The Slipped Disc daily comfort zone (222): Silence

The Slipped Disc daily comfort zone (222): Silence


norman lebrecht

November 01, 2020

The idea behind 4’33”

The orchestral version

The death metal take


  • E says:

    Lovely! In a similar interview he says, “I’ve never met a sound I didn’t like.”

    • Graeme Hall says:

      Beautiful interview. Lovely man. Of course I have no problem with music/sounds that are intended to have some form of meaning, but we can always learn from another way of thinking.

      • John Borstlap says:

        What is to be learned from such nonsense? The influence of certain mushrooms on the brain? Interesting from a medical point of view, but not from an artistic or musical point of view.

  • Brian Cooper says:

    The interview clip with Mr Cage is 16 seconds too short.

  • marcus says:

    Has anyone serious ever performed this piece?

  • Mock Mahler says:

    Good timing for Dead Territory, getting this recorded. They’re Austrian–now they’re silenced for a month.

  • sorin says:

    John Cage is nonsense.Worthless music, one never paid a dime for a John Cage disc or other media.Nobody ever paid a dime to hear a performance by Cgae.C’mon lets be frank.

  • Stereo says:

    How anybody can call this music is beyond me. A total con!

  • Stweart says:

    King’s new clothes !

  • Doc Martin says:

    Forget John Cage, listen to the 40 part motet Spem in Alium by Thomas Tallis, sublime, heavenly music.

    Dir Philip Cave

    Spem in alium nunquam habui, praeter in te, Deus Israel,
    qui irasceris, et propitius eris,
    et omnia peccata hominium in tribulatione dimittis.
    Domine Deus, Creator caeli et terrae, respice humilitatem nostram.

    I have never placed my hope in any other than you, O God of Israel,
    who can show both anger and graciousness,
    and absolve all sins of suffering man.
    Lord God, creator of heaven and earth, be mindful of our humiliation.

  • M McAlpine says:

    Well it is the only piece by Cage I can bear to listen to, I’ll say that!

  • Armchair Bard says:

    Who knew wild mushrooms could be so musical?

  • John Porter says:

    Cue all the John Cage haters.

  • Garech de Brun says:

    During the 1820s, someone once asked Beethoven who he considered was the greatest composer. He replied unequivocally, Handel, go to him to learn how to create great effects from scant deploy of means.

    William Wordsworth in The Prelude, says the true visionary is the man who builds greatest things from least suggestions.

    The late piano sonata trilogy (op 109-111) is the final proof of this. This explains why John Cage remains silent, he has nothing new to add after op 111.

  • John Borstlap says:

    What an incredibly stupid man, this Cage. He is his own cage, locked-up in simpleton’s nihilism. Has no idea what culture is, let alone what music is. And of course he has nothing to contribute to either. To mention Kant is ridiculous – everybody with a minimum of knowledge of the European history of philosophy knows that the man had both great and profound ideas and very silly ones, and he had no understanding of music (Kant’s understanding of human relationships was equally flawed: he claimed that the function of marriage was to get the different genitals together). Cage’s reference to Duchamp is telling: another joker without talent. These people are the product of 20C rejection of culture and meaning….. they had nothing to contribute, nothing to say, and therefore tried to say it as loudly as possible. And were applauded by equally stupid and empty people – why? Because they recognized their own emptiness and lack of talents being put on the pedestal of art, so they felt confirmed in their identity. It is a form of populism.

  • Armchair Bard says:

    Stop. Just stop. Oh…you can’t…you haven’t started…or have you?…how to tell?…

    He’s not a composer. He’s a Very Naughty Boy.

    Let’s paraphrase Olivier to Hoffman: ‘Dear boy, why not try composing? So much more difficult…’

  • Earle Brown says:

    Of course, don’t all you John Cage haters realize that you are only encouraging people to listen to his music by trashing the person and the music? That’s the funny part! The sad part is that it’s not enough for you to simply avoid listening to what you don’t like but that you have to spew nastiness about it. Not to mention that what you know and have heard of Cage’s music wouldn’t fit into a thimble. Maybe you should all return in time to the 1800s, you could put someone in a stockade who liked music you didn’t.

  • DAVID says:

    Not “judging” sounds but simply being content with what they are — not expecting them to convey anything — seems to me the ultimate cop-out for composers who just aren’t very good at composing. It would be tantamount, in literature, to claiming that words don’t really need to mean anything and that writing a 600 page work full of unintelligible gibberish, for instance, could legitimately be called literature (though no one in the right mind would actually read it, because for most people it would be a tedious experience devoid of any enjoyment). The slamming of a door, the sound of a toilet flush, the pounding of a jackhammer, though they may well be sounds, are not music. No one seriously believes in such an argument, everyone knows it to be sheer sophistry, though it may not be fashionable nor easy to say so in some musical circles, as it might reflect poorly on those having given any sort of credence to such casuistry, and might undermine the superficial charm and aura of some of our most cherished musical idols.

  • John Borstlap says:

    Spoiler alert: there is no idea behind 4’3″.