Tuesday, January 22, 2008

On 4'33"

Hi, I can't seem to post comment in the Cage thread, so I will post what I wanted to enter there here:

Good comments! I came up with a definition of music while a graduate student that has served me well, lo these many years, and is inclusive enough to embrace 4'33" as music:

Music is sound organized in time by a composer, performer, OR A LISTENER. The implication being that any sounds, when heard in an aesthetic or inquisitive way, can be perceived or considered music.

Added to this early definition of mine has been my study and practice of mindfulness meditation, which seeks to train bare or pure attention. When one drops judgement and engages any of the senses fully, i.e., without the distraction of a discursive or judgemental mind, life can be experienced as a mystery and/or a work of art. I have always thought that Cage's aesthetics late in his life (as Kyle Gann says in his Chapter 6) were in large part shaped through his encounter with Zen Buddhism, which teachers pure attention and seeks in ways to undermine the rational mind so that we can open to mystery, to freedom. But perhaps this is a separate thread.

Anyway, good discussion. Thank you.

1 comment:

Charlie said...

Dammit! I was going to post that very definition (attributed to you, of course), following our discussion of Cage last semester. Now I shall have to find something different to blog about!