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My present
of composing’s
involved with the
of imperfections in the paper
on which I happen
to be

– John Cage (Silence, 1961)

4’33” (Reflection of NeuCage) | download

. . . advice = L.L.L.oud! . . .


  1. A few notes:

    :: All audio taken from M.NeuCollins’ original video piece, Train.

    :: The quote was chosen at random from John Cage’s Silence.

    :: For those unfamiliar, here’s the Wikipedia entry for John Cage’s 4’33”

  2. This is great.

    Good job being faithful to the intial piece while at the same time crafting something highly original from it.

  3. Thanks; I was hoping to create a proper reflection of a reflection, so to speak.

  4. Radio Lab, a Chicago based radio station, recently had a show that discussed the 1913 debut performance of Stravinsky’s Right of Spring, the riot that ensued, and the possible causes of that riot.

    A brief background–Right of Spring was the musical score for a ballet based on a pagan fertility dream that Stravinsky had. The ballet, instead of using fluid movement, focused on the dancers moving in a more jarring manner. The score utilized musical discord to amplify the frantic movement and the chaotic scene that the ballet was portraying.

    This pissed people off. By the time intermission rolled around, the police had arrived to break up the full-scale riot that was taking place.

    So, the question Radio Lab asks is ‘How does music cause elderly ladies, dolled up women, and respectable business men to hit, bite, scratch….to lose all sense of self and devolve into pure, animalistic behavior?’ The answer, according to this episode, is neurology and how our brain interprets sound.

    The theory goes that since this music, and the performance as a whole, was so different from anything that the audience members had ever encountered, they literally could not interpret it. So unprepared were their minds, having had no warning or time to analyze the situation, that they pumped themselves full of dopamine. Dopamine is the same chemical that makes sex, and drugs, enjoyable…but is also present in extremely high amounts in schizophrenic patients. Studies have shown that giving schizophrenics drugs that lower their dopamine levels help control their ‘insanity.’ So…the hypothesis is that by hearing something that was so different, so radically new, the audience members literally went insane.

    The ballet came back the next year–sold out. The new audience members, having been intrigued and titillated by the events the previous year were prepared for what was coming. The show was a hit, Stravinsky was carried out of the theater and applauded as a genius.

    The back and forth between Train and T[r]ain.(ted), combined with the original influence of 4′ 33” by John Cage, made me think of the above-recited story. 4′ 33 is, essentially, 4 min 33 seconds of silence during which you begin to hear things and may interpret them, if you wish, as your blood pounding, your eyelashes fluttering, etc. The point being that the 4 min and 33 seconds are not silent at all, but filled with nuanced noise that collects together and springs into an internal orchestra.

    Train and T[r]ain.(ted) both use sound, but in quiet and subtle ways. Train, by amplifying and calling attention to natural ambience, T[r]ain.(ted) in using that same ambient sound and shaping it into something unassuming but subtly intriguing.

    I can’t help but think that much more than 4 minutes and 33 seconds of silence would start that dopamine pumping….nothing is more unsettling than to be presented with nothing and confronted with something within that nothing. What I find interesting about the reinterpretations of this nothing, is that the artists are converting it into something that they are comfortable with. So, we are changing that which we don’t understand into something we do. Not only that, but once we are familiar with the original idea, we feel comfortable with it and begin to understand it through that comfort. So, what initially incites insanity eventually produces tranquility.

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