John Cage’s unique 4’33 âexperience
September 20, 2021
The stillness of body and sound is a moment of rest – a lapse of time. This moment, no matter how longevity, travels, resonates and returns. During this time, the artist and the viewer establish a bond in order to appreciate this beauty. Stillness allows the silence to rest and reverberate so that the sound returns. It is the vessel for the journey of music and all other sound in the landscape.
John Cage’s 1952 composition “4’33” explores silence and the effects of potential stillness or even disturbance. Composed for any instrument, the piece calls for four minutes and 33 seconds of silence. The only noise comes from the environment. This art form allows the experimenter to delve into this sense of nothingness. As the audience sits down and waits for this composition, they find themselves waiting for the music to begin. However, the idea of ââconventional music does not necessarily need sound production. So, this stillness of sound is a type of music, although it breathes emptiness.
In Julian Dodd’s article “What 4’33” Is “, Cage’s intentions are Explain as an unconventional art form. âWe don’t just hear sounds; we hear the silence, the absence of sound, âhe says. The absence of sound is a sub-category of sound itself. If nothing is something and something can theoretically be anything and everything, then nothing can be everything. Real performance is performance within the audience. It is used as an organizational tool vis-Ã -vis the viewer. The audience does most of the work, not the artist himself.
Stillness can allude to a void. However, the void does not have a negative connotation in the artist’s accounts. It is a necessary moment in the art production process. The stillness offers the silence necessary for the spectator to marinate in the air filled with suspense. It allows sound to travel through this void and creates endless possibilities. Within these possibilities there may be a moment of reflection that reflects the sound during this experimental process. These processes organize the experience of the audience as it absorbs sound, or the lack of it, around them.
Stillness maintains its authority over all other sounds the world can hold. Because there can never be any sound other than stillness, it holds inexplicable power among artist and audience. Sometimes that stillness can be intimidating, holding all the other notes to a high level. Whether intentional or accidental, this immobility has jurisdiction between the performer and the spectator. It can be painful, confusing, or boring. It can be bold, heartwarming, suffocating, and soothing.
During a performance, a moment of silence or stillness is crucial for a well-balanced experience. There would be an imbalance without it. The anticipation of the movement of sound evokes a particular anguish. Article by Petra Kupper “Towards the Unknown Body: Stillness, Silence and Space in Mental Health Settings” search in the inner workings of the mind when confronted with the stillness of sound and, therefore, silence. This silence, as described through the discussion of John Cage’s musical piece â4’33â, â’â¦ these sound effects make each performance a distinctive and interactive eventâ. The artist’s stillness is then reflected and passed on to the viewer. They engage not only with the image presented on stage, but also with the performers themselves.
Moreover, when examine In Deborah Hay’s experimental choreography of silence and stillness, it is important to note âThrough this quest for stillness, Hay’s dances are more concerned with multiple cellular experiences taking place simultaneously in the body, perceived by both the dancer and the spectator, who join the other as a delighted audience of the living body. Stillness is a performance itself that draws the attention of the stage to the audience.
Although there is stillness of sound, it could produce disturbance to the body. Silence is often an uncomfortable feeling and causes the experimenter to question reality. When there is stillness of sound and body, the audience feels like they are doing something wrong, something criminal. However, Cage is hopeful that his audience will embrace this silence and get to know it. Music is not linear but a continuum ââ a concept that revolves around itself. It reflects the thoughts and the silence that comes before and after the noise.
Grace Lucey can be reached at [emailÂ protected].