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Institute of Advanced Study

Past Events

Earthquake proof music: flexible time in the late music of John Cage

27th November 2012, 13:00 to 15:00, Institute of Advanced Study, Seminar Room, Cosin's Hall, Palace Green, John Snijders (Netherlands)


A workshop lecture within the framework of from zerO, a five day festival organized by MUSICON, celebrating the 100th anniversary of John Cage in ten thunderclaps. It discusses the unique and innovative ways as invented by the American composer John Cage (1912-1992), providing performing musicians with freedom in dealing with time structures on macro and microlevels. It examines the use of so-called ‘time brackets’, making each subsequent performance similar in pitch but unique in time, a structural device Cage himself labeled ‘earthquake proof’. The technique investigates how, through the use of mechanical or other time keeping devices, such as stopwatches, large groups of musicians can be synchronized without the need of a conductor, and how this influences the ways musicians individually shape the progress of time within the given musical material.

The workshop will focus on the body of work Cage created in the final years of his life and in particular on compositions performed during the festival: Music for..., ASLSP, Freeman Etudes, Thirty Pieces for String Quartet. The session will be led by John Snijders, pianist and artistic director of the Amsterdam based Ives Ensemble, specialized o.a. in performing the music of John Cage.

One of the pieces discussed in this workshop is “Five” by John Cage.  Participants are advised that the following instruments/voices are able to be included in a possible performance this piece:  flute, alto recorder, tenor recorder, oboe, clarinet, alto saxophone, trumpet, horn, violin, viola, cello, soprano, contralto and tenor. Do bring your instrument if you would like to participate. 

For additional information please contact Dr Richard Rijnvos (0191 334 3142) or contact Karen Nichol on 0191 334 3156

Contact karen.nichol@durham.ac.uk for more information about this event.