03 August 2011

John Cage - scores and quotes

"At all costs inspiration must be avoided which is to say act in such a way that inspiration doesn’t come up as an alternative but exists eternally. Then of course it is theater and music disappears entirely into the realm of art where it knows it belongs. Art silence is not real silence and the difference is continuity versus interpenetration. This is also."
"And what is your purpose in writing music? I do not deal in purposes; I deal with sounds."
"The only structure which permits of natural activity is one so flexible as not to be a structure; I write in order to hear; never do I hear and then write what I hear. Inspiration is not a special occasion."
In Atlas Eclipticalis, events contain from one to ten notes, divided randomly into two groups. Pitches are notated clearly, though in a somewhat unusual way. The size of the notes, determine their amplitudes. Durations are notated above the events.
Tempo is not given: the conductor determines the duration of each system.
Cage used the Atlas Eclipticalis 1950.0 (an atlas of the stars published in 1958 by Antonín Becvár (1901-1965), a Czech astronomer), superimposing musical staves over the star-charts in this atlas. Brightness of the stars is being translated into the size of the notes in the composition. (text and image from here)
"Fontana Mix" is from here, which has a wonderful collection of scores from composers such as Ligati, Varese, Stockhausen, Cornelius Cardew, as well as lists of classifications of sounds by Cage, Russolo, and Stockhausen.
"Chess Pieces" disappeared into a private collection shortly after 1944 and resurfaced in 2005. "As a painting, the collaged, juxtaposed chaos of the notes contrasts with the order of the grid" reminiscent "of the cut-up technique William Burroughs and the Beats' applied to books and printed texts a few years later."

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