John Cage, an American composer and mixed-media artist, is most well known for his piece 4’33”, in which the performer does not play a single note. Instead, the audience is left with the sound of the auditorium, or whatever type of venue they happen to be in, and can either enjoy or be frustrated by the silence that they have to sit with for four minutes and thirty-three seconds.
However John Cage’s legacy to the contemporary art world goes much farther than this genius project mentioned above. He was not afraid to write pieces for unconventional instruments such as the prepared piano (in which the strings of the piano are modified with screws and clamps), an ensemble of handheld radios, or various items from around the typical household.
Similar to performing with a radio, he experimented with writing music by using chance, more specifically the “I Ching”. You can think of this as being similar to writing music by rolling a dice and letting these outcomes inform your next move.
Cage’s work paved the way for a growing movement in experimental art across mediums in the second half of the 20th Century, and this influence continues to be experienced in the art world today.
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