Re: Squealing With Ellington/Loud enough??

Subject: Re: Squealing With Ellington/Loud enough??
From: christophe charles (
Date: Tue Apr 06 1999 - 11:19:48 EDT

At 23:53 99.4.4, Ron Pellegrino wrote:
> christophe charles wrote:
> >In a 1977 interview for Radio France, at the occasion of the publication of
> >"Pour les oiseaux", John Cage said (en francais dans le texte, poorly transl
> >ated) :
> >
> >Question : Are there "poisonous" sounds ?
> >Cage : I haven't heard any. And I have been searching. I even made the exper
> >ience to hear a very loud sound, with my ear very close to a loudspeaker for
> >one hour. Then I had a ringing in my ear, and the next morning the ringing c
> >ontinued, the next day also. Then I phone the doctor, made an appointment, b
> >ut on the way to the doctor, the ringing ceased ! He made an examination, an
> >d told me my ears were functionning very well.
> In the 1960s John Cage was considered a leader of the lunatic fringe.

It seems that he is still considered a joker by most of the musical world (e
xcept a happy few like Takemitsu, Ichiyanagi, Walter Marchetti or Juan Hidal
go). It is certainly not the "Musicians" and the "Composers" who would under
stand what he had to say, but dancers, visual artists or philosophers.

> In
> the 1990s he seems to have achieved the status of a deity with his every
> utterance considered a jewel of truth. I'm certain in his ethereal state
> he finds the irony amusing.

He sure never intended to become a god.

> Cage must have lived a very protected life never to have heard a
> "poisonous" sound such as a racial epithet, a curse, a slur, or any of all
> the other sonic expressions of anger, contempt, and hate. Sound carries
> the spirit of the sender for both good and evil. Undoubtedly Cage was the
> target of more than his share poisonous verbal arrows. Perhaps he had a
> superior shield compared to most other people.

Cage also said "I have never heard a sound which I dislike (the only problem
with the sounds is the music)".

> Does anyone doubt that Cage never repeated that silly prank of putting his
> "ear very close to a loudspeaker for one hour?" Ask anyone with tinnitus
> how much they enjoy the ringing in their ears.

I understand the story at least in this way : he would not blame loud sounds
, therefore he would not blame little sounds. If small (music) is beautiful,
then every other size/scale is also praiseworthy. The question is about know
ing when to go away from a sound which can hurt you. He choosed to be one ho
ur in front of the loudspeaker ; he probably felt that if he had stayed ther
e for one more hour, he would have had a "ringing in his ears" for a longer
period. I don't think that his story is as provocative as it seems, I don't
see it as an insult to people who have tinnitus.

christophe charles
tokyo 110-0001 taitoku yanaka 3-21-5-303
tel/fax +81-3-5685-6566
mobile +81-908-59-65264

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b27 : Wed Jun 11 2003 - 13:08:55 EDT