Fantastic John Cage Work: 1st Observation (1 of 3)

One:  This piece titled “Water Walk” is clearly understandable as to what it is.  It is music.  The host in the video objects to the word ‘music’ as a description of the work (deducing from his patronising attitude).  “Interesting” is the word he has chosen.   The crowd is given the okay to laugh and laugh they do.  Would a typical audience still laugh today in the same environment?  I believe so.  Google “Classical V Classical:  The Amaranth Solution,” for answers regarding this.  ‘Classical’ music will not grow in the minds of the masses as long as we connect the ‘classical-era’ with the ‘classical-blanket’ definition. 

How open-minded are we today?  A lot of what I read coming from classical bloggers/critics is the belief that to be cutting edge we still have to utilize pure atonal methodology (not sure where they feel minimalism fits in).  And it is not that I personally believe in strictly tonal or atonal.  I believe in free form which I am sure could be considered atonal.  Regarding the strict sense, the tone row, I even have one work on “Charmed Elixirs” made up of a row.  I wonder if anyone will ever catch it. 

Irregardless, one Cage view was to break down the “what is music or what is classical” mindset and I hate to say it, but we have probably stepped back since his time as people now generally believe that composing is a “learned” talent (talent wasted without direction) attained only from a college of the arts rather than what the college of the arts main function really is to a prototypical student of composition (among the other things listed below):  A way for mediocre musicians to learn the art of composition and in turn function in the world of music through direction.  Of course, there are great academic composers (you know who you are).  Take Cage for instance, the subject of this post.  Although, these composers generally, I suspect, give more to academics than academics offer in return. 

The essence of what I am trying to convey is that as much as academics offer, sometimes a precarious, self-studied lifestyle offers untraveled courses and humanity shouldn’t get wrapped up in a sort of academic prejudice, .i.e., “his bio didn’t even mention what college of the arts he attended, I’m not wasting my time.”

I’m rambling a bit.  When you read a novel, do you check for where the author attended college prior to opening the book?  Do we check where a director of a film learned the trade prior to entering the theater?  When we observe a work of art, do we avert our eyes until informed of the painter’s educational background? 

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3 thoughts on “Fantastic John Cage Work: 1st Observation (1 of 3)

  1. Cage was, above everything, very brave (or insane – or both) to present his music. The “age of transition” (as I like to call it) was over and his rupture with earlier music was so intense that he was very exposed to this kind of reaction. I must say that he brought forward what we do today with samples, electronically. He only did them live.

    I like to watch Cage’s performances/works. They help us don’t lose our wild side.

  2. I played the video for a friend of mine visiting tonight. He instinctively laughed when viewing. He is not into modern works at all. Just pop, but he does attend the symphony three times a year. It was expected considering there is a sort of laugh track during Cage’s performance. As in it was set up for laughs, somewhat for contemplation. But mostly for laughs. I told my friend to close his eyes and listen. I believe he heard the music then.

  3. hey, i love your blog…
    well, actually i dont think there’s anything to laugh at…
    cage was such a brilliant musician, who just jumped out of the traditional frame, opening a great new outlook for music…

    thanks so much for sharing it:)

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