Silent Music


Here’s a musical piece in three movements where the orchestra plays, not a note. Four minutes and 33 seconds with only ambient sound. Well, except for sound of coughs and wriggling between movements.

Thanks to Julius once again. He said he played it full screen with headphones on. The third movement is reported to be particularly intense.

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6 thoughts on “Silent Music”

  1. The first performance was in 1952, the year of composition, by David Tudor on the piano.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HypmW4Yd7SY
    Cage was being perfectly serious, and there have been many performances, including one on Radio 3. You can probably download it.

    Keith Jarrett playing Shostakovich’s 24 Preludes & Fugues brought home to me that the space between the notes, i.e. “silence” defines the notes. Obvious perhaps, but something of an insight to me. Like saying what something is by saying what it is not.

    John Cage is 98. There was a touring exhibition of Cage this year that started in Newcastle’s fine Baltic Centre, June I think.

  2. I link pauses between the notes with pauses to breath. I for one could do with adding in more thoughtful breaths into my speach. It is so good to see you hear and to receive this background information.

    And I have united with poetry, lots of pauses there, and flow too, since I received a wonderful book of poetry from a dear friend. Thanks again.

  3. You’re quite right Angie – thanks for the correction.
    Another interesting interpretation of Cage is the organ piece that will take 639 years for the complete performance. His instructions were “as slow as possible”, and in Halberstadt they are building the organ as the music unfolds, a note or chord at a time. This http://nyti.ms/i11bT5 was the New York Times article back in 2007.

  4. Thanks for the link Walter. I do not have URL’s enabled in the comments. I made a shortened one and put it into your post. Music for the very patient then….

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