John Cage Quotes

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Image, What is the purpose of writing music? One is, of course, not

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What is the purpose of writing music? One is, of course, not dealing with purposes but dealing with sounds. Or the answer must take the form of a paradox: a purposeful purposeless or a purposeless play. This play, however, is an affirmation of life--not an attempt to bring order out of chaos nor to suggest improvements in creation, but simply a way of waking up to the very life we’re living, which is so excellent once one gets one’s mind and one’s desires out of its way and lets it act of its own accord.

John Cage

Image, It was at Harvard not quite forty years ago that I went

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It was at Harvard not quite forty years ago that I went into an anechoic [totally silent] chamber not expecting in that silent room to hear two sounds: one high, my nervous system in operation, one low, my blood in circulation. The reason I did not expect to hear those two sounds was that they were set into vibration without any intention on my part. That experience gave my life direction, the exploration of nonintention. No one else was doing that. I would do it for us. I did not know immediately what I was doing, nor, after all these... Read more »

John Cage

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Image, I imagine that as contemporary music goes on changing in the way

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I imagine that as contemporary music goes on changing in the way that I'm changing it what will be done is to more and more completely liberate sounds from abstract ideas about them and more and more exactly to let them be physically uniquely themselves. This means for me: knowing more and more not what I think a sound is but what it actually is in all of its acoustical details and then letting this sound exist, itself, changing in a changing sonorous environment.

John Cage

Image, Percussion music is revolution. Sound and rhythm have too long been submissive

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Percussion music is revolution. Sound and rhythm have too long been submissive to the restrictions of nineteenth century music. Today we are fighting for their emancipation. Tomorrow, with electronic music in our ears, we will hear freedom. At the present stage of revolution, a healthy lawlessness is warranted. Experiment must necessarily be carried on by hitting anything-tin pans, rice bowls, iron pipes-anything we can lay our hands on. Not only hitting, but rubbing, scraping, making sound in every possible way...What we can't do ourselves will be done by machines which we will invent.

John Cage

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