John Cage reminds us that EVERYTHING WE DO IS MUSIC.
His main concept of composition is: Using any sounds in any environment, including noises; Using “chance” to select the order; Giving up structures; Using silence; Broadly using other methods, like electronics and visuals.
All of Cage’s music since 1951 was composed using chance procedures, most commonly using the I Ching.
Cage’s composition is influenced by Eastern Philosophy. His method of using the I Ching was far from simple randomization. The procedures varied from composition to composition, and were usually complex. For example, in the case of Cheap Imitation, the exact questions asked to the I Ching were these:
Which of the seven modes, if we take as modes the seven scales beginning on white notes and remaining on white notes, which of those am I using?
Which of the twelve possible chromatic transpositions am I using?
For this phrase for which this transposition of this mode will apply, which note am I using of the seven to imitate the note that Satie wrote?
Cage discovered Chance. Since chance procedures were used by Cage to eliminate the composer’s and the performer’s likes and dislikes from music, Cage disliked the concept of improvisation, which is inevitably linked to the performer’s preferences.
From mid-20 century, Chance has been increasingly popular because of Cage’s promotion.
I’ve wrote a song Snow Town (both lyric and melody) when I was attending Syracuse University. As everyone knows, Syracuse snows a lot, so this song depicts the snow scenes there, and also describes my feelings of the city when I was there.
I just translated the lyric into English:
I was inspired by my favorite Chinese Romantic poet Feng Zhi, and I wrote this lyric also to show my respect to him.
Then based on what I’ve been learning in Alison’s class, I tried using Python to re-construct this lyric.
When I wrote this lyric, it’s totally in the romantic atmosphere. It’s my personal phyco-geographical experience of that specific place. It expresses kind of loneliness and depression.
But after I transform the lyric by using words like “anyway”, “whatever”, and randomly added the sentence “twinkle twinkle little star” into it, the lyric was changed like this:
I don’t know so much about drawing or visual designing, but from a writer’s point of view, words matter a lot. When we depict some specific scenes or feelings, the changes of key words would change the whole feeling of the context.
When I depicted the weather and feeling in Snow Town, readers or listeners can all feel the depression. But when I added “anyway” and “whatever”, it is more like a black humor, rather than purely loneliness or sadness. And I think it may somehow twist the original reality and express it psycho-geographically, in the context of Derive.