John Cages 4 33 Analysis

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Throughout the history of 20th Century music, John Cage’s 4’33” remains as one of the most controversial works that have shaped the landscape of modern music. Presumably conceived in the late 1940s, 4’33” shifted from the traditional methods of composing music by introducing atonal qualities and principles of non-musical tones into the realm of avant-garde music. Since then, musicologists, renowned composers and members of the public, have debated over the significance of this “silent piece”. Although it was not the first time an artist has presented a work on environmental sounds, 4’33” contributed to the discovery of new music-making techniques that were not prominent in earlier musical periods. The beginning of 20th Century introduced a spectrum of sounds and electronic devices that detached itself from the past conventions of musicality. Composers such as John Cage began to develop new musical styles…show more content…
The ambient sounds can be considered as the “melody” and the constant action of closing piano lid will act as a time-frame indicator to specify the starting and ending points. The thickness of the sound will depend on how much ambient noise that is present. However, in reality, Western composers are more likely to agree that the only musical element that 4’33” possesses would be time, as the only way to hear silence is by its duration (Gann 80). Before the emergence of 4’33”, the context of music in that era was that not all sounds can be classified as music. There is a tendency to ignore the presence of noise and take silence for granted. As much as Modern composers tried to expand the boundaries of atonal music, not all Americans were able to accept unconventional works. The effect of 18th and 19th century music created an impression that there should be a harmonic relationship between sounds, a factor that differentiates 4’33” from the other works (Patterson
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