Cage/Gould, a music circus

Cage/Gould, a music circus from Michael Century on Vimeo.

I’m so happy to share the gorgeous documentation of this event. Along with Cage’s Inlets, Bacchanale and Litany for the Whale, there’s some Gibbons, Bach and Gould. Interspersed through the second part are on-the-fly virtual conversations between Cage and Gould.

Cage Variations III

I’ll be performing John Cage’s Variations III tomorrow night as part of a small group appearing on Tim Feeney’s concert honoring Lou Cohen. Cage’s score calls for dropping 42 sheets of transparent paper, each with a circle drawn on it. The performer finds the largest clump of overlapping circles and then counts the intersections. Above is a small Processing sketch I wrote to drop the circles for me. Reload the page to generate a new random placement of the circles.

Tuesday September 10 7:30pm
Tim Feeney Faculty Recital
University of Alabama Moody Music Building, Concert Hall
Tuscaloosa AL



Cage’s Inlets will be performed using his original shells

Saturday’s Cage/Gould concert at RPI’s EMPAC in Troy NY is the next in a long line of John Cage centenary tributes happening this year. Featuring the Rensselaer Contemporary Music Ensemble directed by Michael Century, the program includes works by John Cage juxtaposed with a recreation of part of Glenn Gould’s final piano concert.

Saturday, November 17 8pm
EMPAC Theater
Rensselaer Contemporary Music Ensemble
Cage Gould
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Troy NY

The french philosopher Elie During knits it all together in a pre-performance lecture (5pm) with the help of a vacuum cleaner (no kidding!) or at least the metaphor of a vacuum cleaner or the memory of the sound of a vacuum cleaner or the memory of the experience of the obliteration of all other sounds thanks to a vacuum cleaner… I guess we’ll have to go to the lecture to find out for sure.

I’ll be providing some electronic dialogues in the concert between Cage and Gould using recordings of their voices. I put together a Max patch to trigger the cues and quickly found that my old-school use of Max’s “coll” object wasn’t quite cutting it. I looked into Max’s new “dict” object as a replacement but hit a limit recalling nested hierarchical statements. So I delved into SQLite and Javascript to put together a relational database of cues and associated tags. Now I’m able to query and sort the cues at will. I can also change the content of the database (add cues, edit tags, etc.) without munging up the patch itself. Lovely!

Listening as Creative Act


Allan Kozinn get’s it in yesterday’s NYTimes article about John Cage’s 4’33”.

…I sat back, closed my eyes and did what Cage so often recommended: I listened. I made no effort to separate the strands of conversation or to focus on what people were saying. I was simply grabbed by the sheer mass of sound, human and mechanical. It sounded intensely musical to me, noisy as it was, and once I began hearing it that way, I couldn’t stop.