Perceiving the Music of John Cage: An Examination of his Methods and Intentions
John Cage and his musical works commonly generate heated discussion and a wealth of varied opinions among academics, critics, laypersons, and dilettantes alike. His compositional methods, as well as the artworks derived from them, are oftentimes held as aberrations from the family of accepted concert music. The most oft-cited cry of disapproving critics reads thus: "It's just noise!" Cage's work is frequently labeled as noise, because he completely rejects tonality and hierarchical harmonic convention, the foundation on which nearly all of Western music is based.
by Brittney Saline
Cage did not promote the production of nonsensical, meaningless drivel, nor did he reject tonality merely to be difficult. Rather, Cage bore explicit rationales for the nature of his art. Acutely influenced by the tenets of Eastern thought, particularly Zen mysticism, he practiced these creeds, by developing compositional mechanisms that were directly representative of them. He developed and utilized a variety of chance operations as formulas for both the creation and execution of music free of the biases of human likes, dislikes, and intentions. Cage also conceived of new manners of organizing sound, such that all notions of hierarchy and inequality were eliminated.
Open-mindedness is a characteristic imperative to any artists or thinkers wishing to examine and influence the world surrounding them. Unlike that of many other musics, Cage's paradigm offers, to those who are willing to explore it wholly and honestly, social criticism, insight into the nature of humanity, and space to experience the entire universe of sound.
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