Saturday, September 21, 2013


of Te Aro, Wellington, Aoteaora New Zealand. Recorded as part of research towards a New Zealand School of Music

While making these recordings, I had John Cage on my mind, and his thoughts on what music is:
The sound experience which I prefer to all others is the experience of silence. And the silence almost everywhere in the world now is traffic. If you listen to Beethoven, or to Mozart, you see that they are always the same. But if you listen to traffic you see that it is always different. (John Cage
I admire his composition 4'33'', which consists entirely of the performers on stage remaining 'silent' for 4 minutes and 33 seconds. It is a piece that can be performed by any instrument, and any number of instruments, including a full orchestral performance presented below by the BBC symphony orchestra. Here, the audience becomes the orchestra, and the environmental sounds of 'silence' becomes the music.

But I tend to disagree with Cage's analysis of Mozart and Beethoven, because I think the context of any performance greatly influences the experience of the piece. Different performers, different instruments, different settings, different audiences, different seasons, different times of day all create a 'new' piece of music to the listener. Blesser and Salter, in their book Spaces Speak, describe how a space can actually be thought of as an extension of the musical instruments within it. The space acts as a secondary resonant chamber, modifying the performance of a violin's primary resonant chamber as it amplifies and resonates with the vibrations of its strings. This resonance allows temporal spreading of the notes to create chords, harmonies, and dissonance, and this aural experience becomes unique to that space.

What I am therefore trying to create in my music school is a musical instrument at the urban scale.

1 comment:

  1. I like the ones where the microphone is wearing a beanie!