Sunday, October 31, 2010

Out Spotlight

Today's Out Spotlight is a composer, writer, philosopher, visual and performance artist, and cofounder of the New York Mycological Society for the study, collection and appreciation of mushrooms and fungi. Today's Out Spotlight is John Cage.

Cage pushed the boundaries of traditional music, experimenting with sound, environment and audience perception. His avant-garde work influenced music, painting, dance, performance art and poetry.

John Cage was born in Los Angeles, September 5, 1912. His father was a somewhat eccentric inventor of largely useless devices who told him "that if someone says 'can't' that shows you what to do." He described his mother as a woman with "a sense of society" who was "never happy." It was not obvious from his early life that he would become a composer; he was born into a Episcopalian family, and his paternal grandfather regarded the violin as the "instrument of the devil". Cage himself planned to become a minister at an early age and later a writer. He was playing piano on the radio regularly by the time he was 12. From the influence of his inventor father, he developed a reputation for innovation and originality; qualities that became the hallmarks of his career.

Although music was not clearly to be his chosen path, he did say later that he had unfocused desire to create, and his subsequent anti-establishment stance may be seen to have its roots in an incident while he was attending Pomona College. Shocked to find a large number of students in the library reading the same set text, he rebelled and "went into the stacks and read the first book written by an author whose name began with Z. I received the highest grade in the class. That convinced me that the institution was not being run correctly." He dropped out in his second year and sailed to Europe, to pursue a less traditional education. Settling down in Paris, he spent 18 months painting, writing poetry and composing music, before returning to California to focus on his music.

From 1931 to 1936 he study music. His composition teachers included Adolph Weiss, Henry Cowell and Arnold Schoenberg. Schoenberg declared the young man “not a composer, but an inventor of genius.” In 1937, Cage worked as a dance accompanist in Seattle, where he met dancer and choreographer Merce Cunningham. The two became professional and life partners for the next 50 years. In 1938, he began to experiment with his music. He composed pieces for the prepared piano—a piano he created with objects placed on and between the strings to alter sound.

He founded a percussion orchestra for which he wrote his First Construction (In Metal) in 1939, a piece which uses metal percussion instruments to make a loud and rhythmic music. He also wrote the Imaginary Landscape No. 1 in that year, which uses record players as instruments, one of the first, if not the first, examples of this. Cage wrote a number of other Imaginary Landscape pieces in later years.

Cage continued to pursue unorthodox techniques into the 1940's. His fascination with Taoism and Zen Buddhism led him to chance music. Based on the “I Ching”—the Zen book of changes—and the flip of a coin, Cage created compositions solely by chance.

Cage joined the faculty of the Chicago School of Design. While there he was asked to write a sound effects-based musical accompaniment for Kenneth Patchen's radio play The City Wears a Slouch Hat. He then moved to New York City, but found it very hard to get work there. However, he continued to write music, and establish new musical contacts. He toured America with the Merce Cunningham Dance Company several times, and also toured Europe with the experimental pianist (and later composer) David Tudor, who he worked with closely many other times.

In 1948, he joined the Black Mountain College faculty and began collaborating with David Tudor and Robert Rauschenberg, among others. He composed his most controversial piece “4’33’,” three scores of silence over 4 minutes and 33 seconds. The intended “music” of the piece is the unintentional sound created by the audience and the environment.

The premiere of 4′ 33″ was given by David Tudor on August 29, 1952, at Woodstock, New York as part of a recital of contemporary piano music. The audience saw him sit at the piano, and lift the lid of the piano. Some time later, without having played any notes, he closed the lid. A while after that, again having played nothing, he lifted the lid. And after a period of time, he closed the lid once more and rose from the piano. The piece had passed without a note being played, in fact without Tudor or anyone else on stage having made any deliberate sound, although he timed the lengths on a stopwatch while turning the pages of the score.

He continued to compose and collaborate with other artists. In his later years, he focused on electronic music, often using radios and “Happenings,” what he called them—pieces that are mostly unwritten, except for timed intervals in which a note, a sound or silence is scheduled.

Cage passed away in New York City on August 12, 1992.

“I can't understand why people are frightened of new ideas. I'm frightened of the old ones.”

John Cage’s “4’33”” performed by David Tudor

A reminder to stop by and see one of our favorite bunnies, Mr. Peabunny. He is currently campaigning to be Pet of the Month at South Arundel Animal Hospital.

"Vote Early and Vote Often."

Mr. Peabunny's Blog

Happy Halloween from OMG


Chanterelle said...

Another fascinating Spotlight. :)

I'll be sure to stop by and vote for Mr. Peabunny.

Happy Halloween!

prairiegirl said...



That video is a Killer!!!!!

prairiegirl said...

Jake as the Wolfman. Austin as the crazy scientist.

The next one is even better.

Special, you've outdone yourself.

prairiegirl said...

And everyone get excited now!

New Sophin pics from LAX yesterday!!!

Special programming note:

We have.....identity? Note the airport signs (LOLLLLL!)

We have....proper bearding attire.....the derby

And though this isn't from the Reeke School of Bearding, I think it's worthy of mention. Could set a new trend.

We have the 70-degree moisture-wicking Sherpa Coat and smoky grey clinging nylon/spandex tights on Soap. We need to get Joan Rivers for these bearding pics, I'm terrible at it.

Hmmm, plane must have been freezing. Or that take-off weather, you know. Lows of 50 whether they be in Wilmy or on the plane can be sherpa-inducing for some. Not in Kansas, but well....elsewhere. I understand.

leah said...

prairiegirl, wtf are you saying?

Special K said...

I put the link to them on JJ in yesterday's comments.Jared posted it overnight.

Special K said...

New pics of Jake over at IHJ if you haven't seen them yet.

Esquire (UK) cover, blurb from US Weekly about Jake flying from LA to Boston, and the pictures from lunch with Busy.

Special K said...

I smell like bacon, maple syrup, hickory smoke, and Molsen's.(The joy of cooking for a crowd) I don't know they might be able market this as a fragrance in Canada.

the real m said...

That video is a real winner. Great job Special.

I saw those pics on Jared and my first thought was what the hell is she wearing. I guess Austin is home to spend Halloween with Jake.

The violin is the instrument of the devil? 25 years from now people will be just as stunned to hear gays can not marry.

I was wondering where that picture of Jake on the bike was taken. It looks like a residence. I wonder if paps are staking out his home.

Methodical Muser said...

A very clever and entertaining video, Special. Putting Jake's head on the "The Werewolf" and that plaid shirt was just too perfect and the way Jake kept hitting his ass when he was dancing was a hoot as well. Thanks for the laugh.

I also loved the expression on Austin's face as he and Soapy held hands at LAX. The man seems like he is almost in pain. It's so wonderful to know he still can't get enough of his wo-man.

Morel said...

I smell like bacon, maple syrup, hickory smoke, and Molsen's.(The joy of cooking for a crowd) I don't know they might be able market this as a fragrance in Canada.


Jake as Wolfman was great - and the Bride of Frankenstein? Very Cute.

Ricky Martin promo said...

Oprah Show into: First Television Interview: Ricky Martin Coming Out As a Gay Man and a New Dad

Oprah Show: November 2, Tue

The View: November 3, Wed

Book signing:
November 3, Wed 12:30 pm
Time Warner Center, 10 Columbus Circle
New York, NY 10019
Store phone: 212-823-9775

November 4, Thu 7:00 pm
211 East Ridgewood Avenue
Ridgewood, NJ 07450
Store phone: 201-445-0726

November 6, Sat 4:00 pm
Books & Books
265 Aragon Avenue
Coral Gables, FL 33134
Store phone: 305-442-4408

November 9, Tue 7:30pm
Barnes & Noble
The Grove at Farmers Market
189 Grove Drive, Suite K30
Los Angeles, CA 90036
Store phone: 323-525-0270

prairiegirl said...

I notice that 18:14 left Austin out. No opinion on Austin, I guess.

Neither Just Jared. Poor Austin.

Well, my dogsitting watching for my friend has been extended. Unfortunately, there's this growing club of Boomers who are losing their parents and it's a club no one wants to be a part of, but we have no choice.

prairiegirl said...

What an absolutely crazy day. Rushing to get my Halloween One-Shot up, that took almost allllllll morning.

Trip into the city with my sister, mom, aunt and a friend to go to Crown Center. I haven't been there in ages. My sister & I got two stores covered in an hour and that was it. Back home to get more clothes and stuff. To a local Hy Vee to get food for the next couple of days and Halloween candy since Maizie & Kirby's mama told me I would be having trick or treaters.

Wow! Halloween candy hit hard! And those candy bars were so expensive this year, what is up with that??

I got peanut M&M's and Fast Breaks. They are traveling in packs. I'm getting groups of 9 and 10. I'm going to run out of candy!!!

prairiegirl said...


Wow, what a loud doorbell. lol. You could hear that thing in the backyard, I bet.

You have the really polite ones and then you have a few little munchkins who reach right for the pan of candy. Smack! Uh-Uh! lol. Dang, where are some of these little kids' manners?
I hope BT doesn't do that tonight.

The little, little ones are the cutest. I've had Yoda, a ladybug, a Charlie Brown ghost, Buzz Lightyear.

I must have had about 10-12 little toddlers in one group and here they come with all these parents. Parents with cameras and whatnot. Trying to corral all those little tykes. LOLLLLLL!!

prairiegirl said...

I had to turn the porchlight out. I only had one candy bar left and they've all been coming in groups so that would've been bad to only have one candy bar to hand out.

And some of these kids looked way too big to be trick or treating. I had two boys who looked about 6' or so. Some didn't even use any kind of container or bag, just held out a hand. What the heck??

Nice to see some kids do still go trick or treating. Everyone should get to experience that at least once, don't you think?

Busy helping TT said...

Hmm maybe Baby Tile is Birdy Tile.

prairiegirl said...

Except that Birdie's birthday doesn't coincide with the time that BT's birthday should be.

I don't know why but I think Birdie is the cutest name. And I also like Busy. That's a great nickname. At least they're easy to spell. I have a little cousin with a regular kind of name but man, it is spelled so crazy, I had to write it down somewhere for consultation. It's got more consonants in it and a "y" where it shouldn't be. That's the kind I feel sorry for. Their teachers are going to spell their name wrong every time. It's going to get misspelled on their tax forms, church registers, invitations, you name it.Ha!! Prescriptions.

Ted said...

Dear Ted:
In what state does Baby Tile live? Does he or she live with Toothy or Gray Goose?

Dear One Big Toothy Family:
More than one.

Bitch Back

splain it better, Ted said...

More than one what, Ted? More than 1 state or more than just TT or GG, or with GG and TT? Someone's gotta get Ted some Ritalin.

Special K said...

"One Big Toothy Family"

Look how Ted describes them. Big. The question is: Is three, big?

interpretation said...

My take on "Big Toothy Family" is BT is mostly taken care of and living with Jake's relatives. Mom, Dad, Maggie, someone else?

the keeper of secrets said...

Dear Atticus, Please learn how to talk, type, sign language.... anything. Soon. We'll give you all the steaks you want.

Austins parents in TX said...

We are taken care of the young un, why do ya'all forget that it has 2 sets of Grans!!!

not young anymore said...

Do grandparents really want to take care of a child 24/7? They already went down that road.