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Saturday, April 16, 2011

'Why they start talking when there's something to hear?' John Cage with Rahsaan Roland Kirk



Ah, 'Is music, music?' Such questions lie at the heart of our art use of sound. John Cage asks them over a sound track of Roland Kirk - two enormous great composers of the last century together who never met. 'Silence is not a question.'

Get your ears into it: http://www.ubu.com/film/cage_kirk.html

John Cage and Rahsaan Roland Kirk - Sound?? (1966)

Although Rahsaan Roland Kirk and John Cage never actually meet in this film (Cage's enigmatic questions about sound are intercut with some of Kirk's more ambitious experiments with it) these two very different musical iconoclasts share a similar vision of the boundless possibilities of music. Kirk plays three saxes at once, switches to flute, incorporates tapes of birds played backwards, and finally hands out whistles to his audience and encourages them to accompany him, "in the key of W, if you please." Cage, on the other hand, is preparing a work for musical bicycle with David Tudor and Merce Cunningham at the Seville Theatre in London. Cage meets Rahsaan's music in an echo chamber, and he ends his search for the sound of silence in his favorite spot -- the anechoic chamber -- where it turns out to be the uproar of "your nervous system in operation." -- Martin Williams, JAZZ TIMES

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