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Thread: John Cage

  1. #181
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    Early Music (Edition Wandelweiser)


    Edwin Alexander Buchholz (accordian / bugari bayan anatomic) and Joanna Becker (violin) bring rich timbre and soothing harmony to Cage's probably most melodic and accessible works: Dream (1948), In A Landscape (1948), Six Melodies (1950) and Souvenir (1983). Souvenir is unusual as his music around the period. The American Guild of Organists, who commissioned it, requested a work that is similar to Dream.

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  3. #182
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    11pm. Freeman Etudes.

    Ah.

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  5. #183
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    Freeman Etudes is one of my favorite Cage's works. I have been enjoying the excellent Arditti on Mode for some years, and I am now listening to Fusi's recording (Stradivarius), which I think is played very delicately. There are 3 complete recordings of Freeman Etudes. I have not heard the other one.



    I also listened to the first recording of the work by Paul Zukofsky (1979), whom Cage learned the technical aspects of violin with and composed the etudes for. Zukofsky recorded only the first eight etudes.

    "The Etudes are both fascinating and frustrating for many reasons. They are the most difficult music I have ever played, yet they are also extremely violinistic. They have endless phrasal possibilities, none of which were intentional in the creation." - Zukofsky
    http://www.musicalobservations.com/r...s/cp2_103.html

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  7. #184
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    If someone could say something to help me appreciate the freeman etudes I’d be really pleased, whenever I’ve tried to listen to anyone playing them they sound utterly random to me. By contrast I can enjoy the piano etudes as a duet for two hands.

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    Senior Member Larkenfield's Avatar
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    The Freeman Etudes I've heard seem more deliberately "fragmented" or "disjointed" than random—one of the tendencies, it seems, for a certain line of modernism. I can understand the breaking up of the long lyrical lines associated with classicism and romanticism, but I do question how satisfying it is. I doubt whether Paganini would have considered these difficult or instructive to play at all because of the noticeable space between the fragments, though still requiring a great deal of focus and concentration to execute well: https://vimeo.com/74993277
    Last edited by Larkenfield; Oct-05-2018 at 22:23.
    "That's all Folks!"

  10. #186
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    I like Freeman Etudes because it sounds random and totally unsentimental, not causing any ordinary emotions yet it puts my mind in a certain state. It is calming and exciting, cold and lyrical. It is like nature and artifact at the same time, like irregular sounds of dropping water or extremely elaborated miniature. I enjoy the precise details, pleasant sounds of violin itself. I am not sure what is special about this work compared with other aleatory pieces, it may be something to do with the physicality of the instrument and the particular way randomness is mapped to pitch, duration of notes/silence, dynamics, rhythm.

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  12. #187
    Senior Member millionrainbows's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Woodduck View Post
    In what way does a visual art background contribute to your understanding of Cage? I have worked in visual art all my life, although I settled upon music as an occupation. As a painter composing form in space I find a greater affinity with the deliberate structures and expressive gestures of the tonal tradition than with anything peculiarly Cagean.
    It's well known that John Cage was more influenced and formed by the New York art scene than he was by musical tradition. I just recently read that somewhere. I've known it all along, long ago, back in 1970.

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  14. #188
    Senior Member millionrainbows's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by aleazk View Post
    Millions, do you know what a differentiable manifold is? A metric? A Levi-Civita connection? The Riemann curvature tensor? A tensor? A geodesic curve? A fibre bundle? A holonomy? Etc.

    If not, then please stop using the word geometry, which is more than the platonic solids and their pseudo-mystical interpretations of 2500 years ago...

    If you are that interested in geometry, I could recommend you some actual differential geometry books.

    Btw, there seems to be some actual musical theorization using real geometry, done by this Dimitri Tymoczko guy. What I saw seemed correct and rigorous, i.e., doesn't seem a crackpot, although using orbifolds to understand the tonality of a Mozart piece seems a bit like an overkill to me...
    Yes, the Dmitri Tymoczko book is very good, in that he explains things clearly and in context, and doesn't get bogged-down in definitions. The book is about music, and how different geometric models can help us see it more clearly, as well as compose. The simplest model is the circle of fifths, but he explains the underlying properties of different models (such as number lines) and how these differ from each other, and how each one has a particular use.

    There are some very good reviews on the back of the dust cover. I suggest you look into it.

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  16. #189
    Senior Member millionrainbows's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mandryka View Post
    If someone could say something to help me appreciate the freeman etudes I’d be really pleased, whenever I’ve tried to listen to anyone playing them they sound utterly random to me. By contrast I can enjoy the piano etudes as a duet for two hands.
    Cage is exploring the idea of "advanced notation" and what is humanly possible to play using it. There is an element of humor in this idea as well, although it's a kind of abstract humor derived from knowing this. The score is ridiculously complex, and there is an element of humor there. Paul Zukofsky, who it was written for, gave up on it and walked away in frustration (and I find humor in that). Irvine Arditti was finally able to play it, because his chops are so much better than Zukofsky's were ( I find that amusing). Arditti gave Cage some feedback, as he had to finish the work after Zukofsky bailed, and so they settled on "As fast as humanly possible" as the new meta-direction (I find that humorous). I guess if the end result is not pleasing as music, then it's OK to just write it off as "a bunch of noise" ( I find this humorous as well). I think this explanation is humorous.

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  18. #190
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    What is special about the notation? I remember that Sabine Liebner thought that her interpretation of the Etudes Australes - which is unique in that each piece lasts about 7 minutes long - is somehow indicated by some aspect of Cage’s score which all others ignore.

    Presumably the score in the Freeman Etudes is as open to interpretation as the Etudes Australes, and that there’s scope for the violin player to romanticise them by finding stories and narratives, like Claudio Crismani does in the piano etudes.

    Why did Cage feel the need to write 32 of them?

    As far as I know he produced three sets of etudes, Australes, Freeman and Boreales. Has anyone explored the Boreales?
    Last edited by Mandryka; Oct-06-2018 at 12:22.

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  20. #191
    Senior Member joen_cph's Avatar
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    The Boreales were unknown to me.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Etudes_Boreales

    There´s a you-tube of all the 4 piano etudes which I now sampled a bit, but superficially.
    Very fragmented-sounding and static, at least on the surface of it.
    It is well recorded here:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E08z6t5M7tE
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vGIDOzSz6O8

    There are also 4 Etudes Boreales for Cello, but not my cuppa;
    https://www.gramophone.co.uk/review/...orks-for-cello

    here's no.1
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ZHO70GbCuM
    Last edited by joen_cph; Oct-06-2018 at 11:45.

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  22. #192
    Senior Member aleazk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by millionrainbows View Post
    Yes, the Dmitri Tymoczko book is very good, in that he explains things clearly and in context, and doesn't get bogged-down in definitions. The book is about music, and how different geometric models can help us see it more clearly, as well as compose. The simplest model is the circle of fifths, but he explains the underlying properties of different models (such as number lines) and how these differ from each other, and how each one has a particular use.

    There are some very good reviews on the back of the dust cover. I suggest you look into it.
    As I said, I read a bit of the book (there's a free online version in the author's page). It seemed fine to me, although not particularly interesting or more insightful than the already existing standard theory, the geometric part seems like an overkill to me. Again, there seems to be a gap between those who are thoroughly familiar with mathematics and have used it in really profound applications (both in physics as well as pure math) and those who are only superficially familiar with it and only know these applications in music and maybe some other elementary applications as well. I don't mean to sound derogatory with this, it's just an observation, if it floats your boat, I have nothing against that. But, in my case, having seen geometry in action in other realms (like General Relativity, Yang--Mills fields, Hamiltonian mechanics, etc., the applications in physics are really endless), I have, due to that, a rather clear idea regarding what are the profound insights that geometrical ideas bring to those fields and when it's worth the trouble of applying those complex concepts. In this musical example, I really don't see the necessity of geometry for having a clear understanding of tonal harmony, even when, indeed, it can be applied to it and some musical notions be re-interpreted in geometric language. But the gain in insight is not that big, at least to me, so it's not worth the trouble for me. This often happens in physics too.
    Last edited by aleazk; Oct-06-2018 at 16:36.

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  24. #193
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    It would be nice to know how the etudes were written, i can’t make sense of what Wikipedia says! I’d like a recipe so I can compose one of my own. Could someone write an Etudes Australes computer programme to generate them? How much of the process was following an algorithm with some random component built in, how much was inspiration?

    I looked at some images of the Etudes Australes and they look more or less like regular music except there is no tempo or time signature or dynamic or articulation or any other indication. All it seems to tell us is relative pitch and relative note length using standard notation. And there are these funny little lines with a hook at the end underneath the staves, a bit like pedal.

    So can I conclude that the unspecified things - tempo, ornaments, rests etc are left to the performer’s discretion, the performer’s job is to turn this “framework” into something good to hear?

    And what are those little lines about? pedal?

    It would be nice to hear from someone who’s played one of them.



    Cage-etudes-australes-8.gif

    There’s a view I’ve heard, that when someone writes some music he has an idea of what it sounds like in his head, and he tries to write that idea down. Did Cage have an idea of how these etudes sound in his head?
    Last edited by Mandryka; Oct-06-2018 at 17:50.

  25. #194
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mandryka View Post
    I looked at some images of the Etudes Australes and they look more or less like regular music except there is no tempo or time signature or dynamic or articulation or any other indication. All it seems to tell us is relative pitch and relative note length using standard notation. And there are these funny little lines with a hook at the end underneath the staves, a bit like pedal.
    "An open note is to be held as long as possible beyond the succeeding closed note, the leap to the next note (whether open or closed) being made at the last possible moment. Where more than one closed note follows an open note, a pedal-like notation is given. The open note is then to be sustained as long as the pedal continues." - Cage

    There’s a view I’ve heard, that when someone writes some music he has an idea of what it sounds like in his head, and he tries to write that idea down. Did Cage have an idea of how these etudes sound in his head?
    Since the etudes were composed using chance operation, it is likely that the composer didn't know how they would sound like.

    "Though the notation is determinate [...], the use of chance operations is not as an aid in the making of something I had in mind; rather, a utility to let sounds arise from their own centers freed from my intentions. I just listen. For this reason, also, the use of star maps; to aid in the finding of a music I do not have in mind." - Cage

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  27. #195
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    Thank you Tortkis. Let me rephrase one of my questions, which was really about performers’ discretion. After Cage had written an etude using his notation, did he have a conception of how it should sound? That’s to say, how tightly does the the notation determine the performance?

    Cage may have used randomness to remove some of his will, his intention. But in practice is it just replaced by the performer’s will?

    I would like someone to make a YouTube video where they write a piano piece in the style of these etudes australes using Cage’s method.
    Last edited by Mandryka; Oct-07-2018 at 07:20.

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