The sound of silence

John Cage’s piano piece (well, technically, anyway) 4’33” gets mentioned here pretty much any chance I get.

And this week the first movement, Tacet, is a free download at the iTunes Store:

John Cage was a modernist composer with a playful sense of humor. In 1952 he wrote this short piano piece, which instructs the soloist not to play any notes at all — the only sound you hear being provided by audience and their surroundings. The ensuing argument over whether this counts as music quickly made 4’33” the most famous and controversial composition of Cage’s career. Today, the work is most widely understood as a challenge to the concept of silence — even when there’s apparently nothing present to make a sound, you can always hear something if you listen hard enough.

Then again, to me anyway, the really amazing aspect of 4’33” is that someone was once accused of plagiarizing it.

(No, I’m not putting up an MP3, wiseguy.)


  1. Brian J. »

    1 April 2009 · 8:25 pm

    But not putting up an MP3 is leaving us with no music and therefore plagiarizes it, does it not?

  2. CGHill »

    1 April 2009 · 8:27 pm


    (which might also be infringement, come to think of it)

  3. fillyjonk »

    2 April 2009 · 7:11 am

    Only if you are sitting on this page for precisely 4 minutes, 33 seconds, Brian.

    The idea of offering the first movement of 4’33” as a free download makes me smile. Almost as good as a Unicorn Chaser.

  4. Kirk »

    2 April 2009 · 7:29 am

    That may be the best April Fools joke of all time.

  5. Moe Lane » The most interesting thing about 4′33″. »

    2 April 2009 · 10:14 pm

    […] Not that it exists. […]

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