Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press. 1979. Fourth printing.
"There is no such thing as an empty space or an empty time. There is always something to see, something to hear. In fact, try as we may to make a silence, we cannot.” Softcover, 7 x 8.25, 276 pp. Signed and inscribed by the innovative American composer on the half title in blue ballpoint, "For Rina Boorin, and pleasure to be with you, John Cage." In very good to fine condition, with staining and soiling to the covers, and a small edge tear to the signed page. An excellent copy of one of the most important books in 20th century music.
The first time Cage mentioned the idea of a piece composed entirely of silence was during a 1947 (or 1948) lecture at Vassar College, A Composer's Confessions. Cage told the audience that he had "several new desires", one of which was "to compose a piece of uninterrupted silence and sell it to Muzak Co. It will be three or four-and-a-half minutes long—those being the standard lengths of "canned" music and its title will be Silent Prayer. It will open with a single idea which I will attempt to make as seductive as the color and shape and fragrance of a flower. The ending will approach imperceptibility." Cage's "Four minutes, thirty-three seconds" (4'33") was composed in 1952, for any instrument or combination of instruments, and the score instructs the performer(s) not to play their instrument(s) during the entire duration of the piece throughout the three movements. The piece purports to consist of the sounds of the environment that the listeners hear while it is performed, although it is commonly perceived as "four minutes thirty-three seconds of silence."
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