Caged Wisdom

In response to some comments and suggestions, I will be doing some more on composers that may not be as familiar to the reader.  Not just WHO the composer is, but actually spend some time to dive more deeply into who they seem to be (or were), and why.  This is possibly a way to break ground on music that people generally turn away from in a minute (or sometimes seconds!)

Not in the least bit do I think I can completely understand a composer, but without a doubt, John Cage is the most misunderstood/misrepresented composer in the musical arts.  There are some less talked about, some less listened to, but for some reason, Cage is seen by many as a heretic that just wanted chaos in music.  He’s sometimes, especially to listeners of more tonal music, seen as someone who didn’t like harmony, or rhythm, and destroyed music.

I can give my opinions, but I think honestly that I’ll let his pieces and the best music channel on youtube NewMusicXX, explain for you.  If you have NEVER LISTENED TO CAGE, I promise you’ll be surprised.

This one is very (almost too) tonal.

This has a gorgeous melody but some added sounds (turn it up!) with the prepared piano that really make something simple so much more deep. The dissonance encountered, in my opinion, is no more present than in a movie soundtrack.

And then one of my favorites:

Now that wasn’t so bad was it??  LET ME KNOW EITHER WAY!




Filed under Music

5 responses to “Caged Wisdom

  1. Aunt Melissa

    I have never heard John Cage before today. I listened to all three posts with a skeptical ear, and low and behold, I really LIKE this guy! His music is beautiful, haunting, almost tribal and primitive. And for some reason it touches my soul. (Maybe it is the wild Scottish/Indian in me….)
    Thanks David. Keep up the great work. You are educating an old dog!
    Love ya-
    Aunt M

    • You have no idea how happy this makes me! I am definitely glad that you’re open enough to listen! Now granted, many of his works don’t sound like this, but more on that later. Do you know some other “old dogs” that would be interested in this post?
      Much love!

  2. Cage was once quoted as saying something to the effect of “I want people to come listen to my music and think it is so horrendously cacophonous that real life sounds beautiful in contrast.” He was reacting to the atrocities of WWII and, like everyone else, trying to cope with the demands of a world rapidly spiraling into chaos. Between the wild social changes and the ever-increasing bullet-train pace of technological development, people’s lives were becoming faster, more compartmentalized, and certainly noisier. Cage wanted people to come to his concerts not to escape these stressful new lifestyles, but to hear something so monumentally extreme that their everyday existence would seem tame in contrast. It is for this reason (I think) he is misunderstood. In order to appreciate this music, we must realize that the traditional relationships we are trained to expect are nonexistent here. Cage’s aesthetic was to create something with absolutely NO relationships, thereby highlighting the web of connectivity that exists in our lives, however chaotic they may seem.

    That being said, these pieces you’ve posted are not “typical” of Cage. They are beautiful in ways we are used to music being beautiful, but even Cage’s “non-musical” music is beautiful in both concept and execution. Maybe post something really out there for contrast, just to see as many sides of Cage as possible and to stretch the boundaries of “what is music” vs. “what is not music.” He definitely blurred those lines more than any other composer who ever lived. Great stuff!

    • Thanks for coming by and offering your insight again Kevin! While “dream” is very much different for Cage, it has been kind of resurgence as a lost “find” since I think there’s a general debate if Cage even knew “how to write” tonal music. This of course, as we know, is ridiculous. He was a trained composer.
      Also, the last two piano works (imo) are very Cagean-just earlier non-chance/graphic notation. I will be looking into some scores to check the notation out and getting back to you! Again, I LOVE THAT YOU’RE commenting and hanging out with me here! I hope to hear from you soon!

  3. While we’re all on the trend of quoting, I think I’ll join the band wagon and say that this music is truly “beautiful” in the sense that it inspires a different perspective for me and creates a connection to something beyond pretty music. Thanks for sharing this side of Cage!


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