John Cage's 4'33"

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Benji
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John Cage's 4'33"

Postby Benji » Mon Feb 16, 2009 12:44 pm UTC

Hello all,

I was inspired by a recent blag post by Randall about this amazing three movement composition. I decided to create a video of me performing it. This is my first recorded performance, as I just picked up the cello, my first instrument, about a month ago. But I think after many hours of practice I am up to the task of playing such a well respected and innovative composition.

Please, tell me what you think. And, do me a favor, use audio preview first :o

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GMhQSwxbJTE

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Re: John Cage's 4'33"

Postby Felstaff » Mon Feb 16, 2009 1:11 pm UTC

I love how you managed to juxtapose the effective use of timbre, whilst still allowing for the minutiae to make themselves heard. Tell me, what grade cellist must I become to perfect it? I applied for an orchestra but they recommended going to mime school first.
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Re: John Cage's 4'33"

Postby armandtanzarian » Mon Feb 16, 2009 2:13 pm UTC

.

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1337geek
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Re: John Cage's 4'33"

Postby 1337geek » Mon Feb 16, 2009 3:40 pm UTC

armandtanzarian wrote:.

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Re: John Cage's 4'33"

Postby Clumpy » Mon Feb 16, 2009 8:58 pm UTC

Hey, if you guys are part of the audience for all intents and purposes then any noise you happen to make is part of the performance. We totally don't have to quote nothingness to one another.

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armandtanzarian
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Re: John Cage's 4'33"

Postby armandtanzarian » Tue Feb 17, 2009 4:40 am UTC

Clumpy wrote:Hey, if you guys are part of the audience for all intents and purposes then any noise you happen to make is part of the performance. We totally don't have to quote nothingness to one another.

Why can't nothingness be part of the performance? Surely you can't discount rests in music.

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Re: John Cage's 4'33"

Postby the_stabbage » Tue Feb 17, 2009 5:10 am UTC

4'33" is nice and all but I prefer the wonderful piece of music that is Stockhausen's Helicopter String Quartet.

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Re: John Cage's 4'33"

Postby Clumpy » Tue Feb 17, 2009 7:06 am UTC

armandtanzarian wrote:
Clumpy wrote:Hey, if you guys are part of the audience for all intents and purposes then any noise you happen to make is part of the performance. We totally don't have to quote nothingness to one another.

Why can't nothingness be part of the performance? Surely you can't discount rests in music.


Nothingness is just as valid as a cough or a candy wrapper, that's my point.

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Re: John Cage's 4'33"

Postby Sanctuary1 » Tue Feb 17, 2009 11:37 pm UTC

I laughed, I cried, I watched a man stare at a piece of paper.

Bravo.
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Re: John Cage's 4'33"

Postby SirMustapha » Wed Feb 18, 2009 2:02 am UTC

Clumpy wrote:
armandtanzarian wrote:
Clumpy wrote:Hey, if you guys are part of the audience for all intents and purposes then any noise you happen to make is part of the performance. We totally don't have to quote nothingness to one another.

Why can't nothingness be part of the performance? Surely you can't discount rests in music.


Nothingness is just as valid as a cough or a candy wrapper, that's my point.


I see 4'33'' as a piece that works in two levels. First is the statement that music isn't absolute or rigorous at all, and even something as strictly defined as a note rest lasting 4 minutes and 33 seconds is essentially random, because the surrounding noise eventually becomes the music. The line between "sound" and "noise" is so blurred that even "silence" becomes "noise", thus the three become pretty much the same thing. The second level, however, and the one I find most interesting, is that something as apparently stupid as an orchestra sitting still for four minutes and thirty-three seconds IS a musical performance, under pretty much every definition of "music" people intuitively accept. Even if most people would firstly call it "not music", there's no imaginable way to sustain the argument that it is not music. It simply is. Silence itself is music. It's freaky, complicated, yet absolutely simple.

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Re: John Cage's 4'33"

Postby Clumpy » Wed Feb 18, 2009 2:16 am UTC

SirMustapha wrote:
Clumpy wrote:
armandtanzarian wrote:
Clumpy wrote:Hey, if you guys are part of the audience for all intents and purposes then any noise you happen to make is part of the performance. We totally don't have to quote nothingness to one another.

Why can't nothingness be part of the performance? Surely you can't discount rests in music.


Nothingness is just as valid as a cough or a candy wrapper, that's my point.


I see 4'33'' as a piece that works in two levels. First is the statement that music isn't absolute or rigorous at all, and even something as strictly defined as a note rest lasting 4 minutes and 33 seconds is essentially random, because the surrounding noise eventually becomes the music. The line between "sound" and "noise" is so blurred that even "silence" becomes "noise", thus the three become pretty much the same thing. The second level, however, and the one I find most interesting, is that something as apparently stupid as an orchestra sitting still for four minutes and thirty-three seconds IS a musical performance, under pretty much every definition of "music" people intuitively accept. Even if most people would firstly call it "not music", there's no imaginable way to sustain the argument that it is not music. It simply is. Silence itself is music. It's freaky, complicated, yet absolutely simple.


Exactly. And training yourself to be able to enjoy, musically, a period of silence, is quite a mark of sensitivity and maturity. Yet we get mad at The White Stripes when they play one note and call it a "concert."

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Re: John Cage's 4'33"

Postby Durinthal » Wed Feb 18, 2009 4:08 am UTC

the_stabbage wrote:4'33" is nice and all but I prefer the wonderful piece of music that is Stockhausen's Helicopter String Quartet.

Stockhausen was both a genius and a madman with that one. For anyone not aware of this piece: it requires that musicians leave the auditorium, get in four separate helicopters which take off and circle the auditorium, and then play the piece in midair with the rotors' noise blending in as part of the music. I am not making this up.

And for 4'33" itself, I agree with SirMustapha as well. One of my former music professors refuses to go to any recital with it on the program, though.

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Re: John Cage's 4'33"

Postby diotimajsh » Wed Feb 18, 2009 6:18 am UTC

Durinthal wrote:
the_stabbage wrote:4'33" is nice and all but I prefer the wonderful piece of music that is Stockhausen's Helicopter String Quartet.

Stockhausen was both a genius and a madman with that one. For anyone not aware of this piece: it requires that musicians leave the auditorium, get in four separate helicopters which take off and circle the auditorium, and then play the piece in midair with the rotors' noise blending in as part of the music. I am not making this up.
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Re: John Cage's 4'33"

Postby Wardial3r » Wed Feb 18, 2009 12:15 pm UTC

This piece is the most pretentious thing ever thought up. Ever.
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Re: John Cage's 4'33"

Postby Antimatter Spork » Sat Feb 21, 2009 9:55 pm UTC

Wardial3r wrote:This piece is the most pretentious thing ever thought up. Ever.

No, it's about making the audience aware of the musical nature of the ambient sound that surrounds them. I don't think that's very pretentious.

It is, however, often misunderstood. I also don't think it's very representative of Cage's music, since it does seem much more gimmicky than everything else he ever wrote.
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Re: John Cage's 4'33"

Postby TheAmazingRando » Sat Feb 21, 2009 10:24 pm UTC

I've always been quite partial to his prepared piano pieces.

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aaron
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Re: John Cage's 4'33"

Postby aaron » Mon Feb 23, 2009 2:17 am UTC

TheAmazingRando wrote:I've always been quite partial to his prepared piano pieces.


his prepared piano pieces are much better than 4'33, in my opinion.

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Re: John Cage's 4'33"

Postby rubber314chicken » Mon Feb 23, 2009 2:41 am UTC

am I the only one who is puzzled why the video is one minute and 23 seconds too long?
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Re: John Cage's 4'33"

Postby Dream » Mon Feb 23, 2009 3:46 am UTC

The pianist improvises a bit in the middle.
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Re: John Cage's 4'33"

Postby Masily box » Mon Feb 23, 2009 5:00 pm UTC

Well, one of the editions of the score says that the piece can be performed by any number of people for any length of time, and that 4'33" was just the original timing. Others disagree.

(Also, in one of those terrific coincidences in music history, 4'33" translates to 273 seconds, approximately the Kelvin measure of 0 degrees Celsius.)

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Re: John Cage's 4'33"

Postby 1337geek » Mon Feb 23, 2009 5:42 pm UTC

Masily box wrote:Well, one of the editions of the score says that the piece can be performed by any number of people for any length of time, and that 4'33" was just the original timing. Others disagree.

You mean this?
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Masily box
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Re: John Cage's 4'33"

Postby Masily box » Tue Feb 24, 2009 12:54 am UTC

Yep, that looks like it. Peters No. 6777. I've got a shirt that has the cover on the front and the Tacet page on the back.

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Re: John Cage's 4'33"

Postby podbaydoor » Tue Feb 24, 2009 6:42 pm UTC

Sir, this is brilliant.

A former violin teacher of mine once told me about her string quartet performing 4'33" to a group of puzzled college students, but otherwise I have never witnessed a real performance of this groundbreaking piece in gimmickry. Thank you for providing the internet with your masterful contribution. :)
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Masily box
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Re: John Cage's 4'33"

Postby Masily box » Tue Feb 24, 2009 8:52 pm UTC

It's not gimmickery. Cage was a well-established composer before he wrote the piece, and he didn't write it to gain notoriety; it's a natural product of some of his speculations on the nature of music. If you listen to other pieces of music written by him, you'll find that he actually was a fairly decent composer.

To take an example more or less at random: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bsz-Mr59P6c

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Re: John Cage's 4'33"

Postby someguy » Tue Feb 24, 2009 9:17 pm UTC

*cough*

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Re: John Cage's 4'33"

Postby Benji » Sun Mar 15, 2009 3:04 am UTC

Indeed.

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aaron
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Re: John Cage's 4'33"

Postby aaron » Sun Mar 15, 2009 4:43 am UTC

but seriously 4'33" is the most pretentious thing anyone can think of ever

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Re: John Cage's 4'33"

Postby Dream » Sun Mar 15, 2009 7:27 am UTC

aaron wrote:seriously
aaron wrote:the most pretentious thing anyone can think of ever


These two don't really go together, do they?
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Re: John Cage's 4'33"

Postby Outchanter » Sun Mar 15, 2009 8:37 am UTC

Do you have a lefthanded cello or is the video reversed?

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Re: John Cage's 4'33"

Postby SirMustapha » Sun Mar 15, 2009 8:22 pm UTC

aaron wrote:but seriously 4'33" is the most pretentious thing anyone can think of ever


Art in itself is pretentious. The problem is not that, but if you have the chops to justify it. Cage did.

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Re: John Cage's 4'33"

Postby Dream » Mon Mar 16, 2009 2:36 am UTC

Not to mention that in order for the music itself to be pretentious, it would have to in some way profess itself as better than other, less intellectually rigourous pieces. As it is, the music just sits there doing nothing (BA-dum-tsch) and it is up to its interpreters to have it be pretentious or not.
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Re: John Cage's 4'33"

Postby rubber314chicken » Fri Mar 20, 2009 9:09 pm UTC

Outchanter wrote:Do you have a lefthanded cello or is the video reversed?


video reversed, all instruments (except drums and guitar) are the same for lefties and righties.
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Re: John Cage's 4'33"

Postby porcupine » Sat Mar 21, 2009 5:33 am UTC

I liked his prepared piano pieces on youtube, so after a little searching I found Fred Frith's solo material. Here is a good example. It is like John Cage's stuff, only on a guitar and a lot more dissonant.


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