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Sunday, September 09, 2012

“I Have Nothing to Say and I Am Saying It.”

A few years back, I attended a performance of 'avant-garde' music at which one piece was by the composer, musical artist, and teacher, John Cage. As one of the musicians twirled a noise-maker over his head (instructed to do so in the score), I heard a loud guffaw behind me. I turned around to see who was interrupting. It was John Cage, himself, thoroughly enjoying the moment. "I consider laughter preferable to tears."

While in college, I 'performed' Cage's 4'33" on the student radio station, WTJU, 'live,' with several participants. The piece, as 'written,' consists of the sounds of the environment, the performer, and audience, and only those sounds, as a pianist sits at a piano: coughs, breaths, giggles, and all. For four minutes and thirty-three seconds, we did little except move about, an electric piano in the room, while the microphone remained open. Several listeners called to complain; a few called, worried that something was amiss.

If John Cage's art were merely didactic (it wasn't), a lesson may have been that the world itself is a music-maker. To hear it, one must shut up and listen.

John Cage died in 1992. September 5th was the centenary of his birth.

I have nothing to say 
and I am saying it 
and that is poetry 
as I needed it.

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