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Thread: Why is 4'33" disparaged, while Western forms of sacred music get their own forum?

  1. #16
    Senior Member ArtMusic's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SiegendesLicht View Post
    How exactly is this music sacred and why do you oppose it to "Western" music? Was John Cage not a Westerner?

    Personally, I make fun of it because it is nothing but a musical joke. Or rather it is the musical equivalent of internet trolling, designed to stir up controversy and thus to make the composer famous.
    Agree entirely, perfectly stated. He should have turned his creativity to actual music composition that would have positive impact music of his time in the 50's etc. instead of making classical music more alienating.
    "You must have no dependence on your own genius. If you have great talents, industry will improve them; if you have but moderate abilities, industry will supply their deficiency." Sir Joshua Reynolds, PRA, FRS, FRSA (1723 - 1792)

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    Quote Originally Posted by ArtMusic View Post
    Agree entirely, perfectly stated. He should have turned his creativity to actual music composition that would have positive impact music of his time in the 50's etc. instead of making classical music more alienating.
    Considering the ratio of his massive non-4'33" musical output to 4'33", I have to wonder who you're trying to offend here?

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  5. #18
    Senior Member SeptimalTritone's Avatar
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    I think my post in the other thread got missed.

    Quote Originally Posted by SeptimalTritone View Post
    Yeah, it's an audience piece. That's a great way of putting it! The combination of the ambient noise and the audience's personality... it sweeps your mind like a laser.

    It definitely is a piece of music. If musique concrete uses the tools of sine waves, white noise, recorded natural sounds, recordings of recordings... then 4'33" isn't too far different from something like Bird Cage or Roaratorio. Just think of 4'33" as a more intense, visceral, and pithier version of those works.

    As for as Zen meditation goes, I've had my personal struggles with Buddhism... but that's a topic for the religious discussion group. I just want to say to Ken that a good piece of music (like 4'33", or Cage's other works, or Xenakis, or Beethoven) can take one to a visceral experience of the present moment. If one just enjoys this for what it is, rather than worrying about 'reaching' the Buddha, then it's a beautiful thing. I think that doing certain things as religious practice, like sitting zazen meditation, or chanting, or listening to music... without worrying about 'reaching' the Buddha is what people meant by 'kill the Buddha'. Buddhists do certain things as spiritual practice with the goal of taking one to the present moment, and from there all of life gradually becomes a more present experience.

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    Senior Member KenOC's Avatar
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    I like 4'33" jokes as much as the next guy. But hey -- the piece actually seems to bother and irritate some people. Why do you think this is?


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    Senior Member SeptimalTritone's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KenOC View Post
    I like 4'33" jokes as much as the next guy. But hey -- the piece actually seems to bother and irritate some people. Why do you think this is?
    I think that if one is used to musique concrete... then 4'33" is a wonderfully positive experience, just like other works in the genre.

  9. #21
    Senior Member DavidA's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KenOC View Post
    I like 4'33" jokes as much as the next guy. But hey -- the piece actually seems to bother and irritate some people. Why do you think this is?
    It only irritates when people insist on taking it seriously!

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  11. #22
    Senior Member echo's Avatar
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    its a bit too loud for me

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    Senior Member ArtMusic's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by arcaneholocaust View Post
    Considering the ratio of his massive non-4'33" musical output to 4'33", I have to wonder who you're trying to offend here?
    I'm not trying to offend anyone. The poll asked why is the piece so disparaged? I offered my opinion. Moreover, all composers before him since year "dot" wrote massive amounts, multiples more, without novelty. They got on with it. But if he intended the piece to be a musical joke, I accept that and can laugh jokingly in appreciation. (Incidentally, Mozart wrote a piece called Musical Joke, Mozart termed it as that, we all then appreciate it as that.)
    "You must have no dependence on your own genius. If you have great talents, industry will improve them; if you have but moderate abilities, industry will supply their deficiency." Sir Joshua Reynolds, PRA, FRS, FRSA (1723 - 1792)

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    Senior Member ArtMusic's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by echo View Post
    its a bit too loud for me
    Not if it was performed outdoors in the city on a weekday day at lunchtime. And you would experience differently there and then, and I think that was his point.
    "You must have no dependence on your own genius. If you have great talents, industry will improve them; if you have but moderate abilities, industry will supply their deficiency." Sir Joshua Reynolds, PRA, FRS, FRSA (1723 - 1792)

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  17. #25
    Senior Member echo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ArtMusic View Post
    Not if it was performed outdoors in the city on a weekday day at lunchtime. And you would experience differently there and then, and I think that was his point.
    then what do you think my point was ?

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    Senior Member Woodduck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TresPicos View Post
    It always amazes me how people cannot see the conceptual importance of 4'33'', or Duchamp's Fountain, for that matter. You may ridicule them all you want, but you're only revealing your own ignorance.
    One of the favorite "Modernist" shibboleths - and fallacies: You don't like it (or respect it, or think it's good, or whatever) because you don't "understand" it (or "see its conceptual importance").

    Horsepuckey.

    I am perfectly willing to concede that Cage's 4'33" has just as much "conceptual importance" as Duchamp's urinal "fountain." I get the point of both and find neither important. As for Cage as minister of the "sacred," just yesterday I was reading that audiences have "learned how to behave" at performances of 4'33," and that at a concert featuring the "orchestral version" of the work (I did not just make that up!) they sat in respectful silence, presumably attuned to the aural revelation of breathing, suppressed throat-clearing, fidgeting, planes going over, and whatever else the "orchestration" permitted them to hear. We may presume that they were grateful to whatever gods they fancied for the opportunity to buy expensive symphony tickets, drive through horrible traffic, pay an absurd parking fee, and sit in a crowded (?) concert hall in order to do something - listen to environmental noise - which they hadn't sufficient interest, imagination, or discipline to do without submerging their individuality in the ritual devised by the Reverend Cage.

    Perhaps it's similar to the gratitude people feel to their church for giving them a refuge, once a week, where they are not at the mercy of the usual temptations to depravity - thinking evil thoughts, or the desire to listen to actual music - whose allurements they normally cannot resist.

    As for that urinal, I've yet to hear contemplation of it described as an experience of the sacred, but why not? Anything is sacred - just as anything is music - if you only think it is.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ArtMusic View Post
    I'm not trying to offend anyone. The poll asked why is the piece so disparaged? I offered my opinion. Moreover, all composers before him since year "dot" wrote massive amounts, multiples more, without novelty. They got on with it. But if he intended the piece to be a musical joke, I accept that and can laugh jokingly in appreciation. (Incidentally, Mozart wrote a piece called Musical Joke, Mozart termed it as that, we all then appreciate it as that.)
    I'm not sure who we're talking about here. A complete John Cage box would certainly contain as much music as nearly any other. A typical 4'33" critic, of course, usually has no idea of this, seeing John Cage as "that 4'33" guy", but considering the post you were responding to, you could've done some research...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Woodduck View Post
    One of the favorite "Modernist" shibboleths - and fallacies: You don't like it (or respect it, or think it's good, or whatever) because you don't "understand" it (or "see its conceptual importance").

    Horsepuckey.
    You are absolutely right. In some cases, understanding does not equate to a liking and/or appreciation. However, given the nature of some of the responses in this thread, I think it is incredibly clear that this is not such a case for most, but rather, a simple and pervasive ignorance.

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  24. #29
    Senior Member Giordano's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SeptimalTritone View Post
    I think my post in the other thread got missed.
    Hey, I also said something in the other thread.

    Quote Originally Posted by Giordano View Post
    Chop wood carry water.
    Grin broadly.
    Best Zen.

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  26. #30
    Senior Member SeptimalTritone's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Woodduck View Post
    As for Cage as minister of the "sacred," just yesterday I was reading that audiences have "learned how to behave" at performances of 4'33," and that at a concert featuring the "orchestral version" of the work (I did not just make that up!) they sat in respectful silence, presumably attuned to the aural revelation of breathing, suppressed throat-clearing, fidgeting, planes going over, and whatever else the "orchestration" permitted them to hear.
    For the record, I think that such an experience can be powerful.

    A good youtube version of the work is here. I like the crowd's eager energy: there's such a peace and space.

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