Author Topic: 4'33  (Read 1013 times)

Miyabi

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4'33
« on: March 11, 2010, 12:40:17 PM »

I just listened to John Cage's 4'33 for the first time.

Honestly.  It's brilliant.  It takes one of those crazy geniuses to come up with something like this.  But really it's amazing.

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ryos

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Re: 4'33
« Reply #1 on: March 12, 2010, 04:58:25 AM »
Brilliant? Really? Huh.

Honestly (and no offense to you intended; some offense may be taken by Mr. Cage if he ever reads this), it seems to me that it takes one of those crazy geniuses for anyone to take this seriously. Any idiot can scrawl out 4'33" of silence. Any idiot can abstain from playing a musical instrument. And if any idiot did, nobody would give him the time of day.

If I go to a concert, if I buy a CD, I want music for my money, not environmental noises. They do sell those, too, but nobody pretends they're music, and nobody calls them brilliant.
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Shivertongue

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Re: 4'33
« Reply #2 on: March 12, 2010, 05:15:41 AM »
Brilliant? Really? Huh.

Honestly (and no offense to you intended; some offense may be taken by Mr. Cage if he ever reads this), it seems to me that it takes one of those crazy geniuses for anyone to take this seriously. Any idiot can scrawl out 4'33" of silence. Any idiot can abstain from playing a musical instrument. And if any idiot did, nobody would give him the time of day.

If I go to a concert, if I buy a CD, I want music for my money, not environmental noises. They do sell those, too, but nobody pretends they're music, and nobody calls them brilliant.

Seeing as how he's been dead for 18 years, I don't think you have to worry about him reading this :P

Honestly, though, I would have to agree. Although my reaction to someone saying "any idiot could do that" is usually, "well, why don't you?" Not meant to be insulting - it's something I learned in art school; when someone looks at your work and says "I could have done that" or "any idiot could do that", ask them why they didn't/don't.

The difference here, though, if there is one, is that 4'33 isn't anything. The same experience could be had sitting by yourself and not doing anything. It seems really pretentious to me to take doing nothing, literally, and call it art.
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ryos

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Re: 4'33
« Reply #3 on: March 12, 2010, 06:00:13 AM »
Brilliant? Really? Huh.

Honestly (and no offense to you intended; some offense may be taken by Mr. Cage if he ever reads this), it seems to me that it takes one of those crazy geniuses for anyone to take this seriously. Any idiot can scrawl out 4'33" of silence. Any idiot can abstain from playing a musical instrument. And if any idiot did, nobody would give him the time of day.

If I go to a concert, if I buy a CD, I want music for my money, not environmental noises. They do sell those, too, but nobody pretends they're music, and nobody calls them brilliant.

Seeing as how he's been dead for 18 years, I don't think you have to worry about him reading this :P

Honestly, though, I would have to agree. Although my reaction to someone saying "any idiot could do that" is usually, "well, why don't you?" Not meant to be insulting - it's something I learned in art school; when someone looks at your work and says "I could have done that" or "any idiot could do that", ask them why they didn't/don't.

The difference here, though, if there is one, is that 4'33 isn't anything. The same experience could be had sitting by yourself and not doing anything. It seems really pretentious to me to take doing nothing, literally, and call it art.

Ah. Sorry for defaming the dead. :/

My answer to your "why don't you" would be twofold. First, because it's silly, and second, because it's one of those things that can only be done once. (Runner-up answer: "Because I am no idiot." ;) )

Actually, the first part of that retort applies generally. If somebody says "Heck, I could do that," what they're expressing is that if they, who have no artistic talent, could have produced a given artwork, then it wasn't worth producing. "So why didn't you?" "Because it sucks."

I will agree that the "anyone could do that" mode of artistic criticism is a poor way to articulate a low opinion of a work. However, for someone who doesn't know much about art, it's about all they have.
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sortitus

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Re: 4'33
« Reply #4 on: March 12, 2010, 06:21:32 AM »
IMO, Cage wasn't doing nothing. What 4'33 does when played in a formal concert is force the audience to listen to the sounds that they normally ignore, which is what sets it apart from other "art of nothing" pieces. He didn't have silence in mind, but the sounds that would be heard when it was played.

That said, I do think that it's a bit silly to call it a composition. Merely telling the audience to be silent and pay attention to their surroundings would likely be more effective than having the performers remain silent. I've performed this piece live twice and heard it performed a few times (it's a tradition at an annual outdoor semi-pro local symphony concert), and there are invariably confused whisperings among the audience throughout.

ryos, it is important to note that 4'33 was not the first (or last) "silent symphony". It was merely the one that had enough of an excuse to be artistically relevant.
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Miyabi

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Re: 4'33
« Reply #5 on: March 12, 2010, 07:58:07 AM »
IMO, Cage wasn't doing nothing. What 4'33 does when played in a formal concert is force the audience to listen to the sounds that they normally ignore, which is what sets it apart from other "art of nothing" pieces. He didn't have silence in mind, but the sounds that would be heard when it was played.

Exactly what I was thinking.  The thought of taking people who go to a symphony and making them listen to things they would never pay attention to is remarkable. . . at least I think so.
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