The dance of time: The evolution of the structural aesthetics of the prepared piano works of John Cage.
AuthorRhodes, Carol Shirley.
Committee ChairFan, Paula
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractJohn Cage, (1912-1992) pioneer in new music, innovator, inventor of the happening and philosopher, writer and artist was one of the most creative forces of the twentieth century. His earliest works were 25-tone contrapuntal compositions. He later developed a strong interest in writing for percussion ensembles and collected instruments that were both found and made. He conducted his own percussion orchestras and discovered that they were the answer to his philosophy of the sounds of the future. He considered percussion music the transition from keyboard-influenced music to music which allowed for all sounds and silences. From 1939-1951 John Cage composed several works for prepared piano that used time as a structural device. Many of these works were written for the dance in collaboration with Merce Cunningham. This document addresses the historical significance of these works and relates Time to other areas that influenced Cage--including Zen and the Dance. This document provides descriptive analyses of Bacchanale, Music for Marcel Duchamp and selected Sonatas from the Sonatas and Interludes. To this writer's knowledge there have not yet been any analyses of Bacchanale or Music for Marcel Duchamp. The analyses reveal Cage's primary structural techniques in which he uses duration of spaces of time. Time lengths and the square root method appear to be the most important. These techniques first appeared in Imaginary Landscape #1 and First Construction in Metal--both dating from 1939. A brief description of all his prepared piano works is included to demonstrate Cage's commitment to rhythmic structuring. All of these works have been studied by this writer and several have been performed in concert by this writer. These include: Music for Marcel Duchamp, Primitive, For a Valentine Out of Season, A Room, Prelude for Meditation, Amores (Movements I and IV), and selected Sonatas from Sonatas and Interludes. A section has been included which explains the nature of materials used for preparations and their timbral effects. A Conclusion is provided demonstrating that Cage chose rhythm over harmony to structure his music. This information is drawn from the influences on Cage, his early percussion works, procedures employed in the percussion works and transferred to the prepared piano and the influence of dancers and Oriental philosophy. An Appendix is included with charts of the Sonatas. A Bibliography which shows the references consulted is included.