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MUSICAGE

CAGE MUSES on Words * Art * Music

John Cage

Publication Year: 2011

"I was obliged to find a radical way to work -- to get at the real, at the root of the matter," John Cage says in this trio of dialogues, completed just days before his death. His quest for the root of the matter led him beyond the bounds of the conventional in all his musical, written, and visual pieces. The resulting expansion of the definition of art -- with its concomitant emphasis on innovation and invention--earned him a reputation as one of America's most influential contemporary artists.

Joan Retallack's conversations with Cage represent the first consideration of his artistic production in its entirety, across genres. Informed by the perspective of age, Cage's comments range freely from his theories of chance and indeterminate composition to his long-time collaboration with Merce Cunningham to the aesthetics of his multimedia works. A composer for whom the whole world -- with its brimming silences and anarchic harmonies -- was a source of music, Cage once claimed, "There is no noise, only sounds." As these interviews attest, that penchant for testing traditions reached far beyond his music. His lifelong project, Retallack writes in her comprehensive introduction, was "dislodging cultural authoritarianism and gridlock by inviting surprising conjunctions within carefully delimited frameworks and processes." Consummate performer to the end, Cage delivers here just such a conjunction -- a tour de force that provides new insights into the man and a clearer view of the status of art in the 20th century.

Published by: Wesleyan University Press

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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Contents

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pp. vii-viii

List of Illustrations

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pp. ix-x

Acknowledgments

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pp. xi-xii

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Introduction: Conversations in Retrospect

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pp. xiii-xlviii

Not long after John Cage died, I received a phone call from a scholar who was writing an essay on Cage's Europems. He told me it had just taken him two days to put everything in the past tense. Through no fault at all of that very nice man, I found this chilling. I vowed I would never put anything having to do with Cage...

I. Words

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Art Is Either a Complaint or Do Something Else

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pp. 3-42

A substantial part of the first conversation in M U S I C A G E is devoted to John Cage's methods in composing this lecture-poem, but I'd like to make a couple of suggestions for the reader unfamiliar with his mesostic texts. (Texts structured along a string of capital letters running down their middle.) It may be helpful to think of this piece as a kind of linguistic fugue, a canonic and recombinatory interplay of three voices — that of Jasper...

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Cage's Loft, New York City: September 6–7, 1990

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pp. 43-80

I arranged to tape this conversation with John Cage for publication in the Washington D.C. literary journal Aerial. The editor, Rod Smith, was planning a special issue featuring Cage's work with language and demonstrating, via juxtaposition, its connection with contemporary experimental poetry in America. What follows appeared in Aerial 6/7 along...

II. Visual Art

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Cage's Loft, New York City: October 21–23, 1991

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pp. 83-166

This conversation begins with an attempt to sketch out a chronology of Cage's involvement with visual art. At the time, Cage said he might forget to include certain things, but we agreed we wouldn't worry because we could fill them in later when we went over the transcript. Cage died before we had a chance to do this. As it happened, we soon turned...

III. Music

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Cage's Loft, New York City: July 15–17, 1992

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pp. 169-245

On the Saturday before we taped the following conversation, John Cage was mugged in his apartment by a man who claimed over the intercom to be from UPS. Cage was shaken by this experience but, not surprisingly, did not want it to interfere with anything scheduled for the coming week...

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July 18, 1992

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pp. 246-290

During the summer of 1992, the Museum of Modern Art in New York City devoted its Summergarden music series to the work of John Cage. Paul Zukofsky was Artistic Director for the series. On the evening of July 17, the cellist Michael Bach performed Cage's One8 in the MOMA sculpture garden.1 After the concert I suggested to John Cage that...

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July 30, 1992

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pp. 291-312

In the weeks before this conversation took place, Cage and I had talked on the phone about, among other things, variations in baking the almond torte cookies he liked so much, and the materials on nanotechnology he had received from the Foresight Institute in Palo Alto. The Foresight Institute is dedicated to reflecting on potential uses and abuses...

Appendixes

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pp. 313-314

A. Selected Cage Computer Programs

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p. 315-315

B. Mesostic Introduction to The First Meeting of the Satie Society

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pp. 316-318

C. Writing through Ulysses (Muoyce II). Typescript Page from Part 17 based on the "Nighttown" section of Ulysses

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p. 319-319

D. Excerpts from Manuscript and Score of Two[sup(6)] (1992)

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pp. 320-327

E. Notated Time Bracket Sheets for Thirteen (1992), Pages 14, 15, 16

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pp. 328-330

F. Writing through Ulysses (Muoyce II), Part 5

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p. 331-331

G. IC Supply Sheet Marked by Cage with Red, Blue, and Black Pencils

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p. 332-332

H. Excerpts from Score for Europera 5

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pp. 333-339

I. Europera 5 at MOMA

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p. 340-340

J. Letter Outlining Plans for Noh-opera

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p. 341-341

K. Notated Time Bracket Sheets for 58 (1992), Pages 2 and 4

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pp. 342-343

L. Project for Hanau Squatters

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p. 344-344

M. First Page of One[sup(8)] (1991)

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p. 345-345

N. First Page of Ten (1991), Violin 1

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p. 346-346

Index

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pp. 347-361

About the Authors

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E-ISBN-13: 9780819571861
Print-ISBN-13: 9780819552853

Page Count: 408
Publication Year: 2011