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How to put meanings to silence: John Cage and his four editions of 4’33’’
Organisator: Saori Kanemaki
Sa 21. Juli 2018, 14:00 – 15:30
Silence is significant: It can be real but imaginary, harmonious collective but single-handed, meditative but active. It seems differently depending on each situation. However, silence itself has no meaning. How can we put meanings to silence?
John Cage’s 4’33’’ has been reworked by the composer himself between 1952 to 1962 and his involvement with musical silence has resulted in four editions: “Proportional Notation”, “Calligraphic Tacet”, “Manuscript” and 0’00’’ with the subtitle 4’33’’. These four seem totally different – notated in four various ways. While the most known version “Calligraphic Tacet” is composed with an instruction and the musical term tacet, the “Manuscript” was written in a typical
five-line staff and in the version “Proportional Notation” you see lines and empty space on six pages. The last version 0’00’’, which is actually not silent music, is consisted of text as “Calligraphic Tacet”, but still intending the association with the silence piece.
My paper will show how meanings of silence change in differing interfaces of musical notations. According to the theory of the German art historian Aby Warburg on migration of images, silence should be given meanings by images, which are based on musical notations. In fact, images of silence have already existed before Cage. It will be demonstrated, why his work has been compared with the third movement “In Futurum” of Fünf Pittoresken (1919) by the Dadaist Erwin Schulhoff and how the images of silence were developed by Cage.