Type of Document Thesis Author Nodine, Sara Kathryn Author's Email Address email@example.com URN etd-04162007-131659 Title John Cage's Notion of "A Piece": 1940-1952 Degree Master of Music Department Music, College of Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title Denise Von Glahn Committee Chair Charles E. Brewer Committee Member Jane Piper Clendinning Committee Member Keywords
- A Valentine Out of Season
- Living Room Music
- Water Music
- Robert Cogan
- Patricia Carpenter
- Musical Organization
- Pozzi Escot
- Musical Piece
- John Cage
Date of Defense 2006-10-27 Availability unrestricted AbstractJohn Cage’s music includes a wide variety of styles, genres, performing forces, and approaches to musical creation that together challenge the notion and existence of “a piece.” In large part, due to the wide range of possibilities in performing Cage’s work, critics of his music often fault its apparent randomness and lack of organization. Such criticisms raise two initial questions: 1. How do Cage’s pieces manifest compositional control; and 2. is understanding the organization important if its effects are, at first, inaudible? In this thesis I will focus on Cage’s Living Room Music (1940), A Valentine Out of Season (1944), and Water Music (1952), and how each demonstrate Cage’s notion of “a piece.”
When applying these two questions to any musical composition, it is helpful to define a piece and analyze all elements of the work as they relate to this established definition. Patricia Carpenter classifies a piece as an object manipulated by the composer and experienced by the listener without the requirement of a tangible product. Expanding upon this idea, Robert Cogan and Pozzi Escot approach musical analysis in a way that allows for flexibility unique to each work. These definitions of a piece will be applied and expanded with regards to the selected works.
Many discussions of Cage’s work focuses on the unorganized nature of his creative process, thus misunderstanding the aspects of control maintained by the composer and performer. Cage controls the largest dimensions while allowing freedom within. Cage’s balance of control and freedom can be traced not only musically, but also in his larger philosophical and aesthetic ideas. Studying the notion of “a piece” in Cage’s works provides insight into its relationship with earlier musical periods traditionally characterized by structure and form.
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