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Readings, Tuesday Jan 19
A Few Ideas About Film and Music, John Cage
I love how Cage repeatedly emphasizes that successful music and art reflect an all-important and organic conception of rhythm in everyday life. A recurring theme of these readings and of my own ideas about composition and art seems to be that effective art helps us to understand the world around us.
Cage’s brief discussion of the role of silence reminded me of a very memorable experience in which I was fortunate enough to play a gig with Joel Spencer, a prominent jazz drummer in Chicago: When Spencer soloed, he left a measure of silence on his first chorus, and increased the amount of empty bars on each repetition until he eventually “played” a full chorus of silence. His point was that silence is an equally useful and integral component of music as sound. Cage’s perspective -- that both sound and silence share a common denominator of silence -- reinforces the lesson I learned from Joel Spencer back home.
Some Rules for Students and Teachers, John Cage
Finally, although I found all of these rules valuable and interesting, I particularly liked numbers four and six: Respectively, “Consider everything an experiment” and “Nothing is a mistake. There’s no win and no fail, there’s only make.” In this sense, the process of composition and creation as a vehicle of self-discovery is equally significant, if not more so, than the final product. Also, I have always appreciated how art is able to transcend competitive “winner/loser” attitudes and foster collaboration between people of all walks of life.
The Walk Book, Janet Cardiff
Although it was strange to me how the author seemed to pit hearing and vision against each other (what’s the competition?), I certainly felt enlightened after reading about all the specialized functions of hearing, such as hearing inside the body, or listening for danger while sleeping. This reading highlighted the necessity to understand the nuanced details of our media (sound, light) in order to truly exploit it to its full potential.