John Cage

Susan Phillipsz

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John Cage “4:33”

This is Cage’s famous silent piece. Although composed in 1952, he had already thought about it as early as 1948, where he mentions it as ‘Silent Prayer’ in his article “A Composer’s Confessions”. In the work, no intentional sounds are made during its duration. The first version of the work contains 3 movements lasting 33″, 2’40” and 1’20”, each chance determined. Later on Cage reworked the piece, creating a wholly different composition from the original. Much has been written about 4’33” and about Cage’s ideas behind its silence. Two of the most prevalent ideas are that 1. Silence does not exist. One simply should listen and open one’s ears. 2. Silence is a means to separate tones and chords, in order to avoid melodic interpretations to the relationships between and among sounds. However, according to David Tudor, as quoted in interview materials contained in Peter Dickinson’s Cage Talk (2006) 4’33” was for Cage a simple and quite natural extension of his use of chance operations applied to sounds and silences in composition, with silences, in this case, comprising the entire gamut of materials at his disposal.


Here is a version of Cage’s “4:33” performed by David Tudor.

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Found Sound

utilisation of found sound as a musical resource was starting to be explored. An early example is Parade, a performance produced at the Chatelet Theatre, Paris, on May 18, 1917, that was conceived by Jean Cocteau, with design by Pablo Picasso, choreography by Leonid Massine, and music by Eric Satie. The extra-musical materials used in the production were referred to as trompe l’oreille sounds by Cocteau and included a dynamo, Morse code machine, sirens, steam engine, airplane motor, and typewriters. Arseny Avraamov’s compositionSymphony of Factory Sirens involved navy ship sirens and whistles, bus and car horns, factory sirens, cannons, foghorns, artillery guns, machine guns, hydro-airplanes, a specially designed steam-whistle machine creating noisy renderings of Internationale and Marseillaise for a piece conducted by a team using flags and pistols when performed in the city of Baku in 1922. In 1923,Arthur Honegger created Pacific 231, a modernist musical composition that imitates the sound of a steam locomotive. Another example is Ottorino Respighi’s 1924 orchestral piece Pines of Rome, which included the phonographic playback of a nightingale recording. Also in 1924, George Antheil created a work titled Ballet Mécanique with instrumentation that included 16 pianos, 3airplane propellers, and 7 electric bells. The work was originally conceived as music for the Dada film of the same name, by Dudley Murphy and Fernand Léger, but in 1926 it premiered independently as a concert piece.

In 1930 Paul Hindemith and Ernst Toch recycled records to create sound montages and in 1936 Edgard Varèse experimented with records, playing them backwards, and at varying speeds. Varese had earlier used sirens to create what he called a “continuous flowing curve” of sound that he could not achieve with acoustic instruments. In 1931, Varese’s Ionisation for 13 players featured 2 sirens, a lions’s roar, and used 37 percussion instruments to create a repertoire of unpitched sounds making it the first musical work to be organized solely on the basis of noise. In remarking on Varese’s contributions the American composer John Cage stated that Varese had “established the present nature of music” and that he had “moved into the field of sound itself while others were still discriminating ‘musical tones’ from noises”.

In an essay written in 1937, Cage expressed an interest in using extra-musical materials and came to distinguish between found sounds, which he called noise, and musical sounds, examples of which included: rain, static between radio channels, and “a truck at fifty miles per hour”. Essentially, Cage made no distinction, in his view all sounds have the potential to be used creatively. His aim was to capture and control elements of the sonic environment and employ a method of sound organisation, a term borrowed from Varese, to bring meaning to the sound materials. Cage began in 1939 to create a series of works that explored his stated aims, the first being Imaginary Landscape #1 for instruments including two variable speed turntables with frequency recordings.

In 1961, James Tenney composed Analogue #1: Noise Study (for tape) using computer synthesized noise and Collage No.1 (Blue Suede) (for tape) by sampling and manipulating a famous Elvis Presley recording.

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Delia Derbyshire (1937); Chance Project

Delia Derbyshire was born in Coventry, England, in 1937. Educated at Coventry Grammar School and Girton College, Cambridge, where she was awarded a degree in mathematics and music.

Delia Derbyshire was working in the BBC’s Radiophonic Workshop in 1963 when she was given the score for a theme tune to a new science fiction series.

She turned those dots on a page into the swirling, shimmering Doctor Who title music, one of the most famous and instantly recognisable TV themes ever. On first hearing it Grainer was tickled pink: “Did I really write this?” he asked. “Most of it,” replied Derbyshire.

Thus began what is still referred to as the Golden Age of the Radiophonic Workshop. Initially set up as a service department for Radio Drama, it had always been run by someone with a drama background. Derbyshire was the first person there with any higher music qualifications, but as she wasn’t supposed to be doing music, much of her early work remained anonymous under the umbrella credit ‘special sound by BBC Radiophonic Workshop’.


Most unexpected of all, however, is a piece of music that sounds like a contemporary dance track which was recorded, it is believed, in the late sixties.

 Paul Hartnoll, formerly of the dance group Orbital and a great admirer of Ms Derbyshire’s work, said the track was, “quite amazing”.

“That could be coming out next week on [left-field dance label] Warp Records,” he noted.

“It’s incredible when you think when it comes from. Timeless, really. It could be now as much as then.”

Delia’s works from the 60s and 70s continue to be used on radio and TV some 30 years later, and her music has given her legendary status with releases in Sweden and Japan. She is also constantly mentioned, credited and covered by bands from Add n to (x) and Sonic Boom to Aphex Twin and The Chemical Brothers.

A complete list of her works has yet to be compiled, but amongst other things she has mentioned doing: Special works and soundtracks for the Brighton Festival, the City of London Festival, Yoko Ono’s “Wrapping Event”, the award winning “Circle of Light”, music for Peter Hall’s “Work is a 4 Letter Word” starring Cilla Black, The White Noise LP “An Electric Storm”, special sound and music for plays at the RSC Stratford, Greenwich Theatre, Hampstead Theatre and the Chalk Farm Roundhouse.Image

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Fair-Trade Film

a stop-frame animation i have made to promote the one world shop.

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Brief – Fairtrade project

Description- create a piece of film based on the main ideology of the fairtrade, using these ideas i want to create a piece that will show the viewers that would previously be unbeknown to what Fairtrade actually does, what they do for people and what they actually sell to the world and also bring Fairtrade to an age group previously oblivious to what Fairtrade actually do, aka my age group.

Background & Inspiration – My main inspiration will be the past films made by Fairtrade and their way of working will also inspire me, the way they give back to the sellers can inspire me to create work that will be on the same level as their generosity. my background for this project will be my research on fairtrade and what they have achieved for the developing country.

Aims & Objectives – originally I aimed to create a hash tag for twitter to help gain peoples of my age groups attention and then create a T-shirt design for people to wear in support of fairtrade week (distributed by arcadia inc. [Topman/topshop]) to go along with my video, this would have been an ideal way to reach people of my age who are never without the internet and always looking for a new trend, but with no response from the company I have had to change my idea and have decided to create a stop-frame animation of me going round giving a tour of the one world shop, with a stop-frame animation this will be quirky and fun, which will appeal to my age group. I now want to show teenagers what Fairtrade actually sells, which is more than just bananas. Thus opening their eyes to a new idea of what Fairtrade is and what they achieve. I also plan on using the Fairtrade official song in the background to further show how creative Fair-trade support is and how varied it is, and further showing that anyone including the person watching can support them.

Target Audience – My target audience is people of my age group as asked for within the given brief, I have to create a piece of film that will bring a new generation to Fair-trade’s ideology and with my short film I intend in doing so.

Evaluation – Upon finishing my project I have realized that it is more difficult than I would have hoped for me to get into a bigger business to help me with my perhaps overambitious ideas. I also realized that the Fair-trade song that I intended to use was just far too cheesy for me to promote within my age group as it would have instantly felt like a primary school video and felt patronizing. Mixing two tracks together seems like an idea I could use in the future as it was quite successful for this task. Use of flash for my stop-frame was probably the best option although not perfect with sound files and I had issues with that the export quality of premiere was not coming out with the standards I required for the final animation. I also feel it would have been easier for me to get across the ideas of the Fair-trade if it wasn’t just a web film, with its limited time frame it was difficult to get around all the themes and some were cut from my final piece. Overall I feel the project was a success and I feel the client was happy with my work as a whole and with a quirky stop-frame animation I feel with that and the melodic dance track I mixed together it will appeal to people my age and help bring Fair-trade into a new generation.

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Edited WordPress


within this edited part of my blog i have moved the header more central to my page, made the font bigger and also made the padding underneath futher away, although because i have not purchased the full upgrade i could not use the stylesheet and have printscreened the page instead.

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