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Program note: Where Does Music Stop

  • Brent Williams
  • Source: The Song Company Modart05 September 2005

Brent Williams
Where Does Music Stop
Nothing is accomplished by writing a piece of muslc.
Nothing is accomplished by hearing a piece of muslc.
Nothing is accomplished by playing a piece of muslc.
Our ears are now in excellent condition.
John Cage, 1952.
wrítten in response to a request for a
manifesto on music.

Humans desire control of everything. It is a struggle that defines our lives.
Writing and playing music might be seen as a symbol of this struggle for control.
As Cage said, music is the "organisation of sound".

Humans also desire to be controlled...

I have always found it ironic that Percy Graínger thought it necessary to use machines
to play his "free music". Though humans are not machines, a composer of music writes a set
of instructions to musicians, not unlike programming a computer. The irony is that the
human voice ís perhaps the instrument most capable of freedom of pitch and timbre.

This piece.jurtaposes passages of conventionally notated music with music,
sounds or noise arrived at through various indetermìnate processes. Pitches slide from
notes in familiar 12 note equal tempered scales, to relative pítches that fall between the
cracks in the notes.

Acknowledgement of Cage text fragments:
"Parts of the text are fuom Silence, Lectures
and Writings by John Cage, first published
1968 (current edition published by Marion
Boyars, London). Used with kind permission."