happy birthday john cage!

Vincent Mentzel 1988/Hollandse Hoogte/Redux

Wednesday would have been the late avant-garde composer John Cage‘s 100 birthday, and he’s had SUCH an big influence in our lives, we wanted to commemorate the day. To describe his work is practically impossible, since it broke down definitions of “music” like crazy and was really performance of endlessly varied kinds – involving chance or planning, silence or unexpected sound – which all ultimately made you think expansively about life. (He created an uproar when he presented a concert that consisted of 4 minutes and 33 seconds of silence…in reality, the ambient sounds in the auditorium. Cage used a piano as a percussion instrument in the late 1940’s.)

You can get a glimpse at the L.A. Times great compendium of Cage-iana and celebrations. Also check out  the combo platter of a post we did in 2010 that included his amazing appearance on This is Your Life, a great interview, and a saliant quote from Alex Ross’ piece in the New Yorker.

Cage influenced countless artists, and we can say, without a doubt, that reading him in our twenties planted the seeds of this improvisational thing we’re doing here. Thanks a million John Cage! We wish we’d known you.

Here are Six Melodies Cage composed in the 50’s; they are particulary suited for working or waking; click here to open in a separate window so you can listen while you climb into your day.

Alert: We’ve just discovered an app for iPhone, iPad and Android that allows you to compose with sounds from Cage’s Prepared Piano.

Photo of John Cage by Vincent Mentzel

Related posts: john cage applying ‘what would happen’ if to music
bathroom read: john cage’s “a year from monday”
role model: fast forward on $$, improvising and music
fast forward’s rain music
possibilities in everyday things (piano as 5+ instruments)

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