When I first read about john cage and his piece “four thirty-three,” which is often mistakably referred to as “the silent piece,” I was stunned. I felt confused at first thinking of why he would have done such a thing, but as I continued to think about it, I realized that what he did was art, as well as completely original. Not only did he make history, but till today his piece helps people define the true meaning of sound. Music is not the only type of sound there is out there, even if to some it is the most pleasant, and I believe that his silent piece is what allows people today to really understand the meaning of sound and appreciate the sounds around us, and not just take them for granted. How often we hear a sound, does not make it any more or less extraordinary. John cage truly did not believe in silence. He thought of every sound to be “music” and equally fascinating and I believe that it was his great appreciation for sound that allowed him to become so famous and well recognized in the first place. When I think about this piece I feel admiration that someone would have the courage to send out such a strong message, probably knowing that it would be a humiliating experience, which is exactly what it was for john cage. However he does not show any embarrassment. Never the less, there were actually people who walked out during his performance.
This reminded me of a time in elementary school when there was a Christmas assembly, which all the students had to attend. They planned to show us a slide show with music. However, the laptop which the slide show was on was not starting. Teachers were trying to get it started and during that time everyone was instructed to remain silent. At the time, I would have called my feeling at that moment annoyance at having to sit so silently when I could have simply been talking to the people around me. Associating this memory with John Cage’s silent piece, makes me regret the fact that I wasted that time being so annoyed when instead I could have appreciated the situation and really listened to the sounds around me. I can’t help but wonder what I would have heard.
I believe that John Cage was inspired by the experience he had when visiting an anechoic chamber atHarvardUniversityin order to hear silence. He said that he had literally expected to hear nothing, but instead he heard two sounds, one high and one low. The first was his nervous system and the second, his blood circulating. From this experience his entire philosophy of sound changed. From that moment on he did not believe in true silence.Readingabout this experience of his, manages to change my entire perception on sound. I feel as I have missed out on so much, but it helps me realize that there is so much more to appreciate than we believe and that even the simple things in life should truly be appreciated.
Hearing about his silent piece, makes me wonder how John Cage had the idea to perform this piece after so many years of creating musical compositions which were played on the piano (with sound). I wonder how he came across this idea and what message he was trying to convey to the audience or whether or not he was trying to convey a message or was just doing it for himself to demonstrate his own appreciation for the sounds we hear everyday. I also can’t help but wonder what thoughts I would come across if I was in his place when visiting the anechoic chamber, and I wonder how much more my perceptions would change.
I would like to further investigate John Cage and his philosophies about sound. I believe I would come across many strong opinions and begin to see things very differently than I have in the past. I would also like to look into Cage’s other compositions as well as his philosophies of those, and compare his opinions before and after entering that anechoic chamber. It would interest me to see if prior to his experience, he thought much like I had before learning about him.