Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Suite for Toy Piano?

Ya.  You heard right.  If you have never heard of such a concept as a real composition for a toy piano, or something called a "prepared piano", or of a "musical" composition that contains no notes, or a man named John Cage you are definitely not alone, and in such an instance many would apply the maxim "ignorance is bliss".  Now, I have to be frank.  Just a short while ago in my life I would have used this post as an opportunity to rant on the utter destructiveness of post-modern artistic and musical styles, and I would have eulogized the impending deaths of Mozart and Schubert while this "noise" (or silence) grabs control of the concert halls.  I apologize to those who would have enjoyed reading that post, but over the past few years I've mellowed down a bit, or rather, matured a bit.  Look, when I was reared as a child it was ingrained in me that that music is synonymous with Bach and Beethoven.  Of course I've always appreciated classical rock, jazz, and other musical styles, but abstract music was a big no no.  At one point one of my music teachers told me "you know, one day you're gonna be sick and tired of listening to the predictable music of Mozart and Haydn and you'll need something else to satisfy your ear".  At the time I thought the idea was laughable.  Sick of Mozart?  But as the years have gone by, while I do not think I will ever become "sick" of Mozart, I have learned to appreciate newer styles of music.  Now, John Cage certainly is not your typical abstract composer.  But his ideas are definitely thought provoking and even beautiful.  The other night I asked a friend if I could sing 4"33 for him, and even though he really did not want to hear it I sang it anyway.  And let me tell you - my voice has never sounded more perfect.  The idea John Cage tries to promote is the beauty of the music around us.  When was the last time you thought of the car honking as music.  Or the air conditioner.  Noise is music.  The classical definition of music is generally understood to be "organized sound", but who said that "unorganized sound" is not music either.  Don't get me wrong - I would rather listen to Brahms than a "prepared piano" any day of the week,  but there is certainly beauty in the "non-music" music.  So, yea, while I think the idea of a suite for a toy piano is a bit absurd, I think the absurdity is what makes it beautiful.  
Here is a clip of John Cage talking about his idea of music:
Here is a clip of 4"33.  Vote on the poll what you think.

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