Wednesday, September 2, 2009

4′33″ (JOHN CAGE)

4′33″ (pronounced Four minutes, thirty-three seconds or, as the composer himself referred to it, Four, thirty-three is a three-movement composition by American avant-garde composer John Cage (1912–1992). It was composed in 1952 for any instrument (or combination of instruments), and the score instructs the performer not to play the instrument during the entire duration of the piece throughout the three movements (the first being thirty seconds, the second being two minutes and twenty-three seconds, and the third being one minute and forty seconds). Although commonly perceived as "four minutes thirty-three seconds of silence", the piece actually consists of the sounds of the environment that the listeners hear while it is performed. Over the years, 4′33″ became Cage's most famous and most controversial composition. Conceived around 1947–1948, while the composer was working on Sonatas and Interludes, 4′33″ became for Cage the epitome of his idea that any sounds constitute, or may constitute, music. It was also a reflection of the influence of Zen Buddhism, which Cage studied since the late forties. In a 1982 interview, and on numerous other occasions, Cage stated that 4′33″ was, in his opinion, his most important work.

Versions of the score

Several versions of the score exist: The original Woodstock manuscript (August 1952): conventional notation, dedicated to David Tudor. This manuscript is currently lost. Tudor's attempt at re-creating the original score is reproduced in Fetterman 1996, 74.The Kremen manuscript (1953): graphic, space-time notation, dedicated to Irwin Kremen. The movements of the piece are rendered as space between long vertical lines; a tempo indication is provided (60), and at the end of each movement the time is indicated in minutes and seconds. Edition Peters No. 6777a.The so-called First Tacet Edition: a typewritten score, lists the three movements using Roman numbers, with the word "TACET" underneath each. A note by Cage describes the first performance and mentions that "the work may be performed by (any) instrumentalist or combination of instrumentalists and last any length of time." Edition Peters No. 6777 (out of print).The so-called Second Tacet Edition: same as the First, except that it is printed in Cage's calligraphy, and the explanatory note mentions the Kremen manuscript. Edition Peters No. 6777 (i.e. it carries the same catalogue number as the first Tacet Edition) Additionally, a facsimile, reduced in size, of the Kremen manuscript, appeared in July 1967 in Source. There is some discrepancy between the lengths of individual movements specified in different versions of the score. The Woodstock printed program specifies the lengths 30″, 2′23″ and 1′40″, as does the Kremen manuscript, and presumably the original manuscript had the same indications. However, in the First Tacet Edition Cage writes that at the premiere the timings were 33″, 2′40″ and 1′20″. In the Second Tacet Edition he adds that after the premier a copy has been made for Irwin Kremen, in which the timelengths of the movements were 30″, 2′23″ and 1′40″. The causes of this discrepancy is not currently understood, the original manuscript being still lost.





*Blixa Bargeld, Einstürzende Neubauten, got inspired by John Cage 4'33'' and wrote 'Silence is sexy'


4′33″ No. 2

In 1962, Cage wrote 0'00", which is also referred to as 4'33" No. 2. The directions originally consisted of one sentence: "In a situation provided with maximum amplification, perform a disciplined action." The first performance had Cage write that sentence.

The second performance added four new qualifications to the directions: "the performer should allow any interruptions of the action, the action should fulfill an obligation to others, the same action should not be used in more than one performance, and should not be the performance of a musical composition.

One3

In late 1989, three years before his death, Cage revisited the idea of 4′33″ one last time. He composed One3, the full title of which is One3 = 4′33″ (0′00″) +G clef . As in all number pieces, "One" refers to the number of performers required. The score instructs the performer to build a sound system in the concert hall, so that the "the whole hall is on the edge of feedback, without actually feeding back." The content of the piece is the electronically amplified sound of the hall and the audience.

2 comments:

Renegade Eye said...

I was able to attend a reception, for Cage's buddy Merce Cunningham, one year before he died.

You have broad artistic taste, leaning to the advant-garde.

CHRIS I. G. said...

this is a FaCt!