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Post WW2:
•Refugees made the United States the center
for creating music post WW2.
–Even composers born in Europe spend
significant amounts of time in USA.
•Separation between popular culture and the
artist widens.
–Abstract Art
–Conceptual Art
–Art installations
John Cage
• Born in Los Angeles, CA
• 1933: Music over painting
– Studied with Arnold Schoenberg
– “Of course he's not a composer,
but he's an inventor—of genius.”
• Cornish School of the Arts in Seattle, WA
– Worked as an accompanist
– Asked to compose music for ballet
– Prepared piano: Screws, bolts, strips of rubber,
and other objects are placed between the strings
of the piano to change the character of the
John Cage
• Late 40’s: Taoism
and Zen Buddism
– Obtained copy of I Ching (symbol system used to
identify order in random events)
• Used to compose music (when and what)
– Began to question the role of the composer
• Wrote compositions in with star charts, rolling dice,
throwing darts…
John Cage
• Indeterminacy: Music in which some element of the
composition is left to chance
– Imaginary Landscape No. 4 (1951)
– Atlas eclipticalis (1961). This piece was
written for "eighty-six instrumental parts that
could be played in whole or in part, for any
duration and in any combination from soloist
to full orchestra.
– 4’33- What is the definition of music?
John Cage
• “Happenings”- theatrical
events that abandoned the
traditional concept of
stage-audience and occur
without a sense of definite duration.
– As Slow As Possible: and organ solo in which
members of the audience can one by one come
up to the keyboard and play a note, but it must
take a very long time!