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Thread: John Cage

  1. #1

    John Cage

    Hi everyone.

    I came across this clip and thought some of you would like it. Cage was an interesting guy. This is probably his most famous work (or infamous for some).

    http://<iframe class="restrain" titl...="0"></iframe>


  2. #2
    If it wasn't for John Cage and other experimental and modernist composers. I wouldn't be making music today.


  3. #3
    I've always used an expansion of my aural sense as a tool for helping me settle in in Shikantaza. I tend to focus so much on visual information normally, that, when I'm sitting and I relax my eyes, expand my mind through my hearing, and really try to penetrate the moment, I find I'm able to settle my mind much easier.

    In that sense, I think Cage's 4'33" is brilliant, of course. At the same time, I think it's funny, with all the pomp and circumstance around the performance (with the conductor, the movements, etc.). I also think either Cage was not looking for a zazen acceptance-of-all-that-occurs type of experience, or the crowd did not understand Cage's intent, because, at the end of the second movement, there was an incredible release of seemingly pent-up coughs, movement, sneezing, etc. Why not let them rip during the performance? I always thought that's what Cage would have preferred, but I'm no expert on Cage, for sure.

    Thanks for the link. I haven't thought about John Cage in years.

  4. #4
    Kevin, Maybe that's why I will miss the sound of leaf blowers when they leave Florida.

    It reminds me of a quote by Cage on the purpose of music. Thanks to the 'net here it is. From "An Autobiographical Statement":

    "It was also at the Cornish School that I became aware of Zen Buddhism, which later, as part of oriental philosophy, took the place for me of psychoanalysis. I was disturbed both in my private life and in my public life as a composer. I could not accept the academic idea that the purpose of music was communication, because I noticed that when I conscientiously wrote something sad, people and critics were often apt to laugh. I determined to give up composition unless I could find a better reason for doing it than communication. I found this answer from Gira Sarabhai, an Indian singer and tabla player: The purpose of music is to sober and quiet the mind, thus making it susceptible to divine influences."

  5. #5
    This is one thing I took from Cage and his buddies.. If artists or Buddhists, allow themselves to collaborate with the accidental, to make use of randomness, they can make a more effortless art (or life) that might even transcend their views and habits.

  6. #6
    I love that idea, Jeff, of introducing -- no, including, or accepting -- the "accidental" or the "random" in your art. When I play music, I tend toward improvisation. That's the form I was taught, and the one that works best for me. It allows all kinds of room for the accidental (especially when I haven't played in a while!). But, when I write fiction, I find that my greatest difficulty is stepping back enough to allow the writing to control itself, so to speak. Music has a flow and momentum of its own, but writing is so silent sometimes, so stagnant sometimes, that it can be hard to keep my controlling mind at bay. It's this controlling small mind that seems to me to be the antithesis of "effortless art" and "effortless life".

  7. #7
    I had the fortune of meeting and interviewing Cage in 1985 or so. At the time, I was editing, with a friend, a journal about the I Ching here in France. I corresponded with Cage, wanting to know how he used the I Ching, so during a trip home to NYC, I went to his apartment.

    I have to say that he was one of those rare people who I've met who seem to be Buddhas. He was so kind, so open; he had the kind of attitude you see in the Dalai Lama. It was a memorable experience.


  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Rev R
    If it wasn't for John Cage and other experimental and modernist composers. I wouldn't be making music today.

    BTW R, I was digging some of your tunes the other day . . . nice. I can hear a minimalist kind of thing happening.
    Yeah, Cage really had an effect on me in college, if only to get me out of my small conception of what music could be. To be honest, I don't care to listen to his stuff much but I love the philosophical problems it presents. His compositions remind me of the 'thought-experiments' that physicists often use to work on problems.


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