Thursday, October 7, 2010

Cage and Cummings

I found out recently that, aside from using other composers' work by playing it upside down, Cage wasn't above using the work of poets either. Cage once set a Cummings poem in his work, Forever and Sunsmell.

Wherelings whenlings
(daughters of ifbut offspring of hopefear
sons of unless and children of almost)
never shall guess the dimension of
him whose
foot likes the
here of this earth
whose both
this now of the sky
--endlings of isn't
shall never
to begin to
imagine how (only are shall be were
dawn dark rains snow rain
-bow &
's whis-per
in sunset
or thrushes toawrd dusk among whippoorwills
three field rock hollyhock forest brook
mountain. Mountain)
whycoloured worlds of because do
not stand against yes which is built by
forever & sunsmell
(sometimes a wonder
of wild roses
with morth
the barn

Sounds just ripe for use by Cage, right? And to be honest, I rather admire that he used what was made available already by other artists, composers, musicians and writers of his time. It only makes sense that if you're to work with only sounds that already exist, with instruments and tools that have already been invented by someone else, beginning with thoughts that are inevitably influenced by the work of others, then it follows that the work of others can be included. It's part of the array of tools at your disposal. And besides, the faculties of genius lie in perceiving the usual, that which already exists, in an unhabitual way. Perhaps these preexisting works are just waiting to be perceived in such an "unahabitual" way.

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