iBlog: John Cage: Genius? Or Mongaloid-spack-a-tron?


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Saturday, August 15, 2009

John Cage: Genius? Or Mongaloid-spack-a-tron?

John Cage was a 20th century experimental composer noted for pieces that were laden with a-harmonic dischords without meter and apparently, without sense. To all but the optimistic ears his piano pieces sounded like children bashing away haplessly.

I remember learning about John Cage in GCSE music class and dismissing him offhand with deep rooted annoyance thinking him to be the antithesis of music - the orchestra's version of slicing a cow in half and displaying it in formaldehyde.

But I've grown up a bit now and I think I can appreciate his work a lot more. It doesn't all make sense to me but maybe it's not meant to.

What is arguably his most famous piece is `4 minutes 33 seconds`. A full orchestra piece in three movements where all instruments play 4'33'''s worth of rest. The idea being that the ambience of the concert hall itself comprises the music.

It's a weird notion that the absense of music can become music, some people call it theatre at best and a piss taking publicity stunt at worse - I know I certainly did when I was first introduced, but my opinions have changed somewhat. I think music is what you make of it and the jenius of Cage was that he enabled the listener to make whatever they wanted from it, free from the boundries in which the more traditional composers flourished.

Here's more of Cage pushing the musical onvelope:



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