John Cage about silence


PART I: The early 20th century was a time when musicians asked fundamental questions about how music should sound, what role it ought to play in society, and whether or not our expectations should or should not be fulfilled when listening. Many of these arguments found their apex in the work of American composer John Cage. In an interview towards the end of his life, he summed up much of what he had come to believe about music. Here is a clip from that interview:

John Cage about silence https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pcHnL7aS64Y

For your initial response, reflect on what Cage has to say about music. What does he seem to say music can and cannot do? What is the purpose of listening to music? What can music communicate to us?

PART II: Write an argument for and against Cage’s way of seeing music. Are there things he says that you agree with? Does he have views on music that you disagree with? Discuss.

Sample Solution

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