THE MICHIGAN DAILY
Friday, February 28, 1969
Page Two THE MICHIGAN DAILY Friday, February 28, 1969
Plink, whistle, toot boom...it's John Cage!
By JOE PEHRSON
With some degree of temerity,
Columbia Records recently re-
leased a series of contemporary
works by major avant-garde
composers. which presents a
cross-section of developments in
the field of modern music. While
none of: these records are des-
tined for even the higher num-
bers on the popularity charts,
they do reflect a growing inter-
est, particularly of younger peo-
ple, in modern classical music
and the, pop-art sound.
Variations II (MS 7051) by
John Cage presents what sounds
like David Tudor, Cage's pianist,
vainly trying to put his model
train :back -on the track.. T h e
image is complete. as Tudor
gleefully plays with what sounds
1 i k e a train transformer, de-
lighting in both 'feedback and.
short-circuit. However, to make
some t y p e of sense from this
seemingly atonal gibberish, it is
necessary to understand a few
concepts of Cage's work.
Noise is music. There is no
reason why a "pure" sound is
any more beautiful t h a n the
sound of a subway, or the sound
of someone falling off a step-
ladder. We tend to associate our
ideas of beauty only with the
sounds in a concert situation or
the sounds produced by conven-
tional, "appropriate" musical in-
struments. The sounds of every-
day living are generally over-
looked. We find our own beauty,
and, traditionally, beauty must
not be found in anything utili-
S o u n d I s indeterminate.
Sounds of the external environ-
ment may occur at any instant
and are practically infinite in
their variety. The beauty here
lies in the unpredicted, in the
astonishment and awe of an un-
expected sound. These sounds
should be considered isolated
events, punctuating time a n d
silence. Sounds which are forced
upon one another by a compos-
er are considered to be much too
subjective to be beautiful.
Silence is beautiful. On this
point, any aficionados of John
Cage will agree. Sounds, noises
included, separate a n d define
silences. Silences, in Cage's work
often provide opportunities for
further indeterminate occurenc-
es. A stray cough placed by any
member of the audience at any
unspecified instant is welcomed.
Cage, as a composer, attempts
to provide and invent situations
of complete chance modeled af-
ter Oriental philosophy and Zen.
The Oriental practice of corre-
lating chance happenings a n d
philosophy, can be seen in Var-
iations II (1961). This score con-
sists of superimposing six trans-
parent plastic sheets on one an-
other and dropping perpendicu-
lar lines from certain points on
the sheet. Measurements of these
lines are used to determine am-
plitude, frequency, duration,
timbre, and structure of the
event. This composition can be
"realized" or performed by any
number of.kplayers or by a n y
sound producing means. In this
particular recording, David Tu-
dor has placed contact micro-
phones and phono cartridges on
the strings of his piano. In ad-
dition, microphones a n d cart-
ridges a r e attached to tooth-
picks, plastics and pipe cleaners.
These may be scraped or rubbed
on the strings at the discretion
of the performer. This process,
plus the unrestrained imagina-,
tion of Tudor, accounts for the
strange array of sounds, many
of which could be quite irritat-
Cage insists one must be in a
special frame of mind when
listening to music, or observing
a work of art. As becomes clear
by the nature of his music, this
frame of mind is more an ap-
preciation of the environment.
The composer has no special
function other than a collector
of sound; he should be a list-
ener, surprised and pleasantly
startled by his chance opera-
tions. "I like to think . . . that
I'm outside the circle of a
known universe and dealing
with things I literally don't
know anything about," Cage
Cage's influence has been
particularly profound in the area
of visual art. Even though this
is a separate medium, it is but
another type of the same mode
of perception. Cage is often con-
sidered the father of pop-art,
and has presented concerts con-
taining both visual and audio
stimuli. Working with Merce
Cunningham, he has coordinated
modern ballet with his com-
positions. In these productions,
the dancer's actions elctronical-
ly determine (through the use
of photo-cells) the sounds to be
produced. At other times, the
visual action is entirely inde-
pendent: Cage has been known
to read his poetry as accom-
paniment to the stage perform-
The ideal approach to the
music of John Cage is reflected
in the following Zen observa-
tion, which he quotes frequent-
ly: "If something is boring after
two minutes; try it for four.
If it is still boring, try it for
eight. If after eight minutes it
is still boring, try it for sixteen,
thirty-two, sixty-four, and so on.
Eventually one finds it is not
boring at all, but extremely in-
AME'CAN INTE.NATONAL sArfs
JUDY PACE- MAGET?-M ETT- NAN MA Th4
& 9:05 P.M.
25 Min. later
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FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 28-
Bureau. of Industrial Relations Sem-1
inar: "Management of Managers, Pro-
grarm No. 82": North Campus Commons,I
south and Southeast' Bag Lunch,
Waiter . Spink; Hist. of Art Dept., °The
Axis of Eros", Friday, Feb. 28, Lane
1Ha1l Basement, noon.
Viewpoint Luncheon Discussion, Prof.
Carl Cohen, Philosophy Dept. and'
Asst. Dir. of Residential College, "On
Denmocracy- and'. Curriculum," 12:001
noon, Michigan'Union, All Purpose
Frontiers in .Geology and Geophysics
Series: Prof.: Bruce Heezen, professor
of geology, Columbua .University. "The
structure of' the Ocean Floors", 4 p.m..
Aui. E; Room 170 Physics-Astronomy
Astrononical Colloqnium: 4:00 p.m.
Room 296- Physics-Astronomy Bldg.,
Hugh D. Aller,. Astronomy Department,
"Interpretation of Variable Polariza-
The. Department of Philosophy, Prof.
Ingemar Medenius, The University of
Uppsala "TIhe Concept of Punish-
ment", 4:00, Room 2402 Mason Hall.
Cinema Guild: The Italian Straw
Hat: Architecture Auditorium, 7:00 and
Hockey: U-M vs. Wisconsin: Coli-
seum, 8:00 p.m.
Degree Recital: Kathleen Aylsworth,
tuba: School'of Music Recital Hall, 8:30
Free German Measles vaccine for
women. Thursday, Feb. 27, 6:15 - 9:30
p.m., Health Service. Information at
SAB, Health Service or 764-5483.
Friday 11:00 a.m. The Eleventh Hour
(repeated at 7 p.m.) Ed Burrows hosts
an hour of news and conversation
about the arts and literature. Guests :
Panel from Flint College, on the arts.
Friday 1:00 p.m. From The Midway:
"Self-Interest, the Draft, and Higher
Education", with Prof. Milton Fried-
man, U. of Chicago. Friday 5:00 p.m.
Focus on Students, produced by stu-
dents in the department of speech.
Friday 5:15 p.m. Business Review, with
Prof. Ross Wilhelm. Friday 8:00 p.m.
U-M Chamber Choir Concert, Thomas
Hilbish conductor, live from Hill Audi-
torium. Friday 9:45 p.m. The 1968 Da-
mon Lecture: Jacob Bronowski, Sen-
ior Fellow, Salk Institute for Biological
Studies, on "Science and the New Hu-
Saturday 1:00 p.m. Institute on
Teaching Disadvantaged Youth: First
of five lectures delivered at EMU. Dr.
Cynthia Leutsch; Psychologist, NYU, on
"Learning tin the Disadvantage". Sa-
(Continued on Page 3)
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A panel discussion with:
MR. SAUL GOTTLIEB, A director of the RADICAL REPERTORY
THEATER, New York; Associate of Mr. Schechner, Director
MR. LARRY DEVINE, Drama Critic of the Detroit FREE PRESS,
who saw both the Detroit and Ann Arbor versions
PROF. MARVIN FELHEIM, English Dept., who invited the
Dionysus group here
LAW PROF. PAUL D. CARRINGTON, whois researching legal
aspects of the case for UAC
WINNER OF 6 ACADEMY * UNCLASSIFIED'
BEST PICTURE OF THE YEAR! "LUSTY, GUSTY, COMEDY!"
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MONDAY, MARCH 10 at 8:00 P.M.
1429 Hill St.
Next! "Rachel, Rachel" and "The Heart is a Lonely Hunter"
NOTICE!!! THE THEATRE WILL BE
CLEARED AFTER THE 7:00 P.M.
SHOWING FRIDAY & SATURDAY EVENING
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Shows at 1:00 - 3:00 - 5:00 - 7:05 - 9:10P.M.
lasting nearly three hours
An International Collection of
experimental animated cinema
including examples of BRITISH, CZECHOSLOVAK-
IAN (spoof on American films), CANADIAN (Nor-
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INDIAN and AMERICAN Cinematic
Bartlett's spectacular "off-on")
PLUS Mickey Mouse in Viet Nam, Betty Boop, Koko,
Bimbo, Mr. Magoo, and Gene Autry, The Sounds of
the Beatles, Cab Calloway, Ella Fitzgerald,
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