TNB Night Owl – 4’33”

Some musical pieces are easier to play than others.  Then there’s 4’33” by John  Cage.

It’s a three movement piece – 30 seconds, then two minutes, 23 seconds, then one minute, 40 seconds.  During these three movements, the musicians are instructed to not play their instruments.

The idea was to focus on the ambient sound… clicking of heels as people walked to their seats, the small pulse of blood to the ears, the hum of an electric fan… and encourage both the musicians and the audience to focus on that.  The regular, small noises in our lives that can comprise their own music if one wishes to hear.

Some performances have featured a soloist for one or more of the movements.  They play an instrument for the allotted time, without accompaniment, to focus purely on the instrument itself.

And, of course, many of those hearing it think it’s a joke, a way to take their money in exchange for not playing an instrument.  Depending on the performance venue, it might be exactly that.

For the composer, it meant something.  Something more than just “I got paid for not writing a note.”

For the audience, it might be impressive.  Or it might just be time to fidget.  Their choice.

Question of the night: What’s your favorite classical piece?

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About AlienMotives 1991 Articles
Ex-Navy Reactor Operator turned bookseller. Father of an amazing girl and husband to an amazing wife. Tired of willful political blindness, but never tired of politics. Hopeful for the future.