Write a 5 page essay on Studies And Investigations.
At the same time, the Industrial Revolution and the consolidation of people into cities over history replaced the pastoral, wild silence with rural bustle with industrial cacophony. The reaction to both of these tendencies in the twentieth century was electronic music. Though electronic music eventually combined with disco to form modern dance techno, as well as with rock-like tendencies for industrial music, electronic music began with a focus on minimalism and silence, an attempt to leverage machines for something besides noise, an attempt to find an impossible mote of quiet. Emmerson operationally defines electronic music as “music heard through loudspeakers or sound made with the help of electronic means” (2007). John Cage’s music philosophy was integral to the formation and development of electronic music, presaging it. “The theories of avant-garde American composer John Cage (1912-1992) on music, sound, and silence are of more interest than his musical compositions. To Cage, there is no such thing as silence. Music is a succession of sounds and the composer the “organizer of sounds.” Historically, music has been a communication of feelings, but Cage argues that all sounds have this potential for conveying feeling in the mechanical and electronic sense… ‘Any sounds in any combination and in any succession are henceforth free to be used in a musical continuity’… Silence was perhaps the pivotal aspect of Cage’s theories. If silence could be shown not to exist, then feelings, too, could be pushed into the category of nonexistence” (Hermitary, 2010). Cage tried to experiment with new sounds that could emulate silence or escape the traditional confines of music and sound, letting the ear get a respite from noise. His work in randomness, while perhaps difficult to listen to, presaged performance art and electronic music (Hermitary, 2010). Cage understood sound the same way electronic musicians do: Universal to nature and man. It is not just the plucking of a violin that is music, but a catchy phrase that can be sampled and mixed, the whirring of an engine or the brushing of an industrial lave. To Cage, disharmony is a “harmony that is not understood” (Hermitary, 2010). Cage’s work was inspired by the I Ching, by Taoism. “In the 1950’s, Cage hit upon a method of composition that would be the counterpart of the frequency, amplitude, timbre, duration, etc. that constitute the mechanisms of tradition composition. The avant-garde method was randomness. Cage discovered the I Ching. By tossing the coins he came to hexagrams that offered ideas, and from the ideas he developed parameters for “chance-controlled music” (Hermitary, 2010). Ultimately, the biggest contribution of Cage was the understanding of silence not as a mere pause, a break from sound, but a musical creation itself. The nature of silence is a key concept of both Eastern and Western thought. Cage understood from his popular readings that they could converge. He applied the concept of silence to music and tried to liberate silence from feelings or context, from an social and historical context. But Cage’s compositions, while making statements opposed to historical aesthetics, did not discover therein a psychology or philosophy of silence, less an aesthetics. Silence became a utilitarian tool for compositional use, not unlike those historical composers he criticized.