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The Music of John Cage A Report By Mone’ Jones. John’s early influences and experiences Later influences outside the music community A sampling of the.

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Presentation on theme: "The Music of John Cage A Report By Mone’ Jones. John’s early influences and experiences Later influences outside the music community A sampling of the."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Music of John Cage A Report By Mone’ Jones

2 John’s early influences and experiences Later influences outside the music community A sampling of the music of John Cage Controversy The influence of John Cage on music of today

3 Born September 5, 1912, Los Angeles California Son of an inventor Inherited his fathers’ pioneering spirit At 12 years old, had his own weekly radio show Performed musical pieces with his Boy Scout troop friends Graduated as high school class valedictorian Studied at Pamona College with composer Arthur Schoenberg

4 Dissatisfied/uncertain about his own musical skills Dissatisfied/uncertain about his own musical skills "I can't keep a tune. In fact I have no talent for music.“ "I can't keep a tune. In fact I have no talent for music.“ Innovative background and spirit Innovative background and spirit Discontented with customary music and education techniques Discontented with customary music and education techniques Wondered why others did not “hear” or pay attention to the sounds around them Wondered why others did not “hear” or pay attention to the sounds around them Began to experiment with different kinds of sounds Began to experiment with different kinds of sounds Sound became a fascination for him. All kinds of sound became music to his ears Sound became a fascination for him. All kinds of sound became music to his ears

5 Quoting John Cage: " I think it is true that sounds are, of their nature, harmonious, and I would extend that to noise. There is no noise, only sound. I haven't heard any sounds that I consider something I don't want to hear again, with the exception of sounds that frighten us or make us aware of pain. I don't like meaningful sound. If sound is meaningless, I'm all for it." 1

6 John Cage explored other types of art He became involved in painting, poetry, and dance Sought others with ideas similar to his own Became acquainted with Merce Cunningham Inspired Merce to start a dance company John participated as composer, accompanist and music director to the company. Collaborated with painter Robert Rauschenberg The trio worked to “create sound for performances and to investigate the ways music composed through chance procedures could become something beautiful.”

7 DateTitleForcesNotes 1932Greek Odevoice and piano 1939Imaginary Landscape No. 1 4 percussionists with electronics 1947The Seasonsorchestra 1948Sonata IIprepared piano 1948Dreampiano 1951Imaginary Landscape No. 412 radios 1952Water Musicpiano 19524' 33''tacet for any instrumentsSilence 1958Variations Iany instruments 1965Variations Vaudiovisual performance 1969Cheap Imitationpiano Orchestrated, 1972; arranged for violin, Sound Anonymously Receivedany instrument 1986Rocksvarious electronic devices 1992Thirteenchamber ensemble Over 60 years of composition creation Over 250 individual compositions or arrangements Table shows a brief sampling

8 Musical description of this piece: Starts on an eerie note, an electronically produced, high pitched pure tone. There is no rhythm: arrhythmic No structured form or pattern Melody cannot be followed Shrill tones cover a wide range of frequency Unexpected vibration of lower tones Creates a dynamic clash-disruption Feeling of dissonance High pitched squeals, Beeps, silence, symbol like crashes Sometimes loud, sometimes softer, sliding in, then fading away Unique, unpleasant mixture of timbre Different instrumental techniques are combined

9 Created in 1965, this work was written for John Cage’s longtime friend and dancer Merce Cunningham. The two partnered a dance company Inspiration for much of John Cage’s music comes from his discovery of the I Ching. “Variations” is a classic example The score was created by flipping coins to determine the structure, components, and methodology. The specific sound score would change at each performance as it was created by responses to the dancers' movements. 3 The project was presented at the Philharmonic Hall in New York, 1965.” 3

10 As one of his combined works with Merce Cunningham, “Variations V” became an interesting show wherein light beams were broadcast across the stage and the music was triggered by the movements of dancers as they encountered the light beams. 7 Click here to watch a You Tube video

11 Performed on a prepared piano with screws placed between the strings to give a unique sound to each string. Performed on a prepared piano with screws placed between the strings to give a unique sound to each string. “The so-called prepared piano, for which the Sonatas and Interludes are composed, provides the means by which a single instrument is able to evoke a wide variety of colors, timbres, and textures. The score, then, indicates not the sounds to be heard, but the action to be taken. Striking a particular key might produce a pitch, a hi-hat-like sizzle, or a wooden thump.” 2 Each performance or recording was unique due to the differences in piano’s, and objects used between the strings. This work was dedicated to Maro Ajemian, who premiered it in New York City at Carnegie Hall on January 11, 1949.” 2 “The so-called prepared piano, for which the Sonatas and Interludes are composed, provides the means by which a single instrument is able to evoke a wide variety of colors, timbres, and textures. The score, then, indicates not the sounds to be heard, but the action to be taken. Striking a particular key might produce a pitch, a hi-hat-like sizzle, or a wooden thump.” 2 Each performance or recording was unique due to the differences in piano’s, and objects used between the strings. This work was dedicated to Maro Ajemian, who premiered it in New York City at Carnegie Hall on January 11, 1949.” 2

12 Dynamics demonstrated Keys are struck with intensity - then fall back to softness Harmonized notes create dissonance High pitched arpeggios serve as a background for dissonant notes harmonies Resolve just before a trill takes place Dissonant chords create sound even more tension A run with repeated ascending and descending, light, high notes Feeling of fairy dust blowing back and forth in the breeze Notes disappear like the breeze has blown everything away Musical description of “Sonata II” : Begins as very high pitched notes are softly plucked The screws allow for little string resonating Short, crisp affect - 4/4 time Initial phase of the melody Light, pleasant arching theme Higher pitch arching is followed by a measure of lower pitch notes Adds contrast and keeps the beat moving provides balance

13 4’33’, his most famous and also his most controversial piece Composed In 1952, this symphony has three movements Written for any instrument or combination of instruments Directed as 4 minutes and 33 seconds of complete silence Inspiration for this composition came from a painting by Robert Rauschenberg that was just a blank canvas This blank canvas would be the theme for a symphony In reality the “music” comes from the sounds surrounding the listener and not from instruments. Someone wrote, “On the one hand, as a musical piece, 4'33" leaves almost no room for the pianist's interpretation: as long as he watches the stopwatch, he can't play it too fast or too slow; he can't hit the wrong keys; he can't play it too loud, or too melodramatically, or too subduedly. On the other hand, what you hear when you listen to 4'33" is more a matter of chance than with any other piece of music -- nothing of what you hear is anything the composer wrote.” 5

14 John Cages’s music - not without controversy Many people shunned him and his work Angrily walking out of concerts in protest Noel Straus wrote in the New York Times “Mr. Cage's music had an inescapable resemblance to the meaningless sounds made by children amusing themselves by banging on tin pans and other resonant kitchen utensils."1 Others called him a prankster, an anarchist Generally these were people attached to traditional music Ironically, diverse reactions to his work increased his popularity He became a requested lecturer and teacher.

15 Cage's influence was extremely far-reaching He started a revolution Proposed that composers should break with traditional music Opened the door to Minimalism Performance, art and other branches of the music Composers very different in style from each other Like Philip Glass, Morton Feldman, Earle Brown and Frederic Rzewski Cite John Cage as a major influence Richard Kostelanetz, a writer, commented: "Perhaps no one living artist has such a great influence over such a diverse lot of important people. Nowadays, even those critics who disagree with him respect his willingness to pursue his ideas to their 'mad' conclusions, and he was impoverished for too many years for anyone seriously to doubt his integrity." 1

16 As a teacher, he taught young and old, musician and non- musician, experienced and those on the road to experience. As a teacher, he taught young and old, musician and non- musician, experienced and those on the road to experience. Many later artists referred to John Cage as influential in their lives. “Philip Glass, Morton Feldman, Earle Brown and Frederic Rzewski have cited Mr. Cage as a beacon that helped light their own paths.”1 Many later artists referred to John Cage as influential in their lives. “Philip Glass, Morton Feldman, Earle Brown and Frederic Rzewski have cited Mr. Cage as a beacon that helped light their own paths.”1 Because of his far-reaching influence he was awarded many honors. Because of his far-reaching influence he was awarded many honors. John Cage passed away on August 12, 1992 at the age of 79. Through his accomplishments and his need to be different, he truly showed us that, the hills….the earth….is alive with the sound of music.3 John Cage passed away on August 12, 1992 at the age of 79. Through his accomplishments and his need to be different, he truly showed us that, the hills….the earth….is alive with the sound of music.3

17 1 stver2. Sonatas and Interludes. Spiritus-Temporis.com © temporis.com/sonatas-and-interludes/external-links.html. September 18, 2010http://www.spiritus- temporis.com/sonatas-and-interludes/external-links.html. September 18 2 Classical Archives LLC — The Ultimate Classical Music Destination © Composer John Cage. Sonatas and Interludes for Prepared Piano. September 17, Media Art Net. John Cage Imaginary Landscape No. 1. September 18, September 18 4 Art of the States© Imaginary Landscape September 18, John Cage's 4 ′ 33. September 17, September 17 6 John Cage, An Autobiographical Statement. 7 John Cage, «Variations V», 1965.© John Cage.Media Art Net.


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