Bride Of Song Pong

Nobody expects…JOHN CAGE!

What is art? Why do we exist?

Open thread.

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28 replies
  1. 1
    Caidence (fmr. Chris) says:

    I know a percussionist that studied under Cage.

    Dude went on to create a quite successful cell phone ringtone workshop.

    From complete silence to the most obnoxious, shrill abuse of eardrums in history.

    Perfect.

  2. 2
    jrg says:

    What is art? Why do I exist?

    If you’re John Cage, art is what you mock, and you exist to annoy people who enjoy listening to music.

    What a cop out. With all the new recording technologies made available in the 20th century, this is the most imaginative thing he could come up with?

    He should have left music up to professionals who take it seriously, instead of turning it into an insipid exercise in semantics.

    To paraphrase Potter Stewart: “I can’t describe exactly what music is, but I know it when I hear it, and this is not music”.

  3. 3
    Blue Buddha says:

    …and then there is Edgard Varese

  4. 4
  5. 5
    Jake says:

    Let try to translate the subtitles:

    Here is John Cage, about to play a piece on the piano.

    Any moment now, he will start … wait, what the hell is he doing? Why is he closing the lid?

    What the FUCK is this?

    Oi! Cage Match, you gonna play or am I gonna stick that stop watch up your ASS?

    Man, I cannot believe I paid y 36,000 for this shit.

    I am SO not getting laid tonight.

  6. 6
    Mexican Joe says:

    I have heard and actually performed this piece many times. I always thought that it was about the “noise” that accompanies all music, whether it be coughs, chairs squeaking, birds, sirens(always an accompaniment in Boston) and to teach us to listen astutely. In actuality, if it goes in your ears, its music – if you choose to hear it that way. Songs of the humpback whales, anyone? And come on, leaving music to the professionals? There is way too much excellent music out there done by “non-professionals.” That is like leaving the questioning to “professionals” like Russert. How’s that sound? It ain’t music to my ears.

  7. 7
    Dayv says:

    No one expects 4’33”!

    Kudos.

  8. 8
    jrg says:

    if it goes in your ears, its music – if you choose to hear it that way.

    It went into my ears, and all I heard was the sound of sucking ass.

    And come on, leaving music to the professionals?

    Point taken. How about just people who take it seriously.

    The spirit of music is entertainment. If this kind of thing entertains you, why go to a concert when you can stare at the sink for free at home?

  9. 9
    Jake says:

    In actuality, if it goes in your ears, its music

    Pffffffft!

    And what about gnats? Huh? What. About. Gnats?

  10. 10
    Caidence (fmr. Chris) says:

    Jake Says:

    In actuality, if it goes in your ears, its music

    Pffffffft!

    And what about penises? Huh? What. About. Penises?

    I’m here to help.

  11. 11
    Mornington Crescent says:

    When I was studying in New York, my teacher told me the story of the time he premiered a Cage work.

    The score was printed on a huge piece of cardboard with music on both sides.

    Being a premiere, he put on a tuxedo for the performance.

    It was a solo work (string instrument), and he started playing. A lot of short twittering or blip sounds in wide ranges. The audience started to find the whole thing funny, but not my teacher. When he got to the end of the page, he put his instrument down and flipped over the huge score. The audience roared.

    At the end, he took his bow and stormed off stage. In the green room, he was steaming, “I still don’t understand what was so funny about that.” John Cage came over to him, patted him patronizingly on the shoulder, and said, “neither do I.”

  12. 12
    gypsy howell says:

    I was invited to a premiere of a work by a Northwestern U music dept graduate student a number of years back. He was reported to be the best of the crop – a real new force to be appreciated. All electronic – piped out from a tape (or something) into the audience. To me, it was torture, but there was lots of appreciative applause, so you know, philistine and all, what do I know about music, right?

    It wasn’t until the after-party that it was discovered that the entire piece was played backwards by accident. I’m not kidding. And… the best part — the composer didn’t even realize it at the time.

    That’s when I knew it was all complete crap.

  13. 13
    Jay C says:

    What is art? Why do we exist?

    Who knows?

    Who cares?

  14. 14
    mantooth says:

    What is art?

    Like…..paintings and stuff?

  15. 15
    Pseudofool says:

    Cage expands the definition of art, by invoking its obvious social component (his piece where the audience is recorded while waiting longingly for the pianist to begin playing comes to mind). Cage isn’t supposed to be likable he’s a philosopher who uses anti-music as words to push the discourse of art. That shouldn’t be problematic if it ends up in other artists producing more socially viable and socially communicative art.

  16. 16
    Neal says:

    What is art? Why do we exist?

    Kudos for the John Cage. The answer to your query is 42.

  17. 17
    jrg says:

    Cage expands the definition of art, by invoking its obvious social component (his piece where the audience is recorded while waiting longingly for the pianist to begin playing comes to mind).

    Mind-blowing. Next time I play, I’m going to random dudes in the nuts when they walk through the door. The noises they make will be set list for the evening… or at least until I get hit in the face with a bar stool.

    Cage isn’t supposed to be likable he’s a philosopher who uses anti-music as words to push the discourse of art. That shouldn’t be problematic if it ends up in other artists producing more socially viable and socially communicative art.

    Right. I’m sure that musically groundbreaking albums like “The Downward Spiral”, “OK Computer”, and “The Wall” would never have been written or produced had it not been for John Cage. Modern music owes much more to advancements in recording technology and the microprocessor than it does to some pedant staring at a piano for five minutes.

    His work is not a milestone, it’s a practical joke. The fact that he was ever considered an artist says more about the egos and gullibility of music critics than it does about modern music.

  18. 18
    jake says:

    His work is not a milestone, it’s a practical joke. The fact that he was ever considered an artist says more about the egos and gullibility of music critics than it does about modern music.

    Bing.
    Go.

    First there was the Emperor’s New Clothes. Then Cage wrote the Emperor’s New National Anthem.

    But to be fair, humans often convince themselves stupid, worthless and just plain bad ideas have merit. See for example the results of the 2004 presidential election.

  19. 19
    demimondian says:

    John Cage had a mandate to privatize avant garde music. Personally, I think that Peter Schickele did it more effectively, but Cage certainly played a role.

  20. 20
    curtadams says:

    Don’t knock 4’33”! Best piece Cage ever wrote!

  21. 21
    Pseudofool says:

    [quote]Mind-blowing. Next time I play, I’m going to random dudes in the nuts when they walk through the door. The noises they make will be set list for the evening… or at least until I get hit in the face with a bar stool.[/quote]
    But what you are not getting is that you wouldn’t be the first to do it, you’d be re-enacting Cage, rather than subverting any artistic art paradigm. It’s fine that you don’t dig it, and that you can’t use it, but pretending to copy and claim the same significance is at once naive and arrogant.
    [quote]Right. I’m sure that musically groundbreaking albums like “The Downward Spiral”, “OK Computer”, and “The Wall” would never have been written or produced had it not been for John Cage. Modern music owes much more to advancements in recording technology and the microprocessor than it does to some pedant staring at a piano for five minutes.

    His work is not a milestone, it’s a practical joke. The fact that he was ever considered an artist says more about the egos and gullibility of music critics than it does about modern music.[/quote]
    For the record I never said his work was a milestone–merely that its useful in the discourse on art. Cage has been around for awhile and was doing this stuff in the middle of the 20th century. Citing bestselling albums (all albums I dig) is looking “art” through the myopic lens of consumerism. Don’t confuse art with music–Cage, like I said, is expanding the definition of art not just music. As a creative writer, I dig John Cage the same way I dig Robert Coover or Donald Barthleme.

  22. 22
    Pseudofool says:

    Messed up quote tags, sorry.

  23. 23
    jake says:

    We thought you were going for some sort of milestone in expanding the definition of quote tags.

  24. 24
    jrg says:

    But what you are not getting is that you wouldn’t be the first to do it, you’d be re-enacting Cage, rather than subverting any artistic art paradigm. It’s fine that you don’t dig it, and that you can’t use it, but pretending to copy and claim the same significance is at once naive and arrogant.

    Oh, I see. The piece loses it’s significance after it’s been performed once. How timeless.

    For the record I never said his work was a milestone—merely that its useful in the discourse on art.

    And for the record, I’m saying that such a discourse on art is entirely pedantic, and has no applications outside of a discussion about art. Does his work make you think? Yes. Does it make you feel? No.

    Cage has been around for awhile and was doing this stuff in the middle of the 20th century. Citing bestselling albums (all albums I dig) is looking “art” through the myopic lens of consumerism. Don’t confuse art with music—Cage, like I said, is expanding the definition of art not just music.

    Perhaps you could give me a list of composers who cite Cage as a major influence. I had trouble finding such a list when I googled around last night.

    Look, if this was Cage’s thing, that’s fine. I’m not trying to be closed minded, I just believe that his work trivializes and cheapens the meaning of music, and embodies an academic sense of entitlement.

    I’m saying that if you hang a blank canvas on an art gallery wall, you are no painter. You’re saying if no one had done it before, that expands the discourse on art. Neither of us is wrong, we’re just arguing over semantics.

    WRT consumerism, if a tree falls in the woods, and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?

  25. 25
    Tim Fuller says:

    The same folks who are reposting the Obama-Farrakan parody off TPM as ‘news’ are wondering why their soundcards won’t work with this Youtube clip.

    Enjoy.

  26. 26

    […] From the Treehouse: The YouTube war continues apace. Gavin got down and dirty and pulled out not just Dschingis Khan (with subtitles!) but Sparks (featuring Jane Wiedlin), too. Oh, the paaaaain. Balloon Juice has turned to WMD’s with the deployment of John Cage. […]

  27. 27

    […] And while I do recognize his love for the sounds of silence, I don’t know what Tim on Balloon-Juice thinks of blog-tag — but I can ask: what’s on his reading desk just now? […]

  28. 28

    […] The YouTube war continues apace. Gavin got down and dirty and pulled out not just Dschingis Khan (with subtitles!) but Sparks (featuring Jane Wiedlin), too. Oh, the paaaaain. Balloon Juice has turned to WMD’s with the deployment of John Cage. […]

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] The YouTube war continues apace. Gavin got down and dirty and pulled out not just Dschingis Khan (with subtitles!) but Sparks (featuring Jane Wiedlin), too. Oh, the paaaaain. Balloon Juice has turned to WMD’s with the deployment of John Cage. […]

  2. […] And while I do recognize his love for the sounds of silence, I don’t know what Tim on Balloon-Juice thinks of blog-tag — but I can ask: what’s on his reading desk just now? […]

  3. […] From the Treehouse: The YouTube war continues apace. Gavin got down and dirty and pulled out not just Dschingis Khan (with subtitles!) but Sparks (featuring Jane Wiedlin), too. Oh, the paaaaain. Balloon Juice has turned to WMD’s with the deployment of John Cage. […]

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