Listening Log- [Pt. II Proj.2] ~ John Cage- Various

John Cage- Various

Do I consider these pieces of ‘chance music’ or Indeterminacy ‘real’ music? My chances of considering the above mentioned pieces of music seem to be in direct proportion to the degree of chance and randomness influencing them. Basically, the more pattern and structure I perceive the more likely I am to perceive it as music. If my brain cannot superimpose any sort of pattern on the sounds, then I experience it as noise and I find it tiring. Music influenced by chance, but then structured or repeated sufficiently to form a pattern I tend to really like. Whereas complete randomness just tends to irritate me. Out of the pieces below I had the most positive response to ‘Imaginary Landscape No, 1′ and the piece ‘Five’ .

Imaginary Landscape No. 1 (1939)

I found ‘Imaginary Landscape No. 1’ quite beautiful. I enjoyed the sonority of the sounds blended together and did find it quite trancelike and meditative. I could certainly perceive some Eastern influences.

First Construction in Metal (1939)

Whereas the third piece ‘First Construction in Metal’ I perceived as entirely random and irritating, save for a brief moment around 7-8 min where there seemed to be a looped pattern of playing. Even with the loose timing, my brain started hearing it as a rhythm after it had repeated a few times.

Sonatas and Interludes for Piano (1946–48)

Written in 1946–48 Sonatas and Interludes for Piano fell somewhere in the middle of the spectrum for me, with sections that I really liked and parts that I found laboured and tedious.

Five, for any 5 voices or instruments (1988)

I thoroughly enjoyed many of the versions ’Five’ that I listened to. It was one of Cage’s early number pieces and he had specified both pitches and dynamics (but not the instrumentation). I think this resulted in quite a ‘musical’ sound and made it slightly less random than had it been left open to interpretation. In the clip above I found the the drone like sounds quite mesmerising and contemplative. They had a calming effect on me similar to chanting. There is something primal or tribal about drones and long sustained vibrations that connects to me on a deeply instinctual level.