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SoundStories: Spotlight on John Cage

by Soundstreams Staff

We hope you enjoy this edition of SoundStories, with a deep dive into the music of John Cage.

Composer Spotlight: John Cage

“History of Western music can be divided into B.C. (Before Cage) and A.C. (After Cage).” – Yoko Ono

Cage’s great revolution was removing the composer’s intention from music. This took many forms, but in ​Canadian composer R. Murray’s case, he augmented his own musical ideas with viewing the environment as being a giant musical instrument. Without Cage, there’s no World Soundscape, and without Cage’s pioneering graphic scores, there’s none of Schafer’s visually stunning calligraphy.

And now, a special (4-hour) video we found!

“John Cage and Morton Feldman recorded four open-ended conversations at the studios of radio station WBAI in New York. These meetings spanned six months between July 1966 and January 1967, and were produced as five “Radio Happenings”. Both were at transitional points in their music. Cage had completed Variations V in 1965 and Variations VI and VII in 1966, and would publish “A Year from Monday” in 1967. Most of Feldman’s important work was yet to come. These conversations between two old friends, relaxed, smoking, and throwing out ideas, are full of laughter and long ponderous silences. They form an incredible historical record of their concerns and preoccupations with making music, art, society, and politics of the moment.”

Dive Deeper: Recommended Reading and Listening

  • READ – 33 Musicians what John Cage communications
  • WATCH – One11 & 103 – one of his last works, for solo cameraman and orchestra
  • APP OF THE MONTH – The John Cage Trust has a developed an app where you can create your own 4’33”, one of Cage’s most famous works. The Soundstreams team will be trying it out!

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