John Cage (1912-1992) Pivotal American composer responsible for the radical re-thinking of music, musical materials, compo...
Sound and Time <ul><li>Cage’s analysis of the nature of music and sound leads him to elevate the significance of the time-...
The Prepared Piano A percussion ensemble in a box Cage’s utilitarian solution to the problem of creating suitable, origina...
Cage’s Aesthetics Alternatives to a discursive, music-as-communication, approach: “ Art is the imitation of nature in its ...
Cage’s Concept of Nothing Enunciated in two pivotal lectures delivered at the Artists Club, in New York, 1950-1951: the “ ...
4’33”, and Rauschenberg’s White Paintings
The New York School A disparate group of composers and musicians linked to Cage, who convened (unofficially) in New York, ...
Morton Feldman and Indeterminacy Like Cage, Feldman took from the work of   Varése   an increased appreciation for what he...
Feldman’s  Projection 4
Feldman, Rothko, and  Rothko’s Chapel
Earle Brown: December 1952
Chance: Cage Uncaged The aesthetic starting point that says “anything is possible in a piece of music” leads Cage toward e...
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UNIT V - Class 34

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UNIT V - Class 34

  1. 1. John Cage (1912-1992) Pivotal American composer responsible for the radical re-thinking of music, musical materials, composition, performance, listening, art, and life Composer, Philosopher, Inventor, Writer, Poet, Painter Studied with Cowell, and Schoenberg Strong interest in non-western cultures Impact of Varése
  2. 2. Sound and Time <ul><li>Cage’s analysis of the nature of music and sound leads him to elevate the significance of the time-element, prompting two important developments in his work: </li></ul><ul><li>Exploration of percussion instruments, and unconventional sound sources </li></ul><ul><li>Development of a compositional approach utilizing “time structures” as the primary unifying element </li></ul>
  3. 3. The Prepared Piano A percussion ensemble in a box Cage’s utilitarian solution to the problem of creating suitable, original compositions for dance, which would be performable in variable, small spaces Involves the careful insertion of various objects (screws, bolts, paper clips, bits of rubber, coins, wooden spoons, etc.) between and around the strings of the piano, in order to alter the sound of the instrument
  4. 4. Cage’s Aesthetics Alternatives to a discursive, music-as-communication, approach: “ Art is the imitation of nature in its manner of operation” -Ananda Coomaraswamy “ The purpose of music is to sober and quiet the mind, thus making it suseptible to divine influences” -Cage, after Gira Sarabhai, Indian singer and tabla player Buddhism – In embracing Buddhism, Cage embraces a worldview which provides him with a framework for a radical approach to music and art: The denial of pleasure/pain, likes/dislikes – emphasis on transcending personal experience with universal openness – clears the way for a non-judgmental attitude toward music and art: anything is possible
  5. 5. Cage’s Concept of Nothing Enunciated in two pivotal lectures delivered at the Artists Club, in New York, 1950-1951: the “ Lecture of Nothing ,” and the “ Lecture on Something ” According to James Pritchett: “ 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 concept of nothing involves an ethic of “ acceptance ” and reverberates with Cage’s idea of “ no-continuity ”: “ No-continuity simply means accepting that continuity that happens. Continuity means the opposite: making that particular continuity that excludes all others.” (“Lecture on Something”)
  6. 6. 4’33”, and Rauschenberg’s White Paintings
  7. 7. The New York School A disparate group of composers and musicians linked to Cage, who convened (unofficially) in New York, and produced a radical new body of music Morton Feldman (1926-1987) Christian Wolff (b. 1934) Earle Brown (1926-2002) David Tudor (1926-1996)
  8. 8. Morton Feldman and Indeterminacy Like Cage, Feldman took from the work of Varése an increased appreciation for what he called “the sounds themselves” – he cultivated an open, uninflected compositional process which was designed to allow the sounds to exist on their own terms, as sounds, rather than as symbols, shapes, messages, or tools in a larger structural/narrative endeavor Indeterminacy : a compositional approach wherein various aspects of the music are left undetermined, and only emerge as absolute musical qualities through the process of performance – the performance becomes a uniquely immediate listening experience
  9. 9. Feldman’s Projection 4
  10. 10. Feldman, Rothko, and Rothko’s Chapel
  11. 11. Earle Brown: December 1952
  12. 12. Chance: Cage Uncaged The aesthetic starting point that says “anything is possible in a piece of music” leads Cage toward ever greater openness Chance: Cage incorporates chance procedures into his compositional process – because he is no longer interested in creating coherent, communicative works of art, but simply in creating integrated, inherently meaningful aesthetic experiences, the “choice” of what to do is less important than the simple act of doing it. The role of the composer is not meaningless, but the compositional process is now about asking rather than telling Ultimately, Cage’s attitude of openness leads to his desire to eradicate the barriers between different art forms, and, ultimately, between art and life From this new creative orientation, everything has a tendency toward theater

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