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 Post subject: Re: Discussion on John Cage's 4'33
PostPosted: Sat Apr 14, 2012 4:40 pm 
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pauldrach wrote:
corrections wrote:
If the piece is recorded, I buy this. If it is not, I don't. I get your general thrust here and I agree with it that the piece itself will tell you more about it than anyone could because your own relationship with the piece is what matters. However, if the music is live and not recorded there is no final word because every performance will be different.

I think you might have misunderstood some parts of what I said. I didn't mean to say that any piece itself could provide a final word for its understanding, but it provides the basis for it. All the different possible meanings are inside the piece, whereas any reaction to the piece would not be able to cover all the meanings or ways of understanding it. The piece itself will always be more multifaceted than any comment about it (unless you view that comment as an independent work of art, but in its function as a comment it is less definitive). It doesn't matter whether the music is live or recorded, only the main focal points may be different since a live concert setting includes relevant aspects that a sound recording doesn't and vice versa.


Only if you're counting each performance as a separate piece. For example take the Star Spangled Banner played with a typical arrangement. It conveys one set of things. Take it performed by Hendrix. It is completely changed and conveys a different set of meanings. Yet they are both the same piece unless you count each performance as separate (in which case the pieces are different). How something is played can completely change its meaning.


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 Post subject: Re: Discussion on John Cage's 4'33
PostPosted: Sat Apr 14, 2012 4:50 pm 
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corrections wrote:
Only if you're counting each performance as a separate piece. For example take the Star Spangled Banner played with a typical arrangement. It conveys one set of things. Take it performed by Hendrix. It is completely changed and conveys a different set of meanings. Yet they are both the same piece unless you count each performance as separate (in which case the pieces are different). How something is played can completely change its meaning.

Yes, that's part of what I was trying to express. Hendrix' version of SSB isn't really the same piece anymore, even though both may match in their "primary" musical features. The meanings of both versions are pretty much opposed to each other so that it doesn't make sense to talk of both as one work of art. In my opinion the piece itself as it was originally written is one work of art and any performance (i.e. interpretation) of it could be seen as an independent work of art with its own underlying intent (whether it is the same one as the composer had in mind or a radically different one).


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 Post subject: Re: Discussion on John Cage's 4'33
PostPosted: Tue Apr 17, 2012 9:31 am 
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corrections wrote:
pauldrach wrote:
corrections wrote:
If the piece is recorded, I buy this. If it is not, I don't. I get your general thrust here and I agree with it that the piece itself will tell you more about it than anyone could because your own relationship with the piece is what matters. However, if the music is live and not recorded there is no final word because every performance will be different.

I think you might have misunderstood some parts of what I said. I didn't mean to say that any piece itself could provide a final word for its understanding, but it provides the basis for it. All the different possible meanings are inside the piece, whereas any reaction to the piece would not be able to cover all the meanings or ways of understanding it. The piece itself will always be more multifaceted than any comment about it (unless you view that comment as an independent work of art, but in its function as a comment it is less definitive). It doesn't matter whether the music is live or recorded, only the main focal points may be different since a live concert setting includes relevant aspects that a sound recording doesn't and vice versa.


Only if you're counting each performance as a separate piece. For example take the Star Spangled Banner played with a typical arrangement. It conveys one set of things. Take it performed by Hendrix. It is completely changed and conveys a different set of meanings. Yet they are both the same piece unless you count each performance as separate (in which case the pieces are different). How something is played can completely change its meaning.


I agree that the conditions of performance of a specific piece have a significant impact on how the "meaning" of the piece comes across to the listener -- whether this is in live performance, or in various recorded performances. For example, I've heard Beethoven's Third Symphony performed by Herbert Von Karajan and the Berlin Philharmonic on the one hand, and by other conductors and orchestras on the other hand. There are sufficient differences in the conductor's interpretation, how the orchestra plays the piece, what orchestral parts are emphasized or de-emphasized by the recording engineer, and so on -- to engender in me various subtle aesthetic responses to each specific performance of the same piece

While I don't know if these various performances of the specific piece will actually "change its meaning" -- but they do certainly change my reaction to hearing each specific performance by various conductors and orchestras. For example, I favor Von Karajan's Berlin Philharmonic performance on the DGG label over the performances of other conductors -- not only because of the conductor's interpretation, the quality of the orchestra, but also because of the high-quality recording that was successfully transferred to high-quality vinyl discs.
:tiphat:


Last edited by musicfunman on Tue Apr 17, 2012 4:54 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Discussion on John Cage's 4'33
PostPosted: Tue Apr 17, 2012 9:46 am 
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pauldrach wrote:
corrections wrote:
Only if you're counting each performance as a separate piece. For example take the Star Spangled Banner played with a typical arrangement. It conveys one set of things. Take it performed by Hendrix. It is completely changed and conveys a different set of meanings. Yet they are both the same piece unless you count each performance as separate (in which case the pieces are different). How something is played can completely change its meaning.

Yes, that's part of what I was trying to express. Hendrix' version of SSB isn't really the same piece anymore, even though both may match in their "primary" musical features. The meanings of both versions are pretty much opposed to each other so that it doesn't make sense to talk of both as one work of art. In my opinion the piece itself as it was originally written is one work of art and any performance (i.e. interpretation) of it could be seen as an independent work of art with its own underlying intent (whether it is the same one as the composer had in mind or a radically different one).


I agree. For example, I've heard versions of the Star-Spangled Banner done by: the Mormon Tabernacle choir; Morton Gould's Symphonic Band, the Philadelphia Orchestra, gospel singers, etc.

And yes, it can be argued that while the first three groups listed above would perform the piece in pretty much the same manner -- in a style pretty much accepted as "standard" -- the gospel singers have tended to "color" it to the point of where the song apparently became almost an independent work of art, engendering a different feeling from the first three groups mentioned above.
:tiphat:


Last edited by musicfunman on Tue Apr 17, 2012 4:55 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Discussion on John Cage's 4'33
PostPosted: Tue Apr 17, 2012 10:10 am 
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pauldrach wrote:
corrections wrote:
A tribute to silence would fix the level of silence indelibly. I think it more likely that Cage was more exploring chance music made not by the performer.


Wikipedia wrote:
In 1951, Cage visited the anechoic chamber at Harvard University. An anechoic chamber is a room designed in such a way that the walls, ceiling and floor absorb all sounds made in the room, rather than reflecting them as echoes. Such a chamber is also externally sound-proofed. Cage entered the chamber expecting to hear silence, but he wrote later, "I heard two sounds, one high and one low. When I described them to the engineer in charge, he informed me that the high one was my nervous system in operation, the low one my blood in circulation." Cage had gone to a place where he expected total silence, and yet heard sound. "Until I die there will be sounds. And they will continue following my death. One need not fear about the future of music." The realisation as he saw it of the impossibility of silence led to the composition of 4'33''.


So maybe we're both right. Silence will always include certain sounds (or "chance music" as you call it), which makes sense, as the whole concept of silence rests on the existence of sound. Silence without sound is unthinkable as paradox as that may sound.


This is very interesting. Except perhaps if we could hear what's purported to be the absolute silence of outer space -- and after the above discussion, I question as to whether even the vacuum of outer space can be silent, even though there's no air to convey sound in space -- human beings may be unable to conceive of absolutely complete silence -- especially in an anechoic chamber.

It seems as though, in virtually every area of human experience, there is always an "opposition in things," whereby -- in this specific instance -- in order to experience silence, we must have experienced sound, even in the minutest level.

And, based on Cage's concept of "chance music," I suspect that this is what Cage was trying to convey: that the supposed "silence" of 4'33 is actually an opportunity for each listener to experience the ambient -- and virtually unpredictable -- environmental sounds extant in the concert hall during each unique performance of 4'33.
:tiphat:


Last edited by musicfunman on Tue Apr 17, 2012 3:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Discussion on John Cage's 4'33
PostPosted: Tue Apr 17, 2012 2:16 pm 
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if we keep trying to get deeper into philosophy and physics... there is no silence and no sound without each other, because soundwaves (as other forms of energy/matter) vibrate by alternating between crests and troughs.... i.e., it could be said the whole universe is constantly alternating between silence and sound... only our sensory organs don't usually register most things that way...

see the monster you've created, cage?!?!?


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 Post subject: Re: Discussion on John Cage's 4'33
PostPosted: Tue Apr 17, 2012 3:41 pm 
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George wrote:
if we keep trying to get deeper into philosophy and physics... there is no silence and no sound without each other, because soundwaves (as other forms of energy/matter) vibrate by alternating between crests and troughs.... i.e., it could be said the whole universe is constantly alternating between silence and sound... only our sensory organs don't usually register most things that way...

see the monster you've created, cage?!?!?


Boy, this discussion has gotten into some pretty deep areas, hasn't it?

If I remember correctly, John Cage hasn't been the only "classical" musician to cause us to re-examine the musical/aesthetic experience via his enigmatic works. There are many others, too -- for example, Beethoven, Wagner, Ravel, Debussy, Scriabin, Bartok, Stravinsky, Schoenberg, Gershwin, etc.).

When they were composing, many of these composer's ideas were considered revolutionary, even objectionable -- but, as listeners became acclimated to each of their styles, most of their works (I still don't know about Schoenberg's and Webern's 12-tone works) became accepted, and even admired for their creativity.

The Rite of Spring by Stravinsky comes to mind as just one example: when he was rehearsing the orchestra in 1913, some of the players called the work "unplayable"; and apparently the audience of the time considered the work "unlistenable." But, several decades later -- and continuing into the 21st century -- The Rite of Spring has become accepted as being part of an orchestra's "standard" repertoire -- and just about every orchestral performer can play it without complaint (I think!).
:tiphat:


Last edited by musicfunman on Tue Apr 17, 2012 4:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Discussion on John Cage's 4'33
PostPosted: Tue Apr 17, 2012 3:47 pm 
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well, radical ideas require getting used to for most people (the so-called paradigm shift)


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 Post subject: Re: Discussion on John Cage's 4'33
PostPosted: Tue Apr 17, 2012 4:52 pm 
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George wrote:
well, radical ideas require getting used to for most people (the so-called paradigm shift)


I agree with that. I've discovered, on a personal basis, that when you take a risk, foray into new (and sometimes uncomfortable) areas of knowledge or experience, at first, it is uncomfortable.

But, if a person is willing to persevere, eventually what was once uncomfortable, gradually becomes more comfortable. In the process of acclimating oneself to new ideas and experiences, personal growth is a natural consequence.

Three cheers for paradigm shifts! -- whether in music, or in any other area of life experience.
:thumb:


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