Investigation- John Cage

When I first heard “4’33” by John Cage, I was very confused. I wondered, “how can this even be called music?” So I decided to put away my judgmements and listen to it as I would listen to any other song. What impressed me the most about it was that you’ll never hear this piece the same twice; it’s always changing. I began to take into consideration the sounds I had never valued before and finally, I understood how this piece was called music. I searched for more information about John Cage’s life and was surprised to learn that he never actually finished school. In his autobiography, he says ” Neither of my parents went to college. When I did, I dropped out after two years. I was shocked at college to see one hundred of my classmates in the library all reading copies of the same book. Instead of doing as they did, I went into the stacks and read the first book written by an author whose name began with Z. I received the highest grade in the class. That convinced me that the institution was not being run correctly. I left. ” This reminded me of  an art teacher I had. This art teacher decided to retire because he felt that the school board was unjust and was against the decisions the school board was making. Continuing my research, I learned that John Cage had several influences in his life that pushed him to reach where he is now. Arthur Schoenberg worked with John Cage at the University of California Los Angeles. It was here that Cage realized he was looking for something different, but, by shutting down his dreams, Schoenberg told Cage that “you’ll come to a wall you won’t be able to get through”. I think it’s fascinating that Schoenberg only gave Cage another reason to fight for his dreams. Another influence in Cage’s life was Oskar Fischinger, a filmmaker, who told him “Everything in the world has its own spirit which can be released by setting it into vibration.” John Cage began to experiment in several ways including hitting and banging on objects. He describes his music as unbalanced; sometimes fully written out and sometimes not, no fixed parts, and sometimes flexible and sometimes not. I also found it interesting that John Cage believed there is no such thing as silence, yet spent most of his time around the idea of silence. I would like to learn more about his method of listening and his reasoning behind it. 

References

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7C5qfMfhjZk

http://johncage.org/autobiographical_statement.html

http://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/episodes/john-cage/about-the-composer/471/ 

http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2010/10/04/101004fa_fact_ross

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