PianoTeacher.Org, White Rock, B.C., Canada
John Cage ( born 1912 )
American composer and music innovator.
John Cage stands out as an important figure in sound innovation and musical thought.
Perhaps it was his involvement with Zen-Buddhism which influenced his thinking towards sound in an unconventional way.
Before there were synthesizers and electronic apparatus to achieve unusual sounds and tone, he utilized the piano as an experimental instrument of choice.
His original idea of the 'prepared piano', which was implementing various objects such as steel bolts screwed in between the piano strings, or pieces of rubber, wood, or weather stripping inserted a various areas in and amongst the strings as well.
It was Cages avant-garde ideas towards music innovation and his use of silence which set him apart from the established approach to performing.
He is best known for his silence performances, these being sitting at the piano beach in front of a magnificient grand piano and absolutely doing nothing at all!
It was his desire to make people acutely aware of the sounds all about them that they would otherwise be oblivious to.
Later as computers and synthesizers evolved and developed John Cage began to incorporate these into his works.
Cage collaberated with Lejaren Hiller in a Work entitled " HPSCHD", which took two years to complete. It is this work which personifies Cage and his development towards a more involved and powerful role as a composer-performer.
This work was completed at the university of Illinois and utilized an array of instruments and computer technology.
Here is a list of 'instruments':
- Seven Harsichords
- 52 tape machines
- 59 Amplifiers
- 40 movie films
- 6400 slides
The first performance was in 1969 and took a total of 5 hours to complete.
In conjuntion with his unique attiude towards music and its role in peoples lives, it was his second book entitled " A Year From Monday" which displays his renewed enthusiasm towards the thought process of making music.
As it is said 'beauty is in the eye of the beholder', perhaps Cages approach would be, musics beauty is in the mind of the listener.
More then his 'music' perhaps it has been his ideas that have been the most influential.