Talk:John Cage

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I removed "Cage was able to counter much of the effects of aging by pursuing a macrobiotic diet" from this section, since it was unsubstantiated, and not very credible given the 79-year-old's list of afflictions:

"Already in the course of the eighties, Cage's health worsened progressively: he suffered not only from arthritis, but also from sciatica and arteriosclerosis. He suffered a stroke that left the movement of his left leg restricted, and, in 1985, broke an arm. Cage was able to counter much of the effects of aging by pursuing a macrobiotic diet." —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:28, 13 October 2009 (UTC)

The statement is from Revill's 1993 biography. I just looked it up and reinserted it, adding a reference with the page number. --Jashiin (talk) 20:31, 13 October 2009 (UTC)

General comments[edit]

(Copied from the comments page. Magic♪piano 01:48, 22 December 2008 (UTC)) You need to add more information on different aspects, not just his career. It also looks disorganized and confusing; considering making a lot of your sections subsections. Please also add a fair use ratinonale to the image. Cbrown1023 23:41, 4 December 2006 (UTC)

4'33" not as music?!?!?!?[edit]

I was horrified to find 4'33" flippantly described as not music? As this was one of the main POINTS of cages music (that silence dosen't exist and in fact anything can be music when listening 'properly') it seems heretical.


p.s.when I have the time (and so long as no-one argues the case against) I will correct this sillyness somewhat equivalent to an article on religion stating "it's something to do with god" The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk • contribs) .

Which is the part you have a problem with -- the paragraph that begins "It is a potential problem..."? I don't see it stated anywhere exactly in the article that 4'33" is "not music". It is stated that the piece "challenges the definition of music" which I think is a fair statement. Feel free to correct anything you think is wrong. Antandrus (talk) 00:59, 12 February 2006 (UTC)
Linkin this paragraph of the text it to the rest of the article which it somehow oppose, it say not that it is 'not sound', but that sound is not what is composed. The opposite view is already there, in the text.

Not everything that has a point is music. 05:05, 15 July 2007 (UTC)

Well, that piece has no sound. So, to common sense, it is not musicAbsoluteZero255 00:36, 27 October 2007 (UTC)

gaaah! you've missed the point entirely. For starters, try putting on a performance of 4'33". You will find that there is in fact sound going on, unless you manage to put on the performace inside a vaccuum. Here's an orchestral version, turn up your speakers: Hairhorn (talk) 23:29, 14 August 2008 (UTC)
Many musicians, myself included, acknowledge Cage's point...4':33" is a piece of music; indeed, if Yehudi Menuhin was to be heard during the performance practising in the next room, it may well be great music, but if all you can here is some guy in the toilets getting a blow job from the composer...perhaps not good music? -- (talk) 06:41, 5 January 2010 (UTC)
Johnny Cage sucks, but by definition, 4'33 is indeed music. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:49, 4 March 2010 (UTC)
can all of you shut up? it's not music. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:01, 25 March 2010 (UTC)

And between the lines you are all talking about your personal likes and dislikes - it's also mainly that, JC wanted to get rid of. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 07:56, 8 April 2010 (UTC)

Middlebury College Visit[edit]

How do I add link and another page? Could someone do this for me? Here is a memory that's worth posting, so that readers gain a sense of Cage's style and devil-may-care approach. Even in his later years, he shared enthusiasm for pushing the envelope. Here is the content of a Middlebury College visit made in the early 1980s:

Middlebury College Visit -- John Cage, early 1980s

John Cage remained vibrant and experimental in his later years, taking advantage of all his performance experiences. During the early 1980s, he and Merce Cunningham visited Middlebury College for several days. As an active music department devotee, I worked with Cage in several sessions.

First, he gathered some 20 of us for a performance. We were assigned time periods based on I-Ching selections he made then. I brought along a hair dryer and decided to turn it on/off for my contribution. After the performance, he was concerned that my hairdryer was performed in too regular and predictable a pattern.

Of course, we also heard a fully-prepared piano performance from Cage. That was quite interesting, especially to the pianists present (including myself). What surprised me were the lovely sounds, which did not play off the dissonance and new scales of Cage's peers. Utterly original and pleasing.

Then, Cage showed us mesostics. The idea was to take a word, in this case Satie. He read Satie's writings, and plucked words from them each time a word contained a letter in Satie's last name. So the first word that had an "S" was selected first, the next word with an "A" was next, and so forth. Those words were recorded on index cards.

What next? At the large public concert that evening, Cage and Cunningham were performing jointly. There was a Cunningham dance troup at Middlebury too, and some 10-15 dancers on stage. The music was performed by Cage. He sat in the left corner of the stage, at a small desk, reading the Satie mesostics created earlier. Often he would sort the cards, and fan them as if playing with a 52 piece deck. Great sounds.

At first, the packed auditorium sat politely. After some time, one heard rufflings and rumblings. Eventually, folks politely slipped out of the auditorium. But it took at least 45 minutes for that movement to begin. Perhaps half the audience remained throughout the performance.

The next day, the music department devotees met with Cage again. He declared the concert a success. His purpose was to create reaction and participation, and he achieved that with splendor. Cage was fairly serious about this performance, so we were not laughing. But performances should be enjoyable and fun...and he achieved that without effort.

What a memory. Please share your own experiences with Cage here as well. Thanks.

Head to Wikipedia:Village Pump for questions about editing and how to link to external pages. --Dante Alighieri 21:55 19 May 2003 (UTC)

Wesleyan University[edit]

Since we've been invited to share personal experiences, here's mine.

In 1960-61, John Cage was a visiting scholar at Wesleyan University, in the honors college. I knew of him because of his association with one of my professors, the late David McAllester, an anthropologist and musicologist. It was during that period that he wrote Atlas Eclipticalis With Winter Music.

I was an astronomy major (the only one at Wesleyan at the time). One day, when I was in the department library, John Cage appeared and asked if we had any star maps. As it happened, we had recently acquired a copy of Becvar's Atlas Eclipticalis. This was a sumptuously produced atlas of the sky, with the stars indicated in color depending on the type of the star (stars come in various colors from red to yellow to white to blue, depending on their temperature). Brighter stars were indicated with larger dots. Nebulae were shown, and gaseous nebulae indicated in green. It was truly a beautiful book.

I fetched it off the shelf and showed it to Cage, who said it was just what he needed, and checked it out.

That was the last I heard of it until considerably later, when David McAllester informed me that the U.S. premier performance of Atlas Eclipticalis With Winter Music was to be given at Connecticut College (at the time, Connecticut College for Women). So we all packed up and went to it (David driving his intrepid VW Microbus). Susan McAllester, David's wife, brought along an enormous shelf fungus that she had acquired at their summer place in the Berkshires. When we got there, John Cage came out to greet us, and Susan presented him with the shelf fungus. Cage was delighted and graciously accepted the gift.

The performance itself was interesting and included some dance pieces by Merce Cunningham's troupe. According to Cage (who talks about this in his recording, Silence, published by Folkways), the idea of Atlas Eclipticalis is that a music staff is placed at random on pages of the atlas, bringing some notes out of potentiality and into reality. The notes are then played according to the rules set out in the piece.

Sometime later, Cage wrote me to say that he had dedicated one of the instrumental parts to me (he did this with all of his friends at Wesleyan). I think mine was second bassoon, a part that has probably never actually been played. But that's part of Cage's impish sense of humor. Bill Jefferys (talk)


I've expanded this quite a lot, but it still needs a lot more and it'll need some more strucutre as it grows (I'm thinking of dividing it up into periods rather than separating biography from music, which seems a bit artificial in the case of Cage). The pieces mentioned at the end are the ones I hope to write about more in the future - it shouldn't just suddenly stop at 4'33" as it does now. I'm pretty sure about my facts, but I've not checked all of them, I admit (I re-reading Cage's books, so I'll do this as I go along). --Camembert

Naming conventions: 4'43"[edit]

Following my earlier query about how to name articles about pieces of classical music (the responses to which I'm very grateful for, and still chewing over), I've got another problem in that area: I want to write an article about the John Cage piece 4'33", but it looks like article titles cannot have quotes in them, so 4'33" doesn't work. Is there any way round this? There are alternative names for the piece (it could be spelled out in words, for example), but this form is by far the most common, and I'd like to use it if at all possible. --Camembert 18:22 Sep 30, 2002 (UTC)

How does 4'43" (coded as [[4 43|4'43"]]) strike you? Ortolan88 18:44 Sep 30, 2002 (UTC)

Yes, I know I can use a pipe, and if it comes to that, I will (though I'll probably point it to Four Minutes, Thirty-Three Seconds rather than 4 33). But what I was really trying to ask, in a round about way, was: is there any way to use a " in an article title? --Camembert 23:20 Sep 30, 2002 (UTC)

How about [[4'33'']] as a quick cheat, with two ' for a " -- Tarquin 23:29 Sep 30, 2002 (UTC)

It might just work that, it might just work. Rather amusingly, however, if you try to surround the link with two 's to italicize it (as those tyrants at the Manual of Style will say you should, hem hem), it breaks the link, and italicizes one set of brackets instead. And I would be a bit worried about people trying to link to the article but not being able to work out that it's two 's rather than one ". But I can use html tags to italicize, and I don't see anybody else round here writing about John Cage, so... --Camembert 00:23 Oct 1, 2002 (UTC)

(above from village pump archive) I take it you never made that page, Camembert? Martin
Not yet, but you know, for me a nine month gap between saying I'm going to do something and actually doing it is not unusual ;-) Seriously, I've been thinking about that (potential) article again recently, and if I ever do make it, I think I'm going to go with Tarquin's suggestion of 4'33'' (with two apostrophes for a double quote). I'll do it, any day now... --Camembert

I don't see the need for all this substitution and fudging. Why not just use 4′ 33″ (which is, after all, the piece's actual name)? --Paul A 15:55 Apr 20, 2003 (UTC)

Because the software doesn't recognise those characters. Try clicking on the following link and seeing what it gets turned into: 4′ 33″ --Camembert

Pomona book[edit]

I don't understand the story about the Pomona book. What happened? -- Error 03:45, 14 Aug 2003 (UTC)

Presumably the book Cage saw everyone reading was a set text - Cage read a completely different and randomly chosen book and still passed the class - 'if I can get away with that', he thinks, 'there's something wrong with the way things are run here' (or maybe, 'If they're making everybody read this one book for no reason...'). I suppose that's the point of the story. I'm not sure how this can be clearer in the article, to be honest... --Camembert
That version makes more sense. If it is certain that the book was a text one, it should be mentioned in the article. -- Error
I don't know that it was for sure - I'm just surmising that it must have been. As far as I know, Cage doesn't make it any more explicit than we have it in the article now (though I've only seen Cage's comments on this in fragments, so I don't know for sure). --Camembert
I've found a reputable-looking source that says: " exclusive Pomona College... he rebelled against the rigid textbook-based system, revising for exams by reading materials chosen randomly..."
(Warning: large pdf file. The bit I quoted is on page 16.)
Paul A 11:15, 16 Aug 2003 (UTC)
I can't get to that .pdf for some reason, but I believe you - I'll fiddle with the article a little bit. --Camembert

Batt lawsuit[edit]

Somebody wrote: "In 2002, British songwriter Mike Batt released an album containing a track called A one minute silence. The estate of Cage launched a lawsuit against Batt, claiming it infringed the copyright of the earlier Cage work. The case was settled out of court for a large undisclosed sum."

This ought to be changed, though I personally do not know the matter well enough. Batt was not - not - claimed to have infringed Cage's copyright because of the silence itself, but because he added Cage as a co-composer for it. The track possibly was presented like "A one minute silence (Batt/Cage)" or in similar ways added Cage's name to it, which is a very different deal.

Personally, I'd see it deleted entirely, but if it is to stay, facts should be clearified.

The CNN page here has the same information. LoopZilla 10:05, 17 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Even if it is an interesting case in respect of the law involved, I still do not think there is any good reasons for keeping it in the article.

  • I agree: I think this is more an issue of intellectual property and copyright laws pertaining to music. --bleh fu talk fu 14:15, Jan 21, 2005 (UTC)
    • Disagree. It is still relevant to the article, although I'd be happy to see the facts presented in a clearer way as suggested quercus robur 21:52, 21 Jan 2005 (UTC)
      • I think addressed in the context of the (re)definition of music, the article might present an interesting perspective; it's certainly something that deserves to be elaborated on. --bleh fu talk fu 07:12, Jan 22, 2005 (UTC)

This copyright issue is less about music than about issues of appropriation (in addition to law). The whole point of appropriation is that one use anothers work and - hopefully - add to it. Batt clearly credited Cage as co-composer (but I am not sure if he added anything to it, rather he reduced it to a question of silence - a minute digital silence has very little to do with a performed 'make no sound'). Hadn't he credited Cage, I doubt there would be a lawsuit - Cutler added silent track(s?) on his release of an AMM album (or maybe AMM did that themselved) - doubtlessly in honour of Cage - and there were no lawsuit there. In my opinion Carthago should be destoyed and the Batt lawsuit taken out of the article.

Seems the text about Batt lawsuit is out, but I'd like to bring up some facts: On the album Classical Graffiti by the Planets, described as an eight piece classical crossover band, a track is named 'A One Minute Silence (After Cage)' credited to Mike Batt. The album seem to contain many tracks similarly named and thus probably are arrangements of Rodrigo, Bach, Debussy, Ravel, Bizet and Cage.

External links[edit]

Can someone please forward the Wikipedia: policy page regarding advertising with external links. I find the links in "Sites inspired by Cage's work" of dubious value to the article, especially the last one. --bleh fu talk fu June 30, 2005 14:13 (UTC)

Yeah, very dubious. I removed the section. SethTisue 04:39, 4 June 2007 (UTC)

Might be worth noting[edit]

I'm not calling into question that Cage had Buddhist beliefs, but the idea that he was an American Buddhist might be questionable: "He did not affiliate himself officially with any Buddhist temples or organisations, nor did he sit zazen (the traditional seated form of Zen meditation)...Similarly, in surveying his use of excerpts from Asian sources during the 1940s and 1950s it becomes apparent that Cage's aesthetic was never any more consistently Hindu or Taoist than he himself ever was, that his works composed through "chance operations" are no more authentically "Buddhist"." (From the Cambridge Companion to John Cage, p. 58) --Knucmo2 18:32, 13 June 2007 (UTC)

I agree. Cage was fascinated by and strongly influenced by Zen, but wasn't a "Buddhist". I've changed the article in two places to reflect this. --SethTisue 23:48, 18 June 2007 (UTC)

Disagreement with page on 4'33"[edit]

We have here the following statement about 4'33"

Neither the whole piece nor the duration of the first performance were decided using chance operations.

But on the page 4'33" the opposite is stated (that the durations were chosen using chance). There is nothing in the note of the score I've seen about chance, but Cage states the first performance timings (33", 2'40", and 1'20") that a copy was made (for the work's dedicatee, Irwin Kremen) "in proportional notation" with durations of 30", 2'23", and 1'40". As these both add to 4'33", I'd suggest that chance didn't play a role, but I have no evidence. Anybody help?

JH(emendator) 11:41, 9 July 2007 (UTC)

4'33" works out to 273 seconds. It's a reference to absolute zero.Hairhorn (talk) 04:52, 15 August 2008 (UTC)


Someone removed the Gay and LGBT categories on the grounds that Cage was married and the article offers no evidence he was gay. I have reinstated the tags. Yes, Cage was married, but only briefly early in his life; this wasn't unusual for gay men at the time. As for not offering evidence for the categorization, the article says right at the top that Merce Cunningham was Cage's lifelong romantic partner. I don't have a reference source handy at the moment for this well known fact. A citation is needed, but there's no need to delete the categories in the meantime. SethTisue 21:54, 30 July 2007 (UTC)

I wouldn't consider ten years a "brief" marriage.F.N. Wombat 04:23, 12 August 2007 (UTC)F.N. Wombat
Thankfully our subjective impressions regarding the abstract passage of time are not relevant to this article. Hyacinth (talk) 03:21, 21 January 2008 (UTC)

Sexuality is not an easy issue with Cage, even if the facts of the matter are clear cut. Gay? Yes. Married for 10 years to Xenia Kashevaroff? Also yes. Marriage is hardly evidence of not being gay, especially so in the era when Cage was married (they divorced in 1945). But Cage never addressed his sexuality directly in his work, nor in any of his many lectures and books, and in at least one case, openly discouraged people from connecting his work with his sexuality. But at the same time his sexuality was not a secret.

So the temptation is to say that Cage, while both gay and an artist, was not a "Gay Artist" in the sense that he kept his life as an artist and his sexual life separate. And yet that's not true: Cage and his partner Merce Cunningham worked together a great deal.

So what's the answer? Pick your own answer. People don't always fit neatly into categories, John Cage especially so.Hairhorn (talk) 23:16, 18 August 2008 (UTC)

His marriage to Xenia ended in 1945 (not 1946 as one sentence implied). I've added a reference to Cage's obituary and a link to the New York Times; however, the date 1945 is mentioned twice within a paragraph of each other. One of them should be deleted for brevity and to avoid repetition, probably the first one. Bill Jefferys (talk) 18:18, 27 July 2009 (UTC)


Where's the criticism section? Surely he has enough people who hate him. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 06:11, 29 September 2007 (UTC)

Go ahead and add it, provided you have legitimate, NPOV material to put in it. --Wolf m corcoran (talk) 17:00, 17 February 2008 (UTC)
I actually found some material for that section (ie. Xenakis', Boulez' views on Cage's work, some Kahn essays, etc.); problem is, I want to finish writing the biography section first, and I have trouble doing that. There's just too much material to deal with, I have a hard time writing about the Cornish school years.. Anyway, just posting this in case anyone wonders if a Criticism section is going to happen: yes, it is, just give us some time. Jashiin (talk) 20:09, 17 February 2008 (UTC)

Articles on Cage's works[edit]

Hello, I've been working on articles on some of Cage's major works in the past couple of days (see the list on my user page). I've got a couple of questions for people interested in this article and the related ones. The first question is about the prepared piano pieces from the 1940s: should each piece have its own article, or should we have some sort of single article for all of them? I'd say that one article would work better, simply because certain works won't have much material about them in the printed sources, or are too small/short to write a decent article about. If this (single article) should be the case, what would be a good name for this article? I can't think of anything.

The second question is concerning the Works of John Cage article. I've already created the List of compositions by John Cage when I found it. The article doesn't look much like a list, is full of statements that are not NPOV, unverifiable or lacking citations, etc. The original contributor who wrote most of the text hasn't edited here for about a year, and no pages link to the article. Should it be deleted, or should the material be supplied with citations (I can't do this), then moved to Sonatas and Interludes? Or perhaps something else should be done? Jashiin 19:31, 10 November 2007 (UTC)

upd: Also, what do you think about creating an article for Time bracket (or Time brackets?) the technique, and then list the appropriate works there with comments for each? Rather than making articles for One, One2, One3, One4, etc. Same arguments as above.

Oh, and also the "series": Imaginary Landscapes, Variations, Music for Piano, etc. Is it OK if they get a single article each, with lists of and comments on the individual works? Jashiin 19:35, 10 November 2007 (UTC)

Well, since there were no replies, I'll do as I see fit, ie. create single articles for several works, like Works for prepared piano by John Cage, which I'm currently working on. Jashiin (talk) 13:40, 17 November 2007 (UTC)


I'm kind of bothered by the amount of information on the piece. There are 7 (seven!) paragraphs dedicated entirely to 4'33', plus two brief ones about the lawsuit and the Swedish band reference. I suggest merging this section into 4′33″. Any objections? Jashiin (talk) 11:55, 27 November 2007 (UTC)

Article structure[edit]

And another suggestion: to remove some of the descriptions of individual pieces and replace those with a "Style" section. My reasons:

  • many works now have their own articles (see Category:Compositions by John Cage), and there are more to come.
  • the discussion of some of the works doesn't add significantly to the article. For instance, I don't see how the information on Organ² / ASLSP (which has its own article) helps understand Cage's life and/or personality.
  • removing this information (and the long discussion of 4'33', see my post here above) will result in a lot of free space available, and we'll be able to discuss all major techniques Cage used, in detail. The "Style" section would then cover the following (in chronological order):
    • rhythmic proportions and the subsequent nested proportions technique
    • gamut technique and the use of "magic square"-type charts
    • chance operations using the I Ching
    • improvisations (Child of Tree, Branches, Inlets)
    • time bracket technique

We'd be able to give examples (from the scores) for each technique, too. Alternatively, we could incorporate all this information into the biographical data, the way it is done now (although right now most of these are only covered briefly, if at all) and the way it is done in NG; I just feel that perhaps it sort of distracts the reader from the biography. Any opinions and/or suggestions welcome. Jashiin (talk) 12:09, 27 November 2007 (UTC)

Jashiin, thank you. You are making big improvements, and I think your approach is sensible. I agree with your comment above that there is too much info about 4'33" (although it was seminal, it does have its own article). I think your idea of having articles about groups of compositions is logical (at least until we get so many contributions that those articles get too big and need splitting…). I also agree with your moving content out of this article so that it can discuss his "style" more generally rather than concentrating too much on individual works. Composer articles I think work well with a "biography" followed by a more technical discussion of the music (although, obviously, the composer's creation of the music forms a significant part of their biography). Best regards, RobertGtalk 17:14, 27 November 2007 (UTC)
Thanks for the reply! I was starting to think that I'm completely alone at this :) I'll be doing what I planned, then, starting with changing things on this page. Jashiin 09:44, 2 December 2007 (UTC)
This looks good, and I agree, mostly. John Cage should be primarily about the composer and his style. I also see the logic in merging Cages “series” pieces into single articles. I think we should make an exception in the case of those pieces which are notable in their own right however. For instance we have a series article Imaginary Landscape which can (and should) be expanded to include a paragraph or so about each of the five works. We can then have an imbedded link directing readers to separate articles covering
Imaginary Landscape No. 4 (nearly as notable as 4’33’’) and maybe Imaginary Landscape No. 1 (since it was one of the first electro-acoustic pieces).
All in all, I think this approach gives the best balance between overview and detail, and allows the possible inclusion of more musical examples or photographs. See String Quartets Nos. 1 - 6, Opus 18 (Beethoven) for an example of sort of what I’m thinking of. If many works in a series are notable it would also be nice to hold them together with a template. What do you think? __S.dedalus (talk) 03:04, 16 December 2007 (UTC)
Yeah, actually, you're right – I sort of went overboard with this, after completing Music for Piano (Cage) I just forgot that maybe some works might require a separate article :) As for the template, I'm not sure - I don't think there are any series that contain notable works only. A template would be nice for articles on Cage's books, though (Silence: Lectures and Writings, Empty Words, etc. - because these don't link to each other and don't constitute a series which could have a separate page. Jashiin (talk) 08:57, 16 December 2007 (UTC)
Done: Template:Cage books. :) --S.dedalus (talk) 00:17, 18 December 2007 (UTC)

A note on the addition of van Emmerik's dissertation to "further reading"[edit]

The work is in Dutch, but I think it should be listed regardless: it includes the standard catalogue of Cage's works, and was used extensively by the John Cage Database, Solomon, and others. Jashiin 15:38, 2 December 2007 (UTC)

The lead[edit]

I'd like to discuss the latest edit by an anonymous IP. The person who made the edit wrote that "such opinions are almost never universal", but in my opinion "influence" is something that can be measured, and this particular sentence concentrates on influence only, not significance or worth (sic!). So I'd say the "in the opinion of many" comment is not needed here. But I'm not sure; I'd like to hear other people's opinions. --Jashiin (talk) 10:02, 19 January 2008 (UTC)

I agree. The qualification is not necessary. SethTisue (talk) 14:49, 19 January 2008 (UTC)

Word for music using everyday household objects?[edit]

I believe there is a specific word given to music made using everyday household objects & appliances and/or the people who make such music. Does anyone know what that word is? -- (talk) 11:35, 12 June 2008 (UTC)

I don't think there is a specific word, except maybe "unconventional" or "non-traditional" or "Experimental musical instrument"? See also the article on Idiophones. OlEnglish (talk) 16:17, 15 August 2008 (UTC)
If there's nothing quite like what I described, then musique concrète would be the closest thing. -- (talk) 11:25, 19 August 2008 (UTC)
It's not so much what you call music made using everyday household objects, rather... what kind of music you make using household objects... it can really fall into any catagory... including musique concrète or electroacoustic music. (talk) 05:48, 24 April 2009 (UTC)

Wrong Image[edit]

The top image on the page is for the video game character, I think. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:41, 11 November 2008 (UTC)

No, it is John Cage - assuming the image there in early March 2009 is the same one that you are referring to nearly 4 months earlier. I've seen enough pictures of Cage to recognize that this is also Cage. M.J.E. (talk) 13:42, 5 March 2009 (UTC)

Critical opinion, not fact[edit]

From the section on 4'33" : "However, in a performance the listener would not be able to distinguish the parts in sounds, but only in the acts of the performer(s). In this respect Cage’s silent pieces constitute theater more than sound."

I don't see anything to this other than personal (critical) opinion. Should it remain? If it's a quote, then it should be marked as such (I can't imagine it is a quote). - Yankoz —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:26, 8 December 2008 (UTC)


Please do not remove the tags until the large amount of uncited material has been sourced. It's a choice between tags at the top of the page or me picking through the article with [citation needed] tags. Also, please don't call tagging vandalism, that amounts to WP:AGF infringement bordering on WP:NPA. The article needs additional inline citations to verify the text as per WP:VER. Do not assume the general reader has prior knowledge of the subject matter. Please pursue WP:3 if you wish to revert as I oppose this measure. Semitransgenic (talk) 01:32, 13 December 2008 (UTC)

Tags are for editors, not readers. Placing them in the face of all visitors is a gross disservice, as readers outnumber editors by a thousand to one. Also, placing a tag is placing your opinion that a tag is needed. This article has over 50 references, and those tags are therefore inappropriate. It is your solitary opinion that the article needs more cites; there is no policy requiring all our articles to have inline cites for all facts. Additionally, it is good form to attempt to find cites rather than sticking tags on articles to make the other volunteers on this project to do work for you. How would you like it if one person, without consensus, could slap a template on your work which would be impossible to remove, without investment of days of your unpaid time? Antandrus (talk) 01:38, 4 March 2009 (UTC)

Composer project review[edit]

I've reviewed this article as part of the Composers project review of its B-class articles. This article is B-class, and arguably A. Its principal defects would inhibit GA or FA consideration: these are the level of inline citations (noted above), the lack of imagery, and (for FA consideration) the copyright status of the current lead image. My review is on the comments page; questions or comments should be left here or on my talk page. Magic♪piano 02:33, 22 December 2008 (UTC)

Mertens-Cage interview about Branca[edit]

I have twice removed the paragraph in which Cage is supposed to be telling Mertens bad things about Branca's work Indeterminate Activity of Resultant Masses. I felt the added bit was not very revealing about Cage and that it was added in order to bring Branca forward, a tactic which is defined and discouraged at WP:Coatrack. If there were a quoted sentence or two from Cage which showed how he felt about Branca or his piece then the whole bit would be of much greater value. Binksternet (talk) 20:10, 23 December 2008 (UTC)

I agree. SethTisue (talk) 13:57, 25 December 2008 (UTC)

Copy and Paste?[edit]

What's with the superscript that appears in the last paragraph in the Chance section? Was that just cut and paste from another source or something? The superscript should be replaced with <ref> tags but I'm not sure that the material it references is the one the superscript refers to. In fact, it is almost certainly not... —Preceding unsigned comment added by SlubGlub (talkcontribs) 20:13, 25 March 2009

Chance/Indeterminate Works[edit]

I have two suggestions to make about this article.

1) The section titled "1950s: Discovering chance" says that "the first pieces composed using chance were Imaginary Landscape No. 4 for 12 radio receivers, and Music of Changes for piano". According to James Pritchett, however, Cage first used chance in the third movement of his Concerto for Prepared Piano and Chamber Orchestra (The Music of John Cage, p71). In his conversations with Daniel Charles, Cage says that it was with Sixteen Dances that he first used chance "with confidence" (For The Birds, p41). Perhaps it would be better to change the sentence to say that "the first pieces composed using chance were Concerto for Prepared Piano and Chamber Orchestra and Sixteen Dances".

2) The section titled "Chance" nominates Music of Changes as Cage's "first fully indeterminate instrumental piece". As Cage explained in Composition as Process, however, the problem with Music of Changes was that, while it was composed by means of chance operations, it remained completely determinate in notation (Silence, pp36-37). I do not think it should be said that Music of Changes was "fully indeterminate" - the difference between chance operations and indeterminacy was clearly significant for Cage. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 03:09, 6 February 2010 (UTC)

Hello, thank you for your suggestions. Embarassing how I've overlooked the third movement of the concerto, especially since I knew about it all along. Well spotted. I've tried to incorporate that information, but its tricky since Music of Changes and Imaginary Landscape No. 4 are both landmark pieces and have to be mentioned; and the difference between approaches is subtle... Eh. Concerning Sixteen Dances, Cage did use chance there, but quite a bit of the piece depended on Cage's own likes and dislikes and was not chance-composed; see for example The Cambridge Companion to John Cage, p. 201.
As for your second suggestion, I'm not really sure - aren't most chance composed pieces by Cage referred to as indterminate, regardless of whether they are fully notated or not? At any rate, I'm not sure how to incorporate an explanation of how chance procedures are different from full indeterminacy into the article. I made some changes to make sure that fully notated works are not referred to as indeterminate, but where to go from here, I'm not sure. --Jashiin (talk) 19:09, 11 February 2010 (UTC)

Aleatoric or Indeterminate in lead (or both)?[edit]

In the lead paragraph is the line "A pioneer of aleatoric music, ...". Cage always used and preferred the term indeterminate music when describing his music and approach to it and even disavowed the use of "aleatoric" (though damned if I can find a reference handy--Cage's books never had indices). You will find other people (composers, critics, etc.) calling his stuff aleatoric. If you read both of the articles they even make a point of distinguishing between Cage's methods (indeterminate) and aleatoric music (as defined by Werner Meyer-Eppler who came up with the term). I suggest changing "aleatoric" to "indeterminacy" or at the very least to compromise and add "indeterminacy" to the list of things he was known for. SQGibbon (talk) 22:13, 26 October 2011 (UTC)

I went ahead and changed it, it can be changed back or amended if need be. SQGibbon (talk) 22:47, 26 October 2011 (UTC)

'Cage Against The Machine' reference[edit]

I've deleted, for now, the 'cultural references' section about the 'Cage Against The Machine' project, i.e. the attempt to get 4'33" to the top of the UK singles chart for Christmas. Firstly, would there not have to be an actual authorized single release of 4'33" to qualify it for that chart in the first place? It appears on several album-length recordings, but no singles that I'm aware of.

Also, I believe most radio stations actually adhere to laws that disallow them from broadcasting that much radio silence during normal broadcast hours. Sounds ridiculous, but that has been my experience working in U.S. stations, perhaps the U.K. has different laws relating to this. TheGreatMustafio (talk) 05:02, 30 January 2012 (UTC)


Occurrences of "However" where removed from the article per WP:OPED. However, OPED only says "however" should be removed when it implies a connection between things that aren't connected. Hyacinth (talk) 18:46, 20 May 2012 (UTC)


When I read "The family's roots were deeply American: in a 1976 interview, Cage mentioned "[George] Washington in the surveying of Virginia", I spent several minutes trying to decipher this sentence. I still do not know what it means. JHobson2 (talk) 10:42, 1 September 2012 (UTC)

You're right, that was unclear. I hope I clarified it. John Cage's ancestor who was also named John Cage helped George Washington in the engineering job of surveying the Colony of Virginia, according to the Ric Kostelanetz interview of John Cage resulting in the Cage "autobiography" of 2003. Binksternet (talk) 13:29, 2 September 2012 (UTC)