanted lines represents a time-span or "time bracket" during which sounds described by these measured parameters take place (the numbers at either end of the lines give the starting and ending times of the brackets).

Fontana Mix makes few changes to this notation, the primary difference being the use of transparencies to turn this into a musical tool rather than a fixed score. In Fontana Mix, there are ten pages with curved lines of six types (solid or dotted, each in three different thicknesses). These lines represent the six variables Cage wished to manipulate in creating the tapes: type of sound, means of modifying the amplitude of sounds, means of modifying the timbre of sounds (such as filtering), splicing patterns, and duration controls (specific durations, or tape loops). To use the utility, any sheet of lines is chosen, and any one of ten transparencies with various numbers of randomly-inscribed points is laid on top of it. There are two more transparencies: one inscribed with a rectangular grid of 100 squares horizontally by 20 vertically, the other bearing a single straight line. The grid is superimposed on the lines and points, and becomes the reference for all measurements: the horizontal dimension represents time (in the case of the tape piece, the 100 units represented 30 seconds) and the vertical dimension gives a means of measuring values for the six variables. The straight line acts like the slanted lines of notation CC, selecting a time bracket from the overall time frame of the rectangle. To determine the bracket, the line is arranged so that it connects one point falling within the rectangular grid to a point outside the grid. The intersection of the straight line with the top and bottom of the grid gives the starting and ending times of the bracket, and intersections of the curved lines with the straight line within this bracket are measured. These values for the six variables determine the types of sounds, sound modifiers, splicing patterns, and durations to be used within the bracket. For any given arrangement of the grid on a sheet of points, there may be several possible positions for the straight line.

To create the tapes, Cage first collected and cataloged his sound materials. He then proceeded to use the utility to create descriptions of time brackets within the piece. Two stereo tapes were to be made, each seventeen minutes long. Since each grid represented thirty seconds, thirty-four arrangements of the grid on sheets of points and lines were made for each tape, and all the possible time brackets used for each. Cage filled notebooks with descriptions of bracket timings, the types of sounds to be used in each bracket, along with the other sound modifiers, splicing patterns, durations and tape loops to be made. The collected sound materials were then mixed and modified according to these specifications, and then spliced together. Where two time brackets overlapped, their sounds were placed in different tracks of the tape; where more than two overlapped, the sounds interrupted one another, creating what Cage called "fragmentation" of the brackets.

Thus the Fontana Mix tool was used to create the two stereo tapes. While this was the project for which it was designed, Cage soon realized that it could be applied in a more general way to other compositional situations. Specifically, it could be used to determine random time brackets within any time frame, and then to choose from collections of materials, coordinating these materials within the time brackets chosen. In essence, then, the approach of Fontana Mix is the same as that of the earlier chart pieces--defined materials randomly ordered and coordinated within random time units. After making the tapes, Cage decided to make Fontana Mix more generalized by not restricting the types of materials it controlled, but rather having the definition of those materials become part of the process of using the tool--he indicates in the score that "the use of this material is not limited to tape music, but may be used freely for instrumental, vocal and theatrical purposes." Fontana Mix, as a means of creating a tape piece, was a more flexible version of the original notation in Solo for Piano; by applying the tool to other musical situations, Cage made Fontana Mix even more flexible and open.

Water Walk (1959)

Cage used Fontana Mix to compose several other works, among which were Sounds of Venice and Water Walk (both from 1959). Both works were the product of Cage's appearance on a television quiz show in Milan. In the show, called Lascia o raddoppia ("Double or nothing"), Cage was asked questions for five straight weeks on the subject of mushrooms; by correctly answering the questions one week, he was allowed to continue the next week, until the end of the five weeks, at which point he won the jackpot of five million lire. Before each of the five programs, Cage was asked to perform some of his music for the television audience. Sounds of Venice and Water Walk were composed for performance on these programs. In both, Cage made a list of twenty props, instruments, and noise-makers, then used Fontana Mix to make a three-minute score using this list as a collection of materials. The props and instruments of Water Walk all relate to water: a mechanical fish, a duck call, a bathtub, a soda siphon, steam released from a pressure cooker, and ice cubes crushed in a blender all make an appearance.

Quote
http://www.youtube.com/v/SSulycqZH-U
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: karlhenning on July 04, 2011, 05:08:59 AM
Obligatory joke:

. . . Cage's appearance on a television quiz show in Milan. In the show, called Lascia o raddoppia ("Double or nothing"), Cage was asked questions for five straight weeks on the subject of mushrooms; by correctly answering the questions one week, he was allowed to continue the next week, until the end of the five weeks, at which point he won the jackpot of five million lire . . . .

. . . and he could afford to buy a cup of espresso!
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: petrarch on July 04, 2011, 05:43:38 AM
. . . and he could afford to buy a cup of espresso!

:D

More info here: http://johncagetrust.blogspot.com/2011/04/lascia-o-raddoppia-milan-1959.html
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: petrarch 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 Volksbühne 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
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: petrarch 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
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: petrarch 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)
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: petrarch 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.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: snyprrr 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!! :-*
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: petrarch 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
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: petrarch 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)
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: snyprrr on July 08, 2011, 06:57:13 AM
wow, how many of those Mode discs ARE there? ???
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: petrarch on July 08, 2011, 02:55:44 PM
wow, how many of those Mode discs ARE there? ???

About 40.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: petrarch 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
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: petrarch on July 09, 2011, 09:55:13 PM
Thirty pieces for five orchestras (1981)

(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41WZaXZBFEL._SL500_AA300_.jpg)

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.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: petrarch 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.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: some guy 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.

Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: mjwal 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.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: petrarch 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:
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: petrarch 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.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: Grazioso 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.

Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: petrarch 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.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: petrarch on July 10, 2011, 04:10:21 AM
art: approach it first and foremost on its terms, not yours.

+1
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: petrarch on July 10, 2011, 04:46:18 AM
Figures ..  you've bought into the (empty) rhetoric then.  :(

:D. You are too funny. Your hopelessness is almost endearing.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: mjwal on July 10, 2011, 04:49:26 AM
Cage might be a nice person but his practice (rationale/technique) is not musically liberating or delightful at all ..  in fact it's just the opposite.
Might have been - he's dead, you know. Unless you are afraid he's out there, somewhere, watching you.
By prevaricating with the term "practice" you succeed in avoiding my point and implicitly negating my experience. Yes, the results of his generative device(s) were delightful, to me. You were not there, I believe, so you cannot know. The classical injunction that poetry delight and instruct - whatever preconceptions artists or philosophers historically have had about the right means - still seems to me to apply to all art; and Cage is all about teaching as well as delighting, regardless of what I or you may think of the constraints he uses to generate his music. He taught us about sound production on the piano in his Interludes and sonatas, he taught us about the integration of aleatoric elements and the useful adaptation of the 9 permanent emotions of classical Indian aesthetics in 16 Dances - my own personal favourite of his works, a delightful revelation to me when the Ensemble Modern played it in Frankfurt way back when - learning from the delight came after, as is right and proper.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: karlhenning on July 10, 2011, 04:51:50 AM
Ah, the first good chuckle of the day:

Quote from: James
. . . his practice (rationale/technique) is not musically liberating or delightful at all . . . .

James demonstrating anew that he fails to understand what a fact is.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: karlhenning on July 10, 2011, 04:53:50 AM
Of course, the doubly amusing aspect of that mini-pontification, is how James reveres Zappa, and yet, conveniently forgets that Zappa (for one) delighted in Cage's practice.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: karlhenning on July 10, 2011, 05:13:44 AM
James is still struggling with incapable of grasping the notion that things he does not like can be likable. (Other people and hence other opinions exist besides him.)

Fixed!
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: mjwal on July 10, 2011, 07:18:51 AM
Is that what he taught us? Whoa .. major.  ::)

Delve into Stravinsky, Bartók or Webern; you'll quickly realize that Cage as 'musical liberator' is a nonstarter; he's a neanderthal in comparison.
Who? Never heard of 'em.
Quite apart from the breathtaking patronisation, I think you need help - how about a nice logic class at your local high school. C is a primitive nonstarter -  A and B are much better letters and all you need, ergo C is not worth a groat. That disposes of the alphabet then.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: snyprrr on July 10, 2011, 07:38:34 AM
Figures.

I gotta tella ya, I think I'm the only person on your 'side' here. Why I can't go an exhume Cage's grave and have my way with his remains, and call it 'Art', is beyond me. I think the logical conclusion of Cage's aesthetic is Genocide.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: snyprrr on July 10, 2011, 07:41:52 AM
+1

ok, I give up,... can you recommend me your choice for 'The One' piano disc of Cage. I would probably go for the most typically blizzard-of-notes kind of thing (the most Darmstadt sounding?),... not the Early stuff (too normal), or the Late stuff (too note-less), probably,... ouch, there's just soooo much...
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: Grazioso on July 10, 2011, 10:50:23 AM
Why I can't go an exhume Cage's grave and have my way with his remains, and call it 'Art', is beyond me.

(http://law-and-order-special-victims-unit.maxupdates.tv/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/Law-and-Order-SVU-a.jpg)

Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: petrarch on July 10, 2011, 03:25:29 PM
ok, I give up,... can you recommend me your choice for 'The One' piano disc of Cage. I would probably go for the most typically blizzard-of-notes kind of thing (the most Darmstadt sounding?),... not the Early stuff (too normal), or the Late stuff (too note-less), probably,... ouch, there's just soooo much...

Music of changes, played by David Tudor (for historical value) or Martine Joste (for sound quality).
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: snyprrr on July 10, 2011, 06:52:42 PM
Music of changes, played by David Tudor (for historical value) or Martine Joste (for sound quality).

Thanks.

Now, here's one of those things I imagine drives James up a wall,... and me too btw!! ;)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V12XFtFtC3U

I find it infuriating,... but,... dig those crazy old timey dresses, haha,... and look at Cage: Harrison Ford as The Fugitive, haha,... oh, that's funny! :P
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: petrarch on July 11, 2011, 02:09:51 AM
Thanks.

Now, here's one of those things I imagine drives James up a wall,... and me too btw!! ;)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V12XFtFtC3U

I find it infuriating,... but,... dig those crazy old timey dresses, haha,... and look at Cage: Harrison Ford as The Fugitive, haha,... oh, that's funny! :P

Would like to know more about why you find it infuriating... The version of Winter Music sans Atlas Eclipticalis on Mode is actually quite enjoyable, as is the one on this video.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: petrarch on July 11, 2011, 02:21:34 AM
Lecture on Nothing (1950)



The String quartet in four parts helped Cage clarify the ideas he had hinted at in articles written in the latter half of the 1940s. His excitement over the composition of the quartet and the ideas that it engendered resulted almost immediately in the Lecture on nothing, rightly one of his most renowned and oft-quoted writings. Ideas about the emptiness of rhythmic structure are presented more clearly and forcefully in this new lecture, and with an eloquence and poetry that exceeds any of Cage's earlier writings.

The lecture was the first one of Cage's lectures to employ a rather unusual format and performance style. This stems from his treatment of the lecture as a piece of music, thus using the same structure and methods as for a musical composition. Written and delivered in such a fashion, a lecture is no longer just a conduit for information, but is both an explanation and a concrete demonstration of ideas. As Cage said in retrospect:

"My intention has been, often, to say what I had to say in a way that would exemplify it; that would, conceivably, permit the listener to experience what I had to say rather than just hear about it."

This is the model that he was to follow increasingly in future years, becoming less and less interested in plain essaying, and more concerned with writing such musical lectures that would fill his need for poetry.

The Lecture on nothing, then, serves as an explanation and demonstration of rhythmic structure by being written within such a structure. The structure used is of five parts with proportions {7, 6, 14, 14, 7}, or a total of forty-eight units of forty-eight measures each. There are four "measures" per line of text, so that twelve lines form one unit of the structure (these divisions are marked in the text). The content of the lecture is based on the four-fold division of composition (structure, the division of the whole into parts; form, the continuity of sounds; method, the means of producing continuity; and materials, the sounds of the composition) with each section of the rhythmic structure devoted to one element. The first, second, and third sections deal with form, structure, and materials, while the fifth section deals with method. The fourth section is special: it conveys no information at all, and its role in the lecture will be discussed later in this article. The unusual layout of the lecture in print is for performance reasons and is related to the rhythmic structure. The lines of text are divided into four columns, which correspond to the four "measures" of each line. The words are then distributed among these columns, sometimes with large gaps representing silences. The measurement of the text presented by this layout serves only as a means of loosely regulating the timing of delivery.

Another unusual feature of the lecture is the question and answer session at its end. Cage planned on there being questions after this lecture, and wrote six answers to give to the first six questions asked, no matter what they were. In addition to the obvious resulting non sequiturs, he made the answers themselves rather irrational and cryptic: "My head wants to ache," for example, or "According to the Farmers' Almanac this is False Spring." The questioning would be cut off by the sixth answer: "I have no more answers." The nonsense of these answers was perhaps inspired by the style of the Zen koan or mondo, which Cage would have been familiar with and himself called this "a reflection of my engagements in Zen."

The body of the lecture itself represents the full statement and elaboration of the ideas about the emptiness and discipline of rhythmic structure. Cage uses various analogies and images to convey the voidness of rhythmic structure with regard to content, beginning with "an empty glass into which at any moment anything may be poured." Here, the glass represents structure and that which is poured into represents the content. A further analogy is made to the State of Kansas, which he asserts is "like an empty glass, nothing but wheat, or is it corn? Does matter which?" At one point, the text of the lecture refers to the units of its own rhythmic structure as they pass by, and in this context the independence of content from structure is clearly stated: "As you see, I can say anything. It makes very little difference what I say or even how I say it." He also reiterates here the portrayal of rhythmic structure as a necessary discipline: "It [structure] is a discipline which, accepted, in return accepts whatever, even those rare moments of ecstasy, which, as sugar loaves train horses, train us to make what we make."

These "moments of ecstasy" are the focus of Cage's discussion of form in the first section of the lecture. The sort of form or continuity that he presents could be characterized as "instantaneous" form, a continuity in which "each moment is absolute, alive and significant." In music demonstrating such instantaneous form (which is made possible by the emptiness of rhythmic structure), events can happen suddenly, at any time, and then disappear just as suddenly. The text of the lecture repeatedly refers to its own manifestation of this quality, as in the following passage:

"As we go along, (who knows?) an idea may occur in this talk. I have no idea whether one will or not. If one does, let it. Regard it as something seen momentarily, as though from a window while traveling."

In such an instantaneous form, the composer is in the position of no longer attempting to hold onto ideas or events. This sense of detachment is certainly related to the statement he made in a previous article, Forerunners of modern music, that a work of art should be "attractively disinteresting," but the sense of non-possession is more vivid in Lecture on nothing, and its positive results are made clearer.

The third and largest section of the lecture is devoted to the subject of musical materials. Prior to this lecture, Cage had said very little in his writings about either the nature of materials or their handling, and the large space devoted to this subject here shows how his work within the gamut technique in the String quartet had focused his thinking. An important new idea presented here is one learned from that work--the necessity of discipline and structure in one's way of handling materials: "The technique of handling materials is, on the sense level, what structure as a discipline is on the rational level: a means of experiencing nothing." A structured way of dealing with materials (such as the strict use of the gamut in the String quartet) produces a sense of emptiness akin to that of rhythmic structure, allowing the sounds to exist as themselves rather than as tokens manipulated by the composer's mind. Cage makes his realization of this clear in his account of his renewed interest in pitched materials:

"I begin to hear the old sounds--the ones I had thought worn out, worn out by intellectualization--I begin to hear the old sounds as though they are not worn out. They are just as audible as the new sounds. Thinking had worn them out. And if one stops thinking about them, suddenly they are fresh and new."

The notion that sounds should be themselves, that they should be free from the intellect, is the new idea that will take Cage through the 1950s and beyond. It appears here--for the first time--only briefly, but soon will become the central point around which his compositional activity revolves.

These ideas--the independence of structure and content, the notion of instantaneous form arising from disinterest and detachment, the need to avoid letting thought about sounds cloud their identities--relay the essential content of the Lecture on nothing, but communicate little or nothing of its beauty. While rigidly structured around the four-fold division of composition, the lecture goes far beyond simply describing these divisions, crossing over into poetry. We see this in the gentle aimlessness of the text, in which ideas and images appear briefly from nowhere and then are dropped. The lecture is full of personal touches, such as the autobiographical treatment of materials or the self-references to the act of giving the lecture. There is poetry in the stories and personal anecdotes, sometimes clarifying, sometimes cryptic, such as the story of the man on the hill who is there for no reason, but "just stands." In sum, the Lecture on nothing is a lecture that serves professional, personal, and musical ends; it is at once technical, religious, and entertaining. This is a mixture that fuses perfectly here, and results in as memorable a piece of writing as Cage had yet produced.

Of all the many memorable features of the lecture, perhaps the most prominent is the overriding tone of negation. From the title onwards, Cage persistently repeats various phrases that connote the negative: "we possess nothing," "we are going nowhere," "there is no point or the point is nothing." Perhaps the most frequently quoted line from the lecture is of this sort: "I have nothing to say and I am saying it and that is poetry as I need it." But this atmosphere of negation is not to be confused with a perverse negativism or nihilism; rather, this is a negation that has its roots in the "divine unconsciousness" of Meister Eckhart. This is a negation only of fixed ideas, the sort of self-denial that leads ultimately to an acceptance of all. Note that Cage does not state only the negative--that he has nothing to say--but goes on to state the positive--that he is saying it. Cage's "nothing" is analogous to what D. T. Suzuki says about the Void of Buddhism: "it is a zero full of infinite possibilities, it is a void of inexhaustible contents."

The negative phrases and aimlessness of the text together lend a rather bleak and flat quality to Lecture on nothing, an effect similar to that of the String quartet, and best exemplified by the fourth section of the lecture. This section is lengthy (as long as the section on materials), but consists only of seven repetitions of the following lines (with changes made to reflect the passing of the structural units):

"Here we are now at the beginning of the fourth large part of this talk. More and more I have the feeling that we are getting nowhere. Slowly, as the talk goes on, we are getting nowhere and that is a pleasure. It is not irritating to be where one is. It is only irritating to think one would like to be somewhere else. Here we are now, a little bit after the beginning of the fourth large part of this talk. More and more we have the feeling that I am getting nowhere. Slowly, as the talk goes on, slowly, we have the feeling we are getting nowhere. That is a pleasure which will continue. If we are irritated, it is not a pleasure. Nothing is not a pleasure if one is irritated, but suddenly, it is a pleasure, and then more and more it is not irritating (and then more and more slowly). Originally we were nowhere; and now, again, we are having the pleasure of being slowly nowhere. If anybody is sleepy, let him go to sleep."

This section forms a great pause in the flow of the talk, a kind of mantra for settling the mind, a concrete demonstration of "saying nothing." The regularity and static character of this passage suggests the canon movement of the String quartet in four parts, and perhaps was inspired by that work.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: Luke on July 11, 2011, 03:25:19 AM
Whereas James has one thing to say. And boy, does he say it... *yawn*
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: Luke on July 11, 2011, 03:28:12 AM
Indeed. But it's the lightness, not the heaviness, that is to be prized in Cage. No wonder you don't get it.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: karlhenning on July 11, 2011, 03:48:48 AM
Indeed. But it's the lightness, not the heaviness, that is to be prized in Cage. No wonder you don't get it.

Some people are determined not to enjoy themselves
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: karlhenning on July 11, 2011, 03:52:18 AM
Music of changes, played by David Tudor (for historical value) or Martine Joste (for sound quality).

Thanks for the suggestion . . . oddly (perhaps), another case where, although I've known of the piece forever, I've not yet actually heard it.

Separately . . . if the music is what's around us, and just what is happening . . . I wonder what sound quality can matter . . . .
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: karlhenning on July 11, 2011, 03:57:07 AM
Music of changes, played by David Tudor (for historical value) or Martine Joste (for sound quality).

Oh, is there any reason you don't recommend Steffen Schleiermacher? (I'm hoping, just lack of familiarity?)
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: Grazioso on July 11, 2011, 04:00:40 AM

Separately . . . if the music is what's around us, and just what is happening . . . I wonder what sound quality can matter . . . .


A dripping faucet under a buzzing fluorescent light...Takemitsu rip off! Bumblebees in a flower patch on a windy day...60's Ligeti! Heavy construction equipment at a busy New York City intersection...a Wagner love scene!
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: petrarch on July 11, 2011, 04:09:40 AM
Oh, is there any reason you don't recommend Steffen Schleiermacher? (I'm hoping, just lack of familiarity?)

Lack of familiarity indeed, but I do like his rendition of the massive Études australes very much.

My first exposure to Music of changes was through Herbert Henck on Wergo. For many years it was one of those CDs I would rarely play (I still have it, and still don't play it), as that particular recording never grabbed me. It was only when I got Martine Joste's on Mode that it clicked and became clear.

(coincidentally, another recording that would have surely turned me off in a similar manner, had it been my first foray into those works, is Henck's performance of Stockhausen's Klavierstücke--boy, am I glad I got into them through Kontarsky... today they are truly some of my favorite piano music ever--so perhaps I just don't like Henck's touch)
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: karlhenning on July 11, 2011, 04:11:39 AM
. . . (I still have it, and still don't play it) . . . .

I like that
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: petrarch on July 11, 2011, 04:17:10 AM
Separately . . . if the music is what's around us, and just what is happening . . . I wonder what sound quality can matter . . . .

Well, I take great delight in hearing the sound with all those partials and harmonics as richly intact as possible. To hear the heart of the sound, as it were, to paraphrase Scelsi.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: karlhenning on July 11, 2011, 04:28:34 AM
Yes, to be sure.  Of course, my question was none the most serious : )
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: petrarch on July 11, 2011, 05:44:44 AM
Right.  You have repeated this opinion ad nauseam.   

Fixed it; apologies for being pedantic, but it is one of those things that would be worthy of the grammar grumble thread.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: karlhenning on July 11, 2011, 06:03:13 AM
Especially we non-Latinists, who are apt to mis-decline nouns : )
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: karlhenning on July 11, 2011, 06:09:15 AM
Thanks.

Now, here's one of those things I imagine drives James up a wall,... and me too btw!! ;)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V12XFtFtC3U (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V12XFtFtC3U)

I find it infuriating,... but,... dig those crazy old timey dresses, haha,... and look at Cage: Harrison Ford as The Fugitive, haha,... oh, that's funny! :P

Do it proper, snypsss! ; )

http://www.youtube.com/v/V12XFtFtC3U
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: snyprrr on July 11, 2011, 06:14:52 AM
Do it proper, snypsss! ; )

http://www.youtube.com/v/V12XFtFtC3U

I STILL can't do that. >:D Spock!!
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: karlhenning on July 11, 2011, 06:22:23 AM
You're right, though, the clothes . . . which look so . . . familiar now that I've been watching the first season of Columbo . . . .
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: petrarch on July 12, 2011, 05:00:39 AM
So, having reached the end of the notable Cage works in my collection, here's a final article:

4'33", for any number of performers using any number of instruments (1952)

4'33" (1952) is Cage's "silent piece," in which no sounds are made by the performer at all. This piece is perhaps his most famous creation, and has been written about extensively. Practically no discussion of the composer or his work fails to mention it. The work has most often been presented either as the ultimate chance composition or as the perfect example of indeterminacy of performance--both chance and indeterminacy entering into Cage's music at about the same time 4'33" was composed. What has been rarely noted is that he had the idea for the piece much earlier: In A composer's confessions there appears the following:

"I have, for instance, several new desires (two may seem absurd, but I am serious about them): first, to compose a piece of uninterrupted silence and see it to the Muzak Co. It will be 4 1/2 minutes long--these being the standard lengths of "canned" music, and its title will be Silent prayer. It will open with a single idea which I will attempt to make as seductive as the color and shape of the fragrance of a flower. The ending will approach imperceptibility."

Silent prayer, as it was thus described in 1948, is clearly the first glimmer of an idea that, four years later, would become 4'33"; while Silent prayer is not 4'33" itself, it is its ancestor. Thus the silent piece's origins lie not in Cage's works of the 1950s and 60s, but rather in the aesthetic milieu we are considering here: the late 1940s, the String quartet in four parts, and the Lecture on nothing. We are justified, then, in considering the significance of 4'33" in this context and in attempting to understand what it would mean to Cage before the invention of chance composition.

Because 4'33" is known far more by reputation than through direct experience, it is worthwhile here to provide a precise description of the piece as it was composed in 1952. The piece is in three parts of fixed lengths: 30", 2'23" and 1'40" for a total duration (as given by the title) of 4'33". These durations were arrived at by chance means, via the addition of many shorter durations.

Although chance was used in the compositional act in 1952, it surely was not considered in 1948 when he first thought of the work: he almost certainly would have used a consciously-chosen structure instead. What would remain the same about the piece from 1948 to 1952 is the idea of a structured silence. Thus considered, 4'33" represents an instance of a truly empty rhythmic structure. If all sounds occur within the order of rhythmic structure (as Cage had asserted previously), then such a structure could not only encompass all possible sounds, but could function without any composed sounds at all: the ambient sounds of the environment--or even a dead silence--would themselves occur within the structural order. More to the point, a silent piece would serve a personal, spiritual purpose: by making and experiencing a piece of structure entirely without content, Cage could follow Eckhart's injunction to empty himself entirely, and thus hear "the hidden word." As a disinterested action, a mediation on the discipline of rhythmic structure, an actual immersion in the emptiness of rhythmic structure--in these senses the silent piece may be seen as more a means than an end, a mental, spiritual, and compositional exercise. Its literal silence reflects the silence of the will necessary to open up a realm of infinite possibilities.

It is not hard to imagine Cage in 1948, before the String quartet, realizing the need to keep still and quiet, to pursue such a discipline of self-control and denial. The situation here is reminiscent of that found in the "ox-herding pictures" of Zen Buddhism. In these pictures, the path of self-discipline that leads to enlightened knowledge is compared to the gradual taming of an ox. The ox becomes completely docile, and ultimately disappears entirely. In one version of the pictures, the last picture is only a blank circle and its accompanying text can be read as a commentary on 4'33":

"Both the man and the animal have disappeared, no traces are left,
The bright moonlight is empty and shadowless with all the ten thousand objects in it;
If anyone should ask the meaning of this,
Behold the lilies of the field and its fresh sweet-scented verdure."

(taken from The Music of John Cage, by James Pritchett)

More at:
http://www.rosewhitemusic.com/cage/texts/WhatSilenceTaughtCage.html
http://solomonsmusic.net/4min33se.htm
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: karlhenning on July 12, 2011, 08:30:59 AM
I had not known of this association, i.e. to canned music, before reading your post.  But, this adds another layer of meaning to the piece: that Cage was making a statement against the constant onslaught of sound, some music, some noise, that makes it impossible to experience silence.   Too much music turns it into "noise" as people begin to tune it out, and ideally, people would have opportunities to hear music when they consciously turn their attention to it, not being force-fed it when they are on hold on a phone call, or sitting in a doctor's office, or riding an elevator (although this practice seems to have died out) - or booming out of a car behind you in traffic.

There is too much random music from the environment and this piece by Cage was an attempt to encourage a little silence, which I think is a very important statement to make.

But one which, unfortunately, also got lost in the noise.

Nice post, Leon!
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: karlhenning on July 12, 2011, 08:32:12 AM
And, incidentally, one marvels at the Sisyphean repetition of whining about the naked simplicity of 4'33 . . . Get Over It (the fact of the piece) and Get Over It II (your undercurrent envy that you weren't there to think of it, first).
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: Grazioso on July 12, 2011, 11:50:25 AM
A canvas is never empty. --Robert Rauschenberg
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: Grazioso on July 12, 2011, 12:38:57 PM
And, incidentally, one marvels at the Sisyphean repetition of whining about the naked simplicity of 4'33 . . . Get Over It (the fact of the piece) and Get Over It II (your undercurrent envy that you weren't there to think of it, first).

I don't think it warrants marvel: to some, 4'33" seems like Cage thumbing his nose at convention, getting away with a bit of charlatanry dolled up in the fancy duds Classical Music and academic art criticism.

It depends on one's notion of the function of art: if art is ideally didactic, or a physical embodiment of an aesthetic theory, then what Cage is doing is right. If art should make one examine the nature of perception or reevaluate one's aesthetic suppositions, then what he's doing is logical.

But what if art is supposed to be the creation of conventionalized or stylized beauty for pleasure? Then things get shaky. Unless an orchestra plays 4'33" and a Brahms symphony at the same time :P What of someone who solely wants to hear in music the use of standardized practices ("What can he do with a C Major sonata?") to create entertainment? Or someone who doesn't want to intellectually engage with art as an expression of culture and philosophy?  Someone who wants to view music as artifact instead of action?

Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: Grazioso on July 13, 2011, 04:07:29 AM
Art is that and more.  The definitive aspect of a work of art is the intention of the creator.  A toilet is a toilet unless an artist like Duchamp says that his toilet is a work of art.

There are schools of critical thought that reject that notion, holding authorial intention to be irrelevant or unknowable and focusing instead on formal elements. In literature, for example, New Criticism, Reader Response criticism, etc.

Using the Duchamp example, one could alternatively say a toilet becomes a work of art when it is re-contextualized as such: put it an art gallery where viewers are socially conditioned to view objects on display as "art," and it suddenly becomes art. The janitor could accidentally leave his toilet plunger in one of the exhibit halls, and suddenly it's "a brilliant Neo-Dada installation that interrogates the dichotomy of self and other in the Post-Industrial milieu."
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: karlhenning on July 13, 2011, 04:23:13 AM
There are schools of critical thought that reject that notion, holding authorial intention to be irrelevant or unknowable . . . .

Interesting!  Not always completely unknowable, I shouldn't think . . . that tack strikes me as intellectual laziness.  (But then, "schools of critical thought" of itself suggests cozy hermetic tanks ; )

In general, I should certainly agree that one cannot know everything the artist intends (the artist himself probably doesn't understand it all), and that there are questions of how relevant this or that intention may be.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: Grazioso on July 13, 2011, 05:49:33 AM
Interesting!  Not always completely unknowable, I shouldn't think . . . that tack strikes me as intellectual laziness.  (But then, "schools of critical thought" of itself suggests cozy hermetic tanks ; )

In general, I should certainly agree that one cannot know everything the artist intends (the artist himself probably doesn't understand it all), and that there are questions of how relevant this or that intention may be.

Cozy hermetic tanks, perhaps, but at least the academics are intellectually engaging art on a rigorous, systematic level, whatever the validity of their end results. That trumps the "I listened to and it sucks. Why? Because, it does, dumbass!" school of art criticism  :D

The artist, not a "school of critical thought," owns his intentions.   

You're making a theoretical critical assertion/assumption right there. How much of those intentions are the artist's and not indirect or surrogate expressions of his cultural matrix? What if the art is the result of subconscious urges unknown to the creator? (Shades of Marxist and Psychoanalytic/Freudian criticism, respectively.)

What of an observer who sees in a piece of art something totally different than what the creator tried to achieve? Is the observer somehow wrong?

How are an artist's intentions inscribed in a work to where they can be decoded by observers with any accuracy? A piece of music is a succession of sound waves. What methods do you use to infer a composer's intentions from those sound waves in the absence of other evidence?

Quote
The artist is aware of his own intentions, at least, as fully aware as people can be concious of their motivations and intentions.  It is immaterial what outside observers may write or theorize or what schools of critical thought sprout up around a body of work - the bottomline is that if an artist presents something as art - then it is art. 

If no one else perceives it to be art, is it still art? And is not the creator also an outside observer? The painting is not the man.

Quote
It may not be good art, or it may have a small audience - but as you said, when an object has been re-contextualized, it can become art.  But, the person who does the re-contextualizing is an artist - not a janitor.  The artist has made a concious decision to re-contextualize an obejct for artistic purposes whereas the janitor was merely forgetful and left something behind.

But for the janitor, the "creator," it was never art, yet others perceive it to be so. Is it therefore not art?
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: karlhenning on July 13, 2011, 05:58:02 AM
Cozy hermetic tanks, perhaps, but at least the academics are intellectually engaging art on a rigorous, systematic level, whatever the validity of their end results. That trumps the "I listened to and it sucks. Why? Because, it does, dumbass!" school of art criticism  :D

Well, the latter school is easily trumped, though, isn't it? ; )
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: some guy on July 13, 2011, 11:10:14 AM
I recently bought Kenneth Silverman's biography of Cage, begin again. I'm quite liking it. Not a big fan of biographies generally, but this one's a good one.

In this book, the origins of 4' 33" are a little more detailed than in Pritchett's account, dating the first idea for the piece from 1940, not '48, in line with what I've read elsewhere, too, although the semi-serious joke about Musak did come from a lecture given at Vassar in 1948.

And mentioning the visit in 1951 (or '49) to the anechoic chamber at Harvard. That and the white paintings by Robert Rauschenberg were perhaps the strongest impetuses to go ahead with the piece.

Cage had also been using long silences in several pieces before 4' 33", at least one of them before the Vassar lecture.

For another detailed account of 4' 33", there's Larry Solomon's essay at http://solomonsmusic.net/4min33se.htm (http://solomonsmusic.net/4min33se.htm).
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: Brewski on July 14, 2011, 10:20:25 AM
Just found out that next year's Focus! Festival at Juilliard will celebrate the centennial of Cage's birth with a week of programs, below:

FOCUS! 2012 FESTIVALCentennial of John Cage
Friday, January 27 – Friday, February 3
 
Friday, January 27, 8 PM, The Peter Jay Sharp Theater
Opening concert
All-Cage program
 
Monday, January 30, 8 PM, The Peter Jay Sharp Theater
Juilliard Percussion Ensemble
Daniel Druckman, director
Works by Cage, Cowell, and Harrison
 
Tuesday, January 31, The Peter Jay Sharp Theater
7 PM, Pre-Concert Forum
8 PM Music of John Cage
 
Wednesday, February 1, 8 PM, Paul Hall
Vocal, chamber and solo works by John Cage
 
Thursday, February 2, 8 PM, Paul Hall
Vocal, chamber and solo works by John Cage
 
Friday, February 3, 8 PM, Alice Tully Hall
New Juilliard Ensemble
Joel Sachs, conductor
John Cage – The Seasons (1947)
John Cage – Concerto for Prepared Piano and Chamber Orchestra (1950-51)
John Cage – Concert for Piano and Orchestra (1957-58)

--Bruce
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: canninator on August 09, 2011, 11:15:36 AM
I'm hoping someone can help me out here. I am working through the score of the Sonatas and Interludes for Prepared Piano paying attention to its micro and macroscopic rhythmic structure.

Sonata I relates to the number 7 and the A section contains 4x7=28 crotchets. Wonderful, no Fields medal to be awarded for me here, but I read that this basic unit of 7 is organised as crotchet beats organised as 4 1 3;4 1 3; 4 2; 4 2 (=28 of course). From the score (and you will need the score if you have it to follow me here) bar 1 is four crotchets and bar 2 is organised, according to conventional analysis as 1 and then 3 crotchets (crotchet rest and 3 crotchets). Why is the rhythmic structure grouped in this fashion? Why not group the whole of section A as 4 4; 4 4; 4 2; 4 2 for example. There seems to be no underlying feature that would warrant grouping of the first two bars as 4 1 3 rather than 4 4. The score has even been annotated by someone who had it before me, in pencil, as 4 1 3.

I also have the score for Music for Marcel Duchamp. The whole piece is a single melodic line organized into 11 groups of 11 bars. Cage's blurb states that the rhythmic structure is 2,1,1,3,1,2,1 (=11 fine, okay I get that). So the piece is all in 5:4 so the first 11 bars are going to be 55 crotchets (5x11, yes thanks John for that) that somehow conform to the rhythmic structure he describes. I can map the structure (2,1,1 etc) he describes onto the first 11 bars 5 times sequentially but it appears to bear no resemblance to what is going on musically. Can anyone please explain the significance of the 2,1,1,3,1,2,1 rhythmic structure to the organization of the first 11 bars.

Crikey, Boulez's Notations is positively transparent compared to the issues I'm having here.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: petrarch on August 09, 2011, 04:43:21 PM
From the score (and you will need the score if you have it to follow me here) bar 1 is four crotchets and bar 2 is organised, according to conventional analysis as 1 and then 3 crotchets (crotchet rest and 3 crotchets). Why is the rhythmic structure grouped in this fashion? Why not group the whole of section A as 4 4; 4 4; 4 2; 4 2 for example. There seems to be no underlying feature that would warrant grouping of the first two bars as 4 1 3 rather than 4 4. The score has even been annotated by someone who had it before me, in pencil, as 4 1 3.

Looking at the score it seems that the 4 1 3 structure is what allows emphasis on the first crotched of the 3, creating an asymmetry with the 4 before it. As mentioned elsewhere, most (all?) sections of the sonatas are in binary form AB, and further subdivided into AABB, with A and B slightly different in order to generate some asymmetry. A and B themselves appear to be made up of asymmetric elements, which I think is done for variety and to avoid repetition. If A is 4 4 and B is 4 2, the resulting 4 4 4 4 4 2 4 2 probably wouldn't lend itself to clearly establishing a "regularly irregular" pattern.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: canninator on August 09, 2011, 10:32:15 PM
Looking at the score it seems that the 4 1 3 structure is what allows emphasis on the first crotched of the 3, creating an asymmetry with the 4 before it. As mentioned elsewhere, most (all?) sections of the sonatas are in binary form AB, and further subdivided into AABB, with A and B slightly different in order to generate some asymmetry. A and B themselves appear to be made up of asymmetric elements, which I think is done for variety and to avoid repetition. If A is 4 4 and B is 4 2, the resulting 4 4 4 4 4 2 4 2 probably wouldn't lend itself to clearly establishing a "regularly irregular" pattern.

Hhhmm, fair point although I might argue that the asymmetry is made explicit by the crotchet rest at the start of bar 2 whether one analyses A as  4 4 or 4 1 3.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: petrarch on August 10, 2011, 02:42:31 AM
Hhhmm, fair point although I might argue that the asymmetry is made explicit by the crotchet rest at the start of bar 2 whether one analyses A as  4 4 or 4 1 3.

The point I was making is that the structure is also a guideline for the composer--where in time to put the stresses.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: canninator on August 10, 2011, 09:09:03 AM
The point I was making is that the structure is also a guideline for the composer--where in time to put the stresses.

Yes, I think there is something to that. Working through Sonatas II (based on the principle of 31) and III (principle of 8 1/2) I can see where this delineation of the microscopic structure is coming from. Sonata II makes it especially obvious with dynamic markings that would correspond exactly to the stresses of a 4,2;4,2;9 1/2;9 1/2 (=31) rhythmic structure. I should have looked at this one first and I think it might have been a little more clear for me.

I feel a little more comfortable interpreting Music for Marcel Duchamp now. Many thanks for your input petrarch.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: canninator on August 10, 2011, 10:00:47 AM
The point I was making is that the structure is also a guideline for the composer--where in time to put the stresses.

So looking over Marcel Duchamp, there is a rhythmic structure of proportion 2,1,1,3,1,2,1 where the numbers appear to correspond to distinct phrases within each unit of 11 bars. It is interesting that this is not followed through with the same rigour as the Sonatas as there are sections (e.g. the fourth unit of 11 bars which consists of 110 alternating quavers Eb Cb [with some rudimentary counterpoint]) where the microscopic structure is lost but reappears by the 6th unit (section marked legatissimo). I think this relaxing of the microscopic structure is a double edged sword, it allows for a perceived rhythmic variety but has the disadvantage of underscoring some aspect of the piece's coherence.

One thing I haven't taken into account is the film for which the piece was written and how the loss of coherence in the microscopic rhythmic structure relates to what is happening on screen (just as Cage integrated silence and sound with movement and stillness with Merce Cunningham).
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: Brewski on December 02, 2011, 01:58:27 PM
My article (http://www.juilliard.edu/journal/2011-2012/1112/articles/discoveries.php) on Cage recordings, some of which I'd never heard. Dipping into a lot of his work over a few months was entertaining, enlightening - enjoyed it immensely.

--Bruce
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: some guy on December 02, 2011, 03:27:59 PM
Lovely article, Bruce.

One of my recent purchases was the recently released Percussion Group Cincinnati disc of mostly 40s Cage pieces, Credo in Us and the five Imaginary Landscapes. Some of those in two versions, too.

It's a beautiful production, well recorded and perfectly performed. Plus it uses original instruments.

Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: Brewski on December 02, 2011, 03:46:14 PM
Thanks - both for the kind words and for the additional recommendation. As a percussion fan, I'd be very interested to hear this.

--Bruce
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: some guy on December 02, 2011, 05:36:28 PM
I forgot to mention, too, an interesting comment on Cage that Ricardo Mandolini made in an interview for Asymmetry Music Magazine. Since it's Ricardo's interview, the stuff about Cage might not pop up in a standard search about Cage.

http://asymmetrymusicmagazine.com/interviews/ricardo-mandolini/ (http://asymmetrymusicmagazine.com/interviews/ricardo-mandolini/)

Some startling remarks about serialism, too. They startled me, anyway.

You have to scroll down a bit to get to the remarks about Cage. Or, even better, just relax and read the whole interview. It's fun!
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: petrarch on December 02, 2011, 06:31:11 PM
My article (http://www.juilliard.edu/journal/2011-2012/1112/articles/discoveries.php) on Cage recordings, some of which I'd never heard. Dipping into a lot of his work over a few months was entertaining, enlightening - enjoyed it immensely.

Thanks for the link. Very good--albeit short--reading.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: petrarch on December 02, 2011, 06:36:56 PM
http://asymmetrymusicmagazine.com/interviews/ricardo-mandolini/ (http://asymmetrymusicmagazine.com/interviews/ricardo-mandolini/)

Some startling remarks about serialism, too. They startled me, anyway.

You have to scroll down a bit to get to the remarks about Cage. Or, even better, just relax and read the whole interview. It's fun!

Yes, excellent article. It's not always that composers can articulate so clearly the challenges of aesthetics and art. There are a couple of phrases that I think summarize Cage very succinctly and appropriately. And good to see Dhomont mentioned; he's one of my favorite composers of electroacoustic music, with a keen ear for the plasticity of sounds.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: petrarch on December 02, 2011, 06:38:09 PM
One of my recent purchases was the recently released Percussion Group Cincinnati disc of mostly 40s Cage pieces, Credo in Us and the five Imaginary Landscapes. Some of those in two versions, too.

It's a beautiful production, well recorded and perfectly performed. Plus it uses original instruments.

Eagerly waiting to return to the U.S. (in a couple of months) to finally order it!
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: some guy on December 02, 2011, 07:35:38 PM
There's an interview with Dhomont in Asymmetry, too. With Robert Normandeau, who was doing the translating.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: Brewski on December 03, 2011, 01:34:04 PM
I forgot to mention, too, an interesting comment on Cage that Ricardo Mandolini made in an interview for Asymmetry Music Magazine. Since it's Ricardo's interview, the stuff about Cage might not pop up in a standard search about Cage.

http://asymmetrymusicmagazine.com/interviews/ricardo-mandolini/ (http://asymmetrymusicmagazine.com/interviews/ricardo-mandolini/)

Some startling remarks about serialism, too. They startled me, anyway.

You have to scroll down a bit to get to the remarks about Cage. Or, even better, just relax and read the whole interview. It's fun!

And thanks for that!

Thanks for the link. Very good--albeit short--reading.

Thanks, Petrarch. (PS, these articles are usually about 600 words, so at over 900, this one is actually a bit longer than usual for this format!)

--Bruce
Title: John Cage "Song Books" at Carnegie Hall
Post by: Brewski on March 28, 2012, 06:43:18 AM
I doubt anyone at Carnegie Hall last night will forget Joan La Barbara, Meredith Monk and - of all people - Jessye Norman in John Cage's Song Books (1970), with Michael Tilson Thomas and members of the San Francisco Symphony. While La Barbara and Monk are Cage veterans (and both were fantastic), Norman is definitely not, and it's safe to say that the highlight of the memorable half-hour or so was Norman sitting at a Royal manual typewriter (typing French, it appeared), while Tilson Thomas made a smoothie in a blender. The audience buzz at intermission (45 minutes long, to break down the elaborate stage set) was hugely entertaining.

FYI, the rest of the program:

Cowell: Synchrony (1930)
John Adams: Absolute Jest (2011)
Varèse: Amériques (1918-21; rev. 1927)

--Bruce
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: Brewski on March 28, 2012, 07:38:59 AM
And more: the New York Public Library has created a fantastic-looking new site, John Cage Unbound: A Living Archive, here:

http://exhibitions.nypl.org/johncage/

--Bruce
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on March 28, 2012, 07:41:21 AM
. . . The audience buzz at intermission (45 minutes long, to break down the elaborate stage set) was hugely entertaining.

Entertaining? My dear chap, it was part of the music : )
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: Brewski on March 28, 2012, 07:43:07 AM
Entertaining? My dear chap, it was part of the music : )

I'll buy it.  ;D

--Bruce
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: some guy on March 28, 2012, 09:26:03 AM
All audience buzz at all concerts is part of music.

Music is continuous; only our listening is intermittent. (I don't know about the exact words, but that sentiment can be found in Indian music philosophy and in Henry David Thoreau.)

That site Brewski mentioned is a lot of fun to click around in, and there's different ways to navigate, too, appropriately enough!
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: Brewski on April 19, 2012, 11:50:18 AM
They have released this year's Proms concerts, and check out this fun-looking Cage line-up:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/proms/whats-on/2012/august-17/14218

--Bruce
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: snyprrr on September 01, 2012, 07:05:21 PM
There's a big 100 years thing this week in DC, including Irvine Arditti and Margaret Leng Tan.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on September 01, 2012, 07:20:33 PM
Yes, I've seen the piece in the Arts section of hard copy of Ze Vashington Poszt
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: Brewski on September 05, 2012, 09:05:27 AM
Happy 100th Birthday, John Cage. I put up a little tribute on my blog, here (http://monotonousforest.typepad.com/monotonous_forest/2012/09/a-john-cage-centennial-tribute.html).

--Bruce
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: some guy on September 05, 2012, 10:44:05 AM
And what a cool tribute it is, to be sure.

Thanks, Brewski.

(Cool blog, too. I'd never looked at it before. I'll be back! ;D)
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: snyprrr on September 06, 2012, 07:27:46 PM
Mode will be re-releasing the Arditti/Freeman Etudes 1-4. Good news for James! :-* ;D
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: snyprrr on September 08, 2012, 06:38:14 AM
The WPost had a review of Arditti playing the Freeman Etudes at the Philips Collection in DC, which, though positive, ends with a "I'm disappointed and I don't know why." ???

I would have liked to have met Arditti :(...
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: petrarch on September 08, 2012, 07:13:17 AM
The WPost had a review of Arditti playing the Freeman Etudes at the Philips Collection in DC, which, though positive, ends with a "I'm disappointed and I don't know why." ???

I would have liked to have met Arditti :(...

I have seen him/them live a number of times, they make it all sound 'fluid' and 'easy', which is perhaps why the reviewer was disappointed.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: snyprrr on September 11, 2012, 06:55:44 AM
A 4th Wash. Post review of the Cage Centenary in DC. !! :o That's the most GMG I've ever seen in the Post, haha. Jenny Lin got some great press in the last week! Good for her.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: San Antone on January 08, 2013, 03:08:49 PM
Some orchestral music from Cage - Sixteen Dances



The Boston Modern Orchestra Project led by Gil Rose does a great job with this music. 
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on January 08, 2013, 03:29:23 PM
Mmm, nice.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: TheGSMoeller on July 10, 2013, 03:49:07 AM
Any thoughts, concerns, praise for MacGregor's disc of Cage? It's in my "considering" list.


Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: San Antone on November 07, 2013, 07:53:26 AM
New release of 10,000 Things.  With software contained on an included USB drive, this recording presents Cage's concept of this piece more robustly than any previous iteration.

http://www.youtube.com/v/UamwhnPLE4Y

From article in New Music Box (http://www.newmusicbox.org/articles/cages-more-than-ten-thousand-things/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=cages-more-than-ten-thousand-things):
But the “I Ching Edition” of the recording also includes a remarkable something extra, contained on a USB drive the size of a business card. This inconspicuous piece of technology comes with software designed by Aron Kallay that allows us to listen to the pieces in any combination—solos, duets, trios, and quartets (in addition to the full quintet), for 31 total possible combinations. The sections of the shorter pieces are automatically distributed to fit the length of the longest piece, with silence interpolated between. The software also realizes Cage’s instructions for shuffling the 28 sections of each individual piece (except for 45’ for a Speaker, which doesn’t use these divisions). That means that there are a dizzying number of possible versions just for each solo, a 30-digit number if my math is right. It turns out that Cage vastly undersold the number of things contained in his compositions!
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: petrarch on November 07, 2013, 08:39:49 AM
New release of 10,000 Things.  With software contained on an included USB drive, this recording presents Cage's concept of this piece more robustly than any previous iteration.

http://www.youtube.com/v/UamwhnPLE4Y

From article in New Music Box (http://www.newmusicbox.org/articles/cages-more-than-ten-thousand-things/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=cages-more-than-ten-thousand-things):
But the “I Ching Edition” of the recording also includes a remarkable something extra, contained on a USB drive the size of a business card. This inconspicuous piece of technology comes with software designed by Aron Kallay that allows us to listen to the pieces in any combination—solos, duets, trios, and quartets (in addition to the full quintet), for 31 total possible combinations. The sections of the shorter pieces are automatically distributed to fit the length of the longest piece, with silence interpolated between. The software also realizes Cage’s instructions for shuffling the 28 sections of each individual piece (except for 45’ for a Speaker, which doesn’t use these divisions). That means that there are a dizzying number of possible versions just for each solo, a 30-digit number if my math is right. It turns out that Cage vastly undersold the number of things contained in his compositions!

Very interesting! Will be ordering it.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: Brewski on November 07, 2013, 12:49:23 PM
Any thoughts, concerns, praise for MacGregor's disc of Cage? It's in my "considering" list.




Somehow missed this - can't comment on it, but I have heard MacGregor's work in other repertoire and liked her.

New release of 10,000 Things.  With software contained on an included USB drive, this recording presents Cage's concept of this piece more robustly than any previous iteration.

http://www.youtube.com/v/UamwhnPLE4Y

From article in New Music Box (http://www.newmusicbox.org/articles/cages-more-than-ten-thousand-things/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=cages-more-than-ten-thousand-things):
But the “I Ching Edition” of the recording also includes a remarkable something extra, contained on a USB drive the size of a business card. This inconspicuous piece of technology comes with software designed by Aron Kallay that allows us to listen to the pieces in any combination—solos, duets, trios, and quartets (in addition to the full quintet), for 31 total possible combinations. The sections of the shorter pieces are automatically distributed to fit the length of the longest piece, with silence interpolated between. The software also realizes Cage’s instructions for shuffling the 28 sections of each individual piece (except for 45’ for a Speaker, which doesn’t use these divisions). That means that there are a dizzying number of possible versions just for each solo, a 30-digit number if my math is right. It turns out that Cage vastly undersold the number of things contained in his compositions!

And thanks from me, too! Looks quite appealing.

--Bruce
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: Pessoa on November 12, 2013, 09:29:38 AM
Anybody has listened to the sixteen dances? I would like to read opinions.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: San Antone on November 12, 2013, 09:35:45 AM
Anybody has listened to the sixteen dances? I would like to read opinions.

The BMOP's recording is a first rate performance of the work - (click on the image and you will find some quotes from reviews)

(http://www.bmop.org/sites/default/files/imagecache/170x170/cage_cover_color.jpg) (http://www.bmop.org/audio-recordings/john-cage-sixteen-dances)

For me it is one of his more engaging compositions, since it sits on the boundary of his pre-planned works and the all-chance procedures.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: edward on November 12, 2013, 09:38:46 AM
The BMOP's recording is a first rate performance of the work - (click on the image and you will find some quotes from reviews)
If you have the Ensemble Modern recording: how do the two compare?
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: San Antone on November 12, 2013, 09:59:31 AM
If you have the Ensemble Modern recording: how do the two compare?

I don't have that  one, but there's at least one section, Tranquility, on YouTube from it (if the tagging is correct) -

https://www.youtube.com/v/D7NT4X7LUJw

Most of this recording is also on YouTube



They all sound good; but I don't feel any need to add to my BMOP disc.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: Pessoa on November 12, 2013, 10:04:35 AM
For me it is one of his more engaging compositions, since it sits on the boundary of his pre-planned works and the all-chance procedures.
Thank you.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: Pessoa on November 12, 2013, 12:52:59 PM
... can't stand Cage.
I think Cage himself would have like that  8)
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: San Antone on January 05, 2014, 03:33:08 AM
Article in The New York Times

Visual Portents of a Silent Bolt of Thunder
MoMA’s ‘There Will Never Be Silence,’ About John Cage (http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/04/arts/music/momas-there-will-never-be-silence-about-john-cage.html?partner=rss&emc=rss&_r=2&)

(http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2014/01/04/arts/04jpCAGE/04jpCAGE-articleLarge.jpg)

Quote
Like much of Cage’s work, the show is suffused by a meditative wit that wears its transcendent ambitions lightly. Works that investigate chance and indeterminacy through found objects, monochrome canvases and the playful use of language invite the visitor to explore new ways of engaging not only with the art on the walls, but with the outside world, too.

“It offers the opportunity to let us be taken into something else,” said David Platzker, the show’s curator. “It’s the possibility of passing through boredom into fascination.”
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: 7/4 on January 05, 2014, 05:30:42 AM
enough about the four feet and thirty three inches already!
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: torut on March 31, 2014, 11:56:54 AM
John Cage Trust (http://johncage.org/4_33.html) provides 4'33" App for iPhone (https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/4-33-john-cage/id808378692?mt=8).
A performance of 4'33" can be recorded, and the recordings created all over the world can be played.

(http://a3.mzstatic.com/us/r30/Purple4/v4/49/f9/95/49f99593-d7e9-fc40-df1f-8b1fea456e2c/screen568x568.jpeg) (http://a3.mzstatic.com/us/r30/Purple6/v4/9c/23/7e/9c237e5d-8e39-7548-418f-675cefad0fda/screen568x568.jpeg)

This is very interesting (for me). Ambient sound (private or public) at different places in the world can be heard. Break between movements creates a feel of structure. Sometimes it is as if hearing a recording of Luc Ferrari.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: petrarch on April 19, 2014, 04:32:36 AM
Wonderful book on John Cage. It is a great complement to James Pritchett's.

Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on April 19, 2014, 06:04:21 AM
Isn't that cute? James feels validated now.

Guess he needed that . . . .
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: snyprrr on April 19, 2014, 06:15:11 AM
BBC Interview: Elliott Carter on John Cage. (July 2000)

John Tusa: Well, I wonder in this whole question of what is an American composer, how you relate to the John Cage type of music?

Elliott Carter: Well, there are two things. I'm not sure that John Cage would be considered an American composer, after all the Dadaism business was something that was started in Zurich during the First World War with Tristan Tzara and others, and we were actually quite good friends with Marcel Duchamps, also one of the people that supported this kind of thing. Now, what I feel about this west coast thing is this: my particular period of development and interest in music was believing that the musical situation was a static thing that existed. There was a symphony orchestra, there was an opera house, there was a string quartet and these things were given and I was writing pieces for these pieces. I was hoping to take... believing actually that by writing something new and lively we could make the opera house have something that was vivid in a new way and similarly with a symphony orchestra, a string quartet or whatever, pianist. This was my thought and this is what I've always lived in. Now I understand that there are people that feel that the opera house ought to be knocked out and destroyed. That it's an old-fashioned thing that really has no meaning and be the same thing for each of the things that I've mentioned. I can understand that they're maddening in a certain sense but I don't believe I want to do it.

JT: But the Cage type of music of what we now say, I suppose, deconstructing of the musical experience, deconstructing the conventional concert-hall experience.

EC: Well, this is all part of what I was saying. He was deconstructing not merely the concert situation but actually the way music is produced, and I think it's very entertaining and sometimes quite... it's amusing and it has an overtone of Zen Buddhism which fascinates certain people. In my opinion all that kind of thing is again going back to this awful domination of a certain group of people over other people, but in any case this is why don't they do it; it's a bore but it's all right to do it.

JT: So its just one of those moments of diversion .

EC: It is a diversion. It's fun, but I don't think it can amount to very much. It has an overtone of seriousness because of its relation to each thing and the rest of it, it's not part of our society and we don't... Chinese society is a different kind of thing and to import it in this ridiculous way I find embarrassing.

JT: Well, I think if you want contemplation there are plenty of disciplined
ways of contemplation available within the broad Christian or Jewish tradition so...



First thing I see is James Posting in the Cage Thread. :laugh: Surely, nothing but trouble- and- lo- haha- touche sir!!

It's too easy James, it's too easy!

Ugh, why did you even have to bring up the Thread- now I'm thinking about it,... bummer. I know, some of these magic mushrooms will make the Cage pain go away!

Oh, you know, this morning I could just sit here for hours and dig a really deep hole for myself... watch me TRRRRRRY to be the bigger person.....maybe just knowing his legacy is moot is enough? Show me one Composer who's just throwing notes around and I can imagine, that in this world climate (no pun) no one's going to listen to Kindergarten Games Music... maybe it worked for Cage in the '60s, but we have REAL problems now that liberating the notes just isn't going to help. Maybe Cage should be held as an accomplice in the dumbing down of the general populace?

Grrr, James- now you're on my shit list for trying to ruin my day, haha!! :laugh: :laugh: :laugh:

Maybe you're USING Cage for your own nefarious ends??? hmmmm

aaaaaahhhhhhhhhh... now it's in my head- WHAT HAVE YOU DONE JAMES?????? :'( :laugh: :'( :laugh: :'( :laugh:

Isn't that cute? James feels validated now.

Guess he needed that . . . .

me too!!!!! oy vey
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: petrarch on April 19, 2014, 06:50:55 AM
Isn't that cute? James feels validated now.

Guess he needed that . . . .

It only goes to show that people of stature like Carter can still misunderstand Cage and, tangentially, Zen Buddhism. Luckily, it doesn't detract anything at all from the music (Carter's and Cage's) and everybody can continue to be happy.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: petrarch on April 19, 2014, 07:20:44 AM
All of the heavyweights seem to have "misunderstood"

LOL.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: petrarch on April 19, 2014, 07:47:02 AM
(...) almost about every major composer or artist that matters (...)

LOL x2
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on April 19, 2014, 07:53:57 AM
It only goes to show that people of stature like Carter can still misunderstand Cage and, tangentially, Zen Buddhism. Luckily, it doesn't detract anything at all from the music (Carter's and Cage's) and everybody can continue to be happy.

Indeed!  Carter's art endures;  Carter's opinions about art are peripheral, possibly of passing interest, but are not themselves any Absolute Artistic Truth.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: Artem on April 19, 2014, 08:45:26 AM
Wonderful book on John Cage. It is a great complement to James Pritchett's.


Whishlisted it. Thank you for the recomendaiton.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: torut on April 19, 2014, 09:33:45 AM
Wonderful book on John Cage. It is a great complement to James Pritchett's.
That book looks interesting, thank you. It seems to discuss the influence of Zen on not only Cage himself but also artists around him.
Quote
Composer John Cage sought the silence of a mind at peace with itself—and found it in Zen Buddhism, a spiritual path that changed both his music and his view of the universe. [...] Freed to be his own man, Cage originated exciting experiments that set him at the epicenter of a new avant-garde forming in the 1950s. Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns, Andy Warhol, Yoko Ono, Allan Kaprow, Morton Feldman, and Leo Castelli were among those influenced by his ‘teaching’ and ‘preaching.’
Influence of Zen was mentioned in Feldman thread. Although Feldman told that he was not interested in Zen, there might have been indirect influence through Cage.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: snyprrr on April 19, 2014, 09:47:49 AM
All Out War in  5... 4... 3... 2...
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: torut on April 19, 2014, 09:48:43 AM
A new recording of Cage's string quartets by Bozzini Quartet (http://www.quatuorbozzini.ca/en/discographie/cqb_1414/) will be released in 2014. I like Bozzani quartet's Canadian SQs album.

(http://res.electrocd.com/image.php/couv/cqb_1414.jpg)
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: snyprrr on April 19, 2014, 10:19:27 AM
A new recording of Cage's string quartets by Bozzini Quartet (http://www.quatuorbozzini.ca/en/discographie/cqb_1414/) will be released in 2014. I like Bozzani quartet's Canadian SQs album.

(http://res.electrocd.com/image.php/couv/cqb_1414.jpg)

almost 80 minutes!
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: petrarch on April 19, 2014, 11:43:29 AM
That book looks interesting, thank you. It seems to discuss the influence of Zen on not only Cage himself but also artists around him.

It is a gripping account of the path Cage carved and how coherent and thoughtful it ended up being. Zen was perhaps the most enduring influence even though it only came in the 1940s, i.e. almost halfway through his life.

Influence of Zen was mentioned in Feldman thread. Although Feldman told that he was not interested in Zen, there might have been indirect influence through Cage.

Indeed Feldman didn't care for Zen. But one thing they all say is that Cage opened their eyes (and ears).
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: Brewski on April 19, 2014, 12:16:35 PM
Wonderful book on John Cage. It is a great complement to James Pritchett's.



My thanks for noting this as well. Have put it on my wishlist, too.

--Bruce
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: petrarch on April 19, 2014, 12:52:49 PM
p.s. - workin' hard on a new piece, you take a transducer microphone and rub it all around your ass; I think it has interesting cross-rhythms. Thank you Buddha.

Ah scatology, the proof of a sophisticated and persuasive argument.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: petrarch on April 19, 2014, 01:23:04 PM
No need for that in a Cage thread. Just still the mind and fart. Voila musical composition!

LOL x4. I just needed to preserve another of James' gems for posterity.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on April 19, 2014, 05:42:05 PM
Ah scatology, the proof of a sophisticated and persuasive argument.

Surgically done!
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: San Antone on April 19, 2014, 05:52:00 PM
Wonderful book on John Cage. It is a great complement to James Pritchett's.



looks good, thanks for the post.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: torut on April 19, 2014, 06:52:33 PM
New albums of John Cage's music keep being released. I am particularly interested in these albums because I like String Quartet in Four Parts a lot. Although I prefer the original string quartet version, these are interesting and nice.

In Four Parts (2014)
Patrick Pulsinger, modular synthesizer
Christian Fennesz, guitar, electronics

Whole album can be listened to at Col Legno site (https://www.col-legno.com/en/catalog/complete_catalog/in_four_parts). This is not an arrangement, but rather a piece inspired by Cage's orignal.



String Quartet In Four Parts (2013)
Noël Akchoté, electric guitars
bandcamp (http://noelakchote.bandcamp.com/album/john-cage-string-quartet-in-four-parts)

https://www.youtube.com/v/TqaEaeYc32s
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: San Antone on April 20, 2014, 05:35:33 AM
New albums of John Cage's music keep being released. I am particularly interested in these albums because I like String Quartet in Four Parts a lot. Although I prefer the original string quartet version, these are interesting and nice.

In Four Parts (2014)
Patrick Pulsinger, modular synthesizer
Christian Fennesz, guitar, electronics

Whole album can be listened to at Col Legno site (https://www.col-legno.com/en/catalog/complete_catalog/in_four_parts). This is not an arrangement, but rather a piece inspired by Cage's orignal.



String Quartet In Four Parts (2013)
Noël Akchoté, electric guitars
bandcamp (http://noelakchote.bandcamp.com/album/john-cage-string-quartet-in-four-parts)

https://www.youtube.com/v/TqaEaeYc32s

fantastic - thanks.  Cage's music lends itself to endless reinterpretation often with results that are nothing like previous performances/recordings.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on April 21, 2014, 02:45:30 AM
Wonderful book on John Cage. It is a great complement to James Pritchett's.



Much enjoying the sample of this on my Kindle, the occasional imperfection notwithstanding.  I shall certainly plunge on and read the entire book.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on April 21, 2014, 05:40:31 AM
String Quartet In Four Parts (2013)
Noël Akchoté, electric guitars
bandcamp (http://noelakchote.bandcamp.com/album/john-cage-string-quartet-in-four-parts)

https://www.youtube.com/v/TqaEaeYc32s

Very nice . . . made me think of some of the tracks on the Robt Fripp/Andy Summers album, I Advance Masked.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: Mirror Image on April 21, 2014, 05:43:32 AM
made me think of some of the tracks on the Robt Fripp/Andy Summers album, I Advance Masked.

Now, that's a cool album. 8)
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: petrarch on April 21, 2014, 04:08:12 PM
... when asked about Zen, the Zen-master simply raised his finger & responded with silence.

How to entirely miss the point, a lecture by James, soon in a pulpit near you.

As a bonus, the great orator will follow it immediately with another, Insistence: virtue or flaw? The 10,000 ways to beat a dead horse... and then more, for those still in attendance.

I can assure you, it's all very Cageian:

"If something is boring after two minutes, try it for four. If still boring, then eight.
Then sixteen. Then thirty-two. Eventually one discovers that it is not boring at all."

                                                                                  -- John Cage
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: EigenUser on April 26, 2014, 01:16:36 PM
Does anyone know how Cage came up with the number 4'33''? Surely someone has asked him this in an interview somewhere.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: petrarch on April 26, 2014, 01:19:20 PM
Does anyone know how Cage came up with the number 4'33''? Surely someone has asked him this in an interview somewhere.

Chance, casting the I Ching coins for each of the three movements.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: snyprrr on April 26, 2014, 01:38:57 PM
How to entirely miss the point, a lecture by James, soon in a pulpit near you.

As a bonus, the great orator will follow it immediately with another, Insistence: virtue or flaw? The 10,000 ways to beat a dead horse... and then more, for those still in attendance.

I can assure you, it's all very Cageian:

"If something is boring after two minutes, try it for four. If still boring, then eight.
Then sixteen. Then thirty-two. Eventually one discovers that it is not boring at all."

                                                                                  -- John Cage

You'll come around petty.... yooou'll come around

bwa-ha >:D



bwa- ha ha >:D >:D



bwa-hahahahaha >:D >:D >:D


The trouble with people is that they just don't take the concept of HELL seriously!! ???





... shall I... continue? (opens ancient tome)
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: petrarch on May 03, 2014, 05:29:19 AM
In Four Parts (2014)
Patrick Pulsinger, modular synthesizer
Christian Fennesz, guitar, electronics

Whole album can be listened to at Col Legno site (https://www.col-legno.com/en/catalog/complete_catalog/in_four_parts). This is not an arrangement, but rather a piece inspired by Cage's orignal.



Got this last week. It is very good.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: torut on May 03, 2014, 08:20:49 PM
Got this last week. It is very good.
I am glad that you like it. I heard the whole album twice at the label's site and I am going to purchase it. (I feel guilty. :))
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: torut on May 03, 2014, 08:37:04 PM
This is a re-post because I posted it in an irrelevant thread. I am interested in this album (to be released on May 13) because I have only one recording of the work in The 25-Year Retrospective Concert of the music of John Cage, which contains only Sonatas I-VIII & two Interludes, and the sound recorded in 1958 is a bit dated.



There are so many recordings of Sonatas and Interludes: Tilbury, Berman, MacGregor, Tenney, Pescia, Schleiermacher, Takahashi, etc. If I want a recording of the complete work with good recording quality, which would be recommendable?
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: petrarch on May 04, 2014, 02:52:11 AM
There are so many recordings of Sonatas and Interludes: Tilbury, Berman, MacGregor, Tenney, Pescia, Schleiermacher, Takahashi, etc. If I want a recording of the complete work with good recording quality, which would be recommendable?

This:



Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: torut on May 04, 2014, 06:52:26 AM
This:


Thank you, I purchased it.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: San Antone on May 04, 2014, 07:21:28 AM
This is a re-post because I posted it in an irrelevant thread. I am interested in this album (to be released on May 13) because I have only one recording of the work in The 25-Year Retrospective Concert of the music of John Cage, which contains only Sonatas I-VIII & two Interludes, and the sound recorded in 1958 is a bit dated.



There are so many recordings of Sonatas and Interludes: Tilbury, Berman, MacGregor, Tenney, Pescia, Schleiermacher, Takahashi, etc. If I want a recording of the complete work with good recording quality, which would be recommendable?

Part of the essence of these works is that since each piano is different, and each setup is a little different, the works can sound very different from performance to performance.  It is the kind of work for which there is no "one" reference; and the more different versions you hear/have the better.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: 7/4 on May 04, 2014, 07:25:36 AM
Part of the essence of these works is that since each piano is different, and each setup is a little different, the works can sound very different from performance to performance.  It is the kind of work for which there is no "one" reference; and the more different versions you hear/have the better.

I resemble that remark. I have a small pile of recordings of this piece.  :laugh:
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: torut on May 04, 2014, 08:00:09 AM
Part of the essence of these works is that since each piano is different, and each setup is a little different, the works can sound very different from performance to performance.  It is the kind of work for which there is no "one" reference; and the more different versions you hear/have the better.
Yes, the impression I had when I heard the Vandré's recording was very different from that of Ajemian's. Now I want to hear other recordings too. :)
I watched a video of preparing a piano. The instruction is very detailed, and it takes 1~2 hours. Cage's original intention was to reproduce the same sounds, but he realized it is not possible.

John Cage, 1972, as a foreword for Richard Bunger’s The Well-Prepared Piano.
Quote
When I first placed objects between piano strings, it was with the desire to possess sounds (to be able to repeat then). But, as the music left my home and went from piano to piano and from pianist to pianist, it became clear that not only are two pianists essentially different from one another, but two pianos are not the same either. Instead of the possibility of repetition, we are faced in life with the unique qualities and characteristics of each occasion.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: Octave on May 04, 2014, 12:38:06 PM
This:

HIP Cage!
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: petrarch on May 04, 2014, 12:44:37 PM
HIP Cage!

Yep :).
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: Ken B on May 04, 2014, 02:29:59 PM


"If something is boring after two minutes, try it for four. If still boring, then eight.
Then sixteen. Then thirty-two. Eventually one discovers that it is not boring at all."

                                                                                  -- John Cage
Wins elections.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: Mandryka on May 05, 2014, 10:40:23 AM
What do you all think of Claudio Crismani's recording of Etudes Australes?
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: torut on May 10, 2014, 03:43:24 PM
What do you all think of Claudio Crismani's recording of Etudes Australes?
I don't have the Crismani's recording, but noticed that it is just 2-CD set. Since no tempi are specified in the score, it is natural that the length of each performance is different, but the latest recording by Libener is 4-CD set! Do you feel that Crismani's playing is hasty?
I checked the lengths of 4 recordings. Liebner's tempi are very constant.

Title      Sultan (1978-82) Crismani (1994-96) Schleiermacher (2001) Liebner (2011)
Etude #1  3'54              4'06                4'19                  8'19           
Etude #2  4'33              4'29                5'43                  8'01           
Etude #3  4'02              1'46                5'53                  8'06           
Etude #4  4'12              4'37                3'32                  7'58           
Etude #5  4'26              5'07                4'28                  8'16           
Etude #6  4'08              4'52                5'15                  8'19           
Etude #7  5'05              2'17                7'44                  8'19           
Etude #8  3'57              4'17                5'39                  8'11           
Etude #9  5'07              4'17                5'28                  8'17           
Etude #10 4'35              2'31                4'37                  8'12           
Etude #11 4'36              2'37                4'19                  7'50           
Etude #12 3'53              3'29                4'06                  8'19           
Etude #13 4'14              1'58                5'26                  7'50           
Etude #14 5'20              3'09                6'39                  8'19           
Etude #15 4'28              3'16                6'21                  8'18           
Etude #16 5'36              5'54                8'14                  7'51           
Etude #17 5'05              3'20                5'50                  8'15           
Etude #18 5'18              2'38                6'37                  8'06           
Etude #19 4'56              2'28                6'58                  8'04           
Etude #20 5'03              4'00                6'17                  8'12           
Etude #21 5'24              1'36                7'41                  8'08           
Etude #22 6'51              4'01                7'17                  8'08           
Etude #23 6'08              2'41                8'32                  8'22           
Etude #24 6'26              2'08                6'52                  7'57           
Etude #25 6'28              3'42                6'26                  8'17           
Etude #26 6'46              3'24                6'05                  8'21           
Etude #27 5'32              1'09                5'56                  8'15           
Etude #28 6'50              2'29                7'10                  8'14           
Etude #29 7'11              4'12                8'26                  8'07           
Etude #30 7'07              5'00                7'57                  7'55           
Etude #31 7'21              4'25                6'55                  7'48           
Etude #32 4'47              5'56                5'34                  8'08           
total      169'19            112'03              204'00                260'42         
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: Ken B on May 10, 2014, 03:49:04 PM
HIP Cage!
Recorded silence from 1950?
 :)
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: torut on May 10, 2014, 06:45:03 PM
Melodies & Harmonies



I have been listening to this album many times. Very lovely and peaceful. The Six Melodies were written for violin and unspecified keyboard instrument. Here a Fender Rhodes is used for the keyboard part. It creates calming atmosphere. I don't know if there is a recording that uses a piano or other keyboard instrument.

The tracks can be heard at Col Legno's site (https://www.col-legno.com/en/catalog/complete_catalog/melodies__harmonies).

Six Melodies
Quote from: Markus Hennerfeind
The Six Melodies go back to the year 1950, a time when John Cage had become interested in oriental philosophy and was trying to find answers to questions of sounds, silence and time: “Time is that which decides about the life and death of each sound and of each silence, animating both alike, and thus being part of what is most intimate about the sound and of what is most intimate about the silence, in this regard not even existing ‘as such’ but always coming to light anew.” The Six Melodies were written for violin and keyboard instrument (leaving it to the performer to choose the type of keyboard instrument), only a short time after the String Quartet in Four Parts; in a letter to Pierre Boulez, Cage himself referred to them as a “postscript to the Quartet” – he even used a nearly identical collection of gamuts. The structure of each piece, and even that of each phrase, is defined by the same rhythmic pattern. The violinist is requested to play without vibrato and with minimum weight on the bow. on this album, the Six Melodies are framed by the larger collection of the Thirteen Harmonies, with both cycles confronting, and contrasted with, each other, yet also establishing a link between Cage’s early works and his late oeuvre.

Thirteen Harmonies
Quote from: Markus Hennerfeind
The Thirteen Harmonies date back to 1985, more specifically to violinist Roger Zahab’s idea of selecting thirteen out of the 44 Harmonies originally written for Cage’s Apartment House 1776, and arrange them for violin and keyboards. Cage thought this a great plan and approved the arrangements. He had written Apartment House 1776 in 1976, on the occasion of the two-hundredth anniversary of the American Declaration of Independence. The original number of states that formed the US, i.e. thirteen, inspired Roger Zahab to select thirteen of these Harmonies. Their origin also dates back to the 18th century: each of the Thirteen Harmonies is based on a chorale, a hymn or a congregational song of the East Coast Protestant Church. All of the pieces used and fragmented by Cage for the Harmonies had been written in an environment separated from European musical traditions, by composers who had already been born as Americans and had moreover remained largely unaffected by musical developments in Europe. William Billings, Supply Belcher, Andrew Law and James Lyon were the creators of the original pieces, which could at best be described as relatively simple “utility music” if judged according to European standards. This simplicity and the quite straightforward sound are to some extent maintained by the violin’s vibratoless, melancholy, somewhat “rural” playing. The sound repertoire includes fissured single tones, double stops, isolated gestures and flageolets. The notation used for all the pieces is entirely traditional, but Klaus Lang points out a special characteristic in Cage’s work: “Especially in the case of the Harmonies, which have been assembled from fragmented sound objects positioned freely in time, no meter develops from the music itself, as is usual with traditional classical music.
When performing the piece, one needs to create this flow in one’s mind, and arrange the objects in the flow, on the basis of the score. The result is the paradoxical situation of having to constantly attend to a meter in order to create sound structures which, for the listener, are detached from the meter and simply hover in space.”
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: Mandryka on May 11, 2014, 06:53:15 AM
I don't have the Crismani's recording, but noticed that it is just 2-CD set. Since no tempi are specified in the score, it is natural that the length of each performance is different, but the latest recording by Libener is 4-CD set! Do you feel that Crismani's playing is hasty?
I checked the lengths of 4 recordings. Liebner's tempi are very constant.

Title      Sultan (1978-82) Crismani (1994-96) Schleiermacher (2001) Liebner (2011)
Etude #1  3'54              4'06                4'19                  8'19           
Etude #2  4'33              4'29                5'43                  8'01           
Etude #3  4'02              1'46                5'53                  8'06           
Etude #4  4'12              4'37                3'32                  7'58           
Etude #5  4'26              5'07                4'28                  8'16           
Etude #6  4'08              4'52                5'15                  8'19           
Etude #7  5'05              2'17                7'44                  8'19           
Etude #8  3'57              4'17                5'39                  8'11           
Etude #9  5'07              4'17                5'28                  8'17           
Etude #10 4'35              2'31                4'37                  8'12           
Etude #11 4'36              2'37                4'19                  7'50           
Etude #12 3'53              3'29                4'06                  8'19           
Etude #13 4'14              1'58                5'26                  7'50           
Etude #14 5'20              3'09                6'39                  8'19           
Etude #15 4'28              3'16                6'21                  8'18           
Etude #16 5'36              5'54                8'14                  7'51           
Etude #17 5'05              3'20                5'50                  8'15           
Etude #18 5'18              2'38                6'37                  8'06           
Etude #19 4'56              2'28                6'58                  8'04           
Etude #20 5'03              4'00                6'17                  8'12           
Etude #21 5'24              1'36                7'41                  8'08           
Etude #22 6'51              4'01                7'17                  8'08           
Etude #23 6'08              2'41                8'32                  8'22           
Etude #24 6'26              2'08                6'52                  7'57           
Etude #25 6'28              3'42                6'26                  8'17           
Etude #26 6'46              3'24                6'05                  8'21           
Etude #27 5'32              1'09                5'56                  8'15           
Etude #28 6'50              2'29                7'10                  8'14           
Etude #29 7'11              4'12                8'26                  8'07           
Etude #30 7'07              5'00                7'57                  7'55           
Etude #31 7'21              4'25                6'55                  7'48           
Etude #32 4'47              5'56                5'34                  8'08           
total      169'19            112'03              204'00                260'42         

No, I do not get the impression that he is playing hastily. My impression is that Crismani plays this as flowing music, while Liebner and Sultan play it as music which is being always interrupted. As a result, there is less space, less white space between cells in Crismani's interpretation, I don't know if that's clear. That explains why the duration of each etude is so much shorter.

It is astonishing how different Crismani's phrasing is from Sultan's and Liebner's.

I guess Sultan had a privileged access to Cage's intentions, Crismani makes the music sound very different. It is, after all, music which is very underdetermined by the score if I understand correctly - these etudes remind me of Louis Couperin's unmeasured preludes in that respect. l I like Sultan and Crismani, Sultan for the sense of a duet between two handa and Crismani for the easy listening zen like flow. 
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: 7/4 on May 11, 2014, 07:37:28 AM
Melodies & Harmonies



I have been listening to this album many times. Very lovely and peaceful. The Six Melodies were written for violin and unspecified keyboard instrument. Here a Fender Rhodes is used for the keyboard part. It creates calming atmosphere. I don't know if there is a recording that uses a piano or other keyboard instrument.

The tracks can be heard at Col Legno's site (https://www.col-legno.com/en/catalog/complete_catalog/melodies__harmonies).

Six Melodies
Thirteen Harmonies

AH! I fell in love with that recording on utube and tacked down a copy. The Fender Rhodes is a brilliant choice for this piece.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: torut on May 11, 2014, 07:38:37 AM
No, I do not get the impression that he is playing hastily. My impression is that Crismani plays this as flowing music, while Liebner and Sultan play it as music which is being always interrupted. As a result, there is less space, less white space between cells in Crismani's interpretation, I don't know if that's clear. That explains why the duration of each etude is so much shorter.

It is astonishing how different Crismani's phrasing is from Sultan's and Liebner's.

I guess Sultan had a privilaged access to Cage's intentions, Crismani makes the music sound very different. It is, after all, music which is very underdetermined by the score if I understand correctly - these etudes remind me of Louis Couperin's unmeasured preludes in that respect. l I like Sultan and Crismani, Sultan for the sense of a duet between two handa and Crismani for the easy listening zen like flow.

Thank you. It is interesting, but Crismani's album is the most difficult to obtain among the 4. I only have Sultan.

I guess it is like the difference between the performances contained in Atlas Eclipticalis with Winter Music (http://www.moderecords.com/catalog/0036cage.html) on Mode ... ? The 1983 performances, in which two works were played simultaneously, are very sparse, about 80-minute long. The separated performances in 1988 are shorter (Atlas: 30 min, Winter Music: 10 min) and easier to listen to.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: torut on May 11, 2014, 07:48:23 AM
AH! I fell in love with that recording on utube and tacked down a copy. The Fender Rhodes is a brilliant choice for this piece.
I agree. I heard a short youtube clip of Aki Takahashi's performance using a piano. Although it is also nice, I prefer the Fender Rhodes. I love the sound since I heard it in Miles Davis albums. :)
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: milk on May 19, 2014, 05:50:33 AM
Just got and listened to Berman's two volumes of prepared piano music. I'm really surprised at how much I like this music. I had a huge prejudice for some reason. I just didn't expect it to be so pleasurable.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: milk on May 20, 2014, 12:55:17 AM
Melodies & Harmonies



I have been listening to this album many times. Very lovely and peaceful. The Six Melodies were written for violin and unspecified keyboard instrument. Here a Fender Rhodes is used for the keyboard part. It creates calming atmosphere. I don't know if there is a recording that uses a piano or other keyboard instrument.

The tracks can be heard at Col Legno's site (https://www.col-legno.com/en/catalog/complete_catalog/melodies__harmonies).

Six Melodies
Thirteen Harmonies
I listened to this on my way to work this morning. When I drifted off into forgetting, I found myself forgetting what I was listening to and then coming back to it thinking it was something baroque. Is it just the style of the violin? I think it's something more.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: torut on May 20, 2014, 06:47:43 AM
I listened to this on my way to work this morning. When I drifted off into forgetting, I found myself forgetting what I was listening to and then coming back to it thinking it was something baroque. Is it just the style of the violin? I think it's something more.

According to Col Legno site (https://www.col-legno.com/en/catalog/complete_catalog/melodies__harmonies), Cage used old music for this work.
Quote
The musical material dates back to the 18th century. It is based on chorales, hymns and congregational songs of the East Coast Protestant Church, all of them written by composers already born as Americans and only indirectly related to European musical traditions. Cage adapted and fragmented these pieces of utility music, and positioned them in time as individual, singular objects.

All music guide (http://www.allmusic.com/album/john-cage-melodies-harmonies-mw0002003755)
Quote
The melodies used are hymn tunes by American composers of the Revolutionary period, such as William Billings, Supply Belcher, Andrew Law, and James Lyon, and Zahab selected 13 in recognition of the 13 original colonies

[EDIT] The above descriptions are about the Thirteen Harmonies (1985), which were taken from 44 Harmonies originally written for Cage’s Apartment House 1776. Six Melodies were composed in 1950, shortly after the String Quartet in Four Parts. ("postscript to the Quartet")
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: milk on May 20, 2014, 03:05:57 PM
According to Col Legno site (https://www.col-legno.com/en/catalog/complete_catalog/melodies__harmonies), Cage used old music for this work.
All music guide (http://www.allmusic.com/album/john-cage-melodies-harmonies-mw0002003755)
[EDIT] The above descriptions are about the Thirteen Harmonies (1985), which were taken from 44 Harmonies originally written for Cage’s Apartment House 1776. Six Melodies were composed in 1950, shortly after the String Quartet in Four Parts. ("postscript to the Quartet")
Thanks for the info. This makes more sense now.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: milk on May 31, 2014, 10:29:22 PM
(http://www.stephendrury.com/writings/cagelandscapecd.jpeg)
This is quite a wonderful recording. Never dull.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: torut on June 01, 2014, 06:43:11 AM
(http://www.stephendrury.com/writings/cagelandscapecd.jpeg)
This is quite a wonderful recording. Never dull.
In a Landscape is beautiful. I don't have that disc but the selection of works looks attractive. Cage's early works have a wide diversity, and the melodic works are really lovely, easy to ear, simple, but I can keep listening to them without being bored.
Stephen Drury recorded many works of Cage. I like Piano Works I on Mode a lot. (Late works)
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: Mandryka on June 01, 2014, 08:12:48 PM
Look at that list of timings that Torut made for each of the Etudes Australes. Why does Sabine Liebner take 8 minutes for each Etude? I'm listening on spotify so I don't have the booklet, I wonder if she discuss this in the booklet.

I've been listening to Herbert Henck play Stockhausen's Klavierstucke and that's helped me appreciate what Liebner does with the Etudes Australes much more. All that space makes your attention focus on how sounds and textures last and die away, the movement. I now find Liebner's way with the Etudes stunningly beautiful (and Henck's way with the klavierstucke.)

The cost, in both cases, is that you lose the sense of physicality and spontaneity.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: milk on June 01, 2014, 11:37:42 PM
Look at that list of timings that Torut made for each of the Etudes Australes. Why does Sabine Liebner take 8 minutes for each Etude? I'm listening on spotify so I don't have the booklet, I wonder if she discuss this in the booklet.

I've been listening to Herbert Henck play Stockhausen's Klavierstucke and that's helped me appreciate what Liebner does with the Etudes Australes much more. All that space makes your attention focus on how sounds and textures last and die away, the movement. I now find Liebner's way with the Etudes stunningly beautiful (and Henck's way with the klavierstucke.)

The cost, in both cases, is that you lose the sense of physicality and spontaneity.
Well, I'm purchasing this on your recommendation here. I've been going with the Americans for the last few months, from Feldman to Riley and Young and now to Cage. Honestly, I tried Xenakis and Ligeti and didn't get hooked. But I'm sure I will enjoy Ligeti in the future. I'll get back to it. My subjective opinion at the moment is that I like the sense of fun and lack of angst in the American bunch. It's like the feeling I got reading Kerouac when I was younger. The music is challenging without being heavy. Well, Feldman transcends all this for me though. He's just sublime. But generally I feel with Cage an excitement about music with a seeming lack of baggage. I love all this prepared piano stuff (that goes for Riley and Young as well). Has anyone done anything with the idea more recently?     
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: Mandryka on June 02, 2014, 06:39:53 AM
Sabine Liebner's way of playing these Etudes is certainly not fun, as I said my own appreciation of her has come from listening to how another performer - Herbert Henck - plays another piece of music - the first 11 Klavierstucke. Both are polished, colourful, earnest and both seem to make the music interesting through motion, change, rather than melody or rhythm. You listen by just noticing and enjoying that this tone, this texture, has now given way to another, that it endured and then ceased to be.

The classic recording of the piano etudes is, probably, Grete Sultan. What I get from listening to her is precisely what Cage said these etudes where about - a duet for two hands. I very much like Sultan's recording.

But really, there's so much openness in the music that you need to hear every serious interpretation.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: milk on June 02, 2014, 06:43:04 AM
Sabine Liebner's way of playing these Etudes is certainly not fun, as I said my own appreciation of her has come from listening to how another performer - Herbert Henck - plays another piece of music - the first 11 Klavierstucke. Both are polished, colourful, earnest and both seem to make the music interesting through motion, change, rather than melody or rhythm. You listen by just noticing and enjoying that this tone, this texture, has now given way to another, that it endured and then ceased to be.

The classic recording of the piano etudes is, probably, Grete Sultan. What I get from listening to her is precisely what Cage said these etudes where about - a duet for two hands. I very much like Sultan's recording.

But really, there's so much openness in the music that you need to hear every serious interpretation.
Well, I'll start with Liebner and see what happens next. The download was kind of cheap.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: torut on June 02, 2014, 07:02:29 AM
I love all this prepared piano stuff (that goes for Riley and Young as well). Has anyone done anything with the idea more recently?     
I asked the same question in the 1950-2000 thread, and some guy kindly posted this. I enjoyed all of them. Christian Wolff's work is nice.
http://www.amazon.com/The-extended-piano-alcides-lanza/dp/B0018T93P0/ref=sr_1_13?ie=UTF8&qid=1398508386&sr=8-13&keywords=richard+bunger

http://www.amazon.com/Richard-Bunger-Delores-Stevens-Prepared/dp/B00396Z1OM/ref=sr_1_15?ie=UTF8&qid=1398508386&sr=8-15&keywords=richard+bunger

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=14jPvnWhdNM

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t_OhcAAz0SE

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RjWYts63HW4

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jo-QV2jiSUc

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EODoJckh5vY

There's even pop prepared piano.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zgph8aPmRJs

Of course, that's the one that NPR picks up.... :(

For Andrea Newmann, this video may be better.
andrea neumann - inside piano
acoustic fields festival, sound art exhibition ESC im Labor, graz 11.june - 2.july 2010
http://vimeo.com/14577016 (http://vimeo.com/14577016)

This is for two partially prepared pianos. Whittington was influenced by Cage.
Stephen Whittington - Legend (1988) for two partially prepared pianos

https://www.youtube.com/v/tpsVjBdPUbM
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: torut on June 02, 2014, 10:38:14 AM
I don't have Sabine Liebner's Etudes Australes but I love her recordings of Christian Wolff and Feldman's Triadic Memories (one of my favorite Feldman recordings.) The way she plays is delicate and tranquil, but not dull. I suppose her interpretation of Cage's works should be nice. (She also recorded Ustvolskaya's complete piano works, very wild ones ;D, but I have not heard it yet.)
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: springrite on June 02, 2014, 10:39:33 AM
Bought the conch recording and looking forward to it!
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: San Antone on June 02, 2014, 11:27:52 AM
Roaratorio

https://www.youtube.com/v/bdHe4c10smY
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: milk on June 02, 2014, 12:27:20 PM
I asked the same question in the 1950-2000 thread, and some guy kindly posted this. I enjoyed all of them. Christian Wolff's work is nice.
For Andrea Newmann, this video may be better.
This is for two partially prepared pianos. Whittington was influenced by Cage.
Oh great. Lots of stuff for me to check out!
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: Mandryka on June 02, 2014, 12:51:32 PM
Roaratorio

https://www.youtube.com/v/bdHe4c10smY

http://vimeo.com/20851154
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: torut on June 03, 2014, 07:10:30 PM
Some orchestral music from Cage - Sixteen Dances



The Boston Modern Orchestra Project led by Gil Rose does a great job with this music.

This may be an old news but Mode released a recording of a solo piano version of Sixteen Dances. Walter Zimmermann discovered and edited the score. It gave me a very different impression, except the movements in which the piano is dominant. An alternate version for piano and percussion by Zimmermann (XV & XVI) is really good. The sound of percussion is more subtle than that in Gil Rose's performance.
Although it is short (4'43"), another discovered composition, Haiku, is very nice. Sometimes beautiful melodies can be felt, especially in I & II, but it becomes more atonal in the following movements. It was composed in 1950-51, as well as Sixteen Dances, before he started using chance method, and it is as though displaying the transition from early melodic compositions to abstract ones using chance operation.

Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: milk on June 11, 2014, 04:29:18 PM
I asked the same question in the 1950-2000 thread, and some guy kindly posted this. I enjoyed all of them. Christian Wolff's work is nice.
For Andrea Newmann, this video may be better.
This is for two partially prepared pianos. Whittington was influenced by Cage.
Having got through some of this non-Cage prepared piano stuff I'm disappointed to say that none of it is jumping out at me. I bought the Scott because of the clip, but can't stand the singing. I'll keep trying though.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: torut on June 11, 2014, 07:35:37 PM
Having got through some of this non-Cage prepared piano stuff I'm disappointed to say that none of it is jumping out at me. I bought the Scott because of the clip, but can't stand the singing. I'll keep trying though.
Oh, that's unfortunate. For me, Wolff and Whittington are worth paying money, but it's personal taste.
Please let me know if you find a good prepared piano piece. :) I would love to hear new stuff using the instrument.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: Mandryka on June 11, 2014, 08:01:50 PM
Having got through some of this non-Cage prepared piano stuff I'm disappointed to say that none of it is jumping out at me. I bought the Scott because of the clip, but can't stand the singing. I'll keep trying though.

Have you heard Cage's organ music, paricularly The Harmony of Maine? There's a very good recording on spotify by Hans-Ola Ericsson. I find it very compelling.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: milk on June 12, 2014, 04:40:04 AM
Have you heard Cage's organ music, paricularly The Harmony of Maine? There's a very good recording on spotify by Hans-Ola Ericsson. I find it very compelling.
I'll check it out. I love the organ piece called "souvenir" on "In a landscape" by Drury.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: milk on June 12, 2014, 04:41:59 AM
Oh, that's unfortunate. For me, Wolff and Whittington are worth paying money, but it's personal taste.
Please let me know if you find a good prepared piano piece. :) I would love to hear new stuff using the instrument.
Couldn't find the Whittington for download. Maybe I'll look again. But I see a piece called "music for airport furniture" that looks compelling. I have some Wolff that I like but can't locate the prepared piano stuff. Again, I may need to look harder.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: torut on June 12, 2014, 05:08:40 AM
Couldn't find the Whittington for download. Maybe I'll look again. But I see a piece called "music for airport furniture" that looks compelling. I have some Wolff that I like but can't locate the prepared piano stuff. Again, I may need to look harder.
Sorry, I meant that I would pay for it if it were released. I think Music for Airport Furniture is the only official album of Whittington.
Wolff's prepared piano is recorded by Tilbury and by Schleiermacher, but the latter seems OOP, and I don't have either. Tilbury's may be ordered from the label. But it's at your own risk. ;D

John Tilbury, Christian Wolff, Eddie Prévost: Christian Wolff - early piano music 1951-1961 (Matchless Recordings) http://www.matchlessrecordings.com/wolff-early-piano (http://www.matchlessrecordings.com/wolff-early-piano)
Steffen Schleiermacher: Christian Wolff Early Piano Pieces (Hat Art)
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: milk on June 13, 2014, 01:28:48 AM
Sorry, I meant that I would pay for it if it were released. I think Music for Airport Furniture is the only official album of Whittington.
Wolff's prepared piano is recorded by Tilbury and by Schleiermacher, but the latter seems OOP, and I don't have either. Tilbury's may be ordered from the label. But it's at your own risk. ;D

John Tilbury, Christian Wolff, Eddie Prévost: Christian Wolff - early piano music 1951-1961 (Matchless Recordings) http://www.matchlessrecordings.com/wolff-early-piano (http://www.matchlessrecordings.com/wolff-early-piano)
Steffen Schleiermacher: Christian Wolff Early Piano Pieces (Hat Art)
Do you recommend Music for Airport Furniture? Anyone? Guess this question belongs in another thread, although, they say Cage created the idea of ambient music.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: torut on June 13, 2014, 04:50:32 PM
Do you recommend Music for Airport Furniture? Anyone? Guess this question belongs in another thread, although, they say Cage created the idea of ambient music.
I highly recommend Music for Airport Furniture. Beautiful, melancholic music. It is short (23 min) and can be heard on youtube (live). It's just $0.99 at Google Play store, so the damage will be minimal. ;D

I think Satie was the first composer who provided the idea of ambient music. For me, Cage is the opposite: my understanding is that he wanted listeners to concentrate on sounds, whether it is musical or random or unintentional (ambient sounds), while the purpose of ambient music is to be heard without continuous attention, treated as sound wall paper. Some Cage's music can be used as ambient music, but most of them, especially the chance operation works and later number pieces require high concentration. Just IMO.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: Mandryka on June 22, 2014, 03:04:38 AM
There's a concert by Stephen Drury with a handful of Etudes Australes on youtube. I think the performances really get to the heart of something, among the best I've ever heard of the Cage piano Etudes I think. Stephen Drury recorded some Cage etudes commercially, a live recording, but I was less impressed by that - they seemed less inward and more anonymous than these on youtube. The youtubes are all relatively late and hence more complicated music, the ones on the CD come from the start of the series. Anyway, Stephen Drury is clearly in his element here.

The CD with the Cage Etudes has a Night Fantasy (Carter) which is fabulous.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: milk on June 22, 2014, 04:13:43 AM
There's a concert by Stephen Drury with a handful of Etudes Australes on youtube. I think the performances really get to the heart of something, among the best I've ever heard of the Cage piano Etudes I think. Stephen Drury recorded some Cage etudes commercially, a live recording, but I was less impressed by that - they seemed less inward and more anonymous than these on youtube. The youtubes are all relatively late and hence more complicated music, the ones on the CD come from the start of the series. Anyway, Stephen Drury is clearly in his element here.

The CD with the Cage Etudes has a Night Fantasy (Carter) which is fabulous.
I must admit I have a hard time with this part of Cage's output. I don't want to give up, but I have a hard time finding a way to enjoy the etudes.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: Mandryka on June 22, 2014, 06:28:24 AM
I must admit I have a hard time with this part of Cage's output. I don't want to give up, but I have a hard time finding a way to enjoy the etudes.

Well I did try to warn you about Sabine Liebner! you know these pieces offer a huge amount of discretion to the pianist, they almost don't sound like the same music in the hands of different musicians, and Liebner's approach is maybe a bit to cold and mathematical.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: milk on June 23, 2014, 02:43:28 AM
Well I did try to warn you about Sabine Liebner! you know these pieces offer a huge amount of discretion to the pianist, they almost don't sound like the same music in the hands of different musicians, and Liebner's approach is maybe a bit to cold and mathematical.
I watched one of the videos and it didn't get to me either. It may take time or it may never happen.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: Mandryka on July 02, 2014, 08:34:38 AM
Thank you. It is interesting, but Crismani's album is the most difficult to obtain among the 4. I only have Sultan.

I guess it is like the difference between the performances contained in Atlas Eclipticalis with Winter Music (http://www.moderecords.com/catalog/0036cage.html) on Mode ... ? The 1983 performances, in which two works were played simultaneously, are very sparse, about 80-minute long. The separated performances in 1988 are shorter (Atlas: 30 min, Winter Music: 10 min) and easier to listen to.

I guess you're right about that. 

Can you or someone else recommend some intersting recordings of Atlas Eclipticalis for me to listen to?
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: Brewski on July 02, 2014, 09:12:28 AM
I guess you're right about that. 

Can you or someone else recommend some intersting recordings of Atlas Eclipticalis for me to listen to?

Sure, these two below. The first one is part of a terrific overall recording, worth having for the Carter Variations for Orchestra alone, but the Babbitt and Schuller performances are excellent, too. The second one, on Mode, is 3 discs: Atlas Eclipticalis and Winter Music, each performed separately and then simultaneously.





FYI, for your travel consideration, Levine and the MET Chamber Ensemble are doing Atlas next March:

http://www.carnegiehall.org/Calendar/2015/3/8/0500/PM/The-MET-Chamber-Ensemble/

--Bruce
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: torut on July 02, 2014, 08:23:04 PM
I only have the Mode album, and since it contains 3 versions, I thought that's enough ;D, but the Levine disc seems very interesting. (Not only Cage.)
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: Mandryka on July 02, 2014, 08:34:27 PM
The only one I have listened to, and I love by the way, is Petr Kotik on Werga. I'll check out the others but I think people will enjoy the Kotik.

(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51ZBBnAH4oL._SL500_AA280_.jpg)

How unbelievable is that - Levine and the CSO playing a score like this, I will check it out. It seems to last 15 minutes!
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: milk on July 03, 2014, 02:43:37 AM
Sure, these two below. The first one is part of a terrific overall recording, worth having for the Carter Variations for Orchestra alone, but the Babbitt and Schuller performances are excellent, too. The second one, on Mode, is 3 discs: Atlas Eclipticalis and Winter Music, each performed separately and then simultaneously.





FYI, for your travel consideration, Levine and the MET Chamber Ensemble are doing Atlas next March:

http://www.carnegiehall.org/Calendar/2015/3/8/0500/PM/The-MET-Chamber-Ensemble/

--Bruce
The Arditti recording is only 3.96$ as a download on Amazon. Amazing price!
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: Mandryka on July 03, 2014, 08:24:17 AM
The Arditti recording is only 3.96$ as a download on Amazon. Amazing price!

There's this review on amazon's US website of Arditti's recording of the violin etudes, I've heard the sentiment expressed elsewhere

Quote from: A Customer in a review of Irvin Arditti's recording of the Freeman Etudes on amazon.com
I have a real problem with Arditti doing Cage. I think when you consume your entire life with goal-oriented,incessant goals toward an aesthetic object, how is it possible to think in an oppositional way without some time lapse, some retreat into Zen to really feel the spatial time. Given these Freeman Studies puts a hold on Cage's more traditionally beautiful Zen excursions, still how do we appraise them then. A raw unhihibited virtuoso display, non-conceived abstraction for the pure spirit of what??. I find Arditti cold and uninspired. He is a consummate quartet leader and should remain one. What is required I think in performing Cage is you always need to consider the full Cage, and not a frationalized one with a one-dimensional cast.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: milk on July 04, 2014, 06:11:35 AM
There's this review on amazon's US website of Arditti's recording of the violin etudes, I've heard the sentiment expressed elsewhere
Well maybe you get what you pay for then. I went for it. But It'll be a while until I try it out as I'm immersed in Xenakis.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: Mandryka on July 04, 2014, 06:50:38 AM
A comment by Sabine Liebner on the piano etudes

Quote
"The unexpected happens, because there is nothing to expect in these etudes. There is no logical sequence of events – everything is a representation of the stars. What happens here is what Cage always wanted: that the contradiction between art and life be dissolved. Art and life should not hinder each other, but form a unity, and this succeeds perfectly in the 'Etudes Australes', because what happens is always unanticipated."

Is she saying that the etudes should be played in such a way as to maximise randomness, like a representation of a starry sky, the physical starry sky, in music? I think that's what she does, though I haven't felt the same sublime that I feel when I look at, e.g., the night sky on a Greek island.  That sounds very far from Griet Sultan's duet for two hands.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: torut on July 04, 2014, 02:13:15 PM
There's this review on amazon's US website of Arditti's recording of the violin etudes, I've heard the sentiment expressed elsewhere
Arditti's Freeman Etudes is superb. Each note is played delicately and the violin tone is beautiful. Listening it is a rewarding experience for me.  That is one of Cage albums I listen to the most often.
Is there other performance you prefer?
Paul Zukofsky for whom Freeman Etudes was originally composed gave up in the middle. (he recorded only No. 1-8?) Cage once abandoned it, and completed the Etudes only after Arditti proved that it is playable.
There is a recent release (2011-12) by Marco Fusi. I have not heard it yet.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: Mandryka on August 06, 2014, 10:25:35 AM
I must admit I have a hard time with this part of Cage's output. I don't want to give up, but I have a hard time finding a way to enjoy the etudes.

Just listening today to Sabine Liebner play the etudes australes, listening in the sunshine, Sabine Liebner whose performace I've had some reservations about in the past. Listening today, in the sun, to Book 3 . . . it feels like the most beautiful music ever written.


I think one thing that helped me  is to see the unit as a whole book. When I tried to listen to them as individual etudes, to ask myself "how is this one different expressively or in terms of textures or whatever from that one?", I got nowhere with her way of playing them. Also helpful was just reading what Cage said about the function of music, to "sober and quiet the mind", I'm not sure what he meant by imitating nature.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: torut on August 16, 2014, 07:19:55 PM
I am interested in how improvisation was considered by Cage and related to the chance operation and indeterminacy, and I read a paper John Cage and Improvisation – An Unresolved Relationship by Sabine M. Feisst (http://artsites.ucsc.edu/faculty/abeal/4classes/feisstcageimp.doc (http://artsites.ucsc.edu/faculty/abeal/4classes/feisstcageimp.doc)). It was a good summary of Cage's thoughts about improvisation through different periods of his life. Cage disliked improvisation (and Jazz) because it was "the exercise of taste and memory" which he wanted to avoid, but tried to incorporate flexibilities of performers using indeterminacy. Still, what he wanted was unpredictability of each performance, not an expression of personal taste of each individual. It is interesting to read about the disastrous result of a performance of Atlas Eclipticalis in which Bernstein included free orchestra improvisation.

A comment by Sabine Liebner on the piano etudes

Quote
"The unexpected happens, because there is nothing to expect in these etudes. There is no logical sequence of events – everything is a representation of the stars. What happens here is what Cage always wanted: that the contradiction between art and life be dissolved. Art and life should not hinder each other, but form a unity, and this succeeds perfectly in the 'Etudes Australes', because what happens is always unanticipated."

Is she saying that the etudes should be played in such a way as to maximise randomness, like a representation of a starry sky, the physical starry sky, in music? I think that's what she does, though I haven't felt the same sublime that I feel when I look at, e.g., the night sky on a Greek island.  That sounds very far from Griet Sultan's duet for two hands.

I was also curious about how Cage thought about the differences of interpretation of his notated scores but it was not discussed in the paper. My understanding is that he expected performers to follow the notations (very detailed) as accurately as possible to present the "unpredictability and uncontrollability". No tempo is specified in the score of Etudes Australes, and I guess Liebner tried to achieve the goal by playing each etude in almost the equal time period, so that the personality, strengths and weaknesses of the performer do not creep into the performance. (For example, not to play too fast a passage that is easy for her?)
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: milk on August 16, 2014, 07:45:04 PM
I am interested in how improvisation was considered by Cage and related to the chance operation and indeterminacy, and I read a paper John Cage and Improvisation – An Unresolved Relationship by Sabine M. Feisst (http://artsites.ucsc.edu/faculty/abeal/4classes/feisstcageimp.doc (http://artsites.ucsc.edu/faculty/abeal/4classes/feisstcageimp.doc)). It was a good summary of Cage's thoughts about improvisation through different periods of his life. Cage disliked improvisation (and Jazz) because it was "the exercise of taste and memory" which he wanted to avoid, but tried to incorporate flexibilities of performers using indeterminacy. Still, what he wanted was unpredictability of each performance, not an expression of personal taste of each individual. It is interesting to read about the disastrous result of a performance of Atlas Eclipticalis in which Bernstein included free orchestra improvisation.

Is she saying that the etudes should be played in such a way as to maximise randomness, like a representation of a starry sky, the physical starry sky, in music? I think that's what she does, though I haven't felt the same sublime that I feel when I look at, e.g., the night sky on a Greek island.  That sounds very far from Griet Sultan's duet for two hands.


I was also curious about how Cage thought about the differences of interpretation of his notated scores but it was not discussed in the paper. My understanding is that he expected performers to follow the notations (very detailed) as accurately as possible to present the "unpredictability and uncontrollability". No tempo is specified in the score of Etudes Australes, and I guess Liebner tried to achieve the goal by playing each etude in almost the equal time period, so that the personality, strengths and weaknesses of the performer do not creep into the performance. (For example, not to play too fast a passage that is easy for her?)
I've tried to be open minded about the etudes. I feel that my reactions are really pedestrian and have caused me to feel a little bit ashamed: the equivalent of "a child could do that" - which is ridiculous. I mean, I listen and I think, "what's the difference between these? Why not play the same one over and over again seeing as how I can't see much difference between them." But maybe those are the thoughts he wants me to have? I wanted to have some deep sense of wonder at these but, so far, I've felt nothing at all. I will try again. I'm curious how you feel about them? It seems that Cage wants to totally eliminate the performer from the performance. I think it's an interesting and challenging idea conceptually, but maybe I can't go a long with Cage in thinking that everything should be like that. But the influence of the idea is interesting. A computer could probably do what Cage wants better than a human being?   
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: torut on August 16, 2014, 10:39:22 PM
I've tried to be open minded about the etudes. I feel that my reactions are really pedestrian and have caused me to feel a little bit ashamed: the equivalent of "a child could do that" - which is ridiculous. I mean, I listen and I think, "what's the difference between these? Why not play the same one over and over again seeing as how I can't see much difference between them." But maybe those are the thoughts he wants me to have? I wanted to have some deep sense of wonder at these but, so far, I've felt nothing at all. I will try again. I'm curious how you feel about them? It seems that Cage wants to totally eliminate the performer from the performance. I think it's an interesting and challenging idea conceptually, but maybe I can't go a long with Cage in thinking that everything should be like that. But the influence of the idea is interesting. A computer could probably do what Cage wants better than a human being?   
My enjoyment of Cage's chance operation music is very superficial. I don't feel any deep sense of wonder, I just enjoy the feeling of sound. It's like enjoying the texture, the feel of surface, the color, the feel of mass, etc. of a stone. In that sense I prefer Freeman Etudes to Etudes Australes or Atlas Eclipticalis, because the violin has more variations in timbre (smooth or rough, squeaking, various attack sounds at a fast passage, etc.) and a solo reveals the raw sounds of the instrument more directly than orchestra. I don't know why it is so attractive, but once I start listening to one of Freeman Etudes, I usually keep listening until the end of at least one disc. If I repeat only one etude again and again, eventually I will memorize it and be tired of it. So, it is nice to have many etudes, even if each one does not have distinguishable characteristics.

I think Cage had many contradictions. If we take what he said literally, yes, ultimately randomly generated sounds by computer should work. But I feel that there is Cage's personality even in the chance operation works, because it was Cage who created the particular systems that generate the scores. There must be many limitations in order to make it playable, and there should have been Cage's preferences in deciding how to convert star charts or stains on paper to tones, dynamics, lengths of notes, etc. "a child could do that" is a valid criticism, if that is true, but the Etudes required incredibly complicated, elaborate work to realize, if I understand correctly. I wonder if anyone can create a system from scratch or "random" music with a minimal effort which is not boring and sounds even remotely comparable to Freeman Etudes, for example. (Actually, I feel similarity in Ferneyhough's works, which are of course not random music ...)
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: Mandryka on August 16, 2014, 10:56:23 PM
I've tried to be open minded about the etudes. I feel that my reactions are really pedestrian and have caused me to feel a little bit ashamed: the equivalent of "a child could do that" - which is ridiculous. I mean, I listen and I think, "what's the difference between these? Why not play the same one over and over again seeing as how I can't see much difference between them." But maybe those are the thoughts he wants me to have? I wanted to have some deep sense of wonder at these but, so far, I've felt nothing at all. I will try again. I'm curious how you feel about them? It seems that Cage wants to totally eliminate the performer from the performance. I think it's an interesting and challenging idea conceptually, but maybe I can't go a long with Cage in thinking that everything should be like that. But the influence of the idea is interesting. A computer could probably do what Cage wants better than a human being?   

What does this mean?

The performer of the piano etudes has to make all sorts of very personal decisions, like choosing a basic tempo, a pulse. That choice, for example, is what makes Sabine Liebner's performance so special and IMO so very Zen.  The performances of these pieces are very  different one from the other.  The whole thing was inspired by an extremely musical concept -- Grete Sultan's style of playing like a duet for two hands.  All the pianist's range of expresses resources are available to make Cage's score worthwhile to hear, just as they are in any other piano music.

Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: Mandryka on August 17, 2014, 12:25:46 AM
My enjoyment of Cage's chance operation music is very superficial. I don't feel any deep sense of wonder, I just enjoy the feeling of sound. It's like enjoying the texture, the feel of surface, the color, the feel of mass, etc. of a stone. In that sense I prefer Freeman Etudes to Etudes Australes or Atlas Eclipticalis, because the violin has more variations in timbre (smooth or rough, squeaking, various attack sounds at a fast passage, etc.) and a solo reveals the raw sounds of the instrument more directly than orchestra. I don't know why it is so attractive, but once I start listening to one of Freeman Etudes, I usually keep listening until the end of at least one disc. If I repeat only one etude again and again, eventually I will memorize it and be tired of it. So, it is nice to have many etudes, even if each one does not have distinguishable characteristics.

I think Cage had many contradictions. If we take what he said literally, yes, ultimately randomly generated sounds by computer should work. But I feel that there is Cage's personality even in the chance operation works, because it was Cage who created the particular systems that generate the scores. There must be many limitations in order to make it playable, and there should have been Cage's preferences in deciding how to convert star charts or stains on paper to tones, dynamics, lengths of notes, etc. "a child could do that" is a valid criticism, if that is true, but the Etudes required incredibly complicated, elaborate work to realize, if I understand correctly. I wonder if anyone can create a system from scratch or "random" music with a minimal effort which is not boring and sounds even remotely comparable to Freeman Etudes, for example. (Actually, I feel similarity in Ferneyhough's works, which are of course not random music ...)

I believe that one of the features of Claudio Chrismani's performance is that he finds tunes, tunes you can hum, you can almost here ideas coming back, being varied, and the result is that you can tell yourself that it's something more deep that's being made of the music. Sorrry, can't explain it better. But the result is that listening to his way with the etudes is more like listening to other music, Chopin or something. You find yourself saying to yourself : cool! that's cosmic! like op 111!

I expect that what he does is very contentious.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: milk on August 17, 2014, 12:50:31 AM
I believe that one of the features of Claudio Chrismani's performance is that he finds tunes, tunes you can hum, you can almost here ideas coming back, being varied, and the result is that you can tell yourself that it's something more deep that's being made of the music. Sorrry, can't explain it better. But the result is that listening to his way with the etudes is more like listening to other music, Chopin or something. You find yourself saying to yourself : cool! that's cosmic! like op 111!

I expect that what he does is very contentious.
Yes, I see what you are saying. You and Torut. I think I'll come back to the etudes. I don't know the Freeman etudes. I'll have to check. It confuses me in a way because you're obviously right about the performer needing to make a host of choices and there being a radical range of interpretive possibilities. I'm not sure I know how to understand what Cage is saying. Generally, I've come to like what I feel is a kind of optimism in the American stuff from this time. Is it anti-romantic? And counter the image of the heroic performer? Perhaps I'm jumbling it up. Anyway, I will check it out again. Maybe I'll make a breakthrough with it.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: torut on August 17, 2014, 07:17:10 AM
I believe that one of the features of Claudio Chrismani's performance is that he finds tunes, tunes you can hum, you can almost here ideas coming back, being varied, and the result is that you can tell yourself that it's something more deep that's being made of the music. Sorrry, can't explain it better. But the result is that listening to his way with the etudes is more like listening to other music, Chopin or something. You find yourself saying to yourself : cool! that's cosmic! like op 111!

I expect that what he does is very contentious.
I listened to short audio samples of Chrismani's recording. It is very dynamic, and there is a sense of flow, not pointillistic like the other performance. For some reason I couldn't find it before, but the album is available on digital format. I'll check it out.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: torut on August 17, 2014, 07:38:08 AM
https://www.youtube.com/v/03ze845nRYc
Excerpt from Freeman Etudes, Performed at the John Cage Centennial Festival Washington DC by Irvine Arditti
This is amazing.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: torut on August 17, 2014, 08:24:15 AM
It seems that Cage wants to totally eliminate the performer from the performance.

What does this mean?

The performer of the piano etudes has to make all sorts of very personal decisions, like choosing a basic tempo, a pulse. That choice, for example, is what makes Sabine Liebner's performance so special and IMO so very Zen.  The performances of these pieces are very  different one from the other.  The whole thing was inspired by an extremely musical concept -- Grete Sultan's style of playing like a duet for two hands.  All the pianist's range of expresses resources are available to make Cage's score worthwhile to hear, just as they are in any other piano music.
However, Cage expected impersonality in performances, I believe. Each performance should be different, but Cage didn't want personal taste or value judgement in that, and he suggested to use chance operation as one of the methods of decision making by performers for the works of indeterminacy. What I thought was that Sabine might have made that tempo decision in order to make the music sound impersonal and unpredictable as much as possible.
I am not saying that the existence of personality in a performance is good or bad. I think it is inevitable, and it may be that the conflict (or contradiction) between the intended impersonality and performers' personality makes his music interesting.
I am still not sure what Cage's real intention was, and that is the reason I like to read about him and hear opinions of you, milk or other members.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: Mandryka on August 17, 2014, 09:02:17 AM
Liebner's hard core - it's only for people who prepared to put in the major effort to relax and repose the mind enough to appreciate her. An etude for the listener.

In Liebner's there isn't much dynamic variation - just what comes naturally from playing several notes at the same time. Claudio Chrismani is very violent dynamically. And Chrismani imposes recognisable rhythms. As I said he even picks out tunes (quelle horreur!) Of couse in Liebner there are no recognisable rhythms and certainly nothing you can hum.  Again I think the result in Chrismani's is to underline events and the result is something which think James would see as more disciplined and meaningful. But I'm sure that this is contrary to Cage's intentions, both as an exercise for the performer and for the listener. Nevertheless , I think that what Chrismani does is quite attractive, at least, it is to anyone who can enjoy atonal piano music.

This is music for transforming people. Meditation music, and like Buddhist meditation, it's not easy.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: torut on August 17, 2014, 09:07:40 AM
At least you admit it, but you should examine it more closely - you'll end up being disappointed if you do. It is surface color and nothing more, and he tinkers with it in a very arbitrary & meaningless fashion. Real music is much deeper than just mere color, and more cogent, sophisticated, disciplined etc.

Awful. Pretentious "virtuoso" finger gymnastics that don't amount to anything musical or meaningful. Real music has requirements that go far beyond this sort of child's play ..
I understand how the etudes were created and there is nothing in terms of musical theories like sonata form, 12-tone, serialism, etc.
However, Cage carefully designed his system and method that generated music that sounded as he expected. It was not arbitrary or meaningless. Cage made cogent arguments that many people found interesting and/or valid, his methods and scores are sophisticated, and discipline is what he regarded as important: '[...] Cage preferred chance operations to improvisation since for him “chance operations are a discipline, and improvisation is rarely a discipline”' (Feisst)
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: EigenUser on August 17, 2014, 10:50:51 AM
At least you admit it, but you should examine it more closely - you'll end up being disappointed if you do. It is surface color and nothing more [...]
While I absolutely can't stand the Freeman Etudes, for argument's sake I will say that there isn't anything wrong with only surface color if that is what a listener is looking for.

Awful. Pretentious "virtuoso" finger gymnastics that don't amount to anything musical or meaningful. Real music has requirements that go far beyond this sort of child's play ..
I would almost say the same thing about Paganini and much of the romantic-virtuoso-violinist gang (and I'm a violinist!). 8)
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on August 17, 2014, 03:43:52 PM
All of us wonder that is so important to James to "occupy" this thread with his urge to smear Cage.

Someone needs a life.


Nate, don't bother reading James's opinions about music -- you'll end up being disappointed if you do. It is surface color and nothing more.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: milk on August 17, 2014, 06:09:25 PM
I listened to short audio samples of Chrismani's recording. It is very dynamic, and there is a sense of flow, not pointillistic like the other performance. For some reason I couldn't find it before, but the album is available on digital format. I'll check it out.
Wow! The samples totally different from Liebner. I can't believe it's the same music. I think I'm going to try that one at some point.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: milk on August 17, 2014, 06:10:56 PM
My enjoyment of Cage's chance operation music is very superficial. I don't feel any deep sense of wonder, I just enjoy the feeling of sound. It's like enjoying the texture, the feel of surface, the color, the feel of mass, etc. of a stone. In that sense I prefer Freeman Etudes to Etudes Australes or Atlas Eclipticalis, because the violin has more variations in timbre (smooth or rough, squeaking, various attack sounds at a fast passage, etc.) and a solo reveals the raw sounds of the instrument more directly than orchestra. I don't know why it is so attractive, but once I start listening to one of Freeman Etudes, I usually keep listening until the end of at least one disc. If I repeat only one etude again and again, eventually I will memorize it and be tired of it. So, it is nice to have many etudes, even if each one does not have distinguishable characteristics.

I think Cage had many contradictions. If we take what he said literally, yes, ultimately randomly generated sounds by computer should work. But I feel that there is Cage's personality even in the chance operation works, because it was Cage who created the particular systems that generate the scores. There must be many limitations in order to make it playable, and there should have been Cage's preferences in deciding how to convert star charts or stains on paper to tones, dynamics, lengths of notes, etc. "a child could do that" is a valid criticism, if that is true, but the Etudes required incredibly complicated, elaborate work to realize, if I understand correctly. I wonder if anyone can create a system from scratch or "random" music with a minimal effort which is not boring and sounds even remotely comparable to Freeman Etudes, for example. (Actually, I feel similarity in Ferneyhough's works, which are of course not random music ...)
Which Freeman do you recommend?
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: milk on August 17, 2014, 06:11:40 PM
https://www.youtube.com/v/03ze845nRYc
Excerpt from Freeman Etudes, Performed at the John Cage Centennial Festival Washington DC by Irvine Arditti
This is amazing.
Oh. This is one. I see. This or Fusi.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: milk on August 17, 2014, 06:19:59 PM
However, Cage expected impersonality in performances, I believe. Each performance should be different, but Cage didn't want personal taste or value judgement in that, and he suggested to use chance operation as one of the methods of decision making by performers for the works of indeterminacy. What I thought was that Sabine might have made that tempo decision in order to make the music sound impersonal and unpredictable as much as possible.
I am not saying that the existence of personality in a performance is good or bad. I think it is inevitable, and it may be that the conflict (or contradiction) between the intended impersonality and performers' personality makes his music interesting.
I am still not sure what Cage's real intention was, and that is the reason I like to read about him and hear opinions of you, milk or other members.
My opinion is not very informed. However, I like how I was kind of offended when I first read about this view of Cage. I was even prejudiced against him. I like how there is a tension caused here. Maybe it's that I feel we always need a counter to what's dominant. It's still radical to most people maybe. My friend's wife is a pianist specializing in "contemporary" music here in Kansai, Japan and it's hard for her to get gigs outside of museums. You can here Brahms every night but I never see contemporary names on schedules. I said, "do Cage in a Zen temple!" Anyway, I think it's still challenging to say "remove the great interpreter!"..."open to the moment"! 
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: milk on August 17, 2014, 06:22:34 PM
Liebner's hard core - it's only for people who prepared to put in the major effort to relax and repose the mind enough to appreciate her. An etude for the listener.

In Liebner's there isn't much dynamic variation - just what comes naturally from playing several notes at the same time. Claudio Chrismani is very violent dynamically. And Chrismani imposes recognisable rhythms. As I said he even picks out tunes (quelle horreur!) Of couse in Liebner there are no recognisable rhythms and certainly nothing you can hum.  Again I think the result in Chrismani's is to underline events and the result is something which think James would see as more disciplined and meaningful. But I'm sure that this is contrary to Cage's intentions, both as an exercise for the performer and for the listener. Nevertheless , I think that what Chrismani does is quite attractive, at least, it is to anyone who can enjoy atonal piano music.

This is music for transforming people. Meditation music, and like Buddhist meditation, it's not easy.
I've done one Zen retreat and also a one-day thing. It is hard. The retreat was 3 days and that was awfully tough for me. I think I might do better to start with Chrismani and then go back to Liebner.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: milk on August 17, 2014, 06:33:32 PM
So what do you think?

Pretty bereft of anything musical (or human for that matter) isn't it.
And quite obviously created from the outside, instead of the other way around.

It's results certainly aren't deeply civilized or sophisticated.

It may take me a while to get to it. But there is not much stock in my opinion as I am not deeply civilized or sophisticated either. Although I don't spit in the street...(just a joke; hope you don't mind).
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: kishnevi on August 17, 2014, 06:41:49 PM
https://www.youtube.com/v/03ze845nRYc
Excerpt from Freeman Etudes, Performed at the John Cage Centennial Festival Washington DC by Irvine Arditti
This is amazing.
Hmmm.  Interesting.
I did notice that despite the aleatoric base a melodic and harmonic structure  was manifest.  Question is, was it really there, or was my mind imposing structure on the experience.   Something only deeply sophisticated music can do. 
Of course, Bach created his fugues from the outside as it were.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: torut on August 17, 2014, 06:52:52 PM
Which Freeman do you recommend?
I only have Arditti's recordings on Mode. Although I am satisfied with the album (I love the sound of Arditti's violin), I am interested in listening to other interpretations. I have not heard Fusi or Zukofsky, the violinist who initially worked with Cage on Freeman Etude but gave up, recorded only an incomplete set (I-VIII). I am also thinking to check Scondanibbio's Wergo album Dream that contains contrabass transcription of Freeman Etude No. 1-5.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: Mandryka on August 17, 2014, 08:02:37 PM
Wow! The samples totally different from Liebner. I can't believe it's the same music.

Exactly. What would be really interesting is if someone who can score could explain what he's doing and how it can sound so different from Liebner's. Leibner's definitely the most hard core. Griet Sultan is also very fine.

I have a feeling that Liebner's is the closest to what Cage would have approved of.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: torut on August 17, 2014, 08:50:53 PM
I've done one Zen retreat and also a one-day thing. It is hard. The retreat was 3 days and that was awfully tough for me. I think I might do better to start with Chrismani and then go back to Liebner.
It is interesting. I have never done it. You must be able to understand Cage's music very well. :)

I listened to Crismani's Etudes today and was deeply moved. The quiet parts are very lyrical, sounding almost like romantic or impressionistic at times. Each note is played with the great sensibility. It is very different from Liebner's sober playing or Sultan's kind of straightforward performance, each of which has its own beauty.

Exactly. What would be really interesting is if someone who can score could explain what he's doing and how it can sound so different from Liebner's. Leibner's definitely the most hard core. Griet Sultan is also very fine.

I have a feeling that Liebner's is the closest to what Cage would have approved of.

I just compared the Etude Book I No. 8 of which wikipedia has the score of the beginning. Liebner plays the black notes shortly with strong attacks, while Crismani plays with very soft touch using the damper pedal a lot, the notes are played legato. It seems Liebner's is more accurate, but I don't know if Crismani's way is allowed by the instruction of the score.

(http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/e/ee/Cage-etudes-australes-8.gif)
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: Mandryka on August 17, 2014, 09:35:14 PM
The whole score is downloadable here, but when I looked at it I couldn't see a preface or instructions.

http://modisti.com/news/?p=10091

Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: EigenUser on August 18, 2014, 01:56:08 AM
Cage fight!


[...]He maintained a child-like fascination with color[...]

Nothing wrong with that. Messiaen, too, was fascinated with color. Probably more so than Cage.

I don't like Cage's music, but I like his ideas (particularly on silence). Would someone have come up with it later had he not done so? Of course -- but this can be said about most things/inventions.

However, the music of his close friend Morton Feldman is among my favorite. Not quite up there with my top 5 (currently Bartok, Ligeti, Ravel, Messiaen, Haydn), but not too far off, either. For me, Feldman took some of Cage's ideas and made some of the most unique music with it. Depending on how you feel at the time, the same Feldman piece can come off as serene and peaceful or intense and even slightly foreboding. It's like those holograms that change pictures depending on the angle that your eyes approach.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: EigenUser on August 18, 2014, 02:28:30 AM

Nothing wrong with that. Messiaen, too, was fascinated with color. I don't like Cage ..
LOL at quote censorship :laugh:. I would mind if I were discussing a composer I like, but in this case I laughed.

It's a good thing I don't like Cage, too, because if I did I could see my mom screaming "NATHAN!!! Get those rusted bolts and rubber bands out of our piano!"

In elementary school music, our teacher was introducing us to the harpsichord and she told us that the sound could be imitated by sticking a flat metal thumb-tack in a piano hammer. So, of course, I went home with the idea of doing exactly that. I tried it. I was satisfied with the sound. I removed it and never told anyone (my dad's pretty laid-back, but my mom would have had a fit). So, there is a pinhole in one of the hammers (not that it makes a difference in sound now).

It'll be our little secret. :D
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: edward on August 18, 2014, 04:36:29 AM
John Cage has to be the best internet troll ever... dead over 20 years and still finding victims. :)
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: milk on August 18, 2014, 05:26:59 AM
Cage fight!
Nothing wrong with that. Messiaen, too, was fascinated with color. Probably more so than Cage.

I don't like Cage's music, but I like his ideas (particularly on silence). Would someone have come up with it later had he not done so? Of course -- but this can be said about most things/inventions.

However, the music of his close friend Morton Feldman is among my favorite. Not quite up there with my top 5 (currently Bartok, Ligeti, Ravel, Messiaen, Haydn), but not too far off, either. For me, Feldman took some of Cage's ideas and made some of the most unique music with it. Depending on how you feel at the time, the same Feldman piece can come off as serene and peaceful or intense and even slightly foreboding. It's like those holograms that change pictures depending on the angle that your eyes approach.
I credit Feldman with opening up the whole world of contemporary classical music to me. I think Feldman is in my current top 5. Before I listened to Feldman a lot of things were closed. It was a great joy to discover Feldman's music. I credit my enjoyment of Grisey or Xenakis or Terry Riley or John Cage or anything "modern" to Feldman. Feldman was my bridge to a whole world of music. 
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on August 18, 2014, 05:27:36 AM
Feldman is an eye- (ear-) opener, all right.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: milk on August 18, 2014, 06:57:03 AM
Feldman is an eye- (ear-) opener, all right.
He turned on a light for me the way Bach turned on a light that led to an interest in classical music in general. I think I've always needed that. Maybe it's a little bit of obsessiveness in my personality but I need to get really into one particular composer first and then I can move to liking others. I listened to a bunch of Schumann before I got into other romantics. Debussy got me out of romanticism and Shostakovich got my feet firmly planted in the 20th century. I can't say why not Brahms or Ravel for their respective times other than they didn't initially click for me. It might be a question for it's own thread...maybe others are like that too with a particular composer for a particular era or style. I like Mozart well enough but he didn't launch a passion for "classical." That was Bach. I spent more than a year listening only to Bach before I thought, "ok, so what else is there?" I also explored classical pretty much chronologically...   
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: torut on August 18, 2014, 04:28:39 PM
The whole score is downloadable here, but when I looked at it I couldn't see a preface or instructions.

http://modisti.com/news/?p=10091
Thank you for the link. There is actually an instruction in the first page. I feel that Crismani did not follow it strictly, especially the following one:

    In a performance the correspondence between space and time should be such that the music "sounds" as it "looks."

By the way, this (http://www.sonoloco.com/rev/mdg/0795/cage9.html) seems the original web page of the article, with uncorrupted pictures of Cage, Sultan, Schleiermacher.

(http://www.sonoloco.com/rev/mdg/0795/Cage9br.jpg)
John Cage with Grete Sultan
Title: Happy Birthday, John Cage
Post by: Brewski on September 05, 2014, 08:36:40 AM
Today would have been John Cage's 102nd birthday. I'm marking the occasion with a performance tonight by over a dozen singers, in selections from his Song Books (1970). Personally, it would make me happy to hear the one for voice and pile driver.  8)

http://avantmedia.org/what/celebrating-cage/birthday-celebrations/john-cage-102/

--Bruce
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on September 05, 2014, 08:45:38 AM
Pile-driver! Leave it to Cage to outdo Stockenpfeffer.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: petrarch on September 06, 2014, 09:58:20 AM
Pile-driver! Leave it to Cage to outdo Stockenpfeffer.

This reminded me of a tangential tidbit:

"Please give him a course! He is worth 10 Kreneks!"

From a letter from Stockhausen to Wolfgang Steinecke [the organizer of the Darmstadt summer courses], March 1958. The rivalry is overplayed.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: torut on November 20, 2014, 10:53:07 PM
For some reason, digital download (flac & mp3) of 26' 1.1499'' for a String Player and 45' for a Speaker is offered for free on cdbaby. (But each track costs $0.99. :)) The speaker is John Schneider, just intonation guitarist. A nice voice. Both tracks are good: a solo bass version of 26'1.1499" with and without 45' for a Speaker performed simultaneously.
http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/petersschneider (http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/petersschneider)
(http://images.cdbaby.name/p/e/petersschneider.jpg)
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: torut on December 29, 2014, 06:04:13 PM
No Such Thing as Silence: John Cage's 4'33" by Kyle Gann (Yale University Press)



I thought I knew enough about 4'33", but this book revealed several aspects of the work that were enlightening to me. Starting with description of the premiere concert (I thought it was at an ordinary concert hall), the book continues with a short biography of Cage, predecessors and influences (Satie, Russolo, Rauschenberg, Zen, "creative misreading" of Coomaraswamy, ...), events Cage encountered in the path to 4'33", the piece itself (3 versions of notation, history of publishing, changes of Cage's thoughts on the piece, ...), and the influences on future generations: minimalists, pop musicians, critics, etc. It does not solve every mystery surrounding the piece, but it's certainly a concisely summarized, well researched book about the most important work of John Cage.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: 7/4 on December 31, 2014, 03:19:50 PM
No Such Thing as Silence: John Cage's 4'33" by Kyle Gann (Yale University Press)



I thought I knew enough about 4'33", but this book revealed several aspects of the work that were enlightening to me. Starting with description of the premiere concert (I thought it was at an ordinary concert hall), the book continues with a short biography of Cage, predecessors and influences (Satie, Russolo, Rauschenberg, Zen, "creative misreading" of Coomaraswamy, ...), events Cage encountered in the path to 4'33", the piece itself (3 versions of notation, history of publishing, changes of Cage's thoughts on the piece, ...), and the influences on future generations: minimalists, pop musicians, critics, etc. It does not solve every mystery surrounding the piece, but it's certainly a concisely summarized, well researched book about the most important work of John Cage.

I think Kyle Gann is a great writer. I miss his writing in the Village Voice.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: torut on January 01, 2015, 09:44:33 AM
I think Kyle Gann is a great writer. I miss his writing in the Village Voice.
I learned of and became liking many American composers thanks to his writings. I started reading music downtown - writings from the village voice. I am looking forward to Concord Sonata book, which I believe is more technical.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: torut on January 01, 2015, 10:35:49 AM
I enjoyed Kyle's writings on The Music of Conlon Nancarrow, one of my all-time favorite American Composers.
It is expensive but looks very interesting.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: San Antone on February 10, 2015, 08:33:27 AM
This reminded me of a tangential tidbit:

"Please give him a course! He is worth 10 Kreneks!"

From a letter from Stockhausen to Wolfgang Steinecke [the organizer of the Darmstadt summer courses], March 1958. The rivalry is overplayed.

And he did, with historic consequences.  John Cage visited Darmstadt in 1958 and music in the latter half of the 20th century changed because of it.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: San Antone on February 10, 2015, 08:47:54 AM
33 Musicians On What John Cage Communicates (http://www.npr.org/2012/08/30/160327305/33-musicians-on-what-john-cage-communicates)

As testament to the widespread effect of his influence, many of the comments come from musicians outside of the Classical Music realm.

Excerpts:

Joan La Barbara

Generosity is the word that first comes to mind when I think of John Cage. Having spent many years performing with him, listening to him lecture and also watching him respond to questions posed to him by people who never thought twice about coming and confronting him with scores, problems or queries, I never knew him to back away from a situation or from a question — whether it was simple or complex. Often, when I encounter barriers in my compositional or creative stream, I reflect on his fearless superimposition of works and his joy in discovering something new, and take courage and inspiration from his attitudes to move forward in my own work. John's decision to always say "yes" in the hope of being surprised has affected me greatly, and I am trying to incorporate that into my daily thoughts and actions. He also, of course, communicated freedom and the encouragement to intrepidly continue with one's work and ideas even in the face of adversity — perhaps because of adversity. He communicates all of this still to those of us who continue to rea

Robert Spano

As a young composition student in the '70s, Boulez, Stockhausen, Berio and Carter were standard fare. Then I chanced upon a recording of a Cage string quartet and was teleported to a whole other set of possibilities. The encounter with many of his other works and writings continued to challenge my assumptions of what music is, can be and might be. His name is wonderfully ironic, in that he took so many sounds imprisoned as noise, and liberated them as musical events. He called us to question our own perception before too quickly classifying a sound as beautiful or ugly, and to find beauty in the meeting of perceiver and perceived.

Stephen Drury

"I have nothing to say, and I am saying it." John Cage's most frequently quoted phrase seems to deny any intention of the composer to communicate. Usually forgotten is how he continues: "and that is poetry as I need it." Silence is poetry — the poetry of our own listening. Cage's work invites each of us to discover our own music in our own listening, the sounds set free from the composer's efforts at communication. Releasing the composer's grasp of sound, he hands us pure intimacy with sound. A perfect Zen koan — by not making beauty, Cage shows us beauty.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: San Antone on February 10, 2015, 08:51:51 AM
One of the best summaries of the music and importance of John Cage is found in the Introduction (http://rosewhitemusic.com/piano/writings/introduction-music-john-cage/) from The music of John Cage, published by Cambridge University Press. Copyright 1993 by James Pritchett.

First two paragraphs:

John Cage was a composer; this is the premise from which everything in this book follows. On the face of it, this would not appear to be a statement of much moment. Cage consistently referred to himself as a composer. He studied composition with Henry Cowell, Adolph Weiss, and Arnold Schoenberg. He spoke often of having devoted his life to music. He wrote hundreds of compositions that are published by a prominent music publishing house, which have been recorded, and which are performed regularly worldwide. He received commissions from major orchestras, chamber ensembles, soloists, and at least one opera company. He is mentioned in every up-to-date history of music. The only monograph devoted to him was in a series of “studies of composers.” Of course John Cage was a composer: everything in his life points to this inescapable fact.

And yet, I must begin this book by defending the obvious. For, even though his credentials are clearly those of a composer, Cage has, as often as not, been treated as something else. It has been stated on various occasions by various authorities that Cage was more a philosopher than a composer, that his ideas were more interesting than his music. Cage, says one history of twentieth-century music, “is not to be considered as a creator in the ordinary sense.”1 Another critic wonders whether Cage, after deciding that “he was not going to be one of the world’s great composers,” refashioned himself into “one of the leading philosophers and wits in twentieth-century music.”2 The degree to which this has become the standard way of dealing with Cage is revealed in a story told by Kyle Gann: a writer for the New York Times was told by his editors that he could not refer to Cage as “the most important and influential composer of our time,” but rather had to identify him as a “music-philosopher.”
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: Rons_talking on February 11, 2015, 03:48:14 PM
I believe it is important to consider Cage as a composer first. Like his contemporaries, he experimented in many conventional ways trying to get a sense of order and sound in his music.  The evolution of Cage in his music is gradual and reponds as much to his duties as a composer for Merce Cunningham's group as to any asthetic considerations. Cage needed to create a sound world that had rhythmic precision for the dancers. His use of prepared piano was more a function of lack of working space than anything else. The arithmatic structures that work so well in Sonatas and Interludes provided a pattern of irregular-sounding repitition that allowed the composer to often predict the duration of his pieces to the second; that was also good for the dancers. As the music evolved there were all sorts of structural developments. It has always bothered me that a lot of folks think he just came out  with 4'33 and other conceptual works to make a statement. His development from the early serial works on has always made musical sense, like it or not.

Not that his ideas about music aren't interesting. Of course they are. But he did work hard at being a composer of music and his output backs that up.





One of the best summaries of the music and importance of John Cage is found in the Introduction (http://rosewhitemusic.com/piano/writings/introduction-music-john-cage/) from The music of John Cage, published by Cambridge University Press. Copyright 1993 by James Pritchett.

First two paragraphs:

John Cage was a composer; this is the premise from which everything in this book follows. On the face of it, this would not appear to be a statement of much moment. Cage consistently referred to himself as a composer. He studied composition with Henry Cowell, Adolph Weiss, and Arnold Schoenberg. He spoke often of having devoted his life to music. He wrote hundreds of compositions that are published by a prominent music publishing house, which have been recorded, and which are performed regularly worldwide. He received commissions from major orchestras, chamber ensembles, soloists, and at least one opera company. He is mentioned in every up-to-date history of music. The only monograph devoted to him was in a series of “studies of composers.” Of course John Cage was a composer: everything in his life points to this inescapable fact.

And yet, I must begin this book by defending the obvious. For, even though his credentials are clearly those of a composer, Cage has, as often as not, been treated as something else. It has been stated on various occasions by various authorities that Cage was more a philosopher than a composer, that his ideas were more interesting than his music.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on February 11, 2015, 04:34:19 PM
Quote
And yet, I must begin this book by defending the obvious. For, even though his credentials are clearly those of a composer, Cage has, as often as not, been treated as something else.

Indeed.  Cage was ever more of a composer than I-forget-his-name was.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: Dax on February 11, 2015, 04:44:56 PM
For which we are more than grateful.

Aren't we?
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on February 11, 2015, 04:47:51 PM
Aye!
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: Dax on February 11, 2015, 05:10:15 PM
And he did, with historic consequences.  John Cage visited Darmstadt in 1958 and music in the latter half of the 20th century changed because of it.

Oops. My previous post was supposed to be a reply to this.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: San Antone on February 11, 2015, 05:16:19 PM
Oops. My previous post was supposed to be a reply to this.

Different people will answer that question differently. 
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: TheGSMoeller on February 14, 2015, 04:56:42 AM
I have very little Cage on disc but would like to expand that. I would like one or two recs of affordable recordings of Cage's piano music. Not really interested in a box set just single discs and I'm also not necessarily new to the composer so I'm not worried about great-introduction recordings. I've looked at some but I'm just not sure who is considered a quality Cage interpreter, if there even is one.
Thanks  ;D
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on February 14, 2015, 08:25:22 AM
I love this disc:



And my old pianist Buffalo mate sez of In a Landscape:

Quote from: Scott Tinney
One of my favorites from Uncle John.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: TheGSMoeller on February 14, 2015, 09:01:48 AM
I love this disc:



And my old pianist Buffalo mate sez of In a Landscape:

Thanks, Karl. Cheers!  :)
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: edward on February 14, 2015, 07:26:04 PM
I have very little Cage on disc but would like to expand that. I would like one or two recs of affordable recordings of Cage's piano music. Not really interested in a box set just single discs and I'm also not necessarily new to the composer so I'm not worried about great-introduction recordings. I've looked at some but I'm just not sure who is considered a quality Cage interpreter, if there even is one.
Thanks  ;D
I've not actually heard the disc Karl recommends, yet. I really should, because there's some really fine recordings in the Schleiermacher set: I know it's two discs but I really enjoy the recording of the later pieces (it's got two of One^2, which is a great example of Cage demonstrating that, when he felt like it, he was quite capable of writing music that is dramatically effective in a largely conventional manner, as well as the spare and austere One and One^5, the more experimental Etudes Boreales and the original piano version of the infamous ASLSP.



Oh, and the two-disc sets of the two-piano pieces is great. A couple of mid-40s pieces with prepared pianos, plus the late Music for Two and the austere Two^2, apparently inspired by a conversation with Sofia Gubaidulina about understanding of musical time.

Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: TheGSMoeller on February 14, 2015, 07:45:52 PM
Thanks, Edward. Looks as if Schleiermacher is the way to go.
Title: Re: John Cage
Post by: San Antone on February 15, 2015, 03:03:40 AM
Anyone interested in Cage's music for string quartet can find two CDs by the Arditti Quartet:

Vol. 1 (Music for Four: for string qt/World premiere; Thirty Pieces for String Qt)



Vol. 2 (String Quartet in Four Parts; Four)



And this one, which contains 44 Harmonies from Apartment House 1776 and Cheap Imitation:



The JACK Quartet has performed String Quartet in Four Parts on this recording:

Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: San Antone on February 16, 2015, 05:54:58 AM
not sure if this recording of the complete works for prepared piano has been discussed; I listened to the concerto and thought it well done:



Giancarlo Simonacci, piano - Orch. V. Galilei, dir. Nicola Paszkowski
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: San Antone on February 22, 2015, 10:29:44 AM
Probably the best disc of all the piano concertos:



Stephen Drury is the pianist in the prepared piano concerto and Fourteen but David Tudor does the concert, which is reliable.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: San Antone on August 12, 2015, 02:50:06 AM
In memory of John Cage (https://musicakaleidoscope.wordpress.com/2015/08/12/in-memory-of-john-cage/), who died today in 1992, I will be listening to his Number Pieces.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on August 12, 2015, 03:17:03 AM
“It was twenty years ago today . . . .”
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: Uatu on September 05, 2015, 07:29:14 PM
So it's John Cage's birthday today for another few minutes. Perhaps it might be interesting to discuss him a bit, maybe get some flame war going here  >:D

Personally I like very little of Cage's music, despite the fact that I've actually performed some of it! In a nutshell, his early works seem to me to be designed as rhythmic accompaniment for Merce's dance company. His prepared piano concept is great, hands down. But after hearing authentic Gamelan music, it's no longer that interesting, since it sounds like "dilettante Gamelan".

Some works that I DO like are the tape pieces he did (Fontana Mix, Williams Mix, basically anything with the word "Mix" in it. They are kaleidoscopic and exciting and are endlessly rewarding. However, as compositions, they don't work, since they are all based on chance operations. And this is where I really go rogue: I can't stand chance operation-based music. The idea of leaving composition to chance is designed to remove the composer's taste from the equation. Frankly, I WANT the composer's taste. If I want to hear unpredictable music (which is the other benefit of chance operation), I can just use the shuffle mode on iTunes. The best is loading up the BBC Sound Effects 60 CD collection and just play it on shuffle. It's even better if you have 2 versions running at the same time (actually, with this set up you no longer need to hear Luc Ferrari either). Getting back to Fontana Mix (the composition), I have never heard a realization of Fontana Mix that I liked besides the original one Cage did using tape. This is because of the open-endedness of the composition itself.

The other Cage work which I love is Cartridge Music, but again, only the original version. The reason is that that recording is actually a multi-tracked recording with several performances at the same time layered on top of each other. The idea of using phono cartridges is great, but again the actual composition is so open ended that one could just free improv on one's own with a contact mike.

Now, is it possible that Cage actually did NOT use chance in his compositions? I seem to recall that James Pritchett's book "The Music of John Cage" reports that Cage would "throw out" some dice readings if he didn't like them. However Alvin Lucier's book "Music 109" says that he never ever threw out any readings and adhered to the chance results completely. If the former, then I think that would be more interesting, especially since it would at least reflect Cage's personality and not just a random number generator.

Anyways, after the early period, there's no more prepared piano or electronic tape collages for the most part (Europeras being kind of the closest thing, but not as intricate). The later "number bracket" pieces don't do anything for me. Again, chance-generated notes in indeterminate rhythm. I suppose these musical artifacts can be appreciated in a Warholian soup can sense, but I personally find them a bit dull. I of course will defend all of Cage's works' validity with great fervor, since they are quite innovative, but the basic idea of "letting sounds be sounds" does not make these works musically interesting to me. Thoughts? Can someone show me the light?
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: torut on September 05, 2015, 08:10:54 PM
Since you read Lucier's Music 109, perhaps you also read this (regarding Music of Changes):

"It really isn't random at all in a certain sense. So much is chosen and controlled by the composer. So much is personal. No other music sounds like this; it sounds like Cage."

That's what I feel. What are "chosen" and "controlled" are the sound materials, the replacement procedures, how dynamics appear, etc.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: San Antone on September 06, 2015, 02:03:27 AM
So it's John Cage's birthday today for another few minutes. Perhaps it might be interesting to discuss him a bit, maybe get some flame war going here  >:D

Now, is it possible that Cage actually did NOT use chance in his compositions? I seem to recall that James Pritchett's book "The Music of John Cage" reports that Cage would "throw out" some dice readings if he didn't like them. However Alvin Lucier's book "Music 109" says that he never ever threw out any readings and adhered to the chance results completely. If the former, then I think that would be more interesting, especially since it would at least reflect Cage's personality and not just a random number generator.

Cage adhered absolutely to the chance operations.  He was quoted to have said when asked if he did not like the results did he alter them, and I paraphrase, "I would not change the music, I changed myself."    The bolded excerpt from your post expresses how you do not understand what Cage was about  His entire orientation was to remove himself from the process, which was a result of his study and practice of Zen, and why he used chance operations in the first place (which involved a number of different processes besides I Ching or flipping coins).

Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on September 06, 2015, 03:40:22 AM
Interesting discussion, gents.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: Uatu on September 06, 2015, 07:13:31 AM
Since you read Lucier's Music 109, perhaps you also read this (regarding Music of Changes):

"It really isn't random at all in a certain sense. So much is chosen and controlled by the composer. So much is personal. No other music sounds like this; it sounds like Cage."

That's what I feel. What are "chosen" and "controlled" are the sound materials, the replacement procedures, how dynamics appear, etc.

Funny, I read that Lucier passage just a few minutes after I wrote my post (I'm reading 3 modern music book simultaneously and all 3 suddenly converged on Cage, which prompted me to try to open a discussion about him).  Anyways, yes that's certainly food for thought.  I suppose what I would say is that I like Cage as an arranger or editor (producer), rather than a composer in the sense of a craftsman (like in the "classical" sense).  Now regarding the replacement procedures and dynamics, that would seem to suggest that these are not based on chance, in which case ego and taste are involved.  This goes against Lucier's prior claim to total authenticity of his chance operations. 

Actually the Lucier book is getting on my nerves, it's very informative and clearly-written, but when he calls Stockhausen's Momente "grotesque and overheated" he diminishes himself with editorializing.  He uses these adjectives to describe it because Stockhausen uses the choir in technically demanding ways outside of the normal range of voice.  By that reasoning, Beethoven's 9th is also "grotesque and overheated"....

Sanantonio: Please re-read my text more carefully.  Thanks.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: San Antone on September 06, 2015, 07:42:13 AM

Sanantonio: Please re-read my text more carefully.  Thanks.

Quote
Can someone show me the light?

It is fairly obvious to me that you are not receptive to Cage's aesthetic.  Nothing wrong with that.  And since you are someone who values Stockhausen's music to a great deal it is not surprising.  There is an exchange between Stockhausen and Morton Feldman that I think might illuminate the intrinsic difference between composers such as Feldman and Cage and a composer like Stockhausen (or most other composers of the 20th century), and possibly an insight into why you fail to appreciate what Cage is accomplishing.

Feldman: I spent the weekend with Karlheinz Stockhausen, and he had a lot of my scores, and he took them to his room and said goodnight. And he came down in the morning and he said, "I know you have no system, but what is your secret?" And I said to him, "Well, Karlheinz, I have no secret but if I could say anything to you, I advise you to leave the sounds alone; don't push them; because they're very much like human beings - if you push them, they push you back. So if I have a secret it would be, 'don't push the sounds'." And he leaned over me and he said, "Not even a little bit?"'

Now, while Feldman's working methods were very different form Cage's, the idea of not "pushing" with the sounds is the common ground between them. 

Also, the best stuff to read about John Cage are his writings; not those by others.  Cage has left plenty of articles, lectures, etc., and that is where one should look in order to gain a better understanding of his music.  Not to others who've written about Cage, and who generally attempt to rationalize his approach in ways Cage never felt necessary and in the process distort what he was about.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: torut on September 06, 2015, 08:17:53 AM
Funny, I read that Lucier passage just a few minutes after I wrote my post (I'm reading 3 modern music book simultaneously and all 3 suddenly converged on Cage, which prompted me to try to open a discussion about him).  Anyways, yes that's certainly food for thought.  I suppose what I would say is that I like Cage as an arranger or editor (producer), rather than a composer in the sense of a craftsman (like in the "classical" sense).  Now regarding the replacement procedures and dynamics, that would seem to suggest that these are not based on chance, in which case ego and taste are involved.  This goes against Lucier's prior claim to total authenticity of his chance operations.

I think he meant that, once the rules (procedure) of chance operation had been established, Cage never rejected whatever the results of the operation. There seems no contradiction.

However, choosing rules itself reflects Cage's personal taste. It contradicts Cage's general statement about removing personal ego from music, but I rather find the contradiction interesting. I think it is impossible to eliminate personal taste from a work created by a person, even for field recordings or computer generated music (choosing recording locations & editing, designing the algorithm, choosing the ranges of parameters, etc. inevitably reflect the person's taste), and I like to think about what Cage really wanted to achieve.

Quote
Actually the Lucier book is getting on my nerves, it's very informative and clearly-written, but when he calls Stockhausen's Momente "grotesque and overheated" he diminishes himself with editorializing.  He uses these adjectives to describe it because Stockhausen uses the choir in technically demanding ways outside of the normal range of voice.  By that reasoning, Beethoven's 9th is also "grotesque and overheated"....

I just started reading the Lucier's book and it's fun. :D He got mad about Bernstein's treatment of Cage's work, and on his attempt at improvisation with the orchestra, Lucier's comment: "(Dumb.)"
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: Uatu on September 06, 2015, 10:41:25 AM
OK, thanks for the discussion sanantonio and torut, good stuff, exactly the kind of discourse I was looking for. 

Yeah, not receptive to Cage, guilty.  I do however understand his music very well (I think), having performed several of his pieces at Cage music festivals (even recorded a CD with a Cage work on it), been to his former home, met many of his close friends, read innumerable books and scores of his over the last 25 years, and as of yet I still haven't sold off my well-worn copy of "Silence".  :)
So despite my initial meant-to-be-somewhat-provocative post, I'm actually a fan - but of only about 1/10th of his oeuvre.   I actually jumped off the Cage bandwagon about 10 years ago, though his influence in contemporary music is so profound, it's hard to avoid.  I think my deep study of Stockhausen has indeed made me more wary of Cage, as you suggest.  Though of course, Stockhausen was one of Cage's staunchest defenders at Darmstadt, and really his only ally in Europe (especially after the break with Boulez). 

Like Stockhausen, I admire his ingenuity and innovation, but his method of realizing his ideas (using chance) leaves me cold.  Why not push the sounds?   That is the heart of the problem.  Beethoven is probably my favorite composer of all time, so obviously it's not just Stockhausen who might affect my judgement.  Cage said he hated Beethoven, so that doesn't really win any points for me either...

BTW, I know that story you posted, but the best one is when Morty and KS were in the audience and Morty received an award.  When they called Morty's name, he had trouble getting up fast enough, and Stockhausen immediately got up and started to take some bows.  Morty said "Karlheinz, stop it - my mother's in the audience!"

As far as reading Cage's own writings, as I said I've had Silence and Year from Monday for a long time.   I even heard the 4 hour Cage/Morty radio show.   But the Pritchett book (The Music of John Cage) is superb, and as good a book on a single composer as I've ever read.  I believe Pritchett's writings can be trusted as even Cage himself needed Pritchett's help in order to complete the Freeman Etudes. 

As far as that Bernstein concert with Etudes Australes and the improv attempt, I've got the record (of the improv part).  It's not great, but I've heard worse.   I was a Bernstein freak a few years ago and I read some more about this concert, but I just can't recall any specifics.  However my feeling was that Bernstein was very respectful of the music.  I wonder if an audio transcript of Bernstein bashing Cage exists?  Bernstein did commission a work from Stockhausen after all (Hymnen 3rd Region), so he didn't exactly hate thorny avant-garde music.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: San Antone on September 06, 2015, 11:13:11 AM
After I posted my last I did think that the only book other than Cage's writings I would recommend would be the Pritchett book.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on September 06, 2015, 11:39:27 AM
Interestingly, a colleague posted this not long ago (this very afternoon) on Facebook:
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: Uatu on September 06, 2015, 11:56:38 AM
I like this.  I like fortune cookies too.  Cage was a pretty decent writer of aphorisms.  I am however resisting the urge to crack wise, due to my normally cynical personality.   Oh, wait..
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: torut on September 07, 2015, 01:24:06 PM
As far as that Bernstein concert with Etudes Australes and the improv attempt, I've got the record (of the improv part).  It's not great, but I've heard worse.   I was a Bernstein freak a few years ago and I read some more about this concert, but I just can't recall any specifics.  However my feeling was that Bernstein was very respectful of the music.  I wonder if an audio transcript of Bernstein bashing Cage exists?  Bernstein did commission a work from Stockhausen after all (Hymnen 3rd Region), so he didn't exactly hate thorny avant-garde music.

The Bernstein's speech at the concert can be heard here.
https://www.youtube.com/v/nky14InylDM
It seems he confused improvisation and chance operation. Cage was very against improvisation as "the exercise of taste and memory."
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: Uatu on September 07, 2015, 02:42:01 PM
The Bernstein's speech at the concert can be heard here.
https://www.youtube.com/v/nky14InylDM
It seems he confused improvisation and chance operation. Cage was very against improvisation as "the exercise of taste and memory."

Wow - thanks so much!  I feel like I may have heard this before, but not in many years.  Yeah, it's as I remembered.  How can Lucier characterize this as "denigrating the music, embarrassing"?  I think Lenny was very accurate in everything he said.  He was very specific saying that Atlas Eclipticalis and Cage's works had no improvisation at all.  I guess he wanted to play an improv just to show the full spectrum of aleatoric music (of which improv and chance composition are both a part of, in my definition).  In chance, the aleatoric nature comes in the act of notation.  In improv, the aleatoric element comes at the moment of performance.  Of course, typically aleatoric music has some pitch set or graphic scheme, but this was just a logical extreme... 
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92) HORROR OF HORRORS, CAGE WON!!!
Post by: snyprrr on August 03, 2016, 09:37:11 AM
Where to follow on from Feldman? Well, duh,...

Yea, I just cruised 65 Pages of Amazon to get to this Thread, wow,... whew,...


OK, so, where to start? We have a lot of work to do in as little time as possible...



1) I'm not interested in anything before 195(*)... I don't yet know which year Cage "changed", but, I do know (uhhh??) that 'Book of Changes' is '58... whenever he stopped doing the "prepared piano" stuff... you know, I want the Super Ultra High Modern "tinckle-splatt"... I guess we're shooting for the Best Overall Piano Recitals:

Book of Changes
Etudes Australes

2) Everything changes with the Feldman, opps, I mean, "Number Pieces". It's just soooo obvious to me that Late Cage has the same "profile" as Feldman, so, please, I'm not here to argue it, I just want long stretches of music I can repeat... you know what I want (coming from Feldman)...

3)'Ryangi'...'Roanji'... whatever it's called,... what's the best way to hear this?

4) NO VOCALS PLEASE... NO TALKING... NO JESTING... just instrumental, please

5) The Orchestral Number Pieces (56, 68, 78(?), 80, 101, 108, 110)

6) The Ensemble Number Pieces (Six, Seven1/2, Eight, Thirteen, Fourteen,...)

7) Any Absolutely Fantasic "Various" Recitals??




I will be brutal here.






WHAT I'VE HAD OR LISTENED TO... MY "CAGE HISTORY":

1) Five3 (trombone and string quartet): I've had both Mode and Vanguard, had the latter on all night long... eh, it's OK... mm... what do you think? The Vanguard recording is OK, but, eh, mm,....

2) String Quartet in Four Parts: not for this perusal

3) Four: Arditti/Montaigne- very quiet, was just playing and I didn't even notice!

4) Music for Four/ 30 Pieces for String Quartet: Arditti/Mode- OK, I don't like the recording so much, but, mm, it's OK, kind of homogenous (probably I need different timbres for Cage?). There is an alternative recording for the latter, also with the Arditti...

5) Atlas E./Concert for P+O (WERGO): had this a long time ago, don't know why I got rid of it... I guess I like it?

6) Roanji- on some flute disc- maybe this version didn't have all that much going on. What about the HatHut version?

7) various percussion discs with one Cage piece- most all earlier stuff- no Number Pieces yet...

8)




fuuuuuu... just sliced my finger real nice like.....gaaaahhhhhh >:D 0:)
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92) LATE CAGE EXPERTS, PLEASE!!!!!
Post by: snyprrr on August 04, 2016, 08:38:13 AM
No Late Cageans here at the moment? starting with 'Ryoanji'....
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92) FIRST CAGE PURCHASE
Post by: snyprrr on August 07, 2016, 07:13:19 AM
After carefully pouring over all the Cage i could absorb in the time, I came to one particular disc that cried out as a first purchase:

Mode 'The Number Pieces Vol.6'

Five
Seven
Thirteen

'Seven' and 'Thirteen' sounded to me like really cool Feldman type works that were obviously by someone with a similar "feel", but with a completely different approach. The 'Five' on this recording was done with bowls (I usually do prefer the classical instruments)...

Anyhow, much of the 'Number Pieces' seemed to have waaay too much silence for me- the percussion work for four, 'Four4', which can be heard on YT, is a 72 minute percussion quartet that literally had me throwing things (not unusual). I just rejected it out of hand as complete b.s. Come on people, just give us the sounds, with the shortest amount of silence, please. We don't need to pay for "open windows" and "environmental sounds",... got'em right here, thank you very much. I WANT PERCUSSION when I get 72 minutes of percussion!!

Also, the violin+piano 'Two6' seemed to be about as threadbare as 20 minutes can get... i'm sorry, this just is not anything I want to spend time with. Give me billions of notes, like 'Music of Changes',... but, I really had a time of it going through the 'Number Pieces', the solos and duos- I just find a lot of it philosophical clap-trap... I just haaave to know that Cage performers are going to be caught up in all the ....eh... "spirituality"...

Like, asking Cage if you can use bowls for 'Five'... who gives a f&&&??... it seems there was never a request he didn't grant, so why make such a fuss to get ANYTHING "authorized" by him, since, technically, it shouldn't even matter in the first place. Just pick any random Cage piece and have at it and do what you want,... right? None of this "asking permission"... only ______s do that.


But, with Cage, with enough instruments, maybe there's actually a chance of hearing some tones with a little density behind them. I haven't received the package yet, but, I think one of the 3-4 "ensemble" recitals I was looking at (Barton Workshop on Megadisc, the HatHut series, the Mode series) was the way to go. 'Fourteen' also seemed like a winner. 'Eight' is a 60min. brass piece... and so forth...

So, once you get below 'Six' (just a 3min. percussion piece for six), things get complicated.... with the piano pieces especially... I found not much joy in 'One', which was only 10mins.!! I would have thought there was some more density here, but no. 'Two2', for two pianos, on Mode, is a different story... probably a masterpiece...

Violin solos for one note at a time? eh

I had the cello version, 'One8', with Berger on Wergo, (with Gubaidulina), but, it's just bzzzzzzzzz.....


I JUST CAN'T STAND "MUSIC" THAT IS THE EQUIVALENT OF THE AIR CONDITIONER, OR THE CREAKING OF THE FLOORBOARDS.

DON'T MAKE ME PAY MONEY FOR THINGS I CAN ENJOY IN THE REAL WORLD!!!!!!!


rant:OFF
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92) 30 PIECES FOR 5 ORCHESTRAS
Post by: snyprrr on August 08, 2016, 04:08:55 PM
After carefully pouring over all the Cage i could absorb in the time, I came to one particular disc that cried out as a first purchase:

Mode 'The Number Pieces Vol.6'

Five
Seven
Thirteen

'Seven' and 'Thirteen' sounded to me like really cool Feldman type works that were obviously by someone with a similar "feel", but with a completely different approach. The 'Five' on this recording was done with bowls (I usually do prefer the classical instruments)...

Anyhow, much of the 'Number Pieces' seemed to have waaay too much silence for me- the percussion work for four, 'Four4', which can be heard on YT, is a 72 minute percussion quartet that literally had me throwing things (not unusual). I just rejected it out of hand as complete b.s. Come on people, just give us the sounds, with the shortest amount of silence, please. We don't need to pay for "open windows" and "environmental sounds",... got'em right here, thank you very much. I WANT PERCUSSION when I get 72 minutes of percussion!!

Also, the violin+piano 'Two6' seemed to be about as threadbare as 20 minutes can get... i'm sorry, this just is not anything I want to spend time with. Give me billions of notes, like 'Music of Changes',... but, I really had a time of it going through the 'Number Pieces', the solos and duos- I just find a lot of it philosophical clap-trap... I just haaave to know that Cage performers are going to be caught up in all the ....eh... "spirituality"...

Like, asking Cage if you can use bowls for 'Five'... who gives a f&&&??... it seems there was never a request he didn't grant, so why make such a fuss to get ANYTHING "authorized" by him, since, technically, it shouldn't even matter in the first place. Just pick any random Cage piece and have at it and do what you want,... right? None of this "asking permission"... only ______s do that.


But, with Cage, with enough instruments, maybe there's actually a chance of hearing some tones with a little density behind them. I haven't received the package yet, but, I think one of the 3-4 "ensemble" recitals I was looking at (Barton Workshop on Megadisc, the HatHut series, the Mode series) was the way to go. 'Fourteen' also seemed like a winner. 'Eight' is a 60min. brass piece... and so forth...

So, once you get below 'Six' (just a 3min. percussion piece for six), things get complicated.... with the piano pieces especially... I found not much joy in 'One', which was only 10mins.!! I would have thought there was some more density here, but no. 'Two2', for two pianos, on Mode, is a different story... probably a masterpiece...

Violin solos for one note at a time? eh

I had the cello version, 'One8', with Berger on Wergo, (with Gubaidulina), but, it's just bzzzzzzzzz.....


I JUST CAN'T STAND "MUSIC" THAT IS THE EQUIVALENT OF THE AIR CONDITIONER, OR THE CREAKING OF THE FLOORBOARDS.

DON'T MAKE ME PAY MONEY FOR THINGS I CAN ENJOY IN THE REAL WORLD!!!!!!!


rant:OFF

huh, just can't get any Cage action here, huh?

not that I haven't been a chief ridiculer at times...


20 Pieces for 5 Orchestras (1981)

Forgive me if it's just to obvious from this that Cage is TOTALLY following Feldman at this point, this sounding a whole lot like Feldman's just previous "uppity phase" (1977-80/81). Why Late Cage and Late Feldman aren't paired more is odd.

Anyhow, now Cage and Feldman seem like the exact same "object" manifested by two different... uh... "means". Feldman strings things along like he was knitting, whereas Cage does his "time modules" type thing,... but, the results one "feels" are nearly identical, at least to me temperament. Maybe you see what I'm saying?







Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92) FOUR4f
Post by: snyprrr on August 08, 2016, 04:30:40 PM
Four 4 (1991) for 4 percussionists @74mins.

I have been going through the Number Pieces, finding some to be Masterpieces, whilst others just seem to grate at my nerves with the sheer multitude of silences. This piece has three "realizations" on record: Amadinda on Hungaroton, the work's dedicatees, a one-man-overdubbed version on OgreOgress, and a third I can't recall at the moment. All of them run about 75 minutes. The Amadinda in on YT, which is what I... "heard"... if that's even the word to use.

"Rolling" of the timbres seems to be the M.O. here. Rolling waves of instruments with LOTS and lots of what seems like endless silences. Maybe they are playing very faintly, but, I am not a fan of, excuse me, what I call "pretentious pianissimo" (that's why I like Xenakis's constant "forte"; and Feldman, though "quiet", is usually sure to be audible).

This work gets RAVES for reviews, and I just couldn't care less. If anything sounded to me like a piece of "charlatan" music, it's this. Religious music for atheists who are spiritual? I just can't sit through this without becoming offended that someone is trying to profound-me, dude. I mean, I usually have a spiritual experience when I listen to percussion ensembles- again, Xenakis's 'Pleiades' IS an undeniable Masterpiece; it speaks the language of Masterpiece in every note of its 40 minutes.

Here, I get lots of silence, which I can get without the music at all. So, that leaves the music. Maybe I just found the Amadinda's choices boring? Maybe the other versions utilize the silences more? I don't know. But, since they all do, at least time wise, follow the same structure, I am ASSuming that the others continue with the "rolling" thing. There are no thuds in this piece! ;)


So, I was terribly disappointed that I spent over an hour for this,... and I couldn't here too well what MIGHT have been going on under my volume threshold. I mean, this was like a MOST tiresome "1970s" type thing being passed off as, say, "healing music", or spiritual, or what have you. Sorry, but here I think Feldman would have created a music more interesting 70 minutes of music for 4 percussionists.

Other Number Pieces that just had too much silence for my taste were 'One', and 'One5'. 'One2', on the other hand, - having the same music- and four times longer than 'One'- had a whole lot more interest going for it.

rant"OFF
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92) WELL,... FINE THEN!!
Post by: snyprrr on August 17, 2016, 10:20:32 AM
Look, i've come around to Cage, and no one cares! :'(

Still, I find a looot of his "stuff" just annoying and grating and poofy, especially sometimes the man himself. The effete sound of his voice, his mannerisms, all that "theater music and dance"... poofery I tell you!!


But, i have been taken with the Mode Cycle, and I think the best part about Cage is the part the performer brings. The performance of the 2 Piano piece 'Two2', which runs for 75mins., is as Feldmanesque as anyone could want. Masterpiece!

Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92) VARIATIONS 1-VIII
Post by: snyprrr on August 17, 2016, 10:21:43 AM
Variations I-VIII

How do you feel about these pieces from the 60s, very open ended?
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92) WELL,... FINE THEN!!
Post by: Scion7 on August 17, 2016, 05:11:52 PM
Look, i've come around to Cage, and no one cares! :'(

I care! I'm disappointed. Come back to the good side of the Force!   $:)
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92) WELL,... FINE THEN!!
Post by: nathanb on August 18, 2016, 05:11:27 AM
Look, i've come around to Cage, and no one cares! :'(

Still, I find a looot of his "stuff" just annoying and grating and poofy, especially sometimes the man himself. The effete sound of his voice, his mannerisms, all that "theater music and dance"... poofery I tell you!!


But, i have been taken with the Mode Cycle, and I think the best part about Cage is the part the performer brings. The performance of the 2 Piano piece 'Two2', which runs for 75mins., is as Feldmanesque as anyone could want. Masterpiece!

Cage was a bit of a ninny, if we're being honest. But what gay composer wasn't? Britten's libretti, before they get dark and twisted, often make me feel like I'm listening to Mary Poppins.

I have MP3s of every Mode Cage Edition I could find, so, like, 85% of them. David Tudor may be historical, but give me Schleiermacher's MDG stuff or Liebner's NEOS/Wergo stuff to fill in the gaps, and that's all the Cage I'll ever need. Well, it leaves a few gaps.... you need Bird Cage on Sub Rosa too at least...
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on August 18, 2016, 05:18:43 AM
Cage was a bit of a ninny, if we're being honest.

Dude, let's stick to the music.  The colleagues of mine who met Cage spoke him very well.

snypsss, you want this recording (https://www.amazon.com/American-Composers-Orchestra-Russell-Margaret/dp/B000XWMBZ2/ref=tmm_msc_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1471529878&sr=1-1).  Yes, yes, you do.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: snyprrr on August 18, 2016, 07:30:43 AM
Dude, let's stick to the music.  The colleagues of mine who met Cage spoke him very well.

snypsss, you want this recording (https://www.amazon.com/American-Composers-Orchestra-Russell-Margaret/dp/B000XWMBZ2/ref=tmm_msc_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1471529878&sr=1-1).  Yes, yes, you do.

Huh, I didn't realize it had 'Seventy-Four' on it! Still, I'm just not a big fan of mixing "phases", and Cage has quite a line of demarcation. OK< I won't argue.... THAAAANK YOU, KARL!! 0:)

Cage was a bit of a ninny, if we're being honest. But what gay composer wasn't? Britten's libretti, before they get dark and twisted, often make me feel like I'm listening to Mary Poppins.

I have MP3s of every Mode Cage Edition I could find, so, like, 85% of them. David Tudor may be historical, but give me Schleiermacher's MDG stuff or Liebner's NEOS/Wergo stuff to fill in the gaps, and that's all the Cage I'll ever need. Well, it leaves a few gaps.... you need Bird Cage on Sub Rosa too at least...

I'm really quite taken with Mode's presentation. Currently I'm wondering how to get all three volumes of 'A Cage of Saxophones' without starving, or not driving, or rent, or.........

the one with 'Five', 'Seven', and 'Thirteen' really must be the best overall recital of this kind, and their 'Two2' for 2Pianos, which lasts 75mins. and has 30 Tracks, is just a Feldmanesque masterpiece.

Looking at 'Percussion Works Vol.3' with the "plant" pieces,... and Drury's 'Piano Works Vol.1' with 'One', 'Music for Two', and 'One5'...

This is a RABBIT HOLE if there ever was one...

I care! I'm disappointed. Come back to the good side of the Force!   $:)

Yea, I know,... and I know James can't be too pleased by this... but I think I'd almost have to pick Cage over KHS at this point, if only for the NumberPieces... KHS seems he just HAD to put "vocalizing" into his Late Works, and, amazingly, Cage got more "normal". 'Thirteen' sounds like advanced 50s Feldman to me...

But, please, trust me, the annoying parts of Cage (oy, and, sorry, that includes what I heard of 'Bird Cage'- that's where I think I heard his effete talking- "oh, and how are yoooou?"- just like a queer old grannie...

he rebelled against a churchy upbringing, no?


Seriously, if I don't block out the queerness all I experience in my mind is some 'The Birthday Party' type event with Cage, Virgil, Rorem, Bernstein, Copland, delTredici, Helps,- shit, it's ALL of them- all having... ewww... a ball... (you know, I'm sure we all want to be a fly on the wall and see/hear for ourselves... brrrrr)...

the smell of ____ & ____ fills the nostrils.....





I can see Cage being some devilish thing in that he is so permissive... "oh, allow eeeeverything"... but, as we see now, when you tolerate anything, you must them even tolerate the intolerable... and that doesn't work out in the... end...





Music for a Loose Schvinckter






















9(ack, uh boy,.... now I'm sure to get banned for life ::))







And I'm not saying I've lived my life like an angel.... uhhhhhhh........





(stop typing dude)





NO!!!, You can't make me!!!! :laugh:







(what's Karl thinking right now?) 8) $:)







HOW DID I GET ON A JOHN CAGE KICK????  HE REMINDS ME OF MY LIBERAL GRANDMOTHER!!!!!! (and looks just like the old guy at the bar... should get pics)
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: Scion7 on August 18, 2016, 06:07:56 PM
 :D
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92) SERIOUS QUESTIONS!!!!
Post by: snyprrr on August 19, 2016, 10:51:17 AM
I have MP3s of every Mode Cage Edition I could find, so, like, 85% of them. David Tudor may be historical, but give me Schleiermacher's MDG stuff or Liebner's NEOS/Wergo stuff to fill in the gaps, and that's all the Cage I'll ever need. Well, it leaves a few gaps.... you need Bird Cage on Sub Rosa too at least...

Questions, please!!!

1) LIEBNER: a) isn't her 'Australes' just a bit on the slow side? I'm awaiting SchleierMR here anydaynow. I picked him over
                         all others based on what I heard on the Feldman sets. Surely if he plays so well "quiet", he should do great
                         "loud:. (otoh- apparently his 'Music of Changes' is a lot slower than everyone elses)

                     b) Liebner vs. Drury in 'One' and 'One5'.

                         'One'/'One5': could you please give me a heads-up on this one? I just really almost can't std both of these
                                              because of the apparent "lack of sh*t breaking up the SILENCE". I hear both on YT, and both
                                              bore me to tears. Out of all the NumberPieces, the 'One' Cycle seem to me the most... well, fill-in-the-blank...............................I used to have Berger in the cello solo 'One8', and I've heard the violin version- I mean, it's
                                             eye-roll-heaven. Please, do you like it/them?

                     *very curious how you stack Liebner, Schleiermacher, Drury, Leng Tan, and the rest.



2) Just ordered 'A Cage of Saxophones Vol.1'- I think that whole set is just what I like, especially Vols.3-4.

3) Really like the Two4 for Violin and Piano/Sho, both versions on that Arditti disc. I was surprised, but the sho version is really nice and deep. Both works have "lots of music" so to speak, no brain frying silences. Two6 for Violin and Piano starts with an obvious Feldman quote, but then settles into the dreary silence thing... am I just not hearing things on the computer??? Where's the beef??? btw- Schleiermacher/Seidel are the only competition here, what do you think?

4) Considering 'Percussion Music Vol.4' on Mode, with 'Branches', 'Child of Tree', and 'One4'. What do you think? Wergo has
    competition.



I think that's "all" I'm trying to limit myself to. Ack, what has become of me, Cage junkie?????? Where is James??
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: snyprrr on August 19, 2016, 10:58:49 AM
CRC- help!!!
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: James on August 19, 2016, 02:25:18 PM
Yea, I know,... and I know James can't be too pleased by this...

I did what you're doing myself, long, long, loooong ago .. it's how I come to my conclusions. You have to sort of immerse yourself so that you can talk about it. With his stuff, it's easy. In fact, I have many old Cage discs and probably a few pieces of old vinyl in the house somewhere, stashed away in a box ..
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: ComposerOfAvantGarde on August 19, 2016, 03:32:55 PM
Seventeen is a more groundbreaking composition than 4'33"
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: Monsieur Croche on August 19, 2016, 07:07:13 PM
Seriously, if I don't block out the queerness all I experience in my mind is some 'The Birthday Party' type event with Cage, Virgil, Rorem, Bernstein, Copland, delTredici, Helps,- shit, it's ALL of them- all having... ewww... a ball... (you know, I'm sure we all want to be a fly on the wall and see/hear for ourselves... brrrrr)...

the smell of ____ & ____ fills the nostrils....

Alrighty, then.

"The lady doth protest too much, methinks." ~ Shakespeare; Hamlet

Best regards.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: ComposerOfAvantGarde on August 19, 2016, 08:12:29 PM
I've been listening to a lot of Cage pieces this morning, his is incredibly fascinating!   ;)
The number pieces are some of my favourite works of his. Have you been listening to much of those?
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: ComposerOfAvantGarde on August 19, 2016, 09:26:30 PM
There are many...I plan on listening to 101 for the first time soon. I don't know much about Cage's orchestral music so I look forward to hearing more. :)
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: ComposerOfAvantGarde on August 19, 2016, 09:39:35 PM
what do you think of Cage's 'middle period' works? I can't say I know much of what he did then and what I have heard hasn't been something I have connected with as much as his works from the 80s and 90s.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: ComposerOfAvantGarde on August 19, 2016, 09:55:10 PM
Yes that period exactly. Perhaps there is a trend in those pieces for faster changes and busier textures than in his later works which I am not getting so into at the moment, but I can't say I dislike things like Water Walk etc.
Even Roaratorio and things like that I might possibly include here.

Hmmm

I really love the aesthetic ideas in his number pieces, maybe that's just what I like most right now!
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: ComposerOfAvantGarde on August 19, 2016, 10:45:54 PM
I am not a huge fan of Roaratorio to be perfectly honest. :(

I should check out The Seasons again though because I don't know it very well at all. I listened to it once years ago and thought it was pretty cool back then. Do you have a recommended recording or performance?
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: ComposerOfAvantGarde on August 19, 2016, 11:06:22 PM
I will get to that shortly. Currently I am listening to Apartment House 1776 which is a densely textured composition in stark contrast to 101. It is polystylistic in an interesting way; singers which are representative of various traditions and religions in the US at the time sing the music of their respective traditions on top of one another. There is certainly more of a chamber music feel to this composition in that the instrumentalists and singers perform very audibly different music from one another that one can hear individual solo lines. I am really warming to this music more and more as the piece progresses and develops texturally and thematically. Changes in the music are fairly slow, which is very nice because I am enjoying more slow paced music currently.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: snyprrr on August 20, 2016, 01:06:37 PM
what do you think of Cage's 'middle period' works? I can't say I know much of what he did then and what I have heard hasn't been something I have connected with as much as his works from the 80s and 90s.

I am considering most all of these Composers's "Middle Period" to be 1972-1981. 1972 clears the cobwebs of the 60s out (please, just witness EVERY Avant Composer's output here), and, at least in The New York School's case, 1981 is the Rothko Death Year, which apparently effected them all. Just look at Cage and Feldman's ouvre, and how they- BAM!!- just change up right there in 1982.

Still, with Feldman, I consider his Mid-Period to be @1973-4 to 1976... which I find his most boring period, which I think Cage then later improved upon with the NumberPieces.

I'm listening to Two6 right now, I'll be putting 101 and The Seasons on after  :)
Cage and Feldman's orchestral works have always fascinated me but I admit that I haven't yet really dived in head first yet  :laugh:

Do you hear Feldman in the beginning of Two6?

I'm giving Apartment House 1776 a go right now!  :D

Edit near end of work:
One of the things that has crossed my mind listening to it, is that it vaguely reminds me of Charles Ives (but it's not something Ives would ever compose though) 


I listened to this last night too, I thought I would hate it but it is quite charming. As a one-off it's quite a masterpiece. Very Ivesian...

I will get to that shortly. Currently I am listening to Apartment House 1776 which is a densely textured composition in stark contrast to 101. It is polystylistic in an interesting way; singers which are representative of various traditions and religions in the US at the time sing the music of their respective traditions on top of one another. There is certainly more of a chamber music feel to this composition in that the instrumentalists and singers perform very audibly different music from one another that one can hear individual solo lines. I am really warming to this music more and more as the piece progresses and develops texturally and thematically. Changes in the music are fairly slow, which is very nice because I am enjoying more slow paced music currently.

surprising, wasn't it?

'101' is a nice short pop, too. Why this isn't programmed with Feldman...??? Sounds like 'Orchestra' sort of.




Cage's style seems to be trying to catch up to Feldman starting in the mid-70s...






Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: ComposerOfAvantGarde on August 20, 2016, 01:09:20 PM
I wonder if Mirror Image enjoys all these Cage works....many of them remind me of his listening habits.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: ComposerOfAvantGarde on August 20, 2016, 01:22:12 PM
Snyprrr, I started a top 5 Cage works poll in the polling station. I'd be interested as to your choices if you're willing to have a go at it.

http://www.good-music-guide.com/community/index.php/topic,26118.0.html
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: snyprrr on August 20, 2016, 01:26:42 PM
I did what you're doing myself, long, long, loooong ago .. it's how I come to my conclusions. You have to sort of immerse yourself so that you can talk about it. With his stuff, it's easy. In fact, I have many old Cage discs and probably a few pieces of old vinyl in the house somewhere, stashed away in a box ..

Yea, I guess Cage is like the end of the line in a way. I still find so much of it mid-20th century quackery, but I find it humorous how Cage almost HAS to start writing "regular avant garde music" towards the end (which, frankly, is much better than the "softening" of others such as Lutoslawski).

Oh, and... reeeeally, no one has mentioned any impact by the discovery of Scelsi. That was around 1986, - perhaps with the death of Feldman, and with the discovery of Scelsi, the future path became clear?



Meanwhile, on space station KHS, the 'Helikopter Quartett' is taking shape. OK,- I'll give you that KHS seemed still intent on "engaging" people, whereas it seems more that Cage wants a more "oooommm-ish" reaction from people....????


Still, I see the same facets of the Luciferian Sound in both- KHS overtly, Cage doing his best to remain unaware? In opposition to that other thread- I don't think any MAN is the greatest Composer since LvB--- it is the "spirituality" that has invaded Composers's minds from KHS to Taverner to Cage to Part - even Ferneyhough's music comes off as inspired by the "higher things"...

It is all the Musik of the Illumminnistas, the Majjickke -ael People.... that which shall not be named...








And then there's Boulez in a corner by himself...



Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: ComposerOfAvantGarde on August 20, 2016, 01:31:54 PM
snyprrr you gotta listen to more Boulez!!!!!! :laugh:
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: snyprrr on August 20, 2016, 01:43:38 PM
Snyprrr, I started a top 5 Cage works poll in the polling station. I'd be interested as to your choices if you're willing to have a go at it.

http://www.good-music-guide.com/community/index.php/topic,26118.0.html

LOL- your choices come from more exposure- I can see how you're right, though!! The big revelations right now have been:

Two4 (sho version)

Two2 (Mode version @74mins.)

Seven (along with the other MIXED ensemble pieces like 13, 14,....)

Freeman Etudes
Etudes Australes/Etudes Borealis
Music of Changes
Music for Piano 1-85
Music Walk
Winter Music
Solo

the "... for a..." series

Variations I-VIII

101
30 Pieces for Five Orchestras
Etcetera/ 2/4 Etcetera
30 Pieces for String Quartet
Four

'Music for _____' series

snyprrr you gotta listen to more Boulez!!!!!! :laugh:

I HAAAVE!!!! :laugh:
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: ComposerOfAvantGarde on August 20, 2016, 02:41:47 PM
What do you like about Music of Changes???
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92) U GOT ME!! LOL
Post by: snyprrr on August 20, 2016, 04:16:51 PM
What do you like about Music of Changes???

ouch- you got me!!

Good one, - I just put that in there because I felt I HAD to. I was going to get Joste/Mode for super cheap, and then, poof, it was gone. I dunno, when I sampled on YT I thought I liked the blizzard of notes, but when I listened again I was like where are the blizzards I thought I heard the first time??

But, do tell me what there's not to like- I'm just thrilled you called me out... lol, I have no idea what I'm talking about with the Piano Music pretty much- still awaiting Schleiermacher's 'Australes', which would be my first really blind Cage attempt- I thought 'Music of Changes' and 'Australes' were both Cage's "blizzard"  pieces.

So, thoroughly convince me missing out of the Joste was for my best interest!!!

 My other considerations are the Schleiermacher 'Music for Piano 1-85' and his 'Piano Pieces:1950-1960', which includes 'Winter Music', '7 Haiku', 'Music Walk', 'Solo', etc. BUT, the reviewer wished that Schleiermacher was a little more imaginative in his "treatments"- he says Steffen is pretty much a "straight up" Cagean, using no contact mics or anything too "out there" for the performance pieces. Maybe that set is too dry for me????


I'm trying to get the Cage bug out without bleeding $$$ $$$ $$$.....lol....


I am glad that, out of 10 Volumes of "Complete Piano Music", I'm really only interested in the wacky stuff 1952-1962, the 'Australes', and sooome of the 'One' Cycle. (and, I thought I was interested in 'Music of Changes'- I do want to hear why you don't like them)

But, Cage's Works List makes Feldman's look like Webern's!!
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: ComposerOfAvantGarde on August 20, 2016, 04:38:16 PM
I don't 'not like' Music of Changes! In fact, I really do like both the sound of the work and the idea behind it. I just think it's a little long....

Which is maybe a bit hypocritical of me because I love some of his longer number pieces in particular. I think it comes down to the pacing...in Music of Changes, a lot happens and the music is constantly constantly going on and on, but there are many interesting little ideas and sonorities even in the first minute of music which I feel could have been expanded upon and explored in greater detail under a great big musical microscope. Taking a small idea and turning it into somethi grand. Maybe a bit like how Boulez elaborated upon Incises with Sur Incises if you get my drift!

Music of Changes has many brief and wonderful musical motifs which come and go just a bit too quickly for me to call it a 'favourite'
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: snyprrr on August 20, 2016, 04:59:06 PM
Alrighty, then.

"The lady doth protest too much, methinks." ~ Shakespeare; Hamlet

Best regards.

Hey, it's all fun and games until someone slips on the mustard 0:)

I don't 'not like' Music of Changes! In fact, I really do like both the sound of the work and the idea behind it. I just think it's a little long....

Which is maybe a bit hypocritical of me because I love some of his longer number pieces in particular. I think it comes down to the pacing...in Music of Changes, a lot happens and the music is constantly constantly going on and on, but there are many interesting little ideas and sonorities even in the first minute of music which I feel could have been expanded upon and explored in greater detail under a great big musical microscope. Taking a small idea and turning it into somethi grand. Maybe a bit like how Boulez elaborated upon Incises with Sur Incises if you get my drift!

Music of Changes has many brief and wonderful musical motifs which come and go just a bit too quickly for me to call it a 'favourite'
I don't 'not like' Music of Changes! In fact, I really do like both the sound of the work and the idea behind it. I just think it's a little long....

Which is maybe a bit hypocritical of me because I love some of his longer number pieces in particular. I think it comes down to the pacing...in Music of Changes, a lot happens and the music is constantly constantly going on and on, but there are many interesting little ideas and sonorities even in the first minute of music which I feel could have been expanded upon and explored in greater detail under a great big musical microscope. Taking a small idea and turning it into somethi grand. Maybe a bit like how Boulez elaborated upon Incises with Sur Incises if you get my drift!

Music of Changes has many brief and wonderful musical motifs which come and go just a bit too quickly for me to call it a 'favourite'

um,... well,... that didn't really talk me out of it, lol!! :laugh:

Who do you like?

Tudor
Sultan- she gets sloppy towards the end???
Henck- sound issues?- change of venue?
Chen??
Schleiermacher- too slow???
Kubera- sound to bold/close??
Joste
Drury (Book1 only)

If Schleiermacher is "fatally flawed" as one reviewer put it, that only leaves Joste and Chen?? as totally modern readings. My theory is that it will receive a spate of new recordings shortly, Aimard? Nonkin? Takahashi? Drury? Henck?


anyhow...


So, is 'OneFIVE' just "twice as long" as 'One'? And then, is 'OneTWO' four times longer, but still the same piece? Or are all three different pieces?? And 'One7' ......

Margaret Leng Tan's 'One2' sounds a lot different than Liebner's, no? And much shorter... Tan also sounds like one of the most brutal realizations of a NumberPiece I've heard... I like it!!
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: ComposerOfAvantGarde on August 20, 2016, 05:28:23 PM
I've only heard David Tudor's recording........... ::)
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: snyprrr on August 20, 2016, 08:04:38 PM
Music of changes is one of those Cage works that I like the idea of it but haven't spent much time with at all, so I can't comment.

But who doesn't like the I Ching!  :laugh:

What do you think of Atlas Eclipticalis?

What Cage Piano Music do you like, preferably post-1952?
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: Mandryka on August 20, 2016, 10:39:30 PM
Anyone know anything about this, Fraction, a sequence of 7 pieces for piano, colourful and varied, I rather like it. When and why  did he write it? what sort of indeterminacy? Found on spotify.

(http://is5.mzstatic.com/image/thumb/Music6/v4/c1/2c/3a/c12c3a4c-14e8-c6ab-f400-64911191c270/source/1200x630bf.jpg)
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92) ATLAS 'ECLIPTHISCALLOUS
Post by: snyprrr on August 22, 2016, 07:27:28 AM
Anyone know anything about this, Fraction, a sequence of 7 pieces for piano, colourful and varied, I rather like it. When and why  did he write it? what sort of indeterminacy? Found on spotify.

(http://is5.mzstatic.com/image/thumb/Music6/v4/c1/2c/3a/c12c3a4c-14e8-c6ab-f400-64911191c270/source/1200x630bf.jpg)

As I understand it, every part of 'Atlas Eclipticalis' can be played separately, as a "solo", hence, you have a 'Solo' for trombone, 'Solo' for piano, and so on. I'm not really sure how it works, but, Eberhard Blum has recorded "all" the flute parts under the heading 'Atlas Eclipticalis', whilst Levine on DG, I suppose, plays "all" the "parts" of the piece as an Orchestral Work. Apparently, too, the pieces can last from @15mins. to 90mins. - if played "with" 'Winter Music'.


I was just checking out the 'Atlas Eclipticalus with Winter Music' on YT, the Mode recording which lasts @80mins. It appears here that "e.v.e.r.y.s.i.n.g.l.e.n.o.t.e." of the piece (WITH Winter Music) is played one-note-at-a-time- so that it appears you have 90mins. of single, widely space tones surrounded by yawning abysses of silence. :( :( :(

i MUCH PREFER Winter Music for 20 Pianos, please. Perfect for playing during a snow!
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92) IMAGINARY LANDS nO.1 = TWILIGHT ZONE THEME
Post by: snyprrr on August 22, 2016, 07:32:06 AM
'Imaginary Landscape No.1' is OBVIOUSLY where Marius Constant got 'The Twilight Zone Theme' from. Mr.Spock'sEyebrows

Written in 1939, this seems like quite ahead of its time, and very alien-world sounding, even before the '50s UFO craze. It seems that the later 'Imaginary Landscapes 4-5' retreat into strict radios and tape manipulation. Here in the first one, percussionists are required to capture one of the most eerie and desolate scores one can imagine.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92) ATLAS 'ECLIPTHISCALLOUS
Post by: Mandryka on August 22, 2016, 08:29:28 AM
As I understand it, every part of 'Atlas Eclipticalis' can be played separately, as a "solo", hence, you have a 'Solo' for trombone, 'Solo' for piano, and so on. I'm not really sure how it works, but, Eberhard Blum has recorded "all" the flute parts under the heading 'Atlas Eclipticalis', whilst Levine on DG, I suppose, plays "all" the "parts" of the piece as an Orchestral Work. Apparently, too, the pieces can last from @15mins. to 90mins. - if played "with" 'Winter Music'.


I was just checking out the 'Atlas Eclipticalus with Winter Music' on YT, the Mode recording which lasts @80mins. It appears here that "e.v.e.r.y.s.i.n.g.l.e.n.o.t.e." of the piece (WITH Winter Music) is played one-note-at-a-time- so that it appears you have 90mins. of single, widely space tones surrounded by yawning abysses of silence. :( :( :(

i MUCH PREFER Winter Music for 20 Pianos, please. Perfect for playing during a snow!

Have you heard "four" ? not the early string quartet in four parts but the late quartet just called Four. It is good. Arditti do it brilliantly.

That Liebner album, Fractions, is also exceptional. It is misleading to say it's piano solo, there's loads of unexpected gurgling eating noises à la Licht Klavierstuke etc.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: ComposerOfAvantGarde on August 22, 2016, 12:44:36 PM
Yeah, the real thing about being a John Cage fan is that there could be pieces where there are some versions which one much prefers to others. A lot of his music can be wildly different depending on the decisions made in the performance of it and sometimes there are certain interpretations that simply just don't work for some people.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92) ATLAS 'ECLIPTHISCALLOUS
Post by: snyprrr on August 23, 2016, 05:55:28 AM
Have you heard "four" ? not the early string quartet in four parts but the late quartet just called Four. It is good. Arditti do it brilliantly.

That Liebner album, Fractions, is also exceptional. It is misleading to say it's piano solo, there's loads of unexpected gurgling eating noises à la Licht Klavierstuke etc.

Four

Yes, I've had the Arditti's "other" version on the Montaigne disc... only 20mins., but, yea, it's pretty solidly Waldenesque.

Four6

This is the one that "could be anything" apparently... need to hear more versions of this.

Four4

This is the most boring, 75min., percussion quartet of all time... I'm sorry, I will "try" again, but, oy vey, do I need just a little more here...

Four5

Saxophone Quartet... awaiting...


Yeah, the real thing about being a John Cage fan is that there could be pieces where there are some versions which one much prefers to others. A lot of his music can be wildly different depending on the decisions made in the performance of it and sometimes there are certain interpretations that simply just don't work for some people.

I just compared Drury's and Liebner's 'One'. Drury does a lot more "arranging", having lots of long silences and then bunching up the material to produce some semblance of progressions... Liebner just plays the notes/chords one after another with no real silences separating the events. I could tell a lot by the last minute: Drury manages to contrust a really cool "ending". whereas Liebner. again, plays the notes in somewhat regular succession, mitigating against an "ending feel".

Here I think Drury really does the job, and Liebner... I was expecting a lot more from her. Drury really exploits the overtones, with chords crashing into each other; Liebner has no real overtone fun. Will try 'One5' next.



Just popped for Vols. 3/4 of 'A Cage of Saxophones'... with 'Fontana Mix' and 'Cartridge Music'... let's see if I can handle it...


there's loads of unexpected gurgling eating noises à la Licht Klavierstuke etc.

mmm... ok, THAT'S good to know beforehand... nothing can make me throw stuff quite like unexpected vocalizations in piano repertoire!!!

I wooould prefer Drury to Liebner in the 'One' series, though, perhaps... check his Mode recital out...
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92) AT LAST, HE CLIPPED HIS CALLOUS
Post by: snyprrr on August 23, 2016, 06:07:00 AM
I still want to know what you think of the hours long 'Atlas', with one-note-at-a-time frustration just around the corner...


I used to have the Wergo, w/'Concert for Piano'... I don't know why I sold it, money? What about the Levine?



I think I'm closing in on this phase of my CageResearch. I know somewhat what I'm dealing with, and the pieces, and the methods... what I like and don't...

I AM finding more things in the Early Music, like 'Imaginary Landscape No.1', but, generally, I'm not into his "primitive" phase... all the ProtoEarthDay stuff... eh...mmm...

Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: Mandryka on August 23, 2016, 08:07:57 AM
The truth is I don't like Cage's music for orchestras, so I won't comment on atlas,

Re Four, the version I have lasts for over half an hour, in the Arditti's collected Cage, so yours must have been very different.

A question about One. Was it written in the same notation as the etudes? what does it look like on the page? This could start to explain why you're hearing big interpretation differences. Liebner, I think, is very serious about making the music sound free from events, landmarks for the ear to hook on to. And with her the piano always sounds beautiful. That was the approach I think she took in the etudes, or at least that was the result of the approach. Listening not to her playing One and it's making me wonder what the point of it is - how it's saying anything different from any other Cage piano music. This is a problem I often have with Cage and Feldman.

Drury seems to be putting some long rests in there. I wonder what that's about. And the piano sounds less smooth, again I wonder why - is it deliberate.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: snyprrr on August 23, 2016, 03:35:41 PM
The truth is I don't like Cage's music for orchestras, so I won't comment on atlas, I thought '101' was a nice, short work that anyone could "like". I liked the Scelsi-like stasis of '74' (ECM),... 20 Pieces?,... but, yea, I don't want to overburden the answer.

Re Four, the version I have lasts for over half an hour, in the Arditti's collected Cage, so yours must have been very different. Maybe the rests are just shorter? Maybe yours is on YT.....


A question about One. Was it written in the same notation as the etudes? what does it look like on the page? This could start to explain why you're hearing big interpretation differences. Liebner, I think, is very serious about making the music sound free from events, landmarks for the ear to hook on to. And with her the piano always sounds beautiful. That was the approach I think she took in the etudes, or at least that was the result of the approach. Listening not to her playing One and it's making me wonder what the point of it is I don't see the point in making Cage sound any more anonymous than the music already is- isn't it all about the "art-less-ness" of it all? So, for her to make NO "signposts" (and to do so willfully) harenks unto a certain mindset to me - how it's saying anything different from any other Cage piano music. This is a problem I often have with Cage and Feldman.

Drury seems to be putting some long rests in there. I wonder what that's about. And the piano sounds less smooth, again I wonder why - is it deliberate. I do think his rests are... exceptionally luxurious... just long enough to make you start thinking about the mind behind them, but, thankfully, there is somewhat of a payoff. I do think the ruff-n-ready piano timbre is Drury showing us that Cage doesn't have to be "pretty"- it reminds me of those big loud interruptions in Feldman (that almost seem to ruin the piece for me sometimes)- but I think also, the label, Mode, are reeeally big on capturing piano timbre, and Drury is setting up clashing chords so the recording can capture all the harmonic fun. You'll notice how Liebner does none of this. Drury is very daring and cool, but I wouldn't want to meditate to his Cage.

THERE - IS- A......."RIGHT" WAY,... AND perhaps... a "wrong" way.


[/quote

Is it better to respond outside of the Quote, or inside?



Listening to 'Four' now... just clouds passing...]
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: nathanb on August 23, 2016, 04:59:43 PM
Snyprrr, while I agree with your general description of Liebner's interpretations, I'd say that the whole reason she seems less concerned with variation over time is that her entire interpretation is more concerned with the resonance of the pieces. You can tell from her general selection of Cage pieces: she prefers Cage at his most meditative, and, for her, clustering up the chance instances would not best serve that purpose, imo.

Not saying you have to like it, just pointing out that semblance of logic that I perceive. I generally find Schleiermacher to be consistently to be my liking, no matter what era of Cage he's drawing from.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: Mandryka on August 24, 2016, 12:51:23 AM
The truth is I don't like Cage's music for orchestras, so I won't comment on atlas, I thought '101' was a nice, short work that anyone could "like". I liked the Scelsi-like stasis of '74' (ECM),... 20 Pieces?,... but, yea, I don't want to overburden the answer.

Re Four, the version I have lasts for over half an hour, in the Arditti's collected Cage, so yours must have been very different. Maybe the rests are just shorter? Maybe yours is on YT.....


A question about One. Was it written in the same notation as the etudes? what does it look like on the page? This could start to explain why you're hearing big interpretation differences. Liebner, I think, is very serious about making the music sound free from events, landmarks for the ear to hook on to. And with her the piano always sounds beautiful. That was the approach I think she took in the etudes, or at least that was the result of the approach. Listening not to her playing One and it's making me wonder what the point of it is I don't see the point in making Cage sound any more anonymous than the music already is- isn't it all about the "art-less-ness" of it all? So, for her to make NO "signposts" (and to do so willfully) harenks unto a certain mindset to me - how it's saying anything different from any other Cage piano music. This is a problem I often have with Cage and Feldman.

Drury seems to be putting some long rests in there. I wonder what that's about. And the piano sounds less smooth, again I wonder why - is it deliberate. I do think his rests are... exceptionally luxurious... just long enough to make you start thinking about the mind behind them, but, thankfully, there is somewhat of a payoff. I do think the ruff-n-ready piano timbre is Drury showing us that Cage doesn't have to be "pretty"- it reminds me of those big loud interruptions in Feldman (that almost seem to ruin the piece for me sometimes)- but I think also, the label, Mode, are reeeally big on capturing piano timbre, and Drury is setting up clashing chords so the recording can capture all the harmonic fun. You'll notice how Liebner does none of this. Drury is very daring and cool, but I wouldn't want to meditate to his Cage.

THERE - IS- A......."RIGHT" WAY,... AND perhaps... a "wrong" way.


[/quote

Is it better to respond outside of the Quote, or inside?



Listening to 'Four' now... just clouds passing...]

Re Liebner, I bet she would argue that the people who put the musical events, signposts, in there, are being the wilful ones. In the case of the etudes, her idea, I think, is that the music should be the aural equivalent of watching the night sky with stars. I've heard Cage-eans use the word "aggressive" to describe approaches which impose a structure on the music - people who make the etudes into duets for two hands, that sort of thing.


My problem with Liebner's approach, as I've said so many times before, is that it all sounds the same. And if it all sounds the same, why did he write so much? it can't be right to make it all so similar, it turns Cage into the biggest gas bag of a composer ever.

(becoming very addicted to Four.  You know this


- Qui aimes-tu le mieux, homme enigmatique, dis? ton père, ta mère, ta soeur ou ton frère?
- Je n'ai ni père, ni mère, ni soeur, ni frère.
- Tes amis?
-Vous vous servez là d'une parole dont le sens m'est resté jusqu'à ce jour inconnu.
- Ta patrie?
- J'ignore sous quelle latitude elle est située.
- La beauté?
- Je l'aimerais volontiers, déesse et immortelle.
- L'or?
- Je le hais comme vous haïssez Dieu.
- Eh! qu'aimes-tu donc, extraordinaire étranger?
- J'aime les nuages... les nuages qui passent... là-bas... là-bas... les merveilleux nuages!

)
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: Mandryka on August 24, 2016, 12:54:10 AM
Snyprrr, while I agree with your general description of Liebner's interpretations, I'd say that the whole reason she seems less concerned with variation over time is that her entire interpretation is more concerned with the resonance of the pieces. You can tell from her general selection of Cage pieces: she prefers Cage at his most meditative, and, for her, clustering up the chance instances would not best serve that purpose, imo.

Not saying you have to like it, just pointing out that semblance of logic that I perceive. I generally find Schleiermacher to be consistently to be my liking, no matter what era of Cage he's drawing from.

I think it's less that she's concerned with Cage at his most meditative. It's rather that she makes some Cage pieces sound meditative. But not all - do you think that Fractions as she plays it is meditative (some of the later ones) - I'm not sure.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: snyprrr on August 24, 2016, 07:07:20 AM
Snyprrr, while I agree with your general description of Liebner's interpretations, I'd say that the whole reason she seems less concerned with variation over time is that her entire interpretation is more concerned with the resonance of the pieces. You can tell from her general selection of Cage pieces: she prefers Cage at his most meditative, and, for her, clustering up the chance instances would not best serve that purpose, imo.

Not saying you have to like it, just pointing out that semblance of logic that I perceive. I generally find Schleiermacher to be consistently to be my liking, no matter what era of Cage he's drawing from.

Oooo... we're cookin' with gas now, eh?!! ;) Isn't it great to have a conversation?!!

Liebner- yea, I can see that she has an "agenda"... I can see how people with the more "composed" performances may be accused of willfulness, but, yea, that willfulness could be at the service of EITHER a more "aggressive" or "meditative" stance. Both, then, could be accused... but... then... what would be the "correct" way?

See how all the "freedom" seems to generate fascism? So now we have arguments about the "correct road to freedom".


I BELIEVE this conversation could absolutely be translated to a political one- that, "how you play Cage's 'freedoms' determines what kind of political mind you have"...

So, Liebner's a communist because she wants every.single.note.to.be.just.as.important.as.every.other.one.

Drury wants to bunch things together (regardless of compatibility?) and separate those "things" from other things by a great distance... I don't know what that makes him...



I mean, isn't this a valid interpretation of a music supposedly so "free"?

It's like, on the one hand "hey, I don't give a f what you do to my music..." BUT "just don't do THAT!!"

"I love all people, but you're a hater and must die"



Is Tudor then just a soldier "following orders"?????





WHO IS THE MOST WILLFUL CAGE PERFORMER OF ALL TIME?????????







BACK TO DRURY:

One thing about that Drury 'One'. After a long silence, those snippets of music come across as vast tops of mountains in the distance... then a long pause... and then again, rising up out of nowhere is another mountain peak...

I think Drury is quite a genius with the extended silence thing... here it's ok, but I don't want it in every interpretation. Hopefully, Drury's approach is different for each work. As you have alluded to, apparently Liebner takes the same approach with all her Cage.

AND, ISN'T HER AUSTRALES JUST A TAD SLOW??? 4CDs compared to the Italian guy's 2? (Schleiemchr 3)



I have to give Drury some credit for making more bracing piano tones, making "beauty" veeeeery subjective. Mandryka thinks all of Liebner's beauty is in the service of a more dullish/even approach.

But if we turn to Cage's "Asian-ness"... BOTH WAYS appear to be Asian: the bracing dissonance mimics those rough shakahachu tones, whereas the Liebner "mush soup" seems to represent that "it's all good" Asian way of thinking....

sorry if my choice of words is crude... hopefully you know what I'm trying to say




Thanks to both of you for taking this Drury/Liebner/Schleiermacher Challenge seriously!!!





OH- nathab-

CONCERNING SCHLEIERMACHER:

It does seem as though MDG have the piano image just three centimeters farther away than, say, any Mode artist. For Late Feldman, this produces just wondrous results. For Cage, I haven't received either the 'Australes' or 'MfP 1-85' yet. BUT, I heard his 'Daughters of the Lonesome Isle', and, compared to Leng Tan's Technicolor recording (NewAlbion), his does seem just a tad recessed in the imaging (meaning, at a certain point, if you continue turning up the volume, it will NOT get much louder- it's "stuck" in its own bath water (not necessarily a bad thing)).

So, I do wonder about how the MDGs will hit me.


What do you think of his volume '1950-1960', with all the really hardcore stuff (Water Music, Winter Music, Music Walk, SOLO,... all those little one-minute pieces...) . A reviewer said he could've been a little more creative here, using maybe clip mics or something...


anyhow,... no big whoop there....
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92) FINAL CAGE PURCHASE
Post by: snyprrr on August 24, 2016, 07:16:52 AM
Just ordered the Martine Joste 'Music of Changes'. This will complete my current BuyingSeason for the year. I will HAVE to be done with Cage right now no matter what I think. So, here's my Cage:

1) trombone 'SOLO' (BIS- Christian Lindberg)

2) 'Five3' (Vanguard- Fulkerson/Mondriaan)

3) 'Four' (AuvididMontaigne- Arditti)

4) 'Bacchanale' (Argo-Feinberg)

NEW

5) 'Five', 'Seven', 'Thirteen' (Mode)

6) 'Two2' for 2Pianos (Mode)

7) 'A Cage of Saxophones Vol.1': 'Five', 'Five4', 'Four5', 'Ryoanji', 'Hymnkus'

8) 'A Cage of Saxophones Vols. 3/4': 'Four6', 'One7', 'Sculptures Musicales', 'Fontana Mix', 'Cartridge Music', party pieces

9) Schleiermacher 'Etudes Australes'

10) Schleiermacher 'Music for Piano 1-85'

11) 'Music of Changes' (Mode- Martine Joste)

honorable mention: 'Two4' for violin/sho or violin/piano (Mode-Arditti)



Wow- thanks not bad, eh? OK, now I can rest??????
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: Mandryka on August 24, 2016, 07:20:31 AM
The most wilful Cage pianist is Claudio Crismani -  what he does is accessible to people who don't like the real thing.
Liebner's principle is that the duration of each étude should be the same - about 7 minutes. Apparently you can deduce this from the score, I think it's something to do with the physical length of each piece, but don't ask me how. Then, apparently, once you set the pulse of the opening bars, there is apparently very little freedom. Again, don't ask me the details, these are just things I've picked up from pianists who play Cage.

(Started to listen to Arditti playing the 44 Harmonies today.)
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: snyprrr on August 24, 2016, 09:44:48 AM
The most wilful Cage pianist is Claudio Crismani -  what he does is accessible to people who don't like the real thing.
Liebner's principle is that the duration of each étude should be the same - about 7 minutes. Apparently you can deduce this from the score, I think it's something to do with the physical length of each piece, but don't ask me how. Then, apparently, once you set the pulse of the opening bars, there is apparently very little freedom. Again, don't ask me the details, these are just things I've picked up from pianists who play Cage.

(Started to listen to Arditti playing the 44 Harmonies today.)

No, that's very interesting. Thanks for the Claudio tip!





Just got Schleiermacher's "1-85"... CAN SOMEONE TELL ME- was this originally released in a double-wide, or a slim-line jewel box? I hate the thought of losing a superfluous insert!! :'(

Also 'Sax 1' today... oh goody!!! Listening session commences around 4:23... LOL!!!! :laugh:
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: nathanb on August 24, 2016, 11:17:24 AM
Oooo... we're cookin' with gas now, eh?!! ;) Isn't it great to have a conversation?!!

Liebner- yea, I can see that she has an "agenda"... I can see how people with the more "composed" performances may be accused of willfulness, but, yea, that willfulness could be at the service of EITHER a more "aggressive" or "meditative" stance. Both, then, could be accused... but... then... what would be the "correct" way?

See how all the "freedom" seems to generate fascism? So now we have arguments about the "correct road to freedom".


I BELIEVE this conversation could absolutely be translated to a political one- that, "how you play Cage's 'freedoms' determines what kind of political mind you have"...

So, Liebner's a communist because she wants every.single.note.to.be.just.as.important.as.every.other.one.

Drury wants to bunch things together (regardless of compatibility?) and separate those "things" from other things by a great distance... I don't know what that makes him...



I mean, isn't this a valid interpretation of a music supposedly so "free"?

Ok, but I'm not sure how these political and ideological thoughts can be derived from my plain commentary that Sabine Liebner seems to like to let the notes echo a bit longer. Did I come off as somehow ideological from that?

More responses to other things later.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: snyprrr on August 24, 2016, 11:41:48 AM
Ok, but I'm not sure how these political and ideological thoughts can be derived from my plain commentary that Sabine Liebner seems to like to let the notes echo a bit longer. Did I come off as somehow ideological from that?

More responses to other things later.

Not you, her... but, this is all just me... "thinkin"...


HOWEVER!!!!

Listening to the first Track on Scheleiermacher's "1-85"- THE ONE FOR 5 pIANOS. wow! gREAT STUFF!! M(whoops, sorry) Yea, you have to turn up the volume just a little with this MDG, but, so far, very very nice aural presentation. I just hope the solo pieces are as audible. The multi-piano pieces sound almost like Late Feldman... either way, very cool so far.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92) ATLAS 'ECLIPTHISCALLOUS
Post by: nathanb on August 24, 2016, 01:14:45 PM
As I understand it, every part of 'Atlas Eclipticalis' can be played separately, as a "solo", hence, you have a 'Solo' for trombone, 'Solo' for piano, and so on. I'm not really sure how it works, but, Eberhard Blum has recorded "all" the flute parts under the heading 'Atlas Eclipticalis', whilst Levine on DG, I suppose, plays "all" the "parts" of the piece as an Orchestral Work. Apparently, too, the pieces can last from @15mins. to 90mins. - if played "with" 'Winter Music'.


I was just checking out the 'Atlas Eclipticalus with Winter Music' on YT, the Mode recording which lasts @80mins. It appears here that "e.v.e.r.y.s.i.n.g.l.e.n.o.t.e." of the piece (WITH Winter Music) is played one-note-at-a-time- so that it appears you have 90mins. of single, widely space tones surrounded by yawning abysses of silence. :( :( :(

i MUCH PREFER Winter Music for 20 Pianos, please. Perfect for playing during a snow!

I was under the impression that the works entitled "Solo" were derived from the "Concert For Piano And Orchestra" whereas any or all components of "Atlas Eclipticalis" may be entitled "Atlas Eclipticalis". But yes, it is a component of a larger work.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92) ATLAS 'ECLIPTHISCALLOUS
Post by: snyprrr on August 25, 2016, 06:09:28 AM
I was under the impression that the works entitled "Solo" were derived from the "Concert For Piano And Orchestra" whereas any or all components of "Atlas Eclipticalis" may be entitled "Atlas Eclipticalis". But yes, it is a component of a larger work.

you're right



REALLY enjoying Schleiemacher's "1-85"!!! nice rendering of all the sounds by the engineers, too...
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92) ETUDES AUSTRALES /MDG
Post by: snyprrr on August 26, 2016, 03:18:40 PM
Etudes Australes

Well, I'm finding these about as boring as I found 'Music for Piano 1-85' endlessly haunting. I had forgotten that, just because the piece calls for "piano", instead of "prepared piano", that there wouldn't be extraneous sounds. But, 'Etudes Australes' (so far) seems to be Cage's first Big Work for... "traditional"?... piano. There's no muting or plucking (yet, at least)... it's all "plain old piano"... but it's as typically Avant-Garde as anything from any other Master. Perhaps I am most reminded of KHS's 'Klavierstucke', at least, that's where I plan to put the jewel case of the Cage when I'm done.

But, this music sounds as "random" as can be... which makes it the most anonymous 12-tone piano music I've ever heard. I guess it also reminds me of the random sounding 'Atlas E'. Again, I would guess KHS. But, that makes this music 20 years behind the times... I am confused.

I have Schleiermacher, and I haven't done any direct compare yet, but, as far as I know, he sounds fine, and the MDG engineers seem to have the best recorded sound going (and then soume- it IS a pleasure to hear plonking piano tones in a decent acoustic in this music, and not always so up-front and in your face recording, like many old avant recitals).

And I was also expecting some "blizzards" of notes- since this is supposed to be star charts, right?- but it seems like a very leisurely paced Webern- lol, almost like a waltzing avant post-nuke Marienbad? Yea, and I'm getting that this music, technically, "doesn't go anywhere". I AM having trouble thinking of this as Composed Music, but neither does it have the aura of Improvisation.

So, I wonder how 'Music of Changes' will compare? I am now about half way through 'Australes', and, though I can groove off the piano timbre alone, I must admit that I'm not finding this compelling in the least- ha, give it a week, eh?

What do you think?

Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: snyprrr on August 26, 2016, 04:10:13 PM
                                                                            ETUDES AUSTRALES



               Sultan           Schleiermacher          Liebner            Crismani            Drury           

Book1

01              3:54                 4:19                    8:19                 4:06                   3:55
02              4:33                 5:43                    8:01                 4:29                   4:09
03              4:02                 5:53                    8:06                 1:46                   4:18
04              4:12                 3:22                    7:58                 4:37                   3:48
05              4:26                 4:28                    8:16                 5:07                   4:00
06              4:08                 5:15                    8:19                 4:52                   4:20
07              5:05                 7:44                    8:19                 2:17                   4:18
08              3:57                 5:39                    8:11                 4:17                   4:07

Book2

09              5:07                 5:28                    8:17                 4:17
10              4:35                 4:37                    8:12                 2:31
11              4:36                 4:19                    7:50                 2:37
12              3:53                 4:06                    8:19                 3:29
13              4:14                 5:26                    7:50                 1:58
14              5:20                 6:39                    8:19                 3:09
15              4:28                 6:21                    8:18                 3:16
16              5:36                 8:14                    7:51                 5:54

Book3

17              5:05                 5:50                    8:15                 3:20
18              5:18                 6:37                    8:06                 2:38
19              4:56                 6:58                    8:04                 2:28
20              5:03                 6:17                    8:12                 4:00
21              5:24                 7:41                    8:08                 1:36
22              6:51                 7:17                    8:08                 4:01
23              6:08                 8:32                    8:22                 2:41
24              6:26                 6:52                    7:57                 2:08

Book4

25              6:28                 6:26                    8:17                 3:42
26              6:46                 6:05                    8:21                 3:24
27              5:32                 5:56                    8:15                 1:09
28              6:50                 7:10                    8:14                 2:29
29              7:11                 8:26                    8:07                 4:12
30              7:07                 7:57                    7:55                 5:00
31              7:21                 6:55                    7:48                 4:25
32              4:47                 5:34                    8:08                 5:56
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92) ETUDES AUSTRALES /MDG
Post by: Mandryka on August 26, 2016, 10:35:29 PM
Etudes Australes

Well, I'm finding these about as boring as I found 'Music for Piano 1-85' endlessly haunting. I had forgotten that, just because the piece calls for "piano", instead of "prepared piano", that there wouldn't be extraneous sounds. But, 'Etudes Australes' (so far) seems to be Cage's first Big Work for... "traditional"?... piano. There's no muting or plucking (yet, at least)... it's all "plain old piano"... but it's as typically Avant-Garde as anything from any other Master. Perhaps I am most reminded of KHS's 'Klavierstucke', at least, that's where I plan to put the jewel case of the Cage when I'm done.

But, this music sounds as "random" as can be... which makes it the most anonymous 12-tone piano music I've ever heard. I guess it also reminds me of the random sounding 'Atlas E'. Again, I would guess KHS. But, that makes this music 20 years behind the times... I am confused.

I have Schleiermacher, and I haven't done any direct compare yet, but, as far as I know, he sounds fine, and the MDG engineers seem to have the best recorded sound going (and then soume- it IS a pleasure to hear plonking piano tones in a decent acoustic in this music, and not always so up-front and in your face recording, like many old avant recitals).

And I was also expecting some "blizzards" of notes- since this is supposed to be star charts, right?- but it seems like a very leisurely paced Webern- lol, almost like a waltzing avant post-nuke Marienbad? Yea, and I'm getting that this music, technically, "doesn't go anywhere". I AM having trouble thinking of this as Composed Music, but neither does it have the aura of Improvisation.

So, I wonder how 'Music of Changes' will compare? I am now about half way through 'Australes', and, though I can groove off the piano timbre alone, I must admit that I'm not finding this compelling in the least- ha, give it a week, eh?

What do you think?

Any idea why he organised the etudes into books?  He may never have intended the etudes as something to listen to.

Music of changes is less plain old piano, at least in Book 4 by Henck.

The big problems I have with the etudes is: does the idea justify the length? I mean, look, he had this idea about getting a star map and using I Ching, right. Well OK, write an étude, but why write 32?

Could anyone say "Etude XX is my favourite" and say why?


Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92) ETUDES AUSTRALES /MDG
Post by: nathanb on August 27, 2016, 05:18:11 AM
Etudes Australes

Well, I'm finding these about as boring as I found 'Music for Piano 1-85' endlessly haunting. I had forgotten that, just because the piece calls for "piano", instead of "prepared piano", that there wouldn't be extraneous sounds. But, 'Etudes Australes' (so far) seems to be Cage's first Big Work for... "traditional"?... piano. There's no muting or plucking (yet, at least)... it's all "plain old piano"... but it's as typically Avant-Garde as anything from any other Master. Perhaps I am most reminded of KHS's 'Klavierstucke', at least, that's where I plan to put the jewel case of the Cage when I'm done.

But, this music sounds as "random" as can be... which makes it the most anonymous 12-tone piano music I've ever heard. I guess it also reminds me of the random sounding 'Atlas E'. Again, I would guess KHS. But, that makes this music 20 years behind the times... I am confused.

I have Schleiermacher, and I haven't done any direct compare yet, but, as far as I know, he sounds fine, and the MDG engineers seem to have the best recorded sound going (and then soume- it IS a pleasure to hear plonking piano tones in a decent acoustic in this music, and not always so up-front and in your face recording, like many old avant recitals).

And I was also expecting some "blizzards" of notes- since this is supposed to be star charts, right?- but it seems like a very leisurely paced Webern- lol, almost like a waltzing avant post-nuke Marienbad? Yea, and I'm getting that this music, technically, "doesn't go anywhere". I AM having trouble thinking of this as Composed Music, but neither does it have the aura of Improvisation.

So, I wonder how 'Music of Changes' will compare? I am now about half way through 'Australes', and, though I can groove off the piano timbre alone, I must admit that I'm not finding this compelling in the least- ha, give it a week, eh?

What do you think?

You're not wrong, for the most part, about these being pure ole piano, with one exception: for each etude, the pianist is required to silently depress several keys with rubber wedges before playing, so that each piece has unique overtones.

As far as your interpretation, fair enough. You should read about the pieces though. I think you want the events to be faster, so you might try another recording, but keep in mind that performers usually select slow tempi here because it makes the pieces... possible to play.

I'm confused about your star chart comment as it sounds exactly like the other star chart pieces in execution, IMO; no melodic flourishes, just event after event, with the exception that other instruments have more control over their timbre as opposed to the piano. Of course it can't be as busy as the Atlas Eclipticalis. Have you listened to the Freeman Etudes?
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92) ETUDES AUSTRALES /MDG
Post by: snyprrr on August 27, 2016, 07:16:41 AM
Any idea why he organised the etudes into books?  He may never have intended the etudes as something to listen to.

The big problems I have with the etudes is: does the idea justify the length? I mean, look, he had this idea about getting a star map and using I Ching, right. Well OK, write an étude, but why write 32?

Could anyone say "Etude XX is my favourite" and say why?

I think it comes down to "Etude XX BY so-and-so" is my fav because they bla bla "do something no one else did/could do"...

Cage's comment is key, where he says:

(Cage wants the world to change, because the system is corrupt (don't get me started!!)..."I thought if there was a MUSICIAN who gave the public an example, if he did the IMPOSSIBLE, that he would induce someone (a political leader?) who had been impressed by THIS PERFORMANCE to change the world."


So, it CAN'T BE the "music"... it HAS to be the performance. So this brings me to that Claudio C. recording. Just look at the timings. Someone said he was the most willful, but those timings almost compel me to hear. Since this "music" is actually quite bland- I suppose you could even play it twice as slow as Liebner- it makes sense that these Etudes are JUST physical exercises of the Olympian variety. Why does anyone care about pole vaulting? Or physical things like that? Well, here we just have the "fingers" version??
 
So, why aren't these things played faster? if Claudio can do it?? Liebner makes EVERY Etude @8mins. eh???? And yet most of you are raving her performance. I do understand this as taking every Etude as part of a 360 degree picture-by-picture at 8 X 11 inches, or whatever mechanical equivalent. And Cage wanted you NOT to sound mechanical....

oy- my head's spinning....


You're not wrong, for the most part, about these being pure ole piano, with one exception: for each etude, the pianist is required to silently depress several keys with rubber wedges before playing, so that each piece has unique overtones.

As far as your interpretation, fair enough. You should read about the pieces though. I think you want the events to be faster, so you might try another recording, but keep in mind that performers usually select slow tempi here because it makes the pieces... possible to play.

I'm confused about your star chart comment as it sounds exactly like the other star chart pieces in execution, IMO; no melodic flourishes, just event after event, with the exception that other instruments have more control over their timbre as opposed to the piano. Of course it can't be as busy as the Atlas Eclipticalis. Have you listened to the Freeman Etudes?

But how can Claudio play it at 2mins., Grete at 4mins., Schlrmhr 6mins., and then Liebner at 8mins.  ??


THIS PIECE WAS WRITTEN FOR TWO INDEPENDENT HANDS, meaning, the hands can't help each other out. So, is that why this music doesn't "sound" as fast as one would hope, because it's impossible? But how then does Claudio do it? Is he cheating?

You guys did see the Timings Chart?


It "sounds" as if you can play these pieces faster than Schleiermacher, but, because of the restrictions, maybe you can't? From the samples, Liebner just sounds really slow...

aaaaaaahhhhhhhhhh

 :o :o :o :o :o :o

I had CD2 of Schleierm. on all night as I slept. What I heard when I randomly awoke here and there... how do I describe? Soothing Avant? Snoozetime Avant? Avant that's slow enough, and has enough dynamic shearing to be able to get one to sleep? I mean, you could actually play the piece in a monolithic ffff the whole way if you wanted, or play it all Feldman....



Can we continue on this for a few more?




nate- frankly, I would have MUCH rather gotten the 'Freeman Etudes'. Now THOSE I can actually enjoy listening to. And they "sound" really fast too. How come they "sound" fast, and the 'Australes' don't? But yea, much rather like the violin... I was surprised.


So, I'm dealing with my first Cage disappointment/confluxubation/perplexity. 'Australes' sounds like the most meaningless display of cool sounds just strung together in the most meaningless way- but it still has a certain appeal to me.

BUT, I have KHS/Kontarsky here ready for the counter-argument today. Determinism vs Indeterminism
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: Mandryka on August 27, 2016, 08:36:39 AM
Well we should have a look at the score. As far as I know Cage doesn't tell you how fast to play them. I suppose Liebner plays them slow to make them sound simpler. Chrismani is so different from everyone else that in truth it's hard for me to be sure he's playing the same music, it's not just tempi, it's phrasing too. I enjoy him. Liebner and Sultan are the other ones I know and for me it's more of a challenge than a pleasure, but that's probably because I'm not zen enough.

Liebner took a long time, years, preparing the recording and there's something principled and uncompromising about the approach.

Who said it's written for two independent hands, Sultan or Cage? Sultan really does bring out the duet for two hands feeling, at least I remember thinking that last time I listened about two years ago!
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: nathanb on August 27, 2016, 06:05:24 PM
Snyprrr I'm confused as to why this is disappointing according to the criteria you've mentioned. Sounds like this guy is your man, so pick up this recording and enjoy.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kPumMhlGmcw&list=PLooHI2XfK9jLSkKx6pAztgrhb68PGkCnv&index=27
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: snyprrr on August 28, 2016, 09:46:30 AM
Snyprrr I'm confused as to why this is disappointing according to the criteria you've mentioned. Sounds like this guy is your man, so pick up this recording and enjoy.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kPumMhlGmcw&list=PLooHI2XfK9jLSkKx6pAztgrhb68PGkCnv&index=27
Well we should have a look at the score. As far as I know Cage doesn't tell you how fast to play them. I suppose Liebner plays them slow to make them sound simpler. Chrismani is so different from everyone else that in truth it's hard for me to be sure he's playing the same music, it's not just tempi, it's phrasing too. I enjoy him. Liebner and Sultan are the other ones I know and for me it's more of a challenge than a pleasure, but that's probably because I'm not zen enough.

Liebner took a long time, years, preparing the recording and there's something principled and uncompromising about the approach.

Who said it's written for two independent hands, Sultan or Cage? Sultan really does bring out the duet for two hands feeling, at least I remember thinking that last time I listened about two years ago!

Well, tah-daaa... YT has everyone but Scheleiermacher!! Soooo... last night I took Etude 1 and listened to all four (Drury only has 'live' versions of the latter Books). I must say that you really do "see" things differently this way; here's what I learned:

ETUDE 1

Sultan: I'm taking her premiere as the basic set-point, and, it appears everyone is on board (Liebner's approach precludes her at the moment). At @4mins., this piece serves to highlight a lot of what is in store for the next 31 pieces- a fascistic sense of randomness coupled with an unbounded sense of cosmic space, producing, at least for me, a curious sense of unease and peace at the same time, almost like there's something inherently "wrong" at work here, a non-foreboding sense of ... something foreboding? HA!! Anyhow...

For me, right from the get-go, Sultan maintains an almost digital-scan styled reading, with notes plopping and bleeping in as off-beat as radio signals, like the notes are actually being plucked out of the nothingness. This is like the sound of chimes in the breeze, the randomness, but with a strong wind behind it. Sultan keeps my interest throughout in this one.

Schleiermacher: sounds a lot like Sultan, but, what wasn't apparent, now is: Sultan's fairly dry recording HAD served to highlight her "pluck" style, whereas here, MDG give SS such a beautifully celestial acoustic that IT also becomes as much part of the rhythm of the piece as Sultan's LACK of acoustic shaped her aural image. See what I'm sayin" Scheliermacher doesn't at all have the same "plucked" sound, his rythm is somewhat indescribable to me, again, not Composed, yet not Improvised, it just IS? But, with the acoustic giving its 2cents, it's hard to tell if he really IS playing like her, but the acoustic is swallowing aspects of the interpretation? I mean, the acoustic gives its own really cool sound itself, so, I'm not really complaining. But, my forcus with him is totally different than with her: with her it's the actually notes of the piano, with him it's almost the interaction of the notes with the space (though, it's the same with her, just in reverse).

Liebner: her approach is to make every single Etude @8mins., usually twice the length of all the others. But, she keeps all the other aspects, so, really, it's like listening to Sultan at half-speed, which, with this kind of music, means what? HA!! Frankly, one or a few Etudes like this would be fine, but when I think of four discs I begin to need Dramamine. But, I understand that her approach is highly scientific and her reading is probably the most educational, and I am personally finding this reading quite creepy and delicious in a perverted way (Cosmic Devil?) and I can get into it, but ultimately.... I wouldn't kick it out of bed, but I wouldn't buy it either. But I give it credit, it's monstrous!!

Crismani: let me elaborate a little. I was sooo curious about this, and then found it on YT yesterday, and first listened to one of the shortest. OK, it was interesting, and I mostly liked it, but there seems to be some ugliness either in his playing or the recording, so that ffff sounds a bit harsh. And I think he's a little on the 'Lisztian' side of the equation here, no? The one I heard (17?) started off slower than anything, and then exploded into a furious blizzard of notes (that I should like, but here sound pretentious to me). So, in Etude1, Crisamni, at @4mins. like everyone else, sounds compleeetely different, as if it's other music completely. He TOTALLY exposes the Tonal undergirding of the piece, making it sound like Debussy+Ives+Scriabin? I kind of like it...

BUT...

a) it's just too "sexy" or something??... for the "cosmos"???.... I like it but I feel I shouldn't?


Yea, Crismani is doing whatsoever he pleases at whatever moment in time, so it's almost impossible to judge ANYTHING about this, other than it's not your grandpa's Etudes!!

MORE TO COME...
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: Mandryka on August 29, 2016, 09:36:33 AM
Here's an intyeresting review of Liebner's Etudes on amazon

Quote from: scarecrow at https://www.amazon.com/Cage-Etudes-Australes-Sabine-Liebner/dp/B006EVD7G8#customerReviews
These Etudes were written for Grete Sultan, 1974-75, they occupied a cultural stasis, a void in some respects,i.e. the Seventies, when structuralism was fashionable; the word "(or term) "post-modernity" was fast becoming the new buzz, perhaps because of Frederic Jameson's book, but also Jean Baudrillard, Jean Lyotard.

Etudes, conceptually are like a "holding-patter" in the serious trajectory of music,. It always has been, Debussy at the end of his life wrote 12 Etudes, didn't know anywhere else to proceed but to his "comfort zone" of Diatonicisms, He knew of Stravinsky, Igor as well, utilized traditional chords, only without traditional function; Both knew of 12 Tone thinking,Mahler as well- well Atonality; But had no sensibility for it. . .

Cage's work is divided into 32 etudes,into 4 Books, each book having 8 Etudes.Each Etude is more or less about 8 minutes.But there is no strict sense of that. . .
The title comes from Cage's affinity with the natural order of things of physical space, So here he utilized "Atlas Australis"; a book of star maps.How stars look from Australia. a great distance from New York City where he was living at the time. . .
I recall the original vinyl with Grete Sultan. It had a page of these star-maps with the rubber wedges needed in this etudes to hold down designated tones for one entire etudes, these are designated with diamond shapes tones, and change with each Etude.. . The cover(not the music) actually won a prize for graphics. . .

So interesting that there is a constellation, a configuration of harmonics that cycle thru the etudes,like revolving tones of the ether- that introduce themselves into the etudes, but we as listeners--- never really know how or when harmonics partials occur, unless we listen intently. Certainly the performer knows, and can also excite the tones that would produce more or less overtones, Dynamics are left to the performer's discretion, so if you know for example what lower piano tones are being continually held down, without the damper pedal you can shape your dynamics to excite those overtones.

The "study", the "chore", the "work" in generic terms-- here is to read four staves, 2 for each hand, and to read/project the tones as in real space, so the closer the tones are together, the faster you hear them in proximity to the others.And this can be "asa fast as possible" or gradations from that. . . Given the amount of density of the graphics one sees, it would be almost impossible to play fast, but there are sections that lend itslef to this "reading" . . . So the graphic depictions on the page should resemble what we hear in real space--time. Neither Tempo or dynamics are given by Cage. So the pianist performer is free to shape things as they want.

The challenge here really is what the pianist brings to these etudes. They are interpreted, or "read"; so the listener does in fact get some psychological "snapshot" of the emotive dimensions of the performer. The subjectivity of this is at a lull, at third person point, yet is still there.

I've heard Stefan Schleirmacher play these in his complete recording,wonderful, a bit harder to listen,relatively speaking; and Grete Sultan,who brings a sense of beauty to it;
Frederic Rzewski and Stephen Drury played these together,(different Books ) at the Festival d"Automne in Paris this last November 2011.

Sabine Liebner, is thus far the most interesting interpretively. Well, to my sense of hearing; In the aesthetic philosophy of Cage recall there is no good or bad, just technically accurate, astute and/or interesting or not, you must decide. . .
Liebner brings a kind of lyricism,a playfulness,plaintive moments, and serious all simultaneously--- (if that is possible) to these etudes.
You need to have a free sense of time, and acoustic space, which all the performers certainly do. . .You must also sense the endlessness of time itself. So there are many dimensions of these etudes that are hidden conceptual things, ideas, that never get imparted into the music itself;So the etudes do become like a personal odyssey---a leftover from modernity of tradition; But if these ideas are not there, one knows it, or should know it; Many of the intervals, do in fact resemble traditional harmonies, of course always disrupted, and non-functional. But each pianist to the best of their ability cannot escape the arresting beauty, the threadbare beauty of this great work.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: snyprrr on August 29, 2016, 02:14:43 PM
Here's an intyeresting review of Liebner's Etudes on amazon

LOL, yea, love 'scarecrow', but he is sometimes hard to understand!!



Even if I did like Liebner better, the mere thought of four discs of this is a little much. The more I listen to the Etudes, the pissier I get, so, it's time to move on to the 'Freeman Etudes'.




btw- videos of Drury playing the latter Etudes are on YT, and you can see clearly how both hands are doing lots of stuff.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: snyprrr on August 30, 2016, 07:56:00 AM
Will 4'33 ever die? Will people ever actually listen to his other works?  :(

that's prettty funnny?!! :laugh:
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92) E.A. BOOK 2
Post by: snyprrr on August 30, 2016, 08:35:38 AM
Etudes Australes, Book II

For some reason, I enjoyed this more than what I'd been listening to before. Maybe there's more activity? Then I listened to the last two Etudes of Book 3 (23-24), 23 being the most cosmic I'd heard yet. It's interesting with Schleiermacher, because sometimes he's on the Sultan tangent, timings wise, and then sometimes he offers a comparison to Liebner, with his 8min. renditions.




SOME E.A. CRITICISM:

Just read the WikiP. entry- when they describe HOW each Etude was created... he puts the 3in. strip of see-through over the star chart, which seems like such a small strip. For some reason I thought each Etude was like a WHOLE PAGE of the chart, or whatever.

So, it seems kind of "capricious" him choosing which stars to keeps, or what. Are we supposed to hear the "positions" of the stars, so that if we knew Astronomy we would be able to discern the "shapes" or outlines of the constellations??? In other words, since this isn't a true representation of the cosmos, then, that might explain why it doesn't sound all that cosmic???

gggaaaaahhhhhh :(

What would Messiaen have done?



And then he does his throwing of the dice thing, so, I assume, the representation of the stars is even more obscured? I mean, I would think that a knowledge of Astronomy would be a prerequisite for writing a piece like this.

Is Cage actually just being lazy?


These Piano Works have got me more flustered than Philip Glass!!!!!!!!


Well... yea, no.... not quite the same level of .....





Anyhow, is anyone else making progress on their ... "appreciation" of these pieces?

YOU'RE RIGHT- how can one pick a "good" one? You'd have to hear each one done in at least 2-3 different ways in order to get a handle ... or maybe just "look" at the score?

One reviewer said these pieces are better to look at than hear...


I will review Book2 in the car....
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: Mandryka on August 31, 2016, 02:47:13 AM
Well I listened to Étude 9 Bk 2 played by Liebner, Crismani and Sultan. Sultan sounds like a faster version of Liebner and it's hard to convince myself that Crismani is playing the same music. Crismani is sweeter, warmer., more lyrical., more like a planned and coherent musical entity than a pussy cat walking across the piano.  I repeated the experience with Étude 11, and got the same results


Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92) E.A. BOOK 2
Post by: Mandryka on August 31, 2016, 03:50:29 AM

YOU'RE RIGHT- how can one pick a "good" one? You'd have to hear each one done in at least 2-3 different ways in order to get a handle ... or maybe just "look" at the score?


My favourite is Bk 3 Et ii (Crismani)
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: nathanb on August 31, 2016, 02:15:49 PM
snyprrr, trying to figure out the nature of your preferences always has me baffled. One would think, based on your other tastes, that these etudes, Lachenmann, and so on, would be right up your alley. I guess you're original to the core.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: snyprrr on September 01, 2016, 07:11:38 AM
Well I listened to Étude 9 Bk 2 played by Liebner, Crismani and Sultan.

Sultan sounds like a faster version of Liebner


and it's hard to convince myself that Crismani is playing the same music. Crismani is sweeter, warmer., more lyrical., more like a planned and coherent musical entity than a pussy cat walking across the piano.



 I repeated the experience with Étude 11, and got the same results

X1000 on Crismani. Debussy+Ives+Scriabin?



b) I just wish Liebner had maybe done everything at @5-6mins., rather than 8?

c) Schleiermacher lies in between Sultan's fierce attack and Liebner's spaciousness...

My favourite is Bk 3 Et ii (Crismani)

Yes, Crismani threatens to make one love his "way"!! Very interesting there manny!!

snyprrr, trying to figure out the nature of your preferences always has me baffled. One would think, based on your other tastes, that these etudes, Lachenmann, and so on, would be right up your alley. I guess you're original to the core.

I guess, lol! I was shocked by my not going for Lachenmann, so there ya go. But... I have noticed that there is a certain Modern Music sound that I don't like, I call it the "ennui factor"... and it's hard to tell where/when it will show up, but it is almost as if I can hear the Composer's... "hate"????... I mean, Modern Composers can be an onerously "religious" bunch

lol, it's just not happening this morning!! :laugh:


I do like "science" like in Xenakis. I really go for mathematical, bouncing games in Modern Music, not so much the Angsty-stuff.



oy- I just got the "met new guy, really like him" text, so, Avant Garde Theory isn't workin so well for me right at the moment :'( :laugh: :'( :laugh:
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92) MUSIC OF CHANGES
Post by: snyprrr on September 03, 2016, 05:57:29 AM
What do you like about Music of Changes???

Got Martine Joste/Mode 'Music of Changes' yesterday. I found it infinitely more interesting than the 'Etudes Australes' I've been complaining about for a week. 'MoC' sounds like a furry, fuzzy jungle of a maze of a labyrinthe... I would have thought Boulez?!?!

Anyhow, I like the just smashing the piano tones just for the sake of hearing the timbres. 'MoC' seems to be THE piece for just "hearing the piano". Joste is quite aggressive, fistfulls of notes....




I did just order Fusi's newer Stradivarius recording of the 'Freeman Etudes, Books 1-2'. His tone and ambience are soooo different from Arditti's. Hear them both on YT.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92) MUSIC OF CHANGES
Post by: Mandryka on September 03, 2016, 10:29:08 PM
Got Martine Joste/Mode 'Music of Changes' yesterday. I found it infinitely more interesting than the 'Etudes Australes' I've been complaining about for a week. 'MoC' sounds like a furry, fuzzy jungle of a maze of a labyrinthe... I would have thought Boulez?!?!

Anyhow, I like the just smashing the piano tones just for the sake of hearing the timbres. 'MoC' seems to be THE piece for just "hearing the piano". Joste is quite aggressive, fistfulls of notes....


I think this is a credit to Martine Joste, which is fabulous, if she recorded the etudes I'd buy it.

Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92) MUSIC OF CHANGES
Post by: snyprrr on September 04, 2016, 06:08:45 AM
I think this is a credit to Martine Joste, which is fabulous, if she recorded the etudes I'd buy it.

She also has a Bussotti recital on Mode. Bussotti and Cage do seem to go together in a way...



Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92) A CAGE OF SAXOPHONES
Post by: snyprrr on September 04, 2016, 06:16:54 AM
A Cage of Saxophones Vols. 1-4 (Mode)

Ulrich Krieger (saxophonist) has recorded four volumes of Cage's music that could be interpreted by the sax. I am bubbling over with praise here, these discs are packed with interest.

I just wanted to tempt you with Vols.3/4, which include versions of 'Cartridge Music', 'Fontana Mix', and '4'33"', along with the "open" forms of 'Four6' and 'One7'.


Just listened to 'Four6'- hey, this really tickled me, sounding a little like Xenakis in a way. I am getting more and more impressed with Cage's way here, but, again, it does take a sensitive musician to realize Cage at this point.

Anyhow, you can't even really tell anything's a sax here, which was fine by me- I think it may be the perfect Cage instrument along with the piano...

I do love lots of fun sounds, and Krieger delivers a very thoughtful Cage programme.






ME??? Having a Cage-a-thon???? I certainly wouldn't have thunk it...
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92) MUSIC OF CHANGES
Post by: Mandryka on September 04, 2016, 08:56:55 PM
She also has a Bussotti recital on Mode. Bussotti and Cage do seem to go together in a way...

She has an interview on YouTube, amusing, where she comes across as an agreeable person.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92) A CAGE OF SAXOPHONES
Post by: Mandryka on September 04, 2016, 09:31:12 PM
A Cage of Saxophones Vols. 1-4 (Mode)

Ulrich Krieger (saxophonist) has recorded four volumes of Cage's music that could be interpreted by the sax. I am bubbling over with praise here, these discs are packed with interest.

I just wanted to tempt you with Vols.3/4, which include versions of 'Cartridge Music', 'Fontana Mix', and '4'33"', along with the "open" forms of 'Four6' and 'One7'.


Just listened to 'Four6'- hey, this really tickled me, sounding a little like Xenakis in a way. I am getting more and more impressed with Cage's way here, but, again, it does take a sensitive musician to realize Cage at this point.

Anyhow, you can't even really tell anything's a sax here, which was fine by me- I think it may be the perfect Cage instrument along with the piano...

I do love lots of fun sounds, and Krieger delivers a very thoughtful Cage programme.






ME??? Having a Cage-a-thon???? I certainly wouldn't have thunk it...

That's good. I knew Ulrich Krieger through  his saxophone rendition of Hymnkus, but I hadn't heard Four6 before, thanks for pointing it out, I enjoyed the way the sounds emerge (organically? randomly? Is it indeterminate in some way? )

One thing I keep coming back to is that these pieces are too long. It's as if there's not enough content to merit music which lasts half an hour. Part of what's going on for me is just that I'm not comfortable about the absence of narrative. I need to find a more zen way of listening.

(And it may be that part of the reason I appreciated Crismani's etudes is that he imposes a narrative on the music. I'm not sure, these are just informal impressions.)
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92) A CAGE OF SAXOPHONES
Post by: snyprrr on September 05, 2016, 08:30:51 AM
That's good. I knew Ulrich Krieger through  his saxophone rendition of Hymnkus, but I hadn't heard Four6 before, thanks for pointing it out, I enjoyed the way the sounds emerge (organically? randomly? Is it indeterminate in some way? )

One thing I keep coming back to is that these pieces are too long. It's as if there's not enough content to merit music which lasts half an hour. Part of what's going on for me is just that I'm not comfortable about the absence of narrative. I need to find a more zen way of listening.

(And it may be that part of the reason I appreciated Crismani's etudes is that he imposes a narrative on the music. I'm not sure, these are just informal impressions.)

I know I wouldn't want them to be ANY LONGER than 30mins!!!! I feel ya there... maybe 20 would have been golden? I know that 20min 'Four' by the Arditti is just about perfect there.



I did like the 'Hymnkus', sounding a bit like Feldman's "scatchy" phase ('Spring of Chroseseses').


Krieger's 'One7', at 30mins., MIGHT have benefited from a 20min. run time. Again, it was ok, but I sure wouldn't have wanted it to go on for any longer. I was expecting more non-musical sounds, but he does it pretty straight.




Yea, I'm still thinking Cage is a bit of a ________, but I have certainly gained an appreciation for what he - what his "presence" did- when he came to SerialTown. I suppose i can prefer him to quite a few academic Serialists of the second rank. At least he did a lot of DIFFERENT stuff, so, there should be something for everyone - even if you like, gasp, "melodyies", lol.







Since Cage was the object of most of my scorn over the decades, this "coming around" almost represents a FullCircle for me. I'M DONE?? I've traversed the Masters of the 20th Century? I don't care anymore? I don't think my mind will be blown any more?


Yea, no... 'Die Soldaten' remains "my" Opera... maaaybe i'll check out 'Le Grand Macabre' later, but I'm no longer all that eager to hear too many more Modern Operas...Lachenmann... Nono (maybe the best chance, with 'Sole...').... 'Prometeo' doesn't really hold me....

don't really care for all that much ArvoP either....



sigh :(
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: nathanb on September 06, 2016, 02:33:15 PM
Any of my contemporary brethren here celebrating Cage's birthday (well, it was yesterday, but it kicked off what's likely to be a week-long binge)?

I did all the saxophone volumes today; well, ok, I'm on volume 4 right now, and yes, One7 could be a tiny bit shorter, but Four6 could stand to be even a little bit longer. But I've always thought that the "One" pieces usually struggled a bit relative to the other numbers. Ulrich Krieger's timbral variety is astounding, though.

Yesterday I listened to some classic piano stuff and even ventured into a delicious new (to me) Cage work: The City Wears A Slouch Hat. So very different for Cage, and yet, so very Cage. Very intriguing, can't believe I'd never heard it until now.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: arpeggio on September 06, 2016, 02:45:05 PM
I am new here. 

I am not a big fan of Cage's output.  But I have always tried to treat his music and the aficionados of his music with respect.

I have been a member of two other classical music forums that I left because of the animas against contemporary music.

I was invited to join this forum and was informed the atmosphere was much more congenial.

I decided to check out this thread.  As far as I am concerned this is the best thread I have read on John Cage.  There is very little of the Cage bashing I have seen elsewhere.  Even the criticisms I read where very reasoned.

Outstanding.   
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: ComposerOfAvantGarde on September 06, 2016, 03:06:03 PM
Welcome to GMG my bassoon playing friend! (Is that you?) ;D

I hope you are an avid fan of the composition entitled 'Seventeen' which is by far the most innovative and meaningful piece of 'music' Cage ever 'composed!' I am a big fan of it! 8)
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: Brewski on September 06, 2016, 07:44:15 PM
Tonight, a very fine Cage performance opened the Resonant Bodies Festival, three nights of contemporary vocal music. Julia Bullock began her set with She is Asleep (1943), for voice and prepared piano (from the thuds, sounded like rubber items or putty on the strings). Wordless text, and quite simple and beautiful.

www.resonantbodiesfestival.org

--Bruce
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: snyprrr on September 06, 2016, 07:52:42 PM
Any of my contemporary brethren here celebrating Cage's birthday (well, it was yesterday, but it kicked off what's likely to be a week-long binge)?

I did all the saxophone volumes today; well, ok, I'm on volume 4 right now, and yes, One7 could be a tiny bit shorter, but Four6 could stand to be even a little bit longer. But I've always thought that the "One" pieces usually struggled a bit relative to the other numbers. Ulrich Krieger's timbral variety is astounding, though.

Yesterday I listened to some classic piano stuff and even ventured into a delicious new (to me) Cage work: The City Wears A Slouch Hat. So very different for Cage, and yet, so very Cage. Very intriguing, can't believe I'd never heard it until now.

Mode has 15% off Cage until the 12th... snort snort snort....

Yes, Krieger's whole approach is refreshing. I liked the 'Cartridge Music' too. The 'Sculptures Musicales' were... uh... very Warhol? LOL- the first one sound uncannily like a HD vacuum cleaner... now, I think I get the pieces, but that is some heavy duty grinding there- like the dijidoos... is this what Earle Brown sounds like?

I am new here. 

I am not a big fan of Cage's output.  But I have always tried to treat his music and the aficionados of his music with respect.

I have been a member of two other classical music forums that I left because of the animas against contemporary music.

I was invited to join this forum and was informed the atmosphere was much more congenial.

I decided to check out this thread.  As far as I am concerned this is the best thread I have read on John Cage.  There is very little of the Cage bashing I have seen elsewhere.  Even the criticisms I read where very reasoned.

Outstanding.   

Well, you came in here at a good time. If you go back far enough, you'll probably find s dismissive Cage Post of mine, but, as of my return to this Thread, it's been all Lickedy Split Research Time. I've uncovered all the Cage I like, and all the Cage I can stay away from!

I'm sure there's even about four minutes worth of Cage that even James likes!! :-*

I await the 'Freeman Etudes'... MY LAST PURCHASE EVER!!!!

(My point being- you will HAVE to visist out CDCDCD Thread... just Search CDCDCD)
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: Brewski on September 07, 2016, 06:38:37 AM
I am new here. 

I am not a big fan of Cage's output.  But I have always tried to treat his music and the aficionados of his music with respect.

I have been a member of two other classical music forums that I left because of the animas against contemporary music.

I was invited to join this forum and was informed the atmosphere was much more congenial.

I decided to check out this thread.  As far as I am concerned this is the best thread I have read on John Cage.  There is very little of the Cage bashing I have seen elsewhere.  Even the criticisms I read where very reasoned.

Outstanding.

Glad to hear all of this. And hope you feel comfortable discussing new music, old music, and everything in between.

--Bruce
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: snyprrr on September 13, 2016, 03:31:32 PM
Any of my contemporary brethren here celebrating Cage's birthday (well, it was yesterday, but it kicked off what's likely to be a week-long binge)?

I did all the saxophone volumes today; well, ok, I'm on volume 4 right now, and yes, One7 could be a tiny bit shorter, but Four6 could stand to be even a little bit longer. But I've always thought that the "One" pieces usually struggled a bit relative to the other numbers. Ulrich Krieger's timbral variety is astounding, though.

Yesterday I listened to some classic piano stuff and even ventured into a delicious new (to me) Cage work: The City Wears A Slouch Hat. So very different for Cage, and yet, so very Cage. Very intriguing, can't believe I'd never heard it until now.

Listening again to 'Four6' from 'A CAGE of Saxophones Vols.3/4',... it really sounds like 'Imaginary Landscapes' territory... like he came full circle.


Still waiting on Fusi's 'Freeman Etudes Vol.1'...
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92) ??????
Post by: snyprrr on September 13, 2016, 05:22:01 PM
Welcome to GMG my bassoon playing friend! (Is that you?) ;D

I hope you are an avid fan of the composition entitled 'Seventeen' which is by far the most innovative and meaningful piece of 'music' Cage ever 'composed!' I am a big fan of it! 8)
[/quote

What is this 'Seventeen' you speak of? I see 'Seven2', and the Ensemble Avantgarde on MDG render 'Music for ____' as 'Music for Seventeen', but, at the Cage site, there is no 'Seventeen' proper. Is it the the MDG?
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: nathanb on September 13, 2016, 06:12:11 PM
Wikipedia also does not know of Seventeen:

"No score known. Mentioned by Cage in an interview; possibly a mistake on his part. See Sixteen."

Silly COAG.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: ComposerOfAvantGarde on September 13, 2016, 06:53:28 PM
'Seventeen' is the most avant garde piece of Cage's oeuvre in that it doesn't even exist. Even after 4'33" he outdid himself with this one. It took him a few decades, but there is no denying that 'Seventeen' is the most profound statement in the existentialism and definition of music in the history of humankind. 8)
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: nathanb on September 14, 2016, 05:01:10 AM
'Seventeen' is the most avant garde piece of Cage's oeuvre in that it doesn't even exist. Even after 4'33" he outdid himself with this one. It took him a few decades, but there is no denying that 'Seventeen' is the most profound statement in the existentialism and definition of music in the history of humankind. 8)

Even here, you gotta be clear when you're just making an obscure joke, bro ;)
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on September 14, 2016, 05:02:35 AM
Or, especially here . . . .
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: San Antone on September 14, 2016, 05:06:23 AM
Cage's last decade might be my favorite period of his music, and we are blessed with many recordings of the number pieces.  Since there are a many possible ways to realize these works, the more recordings there are the better.

 :)
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: snyprrr on September 14, 2016, 07:14:03 AM
'Seventeen' is the most avant garde piece of Cage's oeuvre in that it doesn't even exist. Even after 4'33" he outdid himself with this one. It took him a few decades, but there is no denying that 'Seventeen' is the most profound statement in the existentialism and definition of music in the history of humankind. 8)

LOL, I'm having you reported for making me "scurry", haha,... btw- 'Seventeen' ISN'T on that MDG disc, it's on the Mosko/Newport disc, with the 'Quartets I-VIII'... 'Music for Seventeen'...

Or, especially here . . . .

I'm reporting him for making me fact check!!

@PowerThrough
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: ComposerOfAvantGarde on September 14, 2016, 11:51:36 AM
Cage's last decade might be my favorite period of his music, and we are blessed with many recordings of the number pieces.  Since there are a many possible ways to realize these works, the more recordings there are the better.

 :)
Absolutely agree! The Number Pieces are some of my favourite compositions of that time period as well. Cage wrote some masterful late works!
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: ComposerOfAvantGarde on September 14, 2016, 11:52:11 AM
LOL, I'm having you reported for making me "scurry", haha,... btw- 'Seventeen' ISN'T on that MDG disc, it's on the Mosko/Newport disc, with the 'Quartets I-VIII'... 'Music for Seventeen'...

I'm reporting him for making me fact check!!

@PowerThrough

:laugh: :laugh: :laugh:
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: nathanb on September 15, 2016, 11:05:55 AM
Sometimes I wonder how COAG will regard his posts 10 years down the road.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92) FREEMAN ETUDES - MARCO FUSI
Post by: snyprrr on September 26, 2016, 05:53:06 AM
Finally got Vol.1 of Marco Fusi's 'Freeman Etudes' (Stradivarius). Oh, such a wonderful sound! Most of us have only known Arditti's very brightly lit and furiously visceral interpretations, but here Fusi does the same magic in a completely more refined sounding way. And the recording is absolutely perfect. The playing is so smooth, the tone so tempered... I would really need someone else's words here.

If you like AvantGarde Violin, I don't see how you can't like this.

And yes, they are as random and anonymous as the 'Etudes Australes', but, with the violin, one hears more the SuperHumanism going on, the Olympic.

I only have the first two books, am awaiting 3-4, where I expect the fireworks really take off.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92) FREEMAN ETUDES - MARCO FUSI
Post by: nathanb on September 26, 2016, 06:50:34 AM
Finally got Vol.1 of Marco Fusi's 'Freeman Etudes' (Stradivarius). Oh, such a wonderful sound! Most of us have only known Arditti's very brightly lit and furiously visceral interpretations, but here Fusi does the same magic in a completely more refined sounding way. And the recording is absolutely perfect. The playing is so smooth, the tone so tempered... I would really need someone else's words here.

If you like AvantGarde Violin, I don't see how you can't like this.

And yes, they are as random and anonymous as the 'Etudes Australes', but, with the violin, one hears more the SuperHumanism going on, the Olympic.

I only have the first two books, am awaiting 3-4, where I expect the fireworks really take off.

I suppose I could agree that the Freeman Etudes are higher on my "Masterworks Scale" than the Etudes Australes.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: Mandryka on September 26, 2016, 07:33:44 AM
Have started to explore this recording of The Song Books, a lateie and a goodie. Sometimes it makes me think of Nono, the timbres I suppose, and the tempos. I like late Cage.

(https://johnsonsrambler.files.wordpress.com/2012/09/sr344.jpg)

Anyone know anything about the music. Snyprr avoid as it includes the sound of the singer pissing into a bucket I think.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on September 26, 2016, 07:39:11 AM
Snyprr avoid as it includes the sound of the singer pissing into a bucket I think.

Oh, that's definitely foley  8)
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: snyprrr on September 27, 2016, 07:17:49 AM
Oh, that's definitely foley  8)

tinkle, tinkle, little star?
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: Mandryka on November 20, 2016, 03:49:32 AM
What are some of the best Cage releases to get? Particularly multiple CD sets  ;)

It's the sets which make this hard. See what you think of the 1958 retrospective concerts somewhere in New York, there are about half a dozen CDs.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: milk on November 20, 2016, 09:03:48 PM
I downloaded this from iTunes. Noël Akchoté is a prolific French guitarist. He's done electric guitar versions of Feldman too.
It's odd.
https://www.youtube.com/v/kWXHkBNJQ_E
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: San Antone on December 05, 2016, 09:12:11 AM
In the wake of the controversy surrounding his work, especially works such as 4’33” and his chance operations, Cage published his first book, Silence, in 1961.  The essays come from a long period in Cage’s life, ranging from the late 1930s to 1961. As such, it collapses and obscures the long trajectory of Cage’s work from his first enthusiasm with sounds of all sorts, to his methods of structuring them, and ultimately to his discovery of sources for his later work, above all Indian aesthetics and Zen Buddhism.



Silence occasioned considerable critical debate. Jill Johnston, dance critic for the Village Voice, commented favorably on the agreeable variety of material. While her description of Cage’s compositional methods was too cursory to give a full impression of them, her understanding of Cage’s critique of conventional aesthetics was extremely perceptive. She stressed the importance of experience over judgment in audition; she acknowledged the advantage of multiple responses to the music; and she suggested that Cage’s conception of art returned humanity to a position within nature rather than one that dominated it. In particular, she astutely recognized that the ambient sound immanent within what was conventionally understood as silence should be understood as a cosmic complement to whatever sounds Cage added.

Perspectives of New Music published its own review of Silence in due course, by the poet John Hollander; his review indicated what worried the mainstream professional musical establishment about Cage’s work.  Hollander felt that Cage’s abdication of his own authority as composer released the listener from any obligation to take his music seriously and listen carefully. Worse, it implied that Cage’s chosen methods could never allow for the process of critical reflection and hard work that characterizes real art and real artists. 

In spite of the differing conclusions made by both reviewers, each suffered from a common problem, the omission of one crucial phenomenon from their commentary: the actual sounds of Cage’s music.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: San Antone on December 05, 2016, 07:21:40 PM
4'33" App for iPhone (http://www.johncage.org/4_33.html)

Quote
Cage’s work, which teaches us that there’s no such thing as ‘silence’ (and that there’s joy to be found in paying close attention to the sounds around), is available in this official release from the John Cage Trust and Cage’s long-time publisher, C.F. Peters.

Users are able to capture a three-movement ‘performance’ of the ambient sounds in their environment, and then upload and share that performance with the world.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: ahinton on December 06, 2016, 02:44:44 AM
In my worst moments, I cannot help but suspect that John Cage: Silence is somehow analogous to Mohandas Gandhi on Western Civilisation...
Time to get me coat, no doubt...
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: San Antone on December 06, 2016, 11:31:17 AM
One3 (1989), called for a performer to raise the level of amplification in a space to the maximum level before distortion occurs; he then joined the audience to listen to the electronically enhanced ambience for an indeterminate length of time. Cage performed this work in November 1989 in conjunction with his receiving the Kyoto Prize, an international award endowed by the Japanese Inamori Foundation recognizing significant contributions to the scientific, cultural and spiritual betterment of mankind.

I would like to hear this work performed, something of a variation to 4'33" but with the ambient sounds being amplified. 

Over the course of his life Cage received many honors and acknowledgements of his contribution to music and world culture.  This Japanese prize merely one.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: ComposerOfAvantGarde on December 06, 2016, 09:12:13 PM
One3 (1989), called for a performer to raise the level of amplification in a space to the maximum level before distortion occurs; he then joined the audience to listen to the electronically enhanced ambience for an indeterminate length of time. Cage performed this work in November 1989 in conjunction with his receiving the Kyoto Prize, an international award endowed by the Japanese Inamori Foundation recognizing significant contributions to the scientific, cultural and spiritual betterment of mankind.

I would like to hear this work performed, something of a variation to 4'33" but with the ambient sounds being amplified. 

Over the course of his life Cage received many honors and acknowledgements of his contribution to music and world culture.  This Japanese prize merely one.
This would be fascinating! Cage performances are very rare in Australia. I suppose if i go the USA it would be a little more common to hear his music live? For such a famous and influential composer it strikes me as odd that he isn't performed much. One3 is one of many works that is so well suited to live performance and does seem to lose its purpose in a recorded format a little....
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: San Antone on December 07, 2016, 03:41:15 AM
This would be fascinating! Cage performances are very rare in Australia. I suppose if i go the USA it would be a little more common to hear his music live? For such a famous and influential composer it strikes me as odd that he isn't performed much. One3 is one of many works that is so well suited to live performance and does seem to lose its purpose in a recorded format a little....

As far as I can tell there is no recording of One3.  But you're right, it would be very interesting to hear a live performance.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: ComposerOfAvantGarde on December 07, 2016, 03:46:32 AM
As far as I can tell there is no recording of One3.  But you're right, it would be very interesting to hear a live performance.
A hypothetical recording, taking into consideration that one can purchase and download a recording of 4'33". :D
It just goes to show that Cage was someone who certainly didn't just write music to be performed and recorded. From what I can tell from his compositions, he was very interested in that people really just listen.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: San Antone on December 07, 2016, 04:10:29 AM
A hypothetical recording, taking into consideration that one can purchase and download a recording of 4'33". :D
It just goes to show that Cage was someone who certainly didn't just write music to be performed and recorded. From what I can tell from his compositions, he was very interested in that people really just listen.

There are many commercially produced recordings of 4'33" (http://johncage.org/pp/John-Cage-Work-Detail.cfm?work_ID=17); e.g. Frank Zappa released one as part of a John Cage tribute album.  However, the question is does a listener raise the volume in order to hear the ambient sounds at the time the recording was made, or should the listener turn the volume down and listen to the ambient sounds in his room while he is playing the recording?

 ;)
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: ComposerOfAvantGarde on December 07, 2016, 04:29:35 AM
There are many commercially produced recordings of 4'33" (http://johncage.org/pp/John-Cage-Work-Detail.cfm?work_ID=17); e.g. Frank Zappa released one as part of a John Cage tribute album.  However, the question is does a listener raise the volume in order to hear the ambient sounds at the time the recording was made, or should the listener turn the volume down and listen to the ambient sounds in his room while he is playing the recording?

 ;)
An impossible question ???
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: San Antone on December 07, 2016, 06:01:08 AM
Etudes Australes is a set of etudes for piano solo by John Cage, composed in 1974–75 for Grete Sultan. It comprises 32 indeterminate pieces written using star charts as source material. The etudes, conceived as duets for two independent hands, are extremely difficult to play. They were followed by two more collections of similarly difficult works: Freeman Etudes for violin (1977–90) and Etudes Boreales (1978) for cello and/or piano.

https://www.youtube.com/v/o7Gzy1hGDg0

The pieces are built on two basic ideas. The first is writing duets for independent hands, inspired by the way Sultan played. Cage made a catalogue of what triads, quatrads (four-note aggregates) and quintads (five-note aggregates) could be played by a single hand without the other assisting it; overall some 550 four- and five-note chords were available for each hand. The second idea was to use star charts as source material, as Cage had already done with the orchestral Atlas Eclipticalis in 1961 and with Song Books in 1970. This time Cage used the maps in Atlas Australis, an atlas of the southern sky by Antonín Bečvář, which he acquired in Prague in 1964.

Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on December 08, 2016, 11:15:17 AM

Is Feldman saying easel painter like it's a bad thing?  Just wondering.


 ;)

Glad someone asked. 

I think he is saying that no matter how innovative a composer's work has been, e.g. Wagner, or Schoenberg, they are still working in the traditional genre defining methods: a difference of degree.  Cage however, did something entirely different outside the tradition: a difference in kind.

Now, I wonder which you mean.  Consider:

:)

Cage often said that he no longer listened to music; just to the sounds around him.  During the 50s Cage and Boulez were close and corresponded quite a bit.  They both wanted to remove subjectivity from the process of composition, but each through drastically different methods.  Boulez ended up splitting from Cage over his complete reliance upon chance operations, and around the same time Boulez also lost interest in complete serialism after Structures.

But if you listen to the Boulez's 2nd Piano Sonata and Cage's Music of Changes you will hear amazing similarities; but achieved through opposite methods.

I think I've mentioned on GMG before that Yvar Mikhashoff demonstrated much the same point at SUNY Buffalo with a Babbitt piece (do I even remember which?) and Cage's Concerto for Prepared Piano:  both pieces audibly cut from the same sonic cloth (so to speak), but which result from entirely different methods.

I wonder if the two aren't contradictory.  I mean, our observation that to the listener, it's really just the musical result, not the method — that the composer's method is, in a word, musically irrelevant;  or, does Cage matter more, because his was a difference of kind.

(I still don't accept the apparent implication that painting at an easel is become anything artistically 'inferior'  8)  )
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: San Antone on December 08, 2016, 11:32:16 AM
;)

Glad someone asked. 

I think he is saying that no matter how innovative a composer's work has been, e.g. Wagner, or Schoenberg, they are still working in the traditional genre defining methods: a difference of degree.  Cage however, did something entirely different outside the tradition: a difference in kind.

Now, I wonder which you mean.  Consider:

I think I've mentioned on GMG before that Yvar Mikhashoff demonstrated much the same point at SUNY Buffalo with a Babbitt piece (do I even remember which?) and Cage's Concerto for Prepared Piano:  both pieces audibly cut from the same sonic cloth (so to speak), but which result from entirely different methods.

I wonder if the two aren't contradictory.  I mean, our observation that to the listener, it's really just the musical result, not the method — that the composer's method is, in a word, musically irrelevant;  or, does Cage matter more, because his was a difference of kind.

(I still don't accept the apparent implication that painting at an easel is become anything artistically 'inferior'  8)  )

First, I didn't read Feldman's comment as saying that being an easel painter was artistically inferior. 

If I can sum up John Cage's career, I think it is bound up in the idea of Cage's desire to remove himself from the process.  This is a very different idea from Boulez or Babbitt who never thought to remove themselves even though serialism might seem to tie a composer's hands, so to speak.  Feldman was also prone to say things like "let the sounds be themselves" (Stockhausen asked him, "you mean you don't want to push them around even a little bit?"), but his process was actually 180 degress opposite from Cage's in that Feldman was an entirely intuitive composer, following the direction of his own internal muse.  Whereas Cage would create processes in which his choice about how the music would develop was turned over to chance operations.  Sometimes he might not initially like where the music was going, but he was quoted as saying that in those instances "he changed himself", i.e. changed his attitude about the "beauty" of music, not the music (this idea of accepting the music was related to Cage's embrace of Zen).

I think this idea of having the music seemingly just appear, without the ego of the composer being expressed (at least not overtly), is the kind of innovation by Cage which is of a different kind, not just of degree which is how one might describe the innovations of Schoenberg, or Wagner. So, in Feldman's analogy, Schoenberg was the easel painter and Cage was something else (Feldman doesn't say what the other kind of painter would be).

As far as I know Cage might be the only composer desiring this removal of himself, even though there are other composers using chance operations.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on December 08, 2016, 11:36:12 AM
If I can sum up John Cage's career, I think it is bound up in the idea of Cage's desire to remove himself from the process.  This is a very different idea from Boulez or Babbitt who never thought to remove themselves even though serialism might seem to tie a composer's hands, so to speak.  Feldman was also prone to say things like "let the sounds be themselves" (Stockhausen asked him, "you mean you don't want to push them around even a little bit?"), but his process was actually 180 degress opposite from Cage's in that Feldman was an entirely intuitive composer, following the direction of his own internal muse.  Whereas Cage would create processes in which his choice about how the music would develop was turned over to chance operations.  Sometimes he might not initially like where the music was going, but he was quoted as saying that in those instances "he changed himself", i.e. changed his attitude about the "beauty" of music, not the music (this idea of accepting the music was related to Cage's embrace of Zen).

Good, thanks.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: PotashPie on December 08, 2016, 01:12:02 PM
There are many commercially produced recordings of 4'33" (http://johncage.org/pp/John-Cage-Work-Detail.cfm?work_ID=17); e.g. Frank Zappa released one as part of a John Cage tribute album.  However, the question is does a listener raise the volume in order to hear the ambient sounds at the time the recording was made, or should the listener turn the volume down and listen to the ambient sounds in his room while he is playing the recording?

 ;)

The piece is a performance. It specifies a duration of time, as a performance, not as a recording. The piece must be performed in the present moment, as experience of a duration of time.

Time is subjective, as an experience of being. Recording it "objectifies" it, and also "fixes" the duration and the sound events which occur in that duration, and makes it an "object" to relate to. It thus becomes what all recordings are: simply a record of an event which has passed. It is important that the piece remain as an experience of being, in the now.

I think many of the questions about this piece could be answered if there were a real understanding of Eastern subjectivity. I notice all the time how people try to objectify everything.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: San Antone on December 08, 2016, 01:19:25 PM
The piece is a performance. It specifies a duration of time, as a performance, not as a recording. The piece must be performed in the present moment, as experience of a duration of time.

Time is subjective, as an experience of being. Recording it "objectifies" it, and also "fixes" the duration and the sound events which occur in that duration, and makes it an "object" to relate to. It thus becomes what all recordings are: simply a record of an event which has passed. It is important that the piece remain as an experience of being, in the now.

I think many of the questions about this piece could be answered if there were a real understanding of Eastern subjectivity. I notice all the time how people try to objectify everything.

I take your point.  However, there have been recordings despite the obvious correctness of your point.  But you overlooked this part of my post, which addresses your compaint:  "the listener turn the volume down and listen to the ambient sounds in his room while he is playing the recording"

4'33" is really just the culmination of Cage's involvement with chance operations (including whatever sounds occur during the time period) and as you say a Zen worldview.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: PotashPie on December 08, 2016, 02:24:46 PM
"Zen worldview"applied to a Western context, questions the idea of authorship, and of performer/listener, and reverses it.

We become "the composer" as we listen; it is up to us to provide the "content" of the work in our experience of the sounds around us.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: Contemporaryclassical on December 08, 2016, 02:28:32 PM
John Cage is misunderstood, he took many ideas from Webern, Varese, Cowell and Zen Buddhism and created something unparalleled.
I don't listen to a lot of Cage but he's a very valid composer :)
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: milk on December 10, 2016, 01:32:17 AM
I've a hard time relating to the latter part of Cage's career - perhaps the part where chance becomes more important. Maybe I'll get there some day. Meanwhile I love his prepared piano stuff. Recently I've been listening to the Arditti release: Cage: 44 Harmonies from Apartment House - 1776 & Cheap Imitation and enjoying it very much. I've a dozen or so Cage releases that I really love. But I don't get the Etudes and other "random" sounding stuff.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: milk on December 10, 2016, 03:27:20 AM
Yes! Apartment House 1776 (in particular) is amazing, I need to give it a spin tomorrow  :D
This is unique music (leaving aside it's familiar origins). It's strange. To people who don't know it or Cage, they'd probably have a hard time trying to figure out what it is, in terms of context. "Is it new; is it old?" The Andritti is very imaginative.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: Mandryka on December 10, 2016, 11:27:11 AM
I've a hard time relating to the latter part of Cage's career - perhaps the part where chance becomes more important. Maybe I'll get there some day. Meanwhile I love his prepared piano stuff. Recently I've been listening to the Arditti release: Cage: 44 Harmonies from Apartment House - 1776 & Cheap Imitation and enjoying it very much. I've a dozen or so Cage releases that I really love. But I don't get the Etudes and other "random" sounding stuff.

What was Apartment House originally? Was it for violin/(prepared?) piano duo? That Arditti release is an arrangement of something.

L
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: Mandryka on December 10, 2016, 11:31:28 AM
John Cage is misunderstood, he took many ideas from Webern,

What ideas from Webern?
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: milk on December 10, 2016, 05:16:50 PM
I don't know what Webernian's referring to in particular but I know that Cage (along with Feldman specifically) shared radical views on time and perception of time. To be as non-academic as possible in describing it: A slow paced 40/50 minute Cage/Feldman piece can feel like a 5 minute piece and a 5 minute piece can feel like a complete Mahler symphony.
Essentially the took the same view but approached it from the opposite angle as Webern did
Yes, it seems that the influence of Cage on Feldman was a kind of freedom for Feldman. Yet I don't see huge similarities beyond this important influence. I feel like Cage is a really important influential force in music generally/widely (for example, far afield, on Eno's ambient music) but sometimes, ok sometimes, it feels like music is besides the point. He's conceptual like Duchamp or something. Perhaps Cage is more "important" but I love Feldman's music more. Feldman is always about sound and music - maybe in the usual way that music is abstract. Still, I love Cage's early/middle work. It's so inventive.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: San Antone on December 10, 2016, 06:44:33 PM
I don't know what Webernian's referring to in particular but I know that Cage (along with Feldman specifically) shared radical views on time and perception of time.

Cage was opposed to the Europeans who set up his work ASLSP (As Slow as Possible) in which the work will take 639 years to complete.  He wrote the work for piano and wanted the work to be structured around the natural decay of the tones.  When he found out about the organ version in which they fitted weights to the organ so that each tone could last indefinitely he expressed his opposition.  The work is still going on.  But Cage was a humanist and wanted his music to express the human spirit, not abstract ideas about time.

He also put together a performance of the Satie work Vexations, a work Satie wrote without bar lines which consists of a short theme in the bass whose four presentations are heard alternately unaccompanied and played with chords above.  Satie instructed that the theme be played 840 times.  Cage got pianist volunteers to play for periods of time and they performed all 840.  I am not sure how long it took, but probably over 24 hours.

Feldman used long works to stretch the consciousness of the audience.  After we listen for 4 or 6 hours our sense of perception goes through changes.  People who stayed to listen to long periods of the Vexations performance also described a shift in how they perceived the work and even the space around them.

Yes, it seems that the influence of Cage on Feldman was a kind of freedom for Feldman. Yet I don't see huge similarities beyond this important influence. I feel like Cage is a really important influential force in music generally/widely (for example, far afield, on Eno's ambient music) but sometimes, ok sometimes, it feels like music is besides the point. He's conceptual like Duchamp or something. Perhaps Cage is more "important" but I love Feldman's music more. Feldman is always about sound and music - maybe in the usual way that music is abstract. Still, I love Cage's early/middle work. It's so inventive.

Feldman was quoted as saying that Cage gave him and other young composers "permission" to follow their muse.  But Cage always thought of himself as a composer (later also a visual artist) but resisted the idea of himself as a philosopher.   While he admired Duchamp and took inspiration from him, Cage was not out to "make a point" necessarily, but to write musical compositions that might make people think, yes, but primarily the music was to be enjoyed for what it was.

Feldman was a student of Cage and for about five years they were very much involved.  But Feldman did not use Cage's techniques.  There is a famous story of one of their first meetings and Feldman played Cage one of his compositions.  Cage asked him "how did you write that" and Feldman responded "I don't know", which delighted Cage.  Feldman was a very intuitive composer.  He wrote music according to what he felt and internally heard.  Many of his works revolve around a few pitches or chords but the small variations and when a change is added it was all dictated by his internal muse.

Which is very different from Cage's wish to remove himself from the composing and turn it over to chance operations.

Cage's late number pieces are some of his best music, IMO.  Do listen to them.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: Mandryka on December 11, 2016, 12:28:35 AM
I don't know what Webernian's referring to in particular but I know that Cage (along with Feldman specifically) shared radical views on time and perception of time. To be as non-academic as possible in describing it: A slow paced 40/50 minute Cage/Feldman piece can feel like a 5 minute piece and a 5 minute piece can feel like a complete Mahler symphony.
Essentially the took the same view but approached it from the opposite angle as Webern did

I don't understand this fascinating post at all, can you spell it out with examples?
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: Mandryka on December 11, 2016, 12:30:56 AM

Feldman used long works to stretch the consciousness of the audience. 


If you can find some comments by Feldman about why he wrote such long music, then I'd love to read them.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: Mandryka on December 11, 2016, 12:42:21 AM
Cage was opposed to the Europeans who set up his work ASLSP (As Slow as Possible) in which the work will take 639 years to complete.  He wrote the work for piano and wanted the work to be structured around the natural decay of the tones.  When he found out about the organ version in which they fitted weights to the organ so that each tone could last indefinitely he expressed his opposition.  The work is still going on.  But Cage was a humanist and wanted his music to express the human spirit, not abstract ideas about time.


This I didn't know and it's interesting - it's like he was interested in the same sort of thing as Stockhausen in Natürlich Dauern.

I'd be very interested in the details of Cage's opposition to the organ performance.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: San Antone on December 11, 2016, 03:27:16 AM
If you can find some comments by Feldman about why he wrote such long music, then I'd love to read them.

Regarding Feldman’s ideas about long pieces, I know I’ve read comments from him about them, but I can’t find the interview on the web or where I read them.  It could be in Give My Regards to Eighth Street.  However, this section from Alex Ross’s long article on Feldman (http://www.therestisnoise.com/2006/06/morton_feldman_.html) echos what I was getting at.

Extreme length allowed Feldman to approach his ultimate goal of making music into an experience of life-changing force, a transcendent art form that wipes everything else away. To sit through performances of the two biggest works—I heard Petr Kotik’s S.E.M. Ensemble play the five-hour-long “For Philip Guston” in 1995, with phenomenal purity of tone, and the Flux Quartet play the six-hour-long “String Quartet (II)” in 1999, with tireless focus—is to enter into a new way of listening, even a new consciousness. There are passages in each where Feldman seems to be testing the listener’s patience, seeing how long we can endure a repeated note or a dissonant minor second. Then, out of nowhere, some very pure, almost childlike idea materializes. Most of the closing section of “For Philip Guston” is in modal A minor, and it is music of surpassing gentleness and tenderness. But it inhabits a far-off, secret place that few travellers will stumble upon.

This I didn't know and it's interesting - it's like was interested in the same sort of thing as Stockhausen in Natürlich Dauern.

I'd be very interested in the details of Cage's opposition to the organ performance.

It was incorrect for me to write that Cage spoke out publicly about the Halberstadt organ work, since it was not begun until nearly ten years after his death.  However, I suppose I was remembering what I read about Cage’s opposition to this kind of thing based on this excerpt from John Cage (Critical Lives) by Rob Haskins.

Deutsche Welle erroneously reported that Cage himself planned the extraordinary duration of the work; in an interview with the news agency, one of the organizers proudly said, ‘It doesn’t mean anything; it’s just there.’ (While Cage did not indicate what the outside limit for length would be, he did indicate that the work should be performed by an individual in one sitting.  Which is certainly not possible with the Halberstadt project.)

Sadly, however, the Halberstadt project means quite a bit, and the cultural work it performs has the most alarming consequences with respect to Cage’s own practice.  For one thing, he almost always viewed his music as intended for performance in real time by human beings.  When in 1981 Paul Zukofsky told him that the latest of his Freeman Etudes was unplayable, Cage abandoned work on them until the English violinist Irvine Arditti played the existing etudes with such virtuosity that he was inspired to finish the series. 

And while it is possible to imagine that a group of performers could be assembled to perform Organ for 639 years, it is more difficult to imagine Cage sanctioning anyone to spend that much time on a work from his past: he was always thinking of the present and the future, and it seemed clear that he thought excessive attention devoted to the past solved no real social problems. Furthermore he aspired for his music to have a genuine use in society, and while the attention of the Halberstadt project has reinvigorated the town, long ravaged by economic woes and and extremist factionalism, he distanced himself from endorsing any particular, overly specific project, even if it served a noble or morally upright cause. He wanted the social problems of our time to be solved globally and through invention of new things; on balance the Halberstadt project perverts Cage’s notion of process into the worst kind of object: an effete monument that no human beings could fully experience within their own lifetimes.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: San Antone on December 11, 2016, 03:58:15 AM
In the wake of the discussion about 4'33" that occurred on a different thread, I recommend this book:  No Such Thing as Silence: John Cage's 4'33" by Kyle Gann.

I am just beginning it, but Gann is somewhat of a Cage scholar and has performed the work and is a good writer about music.

Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: chadfeldheimer on December 11, 2016, 04:11:22 AM
It was incorrect for me to write that Cage spoke out publicly about the Halberstadt organ work, since it was not begun until nearly ten years after his death.  However, I suppose I was remembering what I read about Cage’s opposition to this kind of thing based on this excerpt from John Cage (Critical Lives) by Rob Haskins.

Deutsche Welle erroneously reported that Cage himself planned the extraordinary duration of the work; in an interview with the news agency, one of the organizers proudly said, ‘It doesn’t mean anything; it’s just there.’ (While Cage did not indicate what the outside limit for length would be, he did indicate that the work should be performed by an individual in one sitting.  Which is certainly not possible with the Halberstadt project.)

Sadly, however, the Halberstadt project means quite a bit, and the cultural work it performs has the most alarming consequences with respect to Cage’s own practice.  For one thing, he almost always viewed his music as intended for performance in real time by human beings.  When in 1981 Paul Zukofsky told him that the latest of his Freeman Etudes was unplayable, Cage abandoned work on them until the English violinist Irvine Arditti played the existing etudes with such virtuosity that he was inspired to finish the series. 

And while it is possible to imagine that a group of performers could be assembled to perform Organ for 639 years, it is more difficult to imagine Cage sanctioning anyone to spend that much time on a work from his past: he was always thinking of the present and the future, and it seemed clear that he thought excessive attention devoted to the past solved no real social problems. Furthermore he aspired for his music to have a genuine use in society, and while the attention of the Halberstadt project has reinvigorated the town, long ravaged by economic woes and and extremist factionalism, he distanced himself from endorsing any particular, overly specific project, even if it served a noble or morally upright cause. He wanted the social problems of our time to be solved globally and through invention of new things; on balance the Halberstadt project perverts Cage’s notion of process into the worst kind of object: an effete monument that no human beings could fully experience within their own lifetimes.

I doubt Cage would have opposed so strong against the Halberstadt project, as Rob Haskins supposes. From what I know, Cage's openess was one of his most outstanding attributes. Maybe he wouldn't have come up with an idea like this 639 years performance by himself, but he would think: Why not?
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: San Antone on December 11, 2016, 04:16:43 AM
I doubt Cage would have opposed so strong against the Halberstadt project, as Rob Haskins supposes. From what I know, Cage's openess was one of his most outstanding attributes. Maybe he wouldn't have come up with an idea like this 639 years performance by himself, but he would think: Why not?

Cage did object when performers took liberties with his work which he thought "not in the spirit" of the composition.  For example he did complain about the New York Philharmonic's treatment of the Concerto for Prepared Piano, in which members of the orchestra made silly sounds and quoted from symphonic literature in cartoonish fashion.  He also objected at other times when a performer took liberties.

So I think it is safe to say the 600+ year performance of the organ work would fall into Cage's idea of a flawed performance.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: chadfeldheimer on December 11, 2016, 04:31:37 AM
Cage did object when performers took liberties with his work which he thought "not in the spirit" of the composition.  For example he did complain about the New York Philharmonic's treatment of the Concerto for Prepared Piano, in which members of the orchestra made silly sounds and quoted from symphonic literature in cartoonish fashion.  He also objected at other times when a performer took liberties.

So I think it is safe to say the 600+ year performance of the organ work would fall into Cage's idea of a flawed performance.
Ok - but in your mentioned performance the musicians clearly exceeded the frame given by Cage's instructions, and they did it in a jokey way. The performance in Halberstadt at least is true to the score, isn't it.
It would be interesting to know if Cage disciples/intimates were involved in the planning of Halberstadt performance, or how they think about it.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: San Antone on December 11, 2016, 04:40:30 AM
Ok - but in your mentioned performance the musicians clearly exceeded the frame given by Cage's instructions, and they did it in a jokey way. The performance in Halberstadt at least is true to the score, isn't it.

I think the answer to that question would be "no" seeing that Cage envisioned the work to be performed by a human being and not a bag of sand.

Quote
It would be interesting to know if Cage disciples/intimates were involved in the planning of Halberstadt performance, or how they think about it.

As far as I know the people responsible had their own motives for generating buzz about themselves, the city, the organ, and raising money.  They had nothing to do with John Cage.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92
Post by: Mandryka on December 11, 2016, 04:46:13 AM
Regarding Feldman’s ideas about long pieces, I know I’ve read comments from him about them, but I can’t find the interview on the web or where I read them.  It could be in Give My Regards to Eighth Street.  However, this section from Alex Ross’s long article on Feldman (http://www.therestisnoise.com/2006/06/morton_feldman_.html) echos what I was getting at.

Extreme length allowed Feldman to approach his ultimate goal of making music into an experience of life-changing force, a transcendent art form that wipes everything else away. To sit through performances of the two biggest works—I heard Petr Kotik’s S.E.M. Ensemble play the five-hour-long “For Philip Guston” in 1995, with phenomenal purity of tone, and the Flux Quartet play the six-hour-long “String Quartet (II)” in 1999, with tireless focus—is to enter into a new way of listening, even a new consciousness. There are passages in each where Feldman seems to be testing the listener’s patience, seeing how long we can endure a repeated note or a dissonant minor second. Then, out of nowhere, some very pure, almost childlike idea materializes. Most of the closing section of “For Philip Guston” is in modal A minor, and it is music of surpassing gentleness and tenderness. But it inhabits a far-off, secret place that few travellers will stumble upon.

It was incorrect for me to write that Cage spoke out publicly about the Halberstadt organ work, since it was not begun until nearly ten years after his death.  However, I suppose I was remembering what I read about Cage’s opposition to this kind of thing based on this excerpt from John Cage (Critical Lives) by Rob Haskins.

Deutsche Welle erroneously reported that Cage himself planned the extraordinary duration of the work; in an interview with the news agency, one of the organizers proudly said, ‘It doesn’t mean anything; it’s just there.’ (While Cage did not indicate what the outside limit for length would be, he did indicate that the work should be performed by an individual in one sitting.  Which is certainly not possible with the Halberstadt project.)

Sadly, however, the Halberstadt project means quite a bit, and the cultural work it performs has the most alarming consequences with respect to Cage’s own practice.  For one thing, he almost always viewed his music as intended for performance in real time by human beings.  When in 1981 Paul Zukofsky told him that the latest of his Freeman Etudes was unplayable, Cage abandoned work on them until the English violinist Irvine Arditti played the existing etudes with such virtuosity that he was inspired to finish the series. 

And while it is possible to imagine that a group of performers could be assembled to perform Organ for 639 years, it is more difficult to imagine Cage sanctioning anyone to spend that much time on a work from his past: he was always thinking of the present and the future, and it seemed clear that he thought excessive attention devoted to the past solved no real social problems. Furthermore he aspired for his music to have a genuine use in society, and while the attention of the Halberstadt project has reinvigorated the town, long ravaged by economic woes and and extremist factionalism, he distanced himself from endorsing any particular, overly specific project, even if it served a noble or morally upright cause. He wanted the social problems of our time to be solved globally and through invention of new things; on balance the Halberstadt project perverts Cage’s notion of process into the worst kind of object: an effete monument that no human beings could fully experience within their own lifetimes.


It's the bit I put in bold that I want to see the justification for, it reminds me of stuff I've recently dug up about Xenakis's intentions with the polytopes. The whole area of modernism and these quasi-spiritual ideas about transforming the audience, pushing them towards enlightenment, is interesting. Until recently I'd always connected modernism with the materialist left, but I now think I was completely wrong about that, even for Xenakis and Nono. Unfortunately.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: San Antone on December 11, 2016, 04:56:01 AM
Here's a nice quote from the 4'33" book which captures my own understanding of the work (esp. the bolded bit) and what I have been trying to express to the critics of the piece:

John Cage’s 4’33” is one of the most misunderstood pieces of music ever written and yet, at times, one of the avant-garde’s best understood as well. Many presume that the piece’s purpose was deliberate provocation, an attempt to insult, or get a reaction from, the audience. For others, though, it was a logical turning point to which other musical developments had inevitably led, and from which new ones would spring. For many, it was a kind of artistic prayer, a bit of Zen performance theater that opened the ears and allowed one to hear the world anew. To Cage it seemed, at least from what he wrote about it, to have been an act of framing, of enclosing environmental and unintended sounds in a moment of attention in order to open the mind to the fact that all sounds are music. It begged for a new approach to listening, perhaps even a new understanding of music itself, a blurring of the conventional boundaries between art and life. But to beg is not always to receive.

It's the bit I put in bold that I want to see the justification for, it reminds me of stuff I've recently dug up about Xenakis's intentions with the polytopes. The whole area of modernism and these quasi-spiritual ideas about transforming the audience, pushing them towards enlightenment, is interesting. Until recently I'd always connected modernism with the materialist left, but I now think I was completely wrong about that, even for Xenakis and Nono. Unfortunately.

I'll keep looking, but I feel confident I have read Feldman talk about breaking through boundaries, duration being one, in order to cause changes in how the audience experiences both the music and passage of time.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: chadfeldheimer on December 11, 2016, 04:58:42 AM
I think the answer to that question would be "no" seeing that Cage envisioned the work to be performed by a human being and not a bag of sand.
Ok - under the assumption that Cage under all circumstances wanted people to attend the performance from start to finish, this would be true. I'm not sure about this however. Three weeks ago Feldman's 2nd string quartet was performed in Hamburg, clocking above 5 hours. I was not there, but I would be surprised if all people in the audience sat there without break for the complete duration. Personaly I would have attended for maybe 3 hours or so. Would Feldman have seen it as an insult if I left earlier?
Quote
As far as I know the people responsible had their own motives for generating buzz about themselves, the city, the organ, and raising money.  They had nothing to do with John Cage.
People always have their own motives. In the best case there is a win - win situation and the interests of all people involved get balanced
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: San Antone on December 11, 2016, 05:07:07 AM
Ok - under the assumption that Cage under all circumstances wanted people to attend the performance from start to finish, this would be true. I'm not sure about this however. Three weeks ago Feldman's 2nd string quartet was performed in Hamburg, clocking above 5 hours. I was not there, but I would be surprised if all people in the audience sat there without break for the complete duration. Personaly I would have attended for maybe 3 hours or so. Would Feldman have seen it as an insult if I left earlier?

First, one should not conflate Cage with Feldman and their respective motivations concerning the composition of their music.  Second, I doubt Feldman would care if you stayed or left.  But the people who stayed would have had the experience Feldman intended.  Feldman definitely had a purpose with writing long works.

Quote
People always have their own motives. In the best case there is a win - win situation and the interests of all people involved get balanced

In this instance I don't consider this an example of "the best case"; I think Cage and his work are being exploited.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: San Antone on December 11, 2016, 05:09:48 AM
Here's Cage talking about 4'33" and its significance for him: “I think perhaps my own best piece, at least the one I like the most, is the silent piece. It has three movements, and in all of the movements there are no sounds. I wanted my work to be free of my own likes and dislikes, because I think music should be free of the feelings and ideas of the composer. I have felt and hoped to have led other people to feel that the sounds of their environment constitute a music which is more interesting than the music which they would hear if they went into a concert hall.”
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92
Post by: chadfeldheimer on December 11, 2016, 05:13:38 AM
It's the bit I put in bold that I want to see the justification for, it reminds me of stuff I've recently dug up about Xenakis's intentions with the polytopes. The whole area of modernism and these quasi-spiritual ideas about transforming the audience, pushing them towards enlightenment, is interesting. Until recently I'd always connected modernism with the materialist left, but I now think I was completely wrong about that, even for Xenakis and Nono. Unfortunately.
Regarding pushing the audience to enlightment: Buddhism was a major influence on musical modernism after WW2.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92
Post by: Mandryka on December 11, 2016, 05:25:07 AM
Regarding pushing the audience to enlightment: Buddhism was a major influence on musical modernism after WW2.

Really, that's interesting. I suppose in some general sense Asian ideas were part of the hippy thing - Maharishi Mahesh Yogi's TM, but apart from Cage and Harvey, I didn't know that any composers took Buddhism seriously. Who were you thinking of.

Re your comments about Feldman's 2nd quartet, I remember talking to someone who was part of the scene in New York which included  La Monte Young, he said that leaving early from performances of the well tuned piano was so frowned on that no one did it, anyone who went was so hard core they stayed for the duration.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: chadfeldheimer on December 11, 2016, 05:26:50 AM
First, one should not conflate Cage with Feldman and their respective motivations concerning the composition of their music.  Second, I doubt Feldman would care if you stayed or left.  But the people who stayed would have had the experience Feldman intended.  Feldman definitely had a purpose with writing long works.
Ok. Would be interesting if both Cage and Feldman expressed their opinion about that.
Quote
In this instance I don't consider this an example of "the best case"; I think Cage and his work are being exploited.
I'm no fan of the Halberstadt project either, it really is a bit too sensational, longing for superlatives for my taste. But I don't see it so critical. At least people try to promote culture, even if not in the best way imaginable.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92
Post by: chadfeldheimer on December 11, 2016, 05:34:36 AM
Really, that's interesting. I suppose in some general sense Asian ideas were part of the hippy thing - Maharishi Mahesh Yogi's TM, but apart from Cage, I didn't know that any composers took Buddhism seriously. Who were you thinking of.
Besides the already mentioned Nono and Xenakis I'm thinking of Grisey, Stockhausen (60s onwards), Grisey, Dumitrescu, Feldman, most of the minimalists, Harrison, Partch. I thing the hippy movements also had a large influence on "serious" classical composers of the time.
Quote
Re your comments about Feldman's 2nd quartet, I remember talking to someone who was part of the scene in New York which included  La Monte Young, he said that leaving early from performances of the well tuned piano was so frowned on that no one did it, anyone who went was so hard core they stayed for the duration.
Ok - I don't know how long a performance of the well tuned piano is, but I for my part am too impatient to be able to concentrate on music for more than say 4 hours.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: Keep Going on December 11, 2016, 05:39:38 AM
Re your comments about Feldman's 2nd quartet, I remember talking to someone who was part of the scene in New York which included  La Monte Young, he said that leaving early from performances of the well tuned piano was so frowned on that no one did it, anyone who went was so hard core they stayed for the duration.

Somewhat related to this, audience members are allowed to enter and leave whenever they want throughout Glass' Einstein on the Beach, which lasts circa 5 hours w/o any intermissions.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: Mandryka on December 11, 2016, 05:40:48 AM
  Feldman definitely had a purpose with writing long works.



I think looking at this issue will go right to the heart of something really essential to modernism. It's not just Feldman who wrote inhumanly long pieces, they were all at it: Riley, Lamonte Young, Dufourt, Finnissy, Cardew,
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92
Post by: Mandryka on December 11, 2016, 05:44:31 AM
Besides the already mentioned Nono and Xenakis I'm thinking of Grisey, Stockhausen (60s onwards), Grisey, Dumitrescu, Feldman, most of the minimalists, Harrison, Partch. I thing the hippy movements also had a large influence on "serious" classical composers of the time. Ok - I don't know how long a performance of the well tuned piano is, but I for my part am too impatient to be able to concentrate on music for more than say 4 hours.

Oh yes, I can imagine those composers were interested in Buddhism, though I've never checked it out, there was a general interest in meditation of course which may have caught them, transcendental meditation. But that's not really Buddhism.

The bit I put in bold is, I imagine, true for most if not nearly all of us, especially for music without joins. That's why I call this type of long durational music "inhuman"
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: Mandryka on December 11, 2016, 05:45:50 AM
Somewhat related to this, audience members are allowed to enter and leave whenever they want throughout Glass' Einstein on the Beach, which lasts circa 5 hours w/o any intermissions.

That sounds as inappropriate as hanging Rothko's Seagram Murals in a posh restaurant in New York.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: San Antone on December 11, 2016, 05:54:15 AM
I think looking at this issue will go right to the heart of something really essential to modernism. It's not just Feldman who wrote inhumanly long pieces, they were all at it: Riley, Lamonte Young, Dufourt, Finnissy, Cardew,

I don't think Feldman or Cage wrote "inhumanly long pieces" (which is my problem with the 639 year performance).  I can't speak about the other composers you name, but for both Cage and Feldman their music was written to be performed by humans and for humans to listen to it.  Breaking of boundaries concerning duration was definitely a concern for Feldman (not sure about Cage) but it was an idea that by doing so, i.e. inviting an audience to listen for several hours or more, there would be a qualitative change in their perception of the music*, the space and their sense of time.  ("Breaking of boundaries" was an quality Feldman considered a hallmark of experimental art.)

* Proof for this can be found in the first person accounts from audience members about their reaction to experiencing these long works.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92
Post by: chadfeldheimer on December 11, 2016, 05:54:46 AM
Oh yes, I can imagine those composers were interested in Buddhism, though I've never checked it out, there was a general interest in meditation of course which may have caught them, transcendental meditation. But that's not really Buddhism.
But the transcendental meditation is a buddhist practice. It is true that not all mentioned composer convertet to buddhismin and in some cases the influence of Buddhism is rather indirect. But I would say without the existence of buddhism the music of those composer and the development of 20th century classical music in general would be different.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92
Post by: Mandryka on December 11, 2016, 05:58:31 AM
But the transcendental meditation is a buddhist practice.

Do you (or does anyone else) know this for sure? The only Buddhist practices I've come across involve

1. Mindfulness
2. Cultivation of certain emotional states
3. Identification with a Bodhisattva.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: Mandryka on December 11, 2016, 06:06:20 AM
I don't think Feldman or Cage wrote "inhumanly long pieces" (which is my problem with the 639 year performance).  I can't speak about the other composers you name, but for both Cage and Feldman their music was written to be performed by humans and for humans to listen to it.  Breaking of boundaries concerning duration was definitely a concern for Feldman (not sure about Cage) but it was an idea that by doing so, i.e. inviting an audience to listen for several hours or more, there would be a qualitative change in their perception of the music*, the space and their sense of time.  ("Breaking of boundaries" was an quality Feldman considered a hallmark of experimental art.)

* Proof for this can be found in the first person accounts from audience members about their reaction to experiencing these long works.

These first person accounts, I'd be interested to read them.

Is Feldman saying this?

Quote from: Morton Feldman in the head of Mandryka
I am a guru with magic powers. I have made some music which, if you stay for the duration, will transform your into something better, truer, than you were before..You will be enlightened. Tickets $50 each.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: San Antone on December 11, 2016, 06:07:35 AM
These first person accounts, I'd be interested to read them.

You can find one by scrolling up and reading Alex Ross's description.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92
Post by: chadfeldheimer on December 11, 2016, 06:11:24 AM
Do you (or does anyone else) know this for sure? The only Buddhist practices I've come across involve

1. Mindfulness
2. Cultivation of certain emotional states
3. Identification with a Bodhisattva.
I'm no expert. At least it is practiced in local buddhist centers and it surely has it's origins in buddhist meditations.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92
Post by: chadfeldheimer on December 11, 2016, 06:19:44 AM
The bit I put in bold is, I imagine, true for most if not nearly all of us, especially for music without joins. That's why I call this type of long durational music "inhuman"
After 10000 hours of practicising transcendental meditation maybe I'm up to the task. ;)
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: milk on December 11, 2016, 07:00:51 AM
Cage was opposed to the Europeans who set up his work ASLSP (As Slow as Possible) in which the work will take 639 years to complete.  He wrote the work for piano and wanted the work to be structured around the natural decay of the tones.  When he found out about the organ version in which they fitted weights to the organ so that each tone could last indefinitely he expressed his opposition.  The work is still going on.  But Cage was a humanist and wanted his music to express the human spirit, not abstract ideas about time.

He also put together a performance of the Satie work Vexations, a work Satie wrote without bar lines which consists of a short theme in the bass whose four presentations are heard alternately unaccompanied and played with chords above.  Satie instructed that the theme be played 840 times.  Cage got pianist volunteers to play for periods of time and they performed all 840.  I am not sure how long it took, but probably over 24 hours.

Feldman used long works to stretch the consciousness of the audience.  After we listen for 4 or 6 hours our sense of perception goes through changes.  People who stayed to listen to long periods of the Vexations performance also described a shift in how they perceived the work and even the space around them.

Feldman was quoted as saying that Cage gave him and other young composers "permission" to follow their muse.  But Cage always thought of himself as a composer (later also a visual artist) but resisted the idea of himself as a philosopher.   While he admired Duchamp and took inspiration from him, Cage was not out to "make a point" necessarily, but to write musical compositions that might make people think, yes, but primarily the music was to be enjoyed for what it was.

Feldman was a student of Cage and for about five years they were very much involved.  But Feldman did not use Cage's techniques.  There is a famous story of one of their first meetings and Feldman played Cage one of his compositions.  Cage asked him "how did you write that" and Feldman responded "I don't know", which delighted Cage.  Feldman was a very intuitive composer.  He wrote music according to what he felt and internally heard.  Many of his works revolve around a few pitches or chords but the small variations and when a change is added it was all dictated by his internal muse.

Which is very different from Cage's wish to remove himself from the composing and turn it over to chance operations.

Cage's late number pieces are some of his best music, IMO.  Do listen to them.
Wonderful writing here. You provide a lot of thoughts to ponder. I have to find a way into some later work. I have a recording of the etudes. It's not easy so far.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92
Post by: milk on December 11, 2016, 07:20:12 AM
Do you (or does anyone else) know this for sure? The only Buddhist practices I've come across involve

1. Mindfulness
2. Cultivation of certain emotional states
3. Identification with a Bodhisattva.
Yes. Transcendental meditation is hinduism. Mindfulness seems more to the point. Living in Japan at the moment, I'm always amazed at how scantily regarded Zen is here. People know very little about it. Of course, young Japanese people generally have no idea what it is, let alone the influence on every post-war American art form. I did a Zen retreat in Japan a few years back: it was for non-Japanese funnily enough! By the way, I visited Thich Nhat Hanh's monastery last summer in Hue, Vietnam. There it's taken more seriously. Popular (pure land) Japanese Buddhism is much more cult-like and "weird" these days, it seems to me. All these ideas coming through Cage, Ginsberg, Snyder, Kerouac, maybe painters like Barnett Newman, are called Eastern, but seem very mediated through Western tastes (this is off the point, but Leonard Cohen said living in a Buddhist monastery was living totally exposed. He had a Japanese teacher. A famous one - later tarnished by many allegations of sexual impropriety. It seems to me that the last thing Japanese society encourages is exposure to the mindful moment). But I would contrast this to La Monte Young and his ilk. Indian gurus and their philosophy are more overt and headstrong I think. Well, Indian music is that way too. 
 
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: Mandryka on December 11, 2016, 07:22:17 AM
You can find one by scrolling up and reading Alex Ross's description.

Cheers

I don't think Feldman or Cage wrote "inhumanly long pieces"

It is certainly possible for someone to be at a performance of a long duration piece of music from start to end. What sort of listening is humanly possible? Can someone really be expected to remember ideas which were presented maybe many hours before and see how they have been developed? That's to say, can you listen intellectually? I'm sceptical that you can.

There's a form of listening which has started to interest me which is entirely tied to the present, you listen and enjoy what's happening in the now of the music without trying to recall its relation to the past or project its future. I know someone who thinks that this is the best way to listen to serial music where there is little or no memorable melody and the compositional techniques are really not perceivable easily with the ear. Maybe this is how we're supposed to experience long duration music - a narrative free amorphous and directionless juxtaposition of harmonies and rhythms.


And that makes the question of the point of this music even more urgent.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92
Post by: Mandryka on December 11, 2016, 07:23:52 AM
Yes. Transcendental meditation is hinduism.
 

That's what I had always thought.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: San Antone on December 11, 2016, 07:30:46 AM
It is certainly possible for someone to be at a performance of a long duration piece of music from start to end. What sort of listening is humanly possible? Can someone really be expected to remember ideas which were presented maybe many hours before and see how they have been developed? That's to say, can you listen intellectually? I'm sceptical that you can.

There's a form of listening which has started to interest me which is entirely tied to the present, you listen and enjoy what's happening in the now of the music without trying to recall its relation to the past or project its future. I know someone who thinks that this is the best way to listen to serial music where there is little or no memorable melody and the compositional techniques are really not perceivable easily with the ear. Maybe this is how we're supposed to experience long duration music - a narrative free amorphous and directionless juxtaposition of harmonies and rhythms.


And that makes the question of the point of this music even more urgent.

I think you've answered your own question.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: Mandryka on December 11, 2016, 07:58:40 AM
It all makes me think of a Sutra by the Buddha called "A Better Way to Live Alone"

Quote from: The Buddha in Discourse on a Better Way To Live Alone (trans. Thich Nhat Hanh)

Do not pursue the past.
Do not lose yourself in the future.
The past no longer is.
The future has not yet come.
Looking deeply at life as it is in the very here and now, the practitioner dwells in stability and freedom.
We must be diligent today.
To wait till tomorrow is too late.
Death comes unexpectedly.
How can we bargain with it?
The sage calls a person who dwells in mindfulness night and day, ‘the one who knows the better way to live alone.

Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: San Antone on December 11, 2016, 08:05:28 AM
Related to the discussion about audience reactions to long works, here is Christian Wolff talking about his experience of the performance of Satie's Vexation:

As the first cycle of pianists went round the playing was quite diverse, a variety – quite extreme, from the most sober and cautious to the willful and effusive – of personalities was revealed. Musically the effect seemed disturbing. But after another round the more expansive players began to subside, the more restrained to relax, and by the third round or so the personalities and playing techniques of the pianists had been almost completely subsumed by the music. The music simply took over. At first a kind of passive object, it became the guiding force. . . . As the night wore on we got weary, or rather just sleepy, and the beautiful state of suspension of self now became risky. Alertness had to be redoubled not to miss repetitions or notes. An element of comedy – now that solidarity and easiness were evidently there – joined us.

It should be clear that both the performers and audience were effected by the long period of time involved in performing this work and how their perceptions and performances changed throughout the night and the length of time it took to complete the 840 repetitions.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: torut on December 11, 2016, 09:34:43 AM
In the wake of the discussion about 4'33" that occurred on a different thread, I recommend this book:  No Such Thing as Silence: John Cage's 4'33" by Kyle Gann.

I am just beginning it, but Gann is somewhat of a Cage scholar and has performed the work and is a good writer about music.

That is a very good book, covering many aspects of the work, without overstating or being hyperbole. The book discusses several influences, mainly on 4'33", but also on Cage's other works.

I don't think Cage was interested in extremely long duration itself. He regarded time length is the most fundamental factor of music, but I don't know if he had any interest in alternating audience's mind by playing very long.

"In the field of structure, the field of definition of parts and their relation to a whole, there has been only one new idea since Beethoven. And that new idea can be perceived in the work of Anton Webern and Erick Satie. With Beethoven the parts of a composition were defined by means of harmony. With Satie and Webern they were defined by means of time lengths. [...] of the four characteristics of the material of music, duration, that is time length, is the most fundamental. Silence cannot be heard in terms of pitch or harmony: it is heard in terms of time length." (Cage, "Defense of Satie")

To me, Cage's music sounds very sober, opposite of hypnotic or meditative music. He studied Zen but didn't practice meditation.

As for Feldman, it seems rather that Feldman influenced Cage more than Cage influenced him. Gann says that the idea of giving up the control of pitches by the composer in Feldman's Projections and Intersections might have been inspiration for 4'33". And, around the time of Feldman's death (1987), Cage started composing number pieces, which are mostly slow and less dynamic, similar to Feldman's pieces. But the length is not so long, usually 20~40 min.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: Mandryka on December 11, 2016, 09:41:42 AM
. He studied Zen but didn't practice meditation.


How extraordinary. Why didn't he meditate?
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: torut on December 11, 2016, 10:24:00 AM
How extraordinary. Why didn't he meditate?

It was surprising to me when I learned it.

"I then decided not to give up the writing of music and discipline my ego by sitting cross-legged but to find a means of writing music as strict with respect to my ego as sitting cross-legged...."

https://books.google.com/books?id=8yy8iC-VCQIC&pg=PA138&lpg=PA138#v=onepage&q&f=false
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: San Antone on December 11, 2016, 10:40:48 AM
That is a very good book, covering many aspects of the work, without overstating or being hyperbole. The book discusses several influences, mainly on 4'33", but also on Cage's other works.

I don't think Cage was interested in extremely long duration itself. He regarded time length is the most fundamental factor of music, but I don't know if he had any interest in alternating audience's mind by playing very long.

I would agree, with the caveat that Cage did write some long works and was not against using long duration as a compositional element.

Quote
To me, Cage's music sounds very sober, opposite of hypnotic or meditative music. He studied Zen but didn't practice meditation.

Cage’s writings from around the mid-century reflect Zen in various ways and to varying degrees. He retained those elements of Indian philosophy that still resonated with his aesthetic – for instance, although Zen could not acknowledge any notions of duality, Cage continued to hold the view (gained from Gita Sarabhai) that art should sober and quiet the mind, thus rendering it susceptible to divine influences.

He may not have meditated but wanted his music to accomplish a similar goal.

Quote
As for Feldman, it seems rather that Feldman influenced Cage more than Cage influenced him. Gann says that the idea of giving up the control of pitches by the composer in Feldman's Projections and Intersections might have been inspiration for 4'33". And, around the time of Feldman's death (1987), Cage started composing number pieces, which are mostly slow and less dynamic, similar to Feldman's pieces. But the length is not so long, usually 20~40 min.

Cage worked on 4'33" for four and a half years (how appropriate!) - and I am sure there were a variety of things that contributed to the work.  However, as far as I know, he has not mentioned this work of Feldman's.  I have seen where he credited the Rauschenberg white paintings.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: San Antone on December 11, 2016, 10:46:36 AM
Cage's involvement with Zen is much deeper than simply whether he meditated or not.  For example, Zen enlightenment does not come from ignoring everyday phenomena, i.e. by not thinking, feeling, eating or by sitting and meditating – but rather by engaging in everyday activities without any feelings of attachment or revulsion.

Thus Cage would rely on chance operations to dictate the music, and accept the results without editing the music if he thought he might improve the outcome. 

His attitude to meditation is captured in this quote from Haskins's book:

Quote
Thus enlightenment comes suddenly and completely; it has the sensation of an afterthought: good works do not hasten its arrival and neither does meditation or assiduous study of venerated texts. These activities have their place, but they are no more means to an end than breathing or brushing your teeth; they are simply what you do. In that important sense, then, there is nothing magical about enlightenment, and that in turn demonstrates how Zen runs counter to the quasi-mystical, fantastic sense of art that Cage appropriated, for instance, from the writings of the medieval Christian mystic Meister Eckhart. From this point onward, Cage’s aesthetic would be permeated by a delight in the everyday, the non-fetishizing of objects and the celebration of activity as the most important creative act of all.

This is one of the reasons why he considered everyday natural sounds as important as traditionally composed music.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: torut on December 11, 2016, 02:32:30 PM
I would agree, with the caveat that Cage did write some long works and was not against using long duration as a compositional element.

I don't know of extraordinarily long works by Cage like Feldman's SQ No.2. The etudes are long, but they are collections of short etude.

Quote
Cage’s writings from around the mid-century reflect Zen in various ways and to varying degrees. He retained those elements of Indian philosophy that still resonated with his aesthetic – for instance, although Zen could not acknowledge any notions of duality, Cage continued to hold the view (gained from Gita Sarabhai) that art should sober and quiet the mind, thus rendering it susceptible to divine influences.

He may not have meditated but wanted his music to accomplish a similar goal.

Sobering and quieting the mind - that's what I feel when I hear Cage's music and what I love about his works.

Quote
Cage worked on 4'33" for four and a half years (how appropriate!) - and I am sure there were a variety of things that contributed to the work.  However, as far as I know, he has not mentioned this work of Feldman's.  I have seen where he credited the Rauschenberg white paintings.

My post was incorrect. Gann wrote "Feldman can't be credited with having had much impact on this particular piece," but "one could imagine that this acceptance of sounds [Feldman's graph score that does not specify the pitches] played some role in the move toward 4'33"."
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: San Antone on December 11, 2016, 04:38:53 PM
I don't know of extraordinarily long works by Cage like Feldman's SQ No.2. The etudes are long, but they are collections of short etude.

The best example would be Organ²/ASLSP (As Slow as Possible) (and not the Halberstadt version, which I think is bunk).

On February 5, 2009, Diane Luchese performed "Organ²/ASLSP" from 8:45 a.m. to 11:41 p.m. in the Harold J. Kaplan Concert Hall at Towson University. This 14-hour-and-56-minute performance, in strict adherence to the score's temporal proportions, is the longest documented performance of the piece by a single person so far, although a full 24-hour performance of the original piece, ASLSP, was given by Joe Drew during the ARTSaha! festival in 2008. Drew has also given 9- and 12-hour performances of the piece, and is planning a 48-hour performance.

On September 5, 2012, as part of John Cage Day at the University of Adelaide, Australia, Stephen Whittington performed an 8-hour version of ASLSP on the Elder Hall organ. The eight sections of the work were each allocated an hour, with each section divided into segments of one minute, within which the precise timing of events was left open. In performance, seven sections were played, with one omitted and one repeated. Organ registrations were determined by chance procedures.

A 12-hour performance took place on September 4–5, 2015, in an all-night concert at Christ Church Cathedral in Montréal, Québec. The work was performed by the Cathedral organists, Patrick Wedd, Adrian Foster, and Alex Ross, while other Cage compositions were performed simultaneously in the church. The performers used a stopwatch, and the timing of each note was precisely calculated and written into the score.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: Mandryka on December 11, 2016, 10:58:31 PM
The best example would be Organ²/ASLSP (As Slow as Possible) (and not the Halberstadt version, which I think is bunk).

On February 5, 2009, Diane Luchese performed "Organ²/ASLSP" from 8:45 a.m. to 11:41 p.m. in the Harold J. Kaplan Concert Hall at Towson University. This 14-hour-and-56-minute performance, in strict adherence to the score's temporal proportions, is the longest documented performance of the piece by a single person so far, although a full 24-hour performance of the original piece, ASLSP, was given by Joe Drew during the ARTSaha! festival in 2008. Drew has also given 9- and 12-hour performances of the piece, and is planning a 48-hour performance.

On September 5, 2012, as part of John Cage Day at the University of Adelaide, Australia, Stephen Whittington performed an 8-hour version of ASLSP on the Elder Hall organ. The eight sections of the work were each allocated an hour, with each section divided into segments of one minute, within which the precise timing of events was left open. In performance, seven sections were played, with one omitted and one repeated. Organ registrations were determined by chance procedures.

A 12-hour performance took place on September 4–5, 2015, in an all-night concert at Christ Church Cathedral in Montréal, Québec. The work was performed by the Cathedral organists, Patrick Wedd, Adrian Foster, and Alex Ross, while other Cage compositions were performed simultaneously in the church. The performers used a stopwatch, and the timing of each note was precisely calculated and written into the score.

Where does the inspiration to extend the elapsed time come from? Just a whim?
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: San Antone on December 12, 2016, 03:34:40 AM
Where does the inspiration to extend the elapsed time come from? Just a whim?

For the same reason that some performances of the Well Tempered Clavier are longer than others.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: Mandryka on December 12, 2016, 04:06:45 AM
For the same reason that some performances of the Well Tempered Clavier are longer than others.
And I suppose the title is suggestive of something.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: San Antone on December 12, 2016, 04:24:56 AM
And I suppose the title is suggestive of something.

I prefer the original for piano, for two reasons: I like the sound of the clusters on piano better and the decay of the notes provides a natural limit to the duration.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: San Antone on December 12, 2016, 06:14:20 AM
Something from the 4'33" book which I think is interesting:

"Cage, Tudor and Feldman were having a long conversation when Feldman left the room, returning shortly with a composition he had written on graph paper. The notes to be played were indicated by dots in boxes, and each system consisted of three rows on the graph paper, representing high, middle, and low registers, respectively. This was the first of two series of pieces called Projections and Intersections, which indicated only register and left the actual pitches up to the performer.

Cage was impressed by Feldman’s willingness to give up control over pitch and remarked soon afterward in his “Lecture on Something,” “Feldman speaks of no sounds, and takes within broad limits the first ones that come along…. [He] has changed the responsibility of the composer from making to accepting.” This license given the performer was an aspect that Feldman would eventually reject for his own use, but it helped nudge Cage toward the chance-based music he would spend the rest of his life writing, and one could imagine that this acceptance of sounds played some role in the move toward 4’33”."

Feldman rejected this idea but for Cage it became very important, arguably the most important focus of the rest of his career.

Example of Feldman's graphical score

(http://www.newmusicbox.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/FeldmanGraphicScore.jpg)
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: Mandryka on December 12, 2016, 07:49:35 AM
This sort of thing is not without precedent for duration and rhythm -- maybe not for pitch

(https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/c/cc/Couperin-unmeasured-prelude.jpg)
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: San Antone on December 12, 2016, 07:56:01 AM
This sort of thing is not without precedent for duration and rhythm -- maybe not for pitch

(https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/c/cc/Couperin-unmeasured-prelude.jpg)

Interesting.  Is that a work by Couperin?  Which one?  Was it unique or are there other works for which he provided an indeterminate score?
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: Mandryka on December 12, 2016, 08:01:29 AM
Interesting.  Is that a work by Couperin?  Which one?  Was it unique or are there other works for which he provided an indeterminate score?

That one's by Louis Couperin. I think that we have 16 of them by him. It was 17th century French thing, there are examples for lute and keyboard. Here's a very famous one where you can follow the score

https://www.youtube.com/v/lqvm0k2VUtU
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: ComposerOfAvantGarde on December 12, 2016, 04:44:35 PM
Also: Elisabeth-Claude Jacquet de la Guerre wrote some notable music with that kind of notation
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: San Antone on December 16, 2016, 02:51:17 AM
out on november 18th: JOHN CAGE – Complete Song Books (http://www.karlrecords.net/) (2LP, 180gr / DL)

(https://f4.bcbits.com/img/a2209835013_16.jpg)

When REINHOLD FRIEDL (director of the ensemble ZEITKRATZER) entered the CLUNK Studio to record the whole cycle with RASHAD BECKER (who handled the feedback cabinet and live electronics), the idea was quite simple: to approach each single piece in an informal way but to do all 92 pieces in the right order. What came out in the end is a kaleidoscopic lecture and interpretation of the compositions with the help of a strange mixture of ancient and modern tools: new electronics, old and special microphones, self-built instruments, arbitrary garbage sounds, sophisticated live-electronics devices, quotes … “Complete Song Books” turns out to be an early hymn for sonic freedom, a sonic promenade full of beautiful references.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: ComposerOfAvantGarde on December 16, 2016, 02:53:16 AM
^^^^^ this looks very cool! Vinyl only?
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: San Antone on December 16, 2016, 03:18:07 AM
^^^^^ this looks very cool! Vinyl only?

Looks like.  But I could swear I saw a complete Song Books on Spotify - maybe same recording.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: Mandryka on December 16, 2016, 03:33:30 AM
out on november 18th: JOHN CAGE – Complete Song Books (http://www.karlrecords.net/) (2LP, 180gr / DL)

(https://f4.bcbits.com/img/a2209835013_16.jpg)

When REINHOLD FRIEDL (director of the ensemble ZEITKRATZER) entered the CLUNK Studio to record the whole cycle with RASHAD BECKER (who handled the feedback cabinet and live electronics), the idea was quite simple: to approach each single piece in an informal way but to do all 92 pieces in the right order. What came out in the end is a kaleidoscopic lecture and interpretation of the compositions with the help of a strange mixture of ancient and modern tools: new electronics, old and special microphones, self-built instruments, arbitrary garbage sounds, sophisticated live-electronics devices, quotes … “Complete Song Books” turns out to be an early hymn for sonic freedom, a sonic promenade full of beautiful references.

Have you heard Stockhausen's Momente? I wonder which James thinks is better, the Songbook or Momente, and why.

It's interesting for me to reflect on how I appreciate the Cage Songbook and, for example, Winterreise. The problem I have is to get beyond being amused and impressed by the shock of the new, Yes, Cage has succeeded in "épater la bourgeoisie" - has he done more? I'm inclined to think yes he has, that these songs are a real masterpiece, that they go deep deep deep into the unconscious, the most profound internal layers of the mind. Cage's greatest work.

Like Marcel Duchamp.

But I may be talking crap again.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: San Antone on December 16, 2016, 03:44:16 AM
Have you heard Stockhausen's Momente?

It's interesting for me to reflect on how I appreciate the Cage Songbook and, for example, Winterreise. The problem I have is to get beyond being amused and impressed by the shock of the new, Yes, Cage has succeeded in "épater la bourgeoisie" - has he done more?

Like Marcel Duchamp.

Cage said this about the Song Books, " … to consider the Song Books as a work of art is nearly impossible. Who would dare? It resembles a brothel, doesn’t it?”

But do not be misled by Cage's often self deprecating comments.  Although he admired Duchamp and cited him as a major influence - Cage was producing work on an almost daily basis right up to the end of his life.  Very different from Duchamp who, stopped working fairly early in his career and became a personality and commentator.

While there is humor in much of Cage's work, it is a well trod path in Zen to use humor to wake up a disciple.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: Mandryka on December 16, 2016, 03:46:51 AM
Cage said this about the Song Books, " … to consider the Song Books as a work of art is nearly impossible. Who would dare? It resembles a brothel, doesn’t it?”

But do not be misled by Cage's often self deprecating comments.  Although he admired Duchamp and cited him as a major influence - Cage was producing work on an almost daily basis right up to the end of his life.  Very different from Duchamp who, stopped working fairly early in his career and became a personality and commentator.

While there is humor in much of Cage's work, it is a well trod path in Zen to use humor to wake up a disciple.

You didn't give me a chance to finish the post.

Duchamp because it is so totally disorienting, we have a fractured version  of the Large Glass in London, I haven't seen Etant Donnés - has anyone here seen it?
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: San Antone on December 16, 2016, 03:50:56 AM
You didn't give me a chance to finish the post.

 :D
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: torut on December 16, 2016, 08:18:09 AM
^^^^^ this looks very cool! Vinyl only?

Download is available from bandcamp.
https://karlrecords.bandcamp.com/album/complete-song-books
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: Mandryka on December 16, 2016, 08:25:01 AM
Download is available from bandcamp.
https://karlrecords.bandcamp.com/album/complete-song-books

There are two recordings of the songbooks, that one and with Lore Lixenberg and others - the latter a selection. You NEED both. Or Neither. But one will not do.

Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: edward on December 19, 2016, 09:31:26 AM
I don't know if anyone's posted this already, but the OgreOgress recordings of many of the Number Pieces are now available as lossless downloads from cdbaby at very cheap prices. Three of them are almost free, but there's lots around the $5-$7 mark, many with 2+ hours of music.

The really cheap ones:

Three2, Twenty-Three, Six, Twenty-Six: $1.75 (http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/johncage2)
Four4: $1.85 (http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/johncage3)
One4, Four, Twenty-Nine: $2.45 (http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/johncage5)
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: torut on December 19, 2016, 10:41:07 PM
There are two recordings of the songbooks, that one and with Lore Lixenberg and others - the latter a selection. You NEED both. Or Neither. But one will not do.

I listened to both. The Sub Rosa recording (with Lixenberg), which I prefer, has more variety of voice, and the usage of electronics and the accompaniment are less intense. No. 17 is the most beautiful.

According to Sub Rosa, it is also a complete recording (and the first one) of Song Books. The "mix" tracks "comprise layered 'Solos for Voices' in superimpositions that were created using chance operations." (discogs (https://www.discogs.com/John-Cage-Song-Books/release/3936358))

Amelia Cuni and Joan La Barbara are also very good, though they recorded just few selections.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: torut on December 19, 2016, 10:57:00 PM
I don't know if anyone's posted this already, but the OgreOgress recordings of many of the Number Pieces are now available as lossless downloads from cdbaby at very cheap prices. Three of them are almost free, but there's lots around the $5-$7 mark, many with 2+ hours of music.

The really cheap ones:

Three2, Twenty-Three, Six, Twenty-Six: $1.75 (http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/johncage2)
Four4: $1.85 (http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/johncage3)
One4, Four, Twenty-Nine: $2.45 (http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/johncage5)

It's really nice. I downloaded Three2 etc. and Three, Twenty-Eight, Fifty-Four, Fifty-Seven. I believe there are few (none?) other recordings of Twenties pieces. Fifty-Four is actually Twenty-Six performed with Twenty-Eight, and Fifty-Seven is Twenty-Eight with Twenty-Nine. These are rich works.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: Mandryka on December 20, 2016, 01:11:49 AM
I listened to both. The Sub Rosa recording (with Lixenberg), which I prefer, has more variety of voice, and the usage of electronics and the accompaniment are less intense. No. 17 is the most beautiful.

According to Sub Rosa, it is also a complete recording (and the first one) of Song Books. The "mix" tracks "comprise layered 'Solos for Voices' in superimpositions that were created using chance operations." (discogs (https://www.discogs.com/John-Cage-Song-Books/release/3936358))

Amelia Cuni and Joan La Barbara are also very good, though they recorded just few selections.

I agree with you completely, I had noticed that it was probably complete after I made that post.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: snyprrr on August 13, 2017, 06:06:43 PM
It's Monday now so, last week I had a little Cage revival and I happen to be listening to him quite frequently at the moment (being one of the only 20th century composers that I'm actively listening to right now.

BRB

I had just gotten out of my Cage rediscovery before you got here... I was surprised by the later works, sounding much like a random Feldman.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: Mandryka on August 13, 2017, 10:12:34 PM
Strangely enough I listened to some of the harmonies from the Apartment House, both in the version for violin by Arditti and the version for violin and keyboard by Roger Zahab and Eric Moe. The Arditti caught my imagination, their transcription makes the music sound like nothing else.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: San Antone on August 17, 2017, 09:03:22 AM
One can never listen to too much Cage.

 ;)
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: millionrainbows on August 17, 2017, 09:35:25 AM
Cage tried to remove as much of his personality as possible from his work, but, ironically, it is those works in which I can detect his personal touch that are some of my favorites.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: Turner on October 17, 2017, 02:21:14 AM
Rediscovered Cage composition?

https://twitter.com/LFCNev/status/918442426989236226
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: San Antone on October 17, 2017, 04:50:32 AM
Picked up a copy of "Silence" by John Cage from the library:


(https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/thumb/c/c0/SilenceBook.jpg/220px-SilenceBook.jpg)


 8)

Excellent book.
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: millionrainbows on October 17, 2017, 12:35:32 PM
I'm glad you reproduced that cover image; it has a lot of zen character. It reminds me of when Suzuki visited Cage's loft studio; there was a small table,some bamboo mats, and a piano. The rest was empty, no curtains or anything. Suzuki said, "An old shoe would look beautiful in this room."
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: Brewski on June 04, 2019, 05:06:37 PM
Reigniting this thread with an expert reading of Cage's Aria, by Claron McFadden:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y3tbdHbqUsQ&list=RDY3tbdHbqUsQ&start_radio=1

--Bruce
Title: Re: John Cage (1912-92)
Post by: Mandryka on June 18, 2019, 02:04:03 AM
Claudio Crismani's essay on the Etudes Australes

Quote
"ETUDES AUSTRALES": A PLANETARY JOURNEY

John Cage is without a doubt one of the most extraordinary figures in today's musical world. In Cage's works the Sonic Phenomena' are isolated, even separated, from any reference whatsoever to rhythm, harmony, melody and development: the sequence of these sounds is determined by the ancient Chinese 1-Ching and therefore appears, and I stress appears, to be random.

Cage introduced this Random Element' into contemporary western music in the early 1950's. What followed was a re-evaluation of the hitherto traditional figures of Composer and Performer. This proved to be a provocative and determined challenge for those who were still assessing the heritage of the Vienna School (Stockhausen and Boulez, for instance).

Cage became a reference point, a prophet and provocateur: but all prophets are above all natural provocateurs, are they not?

This was then linked to a new way of perceiving, and therefore writing music, which was innovative in its fundamental elements, such as time and melody.

In his book entitled 'A Year From Monday' John Cage says: "we have played Winter Music many times recently; I remember that when we played it for the very first time, the pauses were very long and the sounds seemed to be very much separated in space. They were of no hin-drance whatsoever to each other. In Stockholm, when we played at the Opera, I realised that Winter Music had become melodic. Christian Wolf had foreseen this a few years earlier when he told me that: "what we create today will inevitably become melodic."

The Etudes Australes are of fundamental importance in Cage's numerous