Quoting John Cage I.

June 25, 2009

posted by Caroline Picard


The following passages come from a book I’ve got on loan,

“Experimental Music; Cage & Beyond”

by Michael Nyman

pub. Schirmer Books, 1974

Objections are sometimes made by composers to the use of the term experimental as descriptive of their works, for it is claimed that any experiments that are made precede the steps that are finally taken with determination, and that this determination is knowing, having, in fact, a particular, if unconventional, ordering of the elements used in view. These objections are clearly justifiable, but only where, as among contemporary evidences in serial music, it remains a question of making a thing upon which attention is focused. Where, on the other hand, attentions moves toward the observation and audition of many things at once, iincluding those that are environmental–becomes, that is, inclusive rather than exclusive–no question of making, in th esense of forming understandable structures, can arise (one is a tourist), and here the word ‘experimental’ is apt, providing it is understood not as descriptive of an act to be later judged in terms of success and failure, but simply as of an act the outcome of which is unknown. What has been determined?

John Cage (1955)


One Response to “Quoting John Cage I.”

  1. electronicmusik Says:

    I’ve heard this argument before, think alot comes from people having to pigeon hole musical genres.

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