Tag Archives: fonology

The year of John Cage

Celebrating the Centennial Anniversary

This year the music community celebrates the most prominent figure of experimental music, the maestro of the great opening to all sounds: John Milton Cage Jr.
To join the celebration I will post news and works of mine in honor of the composer through the whole 2012.

In my classes I never stress enough how much the music and the ideas of this genial American composer have influenced the contemporary concept of music. Uncertainty, poetry, interaction, anarchism, curiosity. The great lesson of John Cage lies in using of every sound without sacrificing the intellect and the love for music or art.

Cage’s music is not an act of nihilism, it’s a profound act of love and intelligence, and as Umberto Eco wrote, it is one of the true rare examples of Zen Art in the western culture.

Whenever I take a walk to my girlfriend’s place, I can’t avoid thinking to John walking in the very same streets in November 1958 when he was invited by the RAI electronic music studio of Milan (Studio di Fonologia Musicale della Radiotelevisione Italiana) to compose what it become Fontana Mix, with the assistance of the skilful RAI engineer Marino Zuccheri. The studio was then located in the RAI building in Corso Sempione street, an architectural opus by Giò Ponti. Today the custom made electronic equipment of the RAI studio is exposed at the Museum of Musical Instruments of Sforza Castle in downtown Milan. The exposition includes also a precious manuscript by John Cage that portraits a scheme of the RAI equipment. He made that sketch before starting off with scissors and scotch tape (and talcum powder!). I will take a visit at the museum and catch some pics for you soon.

If you haven’t done it yet I would like to invite you to visit the John Cage Trust official page curated by the excellent Laura Kuhn, and the best-place-on-the-web ubuweb curated by Kenneth Goldsmith, both websites are rich of Cagean contents and a worth a long list of visits.

Hommage à John Cage

To conclude, a few weeks ago I’ve decided to inaugurate the spring with a 38 minutes long soundscape composition dedicated to John  and called JOHN 1/179/20″. The work is a selection of field recordings that I have taken in the last 3 years spanning from the French Switzerland hills to the tropical forests and chenotes of Yucatan in Mexico, trough Northern Italy lakes and airports, the temple of Asakusa and the Ikiabara district in Tokyo, a steel foundry in Reggio Emilia and the streets of Milan under a night rain.

The composition represents an ideal voyage trough the world. The message of John Cage is universal: sounds are life. The title refers to the first book of John Cage, Silence, page 179, 20th second.

JOHN 1/179/20″ has been accepted by the Ear To The Earth (EMF) John Cage Centenary Anniversary call for works (100 x John) and it will be hosted on their website soon. I would like to thank my friend and colleague Giuseppe Cordaro with which I’ve taken some of these wonderful sounds.

You can listen to the piece here and download it from the sounds page