Cage - Disaster or Triumph

James McFadyen

New Member
As part of my research into 20th Century music/composers, I present this (fun, lively but friendly) discussion, where you are free to air your views about what is said below, and indeed elborate on it.

An ex-collegue of mine, Alan Duguid, talk breifly about the Cagian Style, 'created' by 20th Century Composer, John Cage. Alan talked about how it was Cage's intension to remove the composer's personality from music, the reason being is, why should composers infringe their own personality into their music.

What I would like to know, is, are you a fan of John Cage and his style and philiosophies.

Composers, academics and ordinary listeners/players of music are all welcome to comment! But more so from ordinary listeners, coz ur opinion is what really counts at the end of the day, irrespective of what the academics think, coz you guys are the one's buying the music for your listening and playing pleasure.

Indeed, if you wish to discuss 20th Century music as a whole, then this would be equally welcomed.

the 2nd Vieneese composers (Webern, Schoenberg, Berg) had the right Idea, or did they, or did John Cage take 'artistic expression' just a bit too far for the common public?

These are the kind of things I would like to hear from you about.

Ithink one thing cannot be dismissed, is that Cage adopted a style in which is totally unique and has had an extremely sucessful career and even made his mark in Film Music - a genius maybe, but does his song sing the same tune to everyone?
I recently took part in a performance of the entire Cage songbooks, and it was certainly an eye opener. I think some of Cage's philosophies are interesting, such as making the composer irrelevant. In some of the songs, performers can choose which, if any notes (or directions) they play, at what dynamic/duration etc. This means no two performances are ever the same, which is interesting i guess.
As a composer though i could never imagine writing anything like that, i know what i want my music to sound like, if i didnt what would be the point of it being my composition?
we had a discussion about his piece for piano and accesories (rubbers, little chunks of wood etc.) at 6th form. cant remember what the title was, but we certainly came to the conclusion that it was a load of b#%$£cs!


Active Member
Surely it's the composer's personality that makes music what it is. I think that it must be impossible to remove it from music, even 4' 33'', displays cage's personaltiy; that he wants to be different and to push boundries.

I, personally am not a huge fan, although i havn't heard an awful amount of it, but i do think that it is this type of jumpy, quirky music that reflects the composer's personality the most!!!

TuTuKu xx

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