152MC – John Cage – 4’33”


From my audio CD from my inspiration pack, John Cage’s 4’33 track came to my interest. The track is named 4’33 because it lasts for four minutes and thirty-three seconds. It is a three movement composition by John Cage. It was composed in 1952. The piece consists of the sounds of the environment that the listeners hear while it is performed. So basically is it four minutes and thirty-three seconds of silence.

‘On a warm summer evening in August 1952 pianist David Tudor approached a piano on stage at the Maverick Concert Hall in Woodstock, New York. Stopwatch in hand, Tudor sat before the piano and, without striking a note, premiered John Cage’s composition 4’33”. Commonly known as Cage’s “silent” piece, 4’33” comprises three movements during which a performer—or performers—are instructed to produce no intentional sounds for four minutes and 33 seconds. This radical gesture upended the conventional structure of music, shifting attention from the performer to the audience, and allowing for endless possibilities of ambient sounds to fill the space. Today, 4’33” is recognized as a groundbreaking work that synthesizes Cage’s interests in chance operations, experimental music, and visual arts. When discussing the work over his lifetime, Cage emphasized that, rather than intending to simply shock his audience, he hoped to attune listeners to silence as a structure within musical notation. In the visual arts, Cage’s contemporaries were similarly using chance, “negative space,” and physically dematerialized works that encourage open presentations or interpretations of scripted experiences. This exhibition introduces the Museum’s recently acquired score for 4’33” and examines it, and Cage’s influence, as a critical pivot around which a diverse array of artists working throughout the 20th century can be united. Taking its title from a letter written by Cage in 1954, There Will Never Be Silence features prints, drawings, artists’ books, photographs, paintings, sculptures, and films by such artists as Marcel Duchamp, Kurt Schwitters, Robert Rauschenberg, Robert Morris, Lawrence Weiner, Yoko Ono, Andy Warhol, and other artists associated with Fluxus, Minimalism, and Conceptual art who pushed preconceived boundaries of space, time, and physicality to new ends.’

This piece of art reminded me how my mum would hear music. Maybe not in the same intentions that John Cage wanted, but it gave me an insight how deaf people would hear the world. I do not know what it is like being deaf and what they hear. I want to understand what they can hear. Is it like being underwater? or is it complete silence. No one will really know.