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Tuesday, 13 January 2004

WHEN SILENCE IS A RACKET

Ananova reports that the BBC is to broadcast a live radio "performance" of an orchestra playing John Cage's so-called "work" 4'33" as part of a concert going out on Radio 3. The piece consists of four minutes and 33 seconds' worth of silence. In readiness for the performance, Radio 3's controllers will have to switch off their emergency back-up system, which is designed to cut in when there is an unexpected silence on air. The work has never been performed by an orchestra or broadcast on national radio in the UK before. The BBC describe Cage's piece, written in 1953, as "ambient silence". It will be broadcast as part of the station's annual Composer Weekend at the Barbican on Friday 16 January. TV viewers will be able to tune into BBC Four an hour after the radio broadcast and watch the orchestra "performing" the piece.

The IPKat says there’s no musical copyright in Cage’s 4'33" and that the pretence that any such right exists is just a poor joke. It's also about time the cultural establishment came clean: either they should admit that 4'33" is nothing other than a total con or they should be condemned to a padded cell in which they can listen to it ad infinitum. Cage must be chuckling at them from his grave.

Cage's estate attempt to monopolise silence here, here and here
The sound of silence here and here
More on silence here and here
More on Cage here, here and here
Cage music here and here; Cajun music here and here

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