“then Mozart and some highschooler trying to play techhop acoustofunk in his mom’s basement are equally good—and that can’t be right.”
Rock on, Daniel.
I also liked how you said, Daniel, that you didn’t like how he separated sound from emotion. Yeah, I wouldn’t either. But I do not think that is what he set out to do. I started reading Silence and Cage does say that he would like to “let sounds be themselves rather than vehicles for man-made theories or expressions of human sentiments” (10). However, then he says that “sounds, when allowed to be themselves, do not require that those who hear them do so unfeelingly” (10). I think that the difference between what Daniel said, and my interpretation of what Cage really meant is this: music doesn’t need to force the composer’s own feelings on the listener, music should be whatever it is, and the listener should be able to feel however they do. If I were writing this before class had started, my thoughts would have been pretty much equal to Daniel’s. This brings me back to Daniel’s quote—there have to be levels of quality in art. And frankly, I wouldn’t want to hear whatever techhop acoustafunk is. Frightening. The whole point of art is that there are some people who are better at it, that they can enlighten us. When I first heard we were learning about some guy who thought he was groundbreaking and avant-garde because he made a piece of music that actually was not a piece of music at all, I thought he was trying to force fame upon himself by doing something so arrogant that everyone would hear about it.
But after looking deeper into Cage and his work, I have found him to be much more sincere than I ever expected. I really do believe that Cage looked at what other musicians had done and decided they were trying to force things on their listeners, rather than trying to create something that would simply aid their listeners in finding enlightenment themselves. I think Cage was actually being less pretentious than his predecessors, and was honestly trying to give his listeners more freedom.
The three minutes and forty-four seconds of silence still bugs me. But I like the reasons Cage did it. It’s interesting. The idea that the sounds, whatever sounds that are there, can be a kind of music, is cool. It makes me think, and even if it only made me feel angry or annoyed, it still ignited an emotion in me. I could say less for some music. I liked how Cage tested and broke previously held musical boundaries and paved the way for other bands (like Radiohead!) to take his ideas further. If later bands that I like were enlightened by John Cage, that, to me, puts his music on a level higher than that of Daniel’s nerdy highschooler.