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Program note: A Short Service 2007

  • Stephen Adams
  • Source: The Song Company Cage Uncaged 15 September 2007

A Short Service - Stephen Adams (b. f 963)
Sydney, 2006, commissioned by The Song Company, premiered in Perth May 2007
"The purpose of music is to sober and quiet the mind, thus making if susceptible to
divine influences." (Thomas Mace, quoted by Cage as quoted by Gita Sarabhai)

The composer writes: "My point of departure for this new work is a Cage anecdote from
his 1963 publication 'A Year from Monday'. Read aloud at the start of the performance,
the anecdote touches upon a variety of Cage concerns: hearing and deafness; loud and
soft sounds; sounds in space and the mediations of technology (the radio); the piano as
a cultural object; and Cage's religious heritage, a low-church evangelical style of

This short service in the spirit of Cage contains Hymns, the 'verse for the Day' and 'The
Lesson'. Ihe Lesson is the anecdote, the Verse is a favourite Cage saying by the 17th
century lutenist Tomas Mace, refracted through an lndian musician's accumulated
wisdom. The hymns are not Cage's beloved New England hymns but selected from my
own heritage, a near century old publication by my own great grandfather of Evangelic
hymns (with Tunes).

ln my imaginary service, the place of honour is given to the radio. And the whole,
aspiring to a calm acceptance of its incompleteness, an every day, quiet


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