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No Such Thing as Silence: John Cage's 4'33" (Icons of America) Paperback


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No Such Thing as Silence: John Cage's 4'33" (Icons of America) + Making Music for Modern Dance: Collaboration in the Formative Years of a New American Art (Source Readings)
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Product Details

  • Series: Icons of America
  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press (January 25, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300171293
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300171297
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.6 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #715,962 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*Starred Review* To many music-lovers’ chagrin, the most famous twentieth-century American classical music composition is, very probably, John Cage’s 4’ 33” (1952), consisting of three movements whose timings amount to 4 minutes and 33 seconds of . . . music? The question mark arises because not a note is sounded by its performer. It is completely silent. Or is it? For no matter where or how it is played, even in a recording (23 of which Gann lists in an appendix), there are always sounds to be heard. Said by many to be a work of philosophy rather than music, it is, Gann demonstrates, clearly the latter, though Cage was becoming intrigued with Zen when he composed it. And if one of its points is that all sounds are musical, it is fraught with further music-cultural meaning as the culmination of a musical avant-garde extending from Erik Satie in late-nineteenth-century Paris through 1920s Dada to the association of advanced music with abstract expressionist painting after World War II; as the progenitor of at least two styles of subsequent art music, minimalism and environmental sound; and as an astonishing inspiration to a panoply of rock bands. Deftly profiling Cage and his influences in the process, Gann entrancingly communicates his love and fascination with Cage’s musical milestone in a spellbinding chapter of high-cultural history. --Ray Olson --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"'Gann's book perfectly proves Cage's belief that putting a frame around silence can be as rewarding as music itself.' (Andrew Male, Mojo) '4'33", Gann argues, though often suspected of being merely a 'provocative stunt', is actually one of the best understood and most influential works of avant-garde music... In describing the piece's premieres and reception, Gann recaptures its 'Promethean' impact, which cost Cage some friends and prompted his mother to ask, "Don't you think that John has gone too far this time?'" (The New Yorker)"

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Customer Reviews

The book is remarkably well researched.
MV
Necessarily Gann has given also a short biography of Cage, who had one of the most interesting of musical careers.
R. Hardy
The book is breezily written; it can be read in one or two sittings.
Kuru

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Allan J. Cronin on August 15, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I bought this book both because of my interest in Cage and the avant garde as well as my love of the critical insights of Kyle Gann.
And I was not disappointed. Gann's analysis of this seminal work of the avant garde addresses the social context of the piece as well as the various criticisms of it. And in so doing he makes it clear that this is, as he says, the best known work of the avant garde as well as a very important work from which we can understand much of what came later including minimalism, art "happenings" and indeterminate methods. He correctly positions it as a sort of "urtext" piece much like Stravinsky's "Rite of Spring".
Gann does this in an eminently readable style with a very complete set of references and a discography (yes, the "silent piece" has been recorded many times). He even gives strategies by which a performer can approach the interpretation of the score.
This can be read with equal benefit by academics, musicians and general readers.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Richard Friedman on May 9, 2010
Format: Hardcover
This is an extraordinary book, because by focusing on just one piece by John Cage, Gann brings into the discussion the whole world of art and sensibility of the period, the late 40's to the 60's.

This is a "must-have" and "must-read" for anyone interested in the period.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By MV on April 22, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Gann does a fantastic job at putting 4'33'' and Cage into context. The book is remarkably well researched. As Gann says, this book could not have been written in the 20th Century, given the amount of books that have come out in the last 15 years. In his introduction, Gann mentions that his interest in Cage started at an early age, and one can't help be influenced by his curiosity. "No Such Thing As Silence" has been very helpful with my own writing on 4'33'' and Cage; and has helped inform me as to why Cage just might be one of the most important composers of all time.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By D. Chaloux on November 7, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
You can read the 5-star reviews about the content of the book, most of which I agree. It's a fascinating exploration of a controversial work by John Cage. But by the end, you'll realize that many of our presuppositions are vastly misguided.

I have to give this a 3-star rating however because the Kindle edition does not have any of the images in the book. The rights apparently were not obtained for the electronic medium. This is a great disservice to the readers. In addition, there is no warning on the Kindle page that this book is in anyway incomplete, which it is. Yes, the Kindle version is much cheaper, and we pay for it dearly.

I highly recommend the book, but if you get it, get the print version.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Semih on January 7, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Like it or not, John Cage's 4'33'' is a monumental event in the history of the arts and this book has everything one needs to know about it. Very well researched and organized. It is also very informative about the persons and circumstances around the event.
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By Amazon Customer on March 3, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I've been reading about Cage for years, have read most of his books, and have both seen and talked to the man twice (as well as Merce). He's a hard guy to capture (writers like Thomson thought he schemed to get famous), but this book succeeds and, at the same time, clarifies his sometimes cryptic way of looking at art and life. Regardless of his personality and his attempts to gain notice, his achievements, ideas and art are the best way to judge him. This is not the first book I would recommend if one is just starting to study Cage--"For the Birds" would be better--but for those who enjoy his art and have spent some time with it, no better book exists. Good word and thank you, Kyle.
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