After class today, Jenna and I were talking in the hallway about the video of John Cage’s performance. I really didn’t understand anything about the avant-garde performance. I could see how he was taking random sounds and piecing them together to create music, but I wondered what kind of music he was after. In our conversation, we had commented about how it could be a sort of strange background music, but the more I thought about it, I began to question whether or not that performance could fall into that category.
His performance could be background music in the sense that the music is entirely composed of background noises. I found it interesting that Cage just chose random places to broadcast via telephone; although, really I should have expected this decision. The places Cage chose to broadcast ranged from Cunningham’s dance studio to the container in which Riley’s pet turtles were kept in. These were background noises, but not really background music.
When you think of background music what comes to mind? Music that is soft, not overpowering, pleasant to the ear, soothing and tranquil, yet still entertaining. When musicians perform during a party or meal, the guests chatter over them and at pauses in the conversation they engage themselves in the music of the live entertainment. To me I believe the music makes the party, but if you were to ask Cage his opinion he would probably say the party makes the music. He would most likely consider the clanking of dishes, table talk, and the random crescendos of coughs and sneezes more musical than the composed music itself. This is because Cage feels that music must be free and detached from emotions so that the person can fully enjoy every natural sound. I don’t consider his performance background music, but I guess music lies in the ears of the beholder.