The Music of Avant-Garde Composer John Cage Now Available in a Free Online Archive


You don’t know avant-garde music unless you know John Cage. And now we have anoth­er rich, eas­i­ly acces­si­ble online resource that can help us get to know John Cage bet­ter. The new site is called Mak­ing the Right Choic­es: A John Cage Cel­e­bra­tion, and it has its ori­gins in the cel­e­bra­tion of Cage’s 100th birth­day put on by con­duc­tor Michael Tilson Thomas and the New World Sym­pho­ny in Feb­ru­ary 2013.

This Cage-devot­ed, Knight Foun­da­tion-fund­ed site, in the words of Hyper­al­ler­gic’s Alli­son Meier, “presents a com­pre­hen­sive overview of his career, from a water­ing can poured on nation­al tele­vi­sion to a rhyth­mic solo piano per­for­mance inspired by lost love,” mate­r­i­al from Cage’s life and career as well as mate­r­i­al inspired by it, and of course “video and audio from the 2013 per­for­mances in Mia­mi Beach, includ­ing some famil­iar and some obscure pieces from [Cage’s] influ­en­tial and exper­i­men­tal career of both music and staged silence.”

You may remem­ber when we fea­tured Cage’s 1960 per­for­mance of Water Walk on I’ve Got a Secret. The site does­n’t fail to include that clas­sic tele­vi­sion clip, but it also offers videos on the stag­ing of Water Walk today, from its direc­tion and back­ground to its rehearsal to the the­atri­cal­i­ty of its per­for­mance to the place­ment of the cam­eras film­ing it. You can find these and many oth­er audio­vi­su­al explo­rations of the nuts and bolts of Cage’s work at Mak­ing the Right Choic­es’ cat­a­log of videos.

“John Cage gen­uine­ly want­ed to open up the beau­teous expe­ri­ence of sound for every­one,” writes Tilson Thomas in a piece on the com­pos­er. “Much of his work could be described as kits to be used in the cre­ation of a per­for­mance that relies on the per­cep­tions, imag­i­na­tions and choic­es of the musi­cians. It was a spir­i­tu­al mis­sion for him to cre­ate the oppor­tu­ni­ty for the per­for­mance to exist while at the same time to inter­fere with it as lit­tle or as sub­tly as pos­si­ble.” That chal­lenge Cage set for him­self keeps his work fas­ci­nat­ing to us to this day — and as Tilson Thomas and the New World Sym­pho­ny sure­ly found out, it remains as much of a chal­lenge as ever for those who pick it up today.

Vis­it Mak­ing the Right Choic­es: A John Cage Cel­e­bra­tion .

via Hyper­al­ler­gic

Relat­ed Con­tent:

John Cage Per­forms Water Walk on US Game Show I’ve Got a Secret (1960)

10 Rules for Stu­dents and Teach­ers Pop­u­lar­ized by John Cage

Lis­ten to John Cage’s 5 Hour Art Piece: Diary: How To Improve The World (You Will Only Make Mat­ters Worse)

Hear Joey Ramone Sing a Piece by John Cage Adapt­ed from James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake

Watch a Sur­pris­ing­ly Mov­ing Per­for­mance of John Cage’s 1948 “Suite for Toy Piano”

Col­in Mar­shall writes on cities, lan­guage, Asia, and men’s style. He’s at work on a book about Los Ange­les, A Los Ange­les Primer, and the video series The City in Cin­e­maFol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

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