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Triple Entendre

Furniture Music, Muzak, Muzak-Plus

Herve Vanel

Publication Year: 2013

Triple Entendre discusses the rise and spread of background music in contexts as diverse as office workplaces, shopping malls, and musical performance. Hervé Vanel examines background music in several guises, including Erik Satie's "Furniture Music" of the late 1910s and early 1920s, which first demonstrated the idea of a music not meant to be listened to, and the Muzak Corporation's commercialized ambient music that became a predominant feature of modern life in the 1940s. Vanel's discussion culminates in the creative response of the composer John Cage to the pervasiveness and power of background music in contemporary society. By examining the subterranean connections existing between these three formulations of a singular idea, Triple Entendre analyzes and challenges the crucial boundary that separates an artistic concept from its actual implementation in life.

Published by: University of Illinois Press


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pp. C-ii


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pp. iii-vi


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pp. vii-viii

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Preface: Cage Free

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pp. ix-xvi

Rob Haskins once remarked that John Cage had always been ?many things to many people?an extraordinarily prolific composer, performer, teacher, essayist, aesthetician, painter, and poet. He was known for his avid and of-ten learned pursuit of subjects other than music, such as Zen Buddhism, Thoreau, mushrooms, and Marshall McLuhan. His musical output was no ...

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pp. 1-9

...sound. In reality, of course, the music of the future can only be the music of the present, but is, with rare exceptions, the music In October 1961, to his own puzzlement, the avant-garde composer John Cage was commissioned by the artist and thinker Gyorgy Kepes to write an essay on the questions of module, rhythm, proportion, symmetry, beauty, ...

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Chapter 1. Furniture Music: A Musical Irresolution by Erik Satie

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pp. 10-45

That the French composer Erik Satie (1866?1925) could be considered?at least until the 1970s?as a ?musical analphabet?1 certainly motivated John Cage?s respect for his art. If nothing else, his analphabetic status signaled the degree to which Satie had shaken the tradition of ?serious music? and infuriated the guardians of its flame. Satie himself gladly upheld his reputa-...

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Chapter 2. Muzak Incorporated

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pp. 46-83

In the beginning was the word, which the Oxford English Dictionary de-fines as follows: Muzak (also erron. Musak): ?The proprietary name of a system of piped music for factories, restaurants, supermarkets, etc.; also used loosely, with small initial, to designate recorded light background music generally.? Muzak ?proper? owes its name to General George Owen Squier ...

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Chapter 3. Muzak-Plus and the Art of Participation

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pp. 84-125

...for a tune, for instance, will be forgotten and the tune itself If John Cage remains one of the most controversial composers of the sec-ond half of the twentieth century, it may be because he had little inter-est in music, after all. ?For many years,? he said in 1974, ?I?ve noticed that music as an activity separated from the rest of life doesn?t enter my ...

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Conclusion: The Community to Come

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pp. 126-134

Ultimately, Cage?s Muzak-plus addresses his idealistic belief that art could foster a revolution in society, one that would lead not to a transfer of power but, in an anarchist fashion, to its pulverization in the hands of the indi-vidual members of a collective. Still, in the aftermath of World War II, any suggestion that art could be at the service of society was met with increased ...


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pp. 135-180


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pp. 181-188


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pp. 189-200

E-ISBN-13: 9780252095252
Print-ISBN-13: 9780252037993

Page Count: 232
Publication Year: 2013