I’ve come to wonder what Cage thought about soundless movies. Most likely he would take the stance that soundless movies are a blank canvas and it is up to the imagination of each viewer to come up with a personal, internal soundtrack. Watching a soundless movie would be quite an experience, but it would really show you how much movies need emotional music in order to get across the full effect. Think about it. Have you ever rented a horror film, gotten to a scary scene and quickly turned down the volume out of fear? Well, I have and what I realized is the great suspense of a horror film is completely diminished when the sound is turned off.
In class we have talked about how Cage wrote music with emotion in his early years of composing, but then moved on to music created by chance operation in order to remove these preconceived biases. I believe that, yes, it is nice to listen to soundscapes and such for relaxing, but the reason humans of today favor organized sound is because we are creatures of habit. Starting from toddler years, we watch the Disney movies which are filled with feelings of romanticism, despair, and happiness. Similar to the in-class discussion we had of Sim’s book, we are “programmed” since we were young to like certain forms of music. Being creatures of habit we expect to hear certain sounds and music depending on the mood of a situation.
Most humans do not prefer to hear random sounds as music because humans in general are not random. If we drop something, we’re expecting the crash, and if we press a key on the piano we’re expecting to hear that note. John Cage’s music can sometimes almost be abrasive to the ear in the sense that it has loud random noises that humans have never heard grouped together before. This “breaks the mold” and our ears want that normality back. So back to silent movies, the reason why they have “died out” is because people like hearing corresponding, organized sounds.