John Cage, Indeterminacy.pdf

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Published on 13 Apr 2013
John Cage (1912 (L.A.) - 1992 (NY); aged 80)
Composer, music theorist, writer, philosopher and artist, often composing "graphical scores"
studied composition with Schoenberg but composed in a radically modern manner
pioneer of indeterminacy in music, electroacoustic music, and non-standard use of musical instruments
One of leading figures of the post-war avant-garde (forefront of experimentation)
Critics lauded him as most influential American composers of 20C; others criticized as charlatan
Listeners provoked to rethink the nature of music
e.g. Water Work (uh.. ..)
He was a shroomie, collected mushrooms and whatnot. sounds like a fun-gi!
Aleatoric Music
Chance music; from the Latin word!alea, meaning "dice"
Process usually involves a relatively limited number of possibilities
Technique pioneered ad Darmstadt International Summer Courses for New Music!in early 50s, but can
be traced back to 'Dada' artists
e.g. Marcel Duchamp, Erratum Musical (1915)
Indeterminacy (1959)
Cage confronts basic questions about nature of music
Highly aleatoric, relies on chance to create connections between text & music
uses combo of speaking voice, standard instruments, and recorded sounds (electronically amplified and
John Cage reads the text
90 brief stories each a minute long
David Tudor (his lover) creates the musical accompaniment
The two have no idea what the other is doing: random
Regarding the inspiration behind the text, Cage later recalled: most stories are things that happened to
Three musical sound sources
pre-recorded tapes of excerpts from one of his other works
Musical instruments: piano and whistle
amplified slinky: musique concrète
concrete music is a form of electroacoustic music that uses acoustic sound as a
compositional resource
e.g. Pierre Schaeffer "Etude Noire" where industrial sounds are mixed with distorted
familiar sounds
Other Compositions
Atlas exlipticalis - star charts used to determine pitches
Sonatas and Interludes - for prepared piano
Fontana Mix - for magnetic tape
4'33" - most famous, my favourite of all his music
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