Friday, March 9, 2012

John Cage and Morton Feldman In Conversation, 1967

This is a wonderful two-hour conversation between two giants of twentieth century music composition. It's hard to think of two music composers who influenced my artwork more than these two did. By the time this conversation was recorded in 1967, both of them were already highly regarded in the canonical history of music, so it is interesting to hear how each of them looked back on their own careers, but also looked forward as to how they could keep their music fresh despite the expectations.

One thing that I found particularly interesting was how completely contemporary their dialogue sounded except, that is, whenever they mentioned technology... It was at those points in a conversation recorded only 45 years ago, that you realize that we live in a world that is almost light years apart from the technology these two geniuses had access to. If you are a fan, this is well worth your time.

Part 1 (39:25): The segment begins with Cage and Feldman discussing the various ways people perceive intrusion in their lives. The composers then spend some time on the occupation of the artist as "being deep in thought," and what the goals or purposes of "being deep in thought" might be.
Part 2 (49:41): Cage and Feldman look at how everyday tasks such as correpsondence are affected by the artist's desire to not disappoint the public once the public has recognized the artist. Cage and Feldman engage in a fairly philosophical discussion regarding the telephone, and recount some anecdotes about using the phone book.
Part 3 (43:48): Cage seems fascinated by the idea that the large and small scale is becoming ever more prominent in society, while the importance of the mid-scale is dwindling. Some serious debate ensues when Cage expresses the opinion that we already have quality in the world, and what we are truly seeking is quantity. The two also touch on the role of artists in reaction to the Vietnam War, and how musicians seem frequently absent from the political dialogue. The conversation ends with Cage hypothesizing that the printing press changed the course of life activity toward material

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