Today is


   "A word to the wise ain't necessary --  
          it's the stupid ones that need the advice."
					-Bill Cosby

Saturday, January 14, 2006


Cagey

I recently learned from Darryl Ann that there is currently in progress the performance of a musical piece by the composer John Cage that will last 639 years. The performance is taking place in Halberstadt, Germany.

The piece moves slowly. The first year and a half of the piece was silence. A new note is scheduled to be played in the next month or so. Apparently, Cage first wrote the piece to be played in a time span of about twenty minutes on the piano. The piece was then adapted for organ with the tempo slowed down -- WAY down. A new, special, organ is being built to play some notes of the piece scheduled to sound some years from now.

I'm really not making this up.

I am familiar with a few works by John Cage, and have actually performed one of them for an audience on the piano: 4'33". In case you haven't "heard" it or of it, I will tell you that this piece is 4 minutes and 33 seconds of silence. (The piece has also been successfully performed by orchestras, singers, and chamber groups. As you might imagine, very little rehearsal is needed). The piece is actually pretty affecting -- especially if you don't know what's coming.

As for the piece scheduled to last 639 years, part of me just loves it although I haven't yet had the opportunity to hear a single note. The months of anticipation before each new note is sounded, the intergenerational effort required to complete the performance, the generous pauses between notes permitting contemplation of what has come before and what is to come -- who could demand more from any piece of art?

Of course another part of me thinks: what a load of you know what. But hey.

21 Comments:

Blogger Kate Marie said...

I'm . . .

January 15, 2006 12:21 AM  
Blogger Kate Marie said...

vaguely . . .

January 15, 2006 12:22 AM  
Blogger Kate Marie said...

remembering ...

January 15, 2006 12:22 AM  
Blogger Kate Marie said...

a quote ...

January 15, 2006 12:22 AM  
Blogger Kate Marie said...

...

January 15, 2006 12:23 AM  
Blogger Kate Marie said...

I read ...

January 15, 2006 12:23 AM  
Blogger Kate Marie said...

somewhere ...

January 15, 2006 12:24 AM  
Blogger Kate Marie said...

that conceptual art ...

January 15, 2006 12:24 AM  
Blogger Kate Marie said...

is a kind of art which, ...

January 15, 2006 12:25 AM  
Blogger Kate Marie said...

once you understand the concept, ...

January 15, 2006 12:25 AM  
Blogger Kate Marie said...

you ...

January 15, 2006 12:25 AM  
Blogger Kate Marie said...

needn't ...

January 15, 2006 12:26 AM  
Blogger Kate Marie said...

actually ...

January 15, 2006 12:26 AM  
Blogger Kate Marie said...

...

January 15, 2006 12:26 AM  
Blogger Kate Marie said...

...

January 15, 2006 12:26 AM  
Blogger Kate Marie said...

experience.

January 15, 2006 12:28 AM  
Blogger Kate Marie said...

[I collapse in exhaustion. Wild applause and shouts of "Brava!" resound in the blogosphere for months on end.]

January 15, 2006 12:29 AM  
Blogger stewdog said...

How thick must the sheet music be for that 600 Plus year piece? You have to account for all the space and silence.

January 15, 2006 6:44 AM  
Blogger Conservative in Virginia said...

Sounds like Foundation, but less fun.

January 15, 2006 9:10 AM  
Blogger Jeff said...

I'm with Kate Marie on this one: much conceptual art seriously insults its audience. I don't know what John Cage wants me to learn from his 639-year concert--a better understanding of the passage of time, perhaps, or a reminder of the role that time plays in the creation of music--but whatever it is, I can probably grasp it with less of an investment in time and money on the part of his crew. Or does he think I can't?

On the other hand, anything that keeps the Germans safely preoccupied for several centuries can't be all bad.

January 15, 2006 9:07 PM  
Blogger Kate Marie said...

Amen to that, my friend.

January 15, 2006 10:05 PM  

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