Watch “American Masters John Cage- I Have Nothing to Say…” on YouTube

This is a documentary about John Cage and his musical practice. I watched it after watching the video of a performance of Concerto for Prepared Piano and Chamber Orchestra. During the documentary a performance of 4’33” is given: a pianist sits at a piano and reads the notes; each note is silent. John Cage composed these silent notes. The audience sits and watches the pianist read the music.

I didn’t know before there was an actual musical composition consisting of silent notes. It makes the piece very interesting. How do we know the pianist is reading the notes and not thinking about his dinner? What if he loses concentration? The piece might last longer. It’s intriguing that he opens and closes the piano lid during the performance. I wonder what that’s about. John Cage’s music seems haphazard when listening to it, but his instructions are very precise. He uses chance (the i-Ching) to devise the compositions. It seems like a concentrated, repetitious way of working.

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