SOUNDS LIKE SILENCE – Cage/4’33″/Stille – 1912–1952–2012

Various Artists

By Inke Arns and Dieter Daniels

English | Deutsch

Gruen 116 | Audio CD > [order] part of the CD text is in German





In 2012 the world celebrates not only the centenary of John Cage’s birth, but also the sixtieth anniversary of the premiere of his ›silent piece‹ 4′ 33″ (four minutes, thirty-three seconds) on August 29, 1952. This composition in three movements without intentional sounds is the composer’s best-known work today. As an ›art without work‹ (John Cage), it takes up and renews the impulses of the avant-gardes of the early twentieth century, notably Marcel Duchamp’s readymades, which the artist himself termed ›works without art.‹


Cage’s conception of silence is intimately linked to questions of presence and liveness. Each recording of 4′ 33″ is essentially a paradox since it is far easier to perform than to record the piece! Cage wants us to listen to the sounds here and now; recordings of 4′ 33″ , however, allow for a wholly different experience, as we are effectively hearing sounds from a remote time and space, mingling with the live sounds of our environment at the time of listening.

The seemingly trivial act of recording 4′ 33″ thus hides a formidable complexity. The musician Ulrich Krieger writes: ›In the case of 4’33’’ and especially of a recording, a performer has to face the following question: What do I want to represent?‹ Is the outcome the result of a recording in a silent situation (microphone silence) or an actual technical silence (absence of signal)? Is the piece to be recorded with or without musicians, and if the former applies, which category of instruments should take part? Should the musicians indicate the beginning and the end of the three movements, and if so, how?

Although recording 4′ 33″ runs counter to Cage’s emphasis on the here and now of sounds, an estimated 54 recordings have been consigned to CD, vinyl or digital media to this day (see the discography in the publication Sounds Like Silence, Spector Books, Leipzig 2012). And, indeed, each of them is noticeably different, reflecting the place and context of the recording. Taken together, these recordings are therefore also an acknowledgment of Cage’s famous observation that ›there is no such thing as silence.‹


Silence has become something of a taboo in modern media. Radio stations, for instance, have implemented a technology that automatically switches to an emergency program when there is a prolonged period of silence. Moments of silence are also being suppressed in live broadcasts, as even the news and weather reports in so-called ›format radio‹ can no longer dispense with sound effects.

The CD Sounds Like Silence is based on the eponymous radio show broadcast in the framework of the Sound Art program on Deutschland-radio Kultur. Together with the radio broadcast it forms part of the exhibition Sounds Like Silence organized by the Hartware MedienKunstVerein at Dortmunder U from August 25, 2012 to January 6, 2013. Silence is announced, performed, broadcast, recorded, and recycled, and inscribes itself in media and bodies. The six chapters on this CD comprise amusing, strange, rare and illuminating recordings on and around silence.

Historically, silence formed an integral part of radio, as up until the late fifties stations commonly stopped broadcasting in the evening. Similarly, live broadcasts were frequently interrupted by moments of silence in the form of unintentional pauses due to technical or human errors. Walter Benjamin famously recounted this phenomenon in ›On the Minute,‹ a dramatized account based on his own experience as a writer for radio.

In his short story Murke’s Collected Silences (1955) Heinrich Böll describes how silence is insidiously eradicated from radio, particularly in the wake of the switch from live programs to tape recordings which can be subsequently edited. Murke collects the silences which have been edited out and takes them home, where he listens to them ceremoniously.

Interestingly, Cage’s first sketch for a ›silent piece‹ refers explicitly to radio. In a lecture held in 1948 the composer stated his intentions to compose a piece called Silent Prayer, which would consist of four and a half minutes of silence to be used as muzak (background music in shopping malls, elevators, work places, etc.). As early as 1931 the leader of the Italian futurists Filippo Tommaso Marinetti had drafted a concept for a radio program of sounds and interruptions of up to forty seconds of silence (I silenzi parlano fra di loro), which aimed to make the elements of sound editing become more noticeable.



Cage’s observation that ›there is no such thing as silence‹ finds a disturbing echo in today’s world, where issues of ›acoustic ecology‹ are playing an ever-increasing role, notably in town and transport planning, architecture, and product design. Beyond our ›objective‹ acoustic environment, it would appear that our ›subjective‹ perception of sound has also changed, as demonstrate the controversial debates about the ubiquity of sound diffusion in private and public spaces, enabled by modern technology.


What do we hear when there is nothing to hear?

To what extent do we long for silence?

And with how much silence can we cope provided it even exists?




This CD is an ›anthology of silence‹ which spans a large spectrum of historic and contemporary works of art. Its selection of tracks evidences that silence never sounds like silence: while some  of the pieces are indeed very quiet, others will seem rather ›loud.‹ Attentive listeners will be rewarded as they gradually make out the subtle yet far-ranging differences in the various sound atmospheres.


The exhibition Sounds Like Silence is organized by the Hartware MedienKunstVerein (HMKV) at Dortmunder U in Dortmund, Germany, from August 25, 2012 to January 6, 2013. It is curated by Inke Arns and Dieter Daniels.


The exhibition is accompanied by an extensive publication. Sounds Like Silence (ed. by Dieter Daniels and Inke Arns, Leipzig: Spector Books, 2012, ISBN: 978-3-940064-41-7) comprises  essays by Inke Arns, Brandon LaBelle, Dieter Daniels, David Toop, Dörte Schmidt, Julia H. Schröder, and Jan Thoben, an anthology of texts by Hans-Friedrich Bormann, John Cage, William Fetterman, Kyle Gann, Branden W. Joseph, Douglas Kahn, Jonathan David Katz, Irwin Kremen, Liz Kotz, Julia Robinson, Simon Shaw Miller, and James Pritchett as well as critical notes on the participating artists.


The CD contains the radio feature which was broadcast on August 24, 2012 between 00:05 and 01:00 a.m. in the Sound Art program of Deutschlandradio Kultur.


Sounds Like Silence
John Cage / 4′ 33″ / Silence Today
By Inke Arns and Dieter Daniels


Radiophonic opening of the exhibition at Hartware MedienKunstVerein at the Dortmunder U, Dortmund, Germany


Speakers: Meriam Abbas, Shaun Lawton and Gilles Chevalier
Assistance: Eva Raisig
Sound: Lutz Pahl
Directed by: Inke Arns, Dieter Daniels
Editor: Marcus Gammel
Production: Deutschlandradio Kultur 2012



Sound Art Series by Gruenrekorder
Germany / 2012 / Gruen 116 / LC 09488 / GEMA / EAN 4050486081365





6 Tracks (48′50″)
CD (500 copies)



John Cage, 4′ 33″, Cambridge, Mass. 1972 (A TV moderator announces John Cage’s performance of 4’33“), in: Nam June Paik, A Tribute to John Cage, Video, 1973, 60:00 Min. (extract 0:57 Min.), Courtesy Electronic Arts Intermix, NYC


Introduction of the studio recording of 4′ 33″, Cage against the Machine, Cage Against The Machine, Video, 2010, 7:31 Min. (extract 0:49 Min.), Courtesy Dave Hillard


John Cage, 4′ 33″, Cologne 1986 (Curator Wulf Herzogenrath asks for silence (›Silence, please, thanks!‹) before the performance), Video documentation by Klaus vom Bruch of John Cage’s performances of 4′ 33″ at Kölnischer Kunstverein, Cologne 1986, 1986 / 2012, 6:17 Min. (extract 0:15 Min.), Courtesy the artist


John Cage (›This is the kind of music that anybody can make. You just have to open your ears and listen.‹), in: Nam June Paik, A Tribute to John Cage, Video, 1973, 60:00 Min. (extract 0:08 Min.), Courtesy Electronic Arts Intermix, NY





John Cage, 4′ 33″, New York City 1972 (Performance of 4′ 33″ and commentary about the I Ging-based choice of the performance location ›This is the kind of music that anybody can make. You just have to open your ears and listen‹ (John Cage), in: Nam June Paik, A Tribute to John Cage, Video, 1973, 60:00 Min. (extract 4:26 Min.), Courtesy Electronic Arts Intermix, NY


John Cage, 4′ 33″, Cologne 1986, Video documentation by Klaus vom Bruch of John Cage’s performances of 4′ 33″ at Kölnischer Kunstverein, Cologne 1986, 1986 / 2012, 6:17 Min. (extract 1:02 Min.), Courtesy the artist



Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, Cinque Sintesi Radiofoniche, 1931 (13:07 Min.), performed by Daniele Lombardi in 1978, 13:07 Min. published in: Musica Futurista: The Art Of  Noises, LTM Recordings, LTMCD 2401, 2004, (extract from: I silenzi parlano fra di loro, 2:21 Min.) Released by kind permission of LTM / Daniele Lombardi.


Jonty Semper, Kenotaphion, Double CD, Locus+, 2001 (Armistice Day / Remembrance Sunday 1929, 1:11 Min.), Courtesy the artist


Jonty Semper, Kenotaphion, Double CD, Locus+, 2001 (Armistice Day / Remembrance Sunday 1945, 1:04 Min.), Courtesy the artist


Jonty Semper, Kenotaphion, Double CD, Locus+, 2001 (Armistice Day / Remembrance Sunday 1948, 0:28 Min.), Courtesy the artist


Matt Rogalsky, Two Minutes Fifty Seconds Silence (for the USA), Audio work, 2003, 2:50 Min., published in: Nicolas Collins: A Call for Silence (CD), 2004, (extract 0:49 Min.), Courtesy the artist


Martin Conrads, Dr. M’s gesammeltes Schweigen (Augsburg Mix) [Dr. M’s collected silence], Audio work, 2010, 3:00 Min. (extract 0:32 Min.), Courtesy the artist




John Cage, 4′ 33″ (studio version), First movement, 0:38 Min., in: Ulrich Krieger: The Complete John Cage Edition, Volume 42: A Cage of Saxophones, Vol. 3 and Vol. 4 (Indeterminacy 1 & 2); © 2010 mode records, mode 222 / 23, Published by Henmar Press / C. F. Peters Corp. Ulrich Krieger has recorded two versions of 4′ 33″ for saxophone trio: one with closed window (studio version), one with open window.


John Cage, 4′ 33″ (open window version), First movement, 0:33 Min., in: Ulrich Krieger: The Complete John Cage Edition, Volume 42: A Cage of Saxophones, Vol. 3 and  Vol. 4 (Indeterminacy 1 & 2); © 2010 mode records, mode 222 / 23, Published by Henmar Press / C. F. Peters Corp.


Christopher DeLaurenti, Favorite Intermissions: Music Before and Between Beethoven, Stravinsky, Holst, 2002–2007, Audio work, GD Stereo (CD), 2010, 68:03 Min., Titel: GD 019-3 SF Variations, 4:35 Min. (extract 0:49 Min.), Courtesy Collection Corette Jepeson; SF Variations courtesy of GD Stereo


Dave Allen, Silent Recording, Hansa Studios Berlin, Audio work, 2001, 26:00 Min. (extract 0:33 Min.), Courtesy Elastic, Malmö


Jacob Kirkegaard, Speculum Speculi, Production: Deutschlandradio Kultur, 2009, 44:44 Min. (extract 0:49 Min.)


Lasse­-Marc Riek, judenbad, friedberg, germany (jewish bath), Location recording: 28. 2. 2009, 14:57 Min. (extract 0:49 Min.)


Stephen Vitiello, World Trade Center Recordings: Winds After Hurricane Floyd, Audio work, 1999 / 2002, 8:37 Min. (extract 0:49 Min.), Courtesy the artist and American Contemporary, NYC



John Cage, 4′ 33″ (No. 2) (0′ 00″), Peter Pfister (electronic realization), 4:38 Min., in: John Cage, Music For Five, CD, 1991, hat ART (hat ART CD 2­6070), Switzerland, Co­Produktion: Hessischer Rundfunk, Frankfurt / Hat Hut Records Ltd, Therwil (extract 0:49 Min.)


Matthieu Saladin, 4′ 33″ / 0′ 00″, Audio work, 2008, 4:33 Min., Maximum amplification of the first recording of 4′ 33″ (Cramps, 1974), performed by Gianni-Emilio Simonetti, Mini CD, Editions Provisoires, (extract 0:49 Min.), Courtesy the artist





John Cage describes his hearing experience in the anechoic chamber in Harvard in 1951, in: Nam June Paik, Global Groove, WNET­TV, US 1973, 30:00 Min. (extract 0:28 Min.)


Brandon LaBelle, The Sonic Body, Production: Deutschlandradio Kultur / Studio für elektroakustische Musik der Akademie der Künste 2009, 47:58 Min., (extract 2:19 Min.)


People Like Us (Vicki Bennett), Cage Silenced, Audio work, 4:33 Min., published in: Nicolas Collins: A Call for Silence (CD), 2004 (extract 1:00 Min.), Courtesy the artist


John Cage, in: Nam June Paik, A Tribute to John Cage, Video, 1973, 60:00 Min., ›I am here and there is nothing to say. If among you are those who wish to get somewhere, let them leave at any moment. What we require is silence. But what silence requires is that I go on on talking‹ (extract 0:59 Min.), Courtesy Electronic Arts Intermix, NYC


Einstürzende Neubauten, Silence is Sexy, im Album: Silence is Sexy, ℗ + © 2011, POTOMAK (Indigo 957052), (extract 0:60 Min.), Courtesy the artists





From what I gather, this disc was released to coincide with an exhibition of the same name that ran for several months in Dortmund, Germany, until early 2013. Both, as one might suspect, honour(ed) John Cage’s own ‘silent’ meisterwerk, ‘4:33’, and indeed the very concept of ‘silence’ the piece was designed to explore. Silence, of course, does not exist, yet constantly remains a motivation for us (as John Gray illustrates all too clearly in his excellent book, The Silence of Animals). Cage himself proved this before ‘4:33’, a piece inspired by his ongoing interest in Zen Buddhism and, more particularly, the anechoic chamber at Harvard University, which he visited in 1951 and understood after that despite the said chamber’s ability to absorb sound, his own blood circulation and other bodily sounds could still be heard.


This notion, and indeed a very clear playing on it via the title itself, is what forms the basis of this collection of carefully selected pieces collected by curators Dieter Daniels and Inke Arns. Mostly formed around a radio play that’s unfortunately (for me, at least) in German. Each part (or ‘room’ as they are here called) toys with different aspects of silence, its perception and its purported opposite in sound. Utilising interview snippets, concert recordings and the like that themselves include Cage, Dave Allen, Stephen Vitiello, Brandon LaBelle and Einsturzende Neubauten, amongst others.
The segments in English, of course, make for an interesting listen, but so much is lost due to the German language. All the same, it serves as a great taster to what is both an intriguing concept and, indeed, an exhibition I’m certain would be worth visiting anywhere. Silence, after all, at least translates in any language.


Martin P  | Musique Machine
This review will start with a disclaimer, and probably continue in that vein to the end. Put simply, there’s very slim pickings here if you don’t have a good understanding of German. The cd contains a radio broadcast from 2012, on Deutschlandradio Kultur; celebrating John Cage and in his particular his most famous work 4.33 (for the uninitiated, the piece requires the performer to make no intentional sounds for the duration). The broadcast combines recordings of the piece with soundbites from Cage, as well as further examples of ’silence‘ in sound works.


I have, or rather had, a reasonable working knowledge of German: I can follow some of what the commentary is saying, but the vast bulk speeds by; realistically leaving me with just the sound recordings and spoken-English to digest. These sound recordings are largely unexciting, and often simply too short in duration for any reasonable listening. They include extracts from various recorded versions of 4.33 (some performed in the studio, others on the street – for example), field recordings from the World Trade Center, and a snippet from Einsturzende Neubauten – to name a few. Harsh Noise enthusiasts will be pleased to know, that a short extract from a track that subjects the first recording of 4.33 to maximum amplification, will disappoint them. The sound bites from Cage himself are of more interest, but still don’t amount to much listening.


This is, what it is: a radio documentary, in German. Thus it is ultimately of most use to those who want a brief audio introduction to Cage’s 4.33, and can understand German. There’s not a lot more to be said. The extracts from recordings are irritatingly short – in the standard ‚radio documentary‘ style – and there isn’t even a full performance of the piece at any point. On the plus side, though, we do hear a recording of Cage describing his experience in an anechoic chamber – something of personal interest to me. So, this cd is unfortunately of very little use to me, given that I don’t fulfil the criteria I set out at the start of this paragraph; but would, I imagine, be of much more use to those who do.



Curt Cuisine | skug – Journal für Musik
Das Gruenrekorder-Label, schön langsam wächst es mir ans Herz mit seinem radikalen Faible für field recordings. Unvergessen die CD, auf der man verschiedenen Schweizer Bergbahnen zuhören konnte. Unpackbar irgendwie, andererseits auch ganz schön kultig. Aber wie sagte John Cage einst: »Sie müssen es nicht für Musik halten, wenn dieser Ausdruck sie schockiert.« Und damit sind wir auch gleich beim Thema. »Sounds like Silence« präsentiert eigentlich ein Radiofeature, das anlässlich des 100. Geburtstags von Cage und des 60. Jahrestages der Aufführung seines legendären Stückes 4’33“ ausgestrahlt wurde. 4’33“ ist eigentlich als Aufführungsskandal in die Musikhistorie eingegangen. Damals trat Pianist David Tudor vor versammelten Publikum ans Klavier, wartete 4’33“, klappte zweimal den Klavierdeckel auf und zu (für die einzelnen Sätze) und ging dann wieder. Was das Publikum damals vor allem hörte, war die eigene Erwartungshaltung – und die war offenbar unerträglich. Aber Cage wäre nicht ein derart begnadet gelassener Provokateur gewesen, wenn es ihm nur um den Skandal gegangen würde. Cage wollte tatsächlich die Stille zu Aufführung bringen. Weswegen er auch eine elektronische Version erzeugte, in dem er sich einfach mit dem Mikrofon in New York aufstellte (an zufälligen Orten) und die Stille, die natürlich keine Stille war, aufnahm. Unglaubliches, grandioses Detail daran: der ihn begleitende Nam June Paik schnappte sich nach einer Minute das Mikro und interviewte damit Passanten. Ein Lehrstück in Sachen Ursprünge, die nie das waren, was man sich meist von ihnen verspricht. Reine, unverfälschte Momente … jedenfalls, um genau dieses Einfangen der Stille geht es in »Sounds like Silence«, wofür Inke Arns und Dieter Daniels großartige Beispiele aus der Musik- und Radiogeschichte zusammengetragen haben. Das ergibt ganz nebenbei auch einen schrägen, aber umso erkenntnisreicheren Einstieg in ein ganzheitliches (ergo radikales) Musikverständnis (natürlich ist Stille die vollkommene Musik, natürlich ist Harmonie Lärm und Lärm eigentlich Harmonie …). Und darum kann diese CD nur uneingeschränkt empfohlen werden, auch wenn es in formaler Hinsicht eben bloß ein Radio-Feature ist.



Héctor Cabrero | Le son du grisli
Sounds Like Silence est un hommage à la composition silencieuse de Cage, 4’33’’, rendu par des noms comme Nam June Paik, Brandon LaBelle, Ulrich Krieger, Einstürzende Neubauten, Jacob Kierkegaard, Lasse-Marc Riek, Stephen Vitiello ou People Like Us. Sur les lèvres des artistes & musiciens (de documents en captations) on peut lire que si le silence n’existe pas, rien ne vaut pourtant le silence. A méditer ?



Tina Manske | CULTurMAG
Ein Hörstück von Inke Arns und Dieter Daniels widmet sich dem bekanntesten Werk von John Cage – seinem silent piece „4‘33‘‘“, einer Komposition in drei Sätzen mit kompletter Stille. Es feiert in diesem Jahr ebenfalls einen runden Geburtstag. Bei der Uraufführung im August 1952 markierte der Pianist David Tudor die Anfänge und Endpunkte der Sätze mit dem Anheben und Schließen die Klavierdeckels. Seitdem haben unzählige Musiker und Orchester ihre eigene Interpretation des Stückes vorgelegt. Aber Cage war nicht der erste, der sich mit Stille als Sound beschäftigte. Schon in den 1930er-Jahren legten Künstler wie Marinetti ähnlich gelagerte Arbeiten vor. Und natürlich hatte Cage Nachfolger: So filterte Matt Rogalsky in seinem Stück „Two Minutes Fifty Seconds Silence (for the USA)“ aus dem Jahr 2003 alle Töne aus George W. Bushs „Rede an die Welt“, in der er Hussein ein Ultimatum für den Abzug aus Afghanistan stellt. Eine gespenstische Aufnahme – nur die Echos von Bushs Stimme im Weißen Haus sind zu hören, und sie klingen wie Bombeneinschläge.


Die CD versteht sich als „Anthologie der Stille“. Der Titel „Sounds Like Silence“ benennt eine Doppeldeutigkeit: Stille kann ein Sound sein, aber Sounds benötigen auch die Stille als ihrem Gegenpart. Arns und Daniels teilen ihr Hörstück in sechs akustische, thematisch geordnete Räume ein. Sie betrachten dabei die Geschichte von Stille bei Aufführungen, bei Ausstrahlungen im Rundfunk, bei der Aufnahme im Studio etc. Die Arbeit bietet damit einen kurzweiligen und reichlich informativen Einstieg in die musikalische Konzeption von silence.


Inke Arns und Dieter Daniels: Sounds Like Silence. Cage/4‘33‘‘/Stille. 1912-1952-2012. Gruenrekorder. Radioeröffnung der gleichnamigen Austtellung des Hartware MedienKunstVereins im Dortmunder U (noch bis 6. Januar 2013). Zur ausführlichen Beschreibung bei gruenrekorder, inklusive einiger Hörproben. Direkt zum Ausstellungsführer.



maeror3 | livejournal
Если «Черный квадрат» Малевича можно назвать абсолютной границей живописи в частности и всего современного искусства в целом, за которой ничего нет, кроме пустоты и дзена, то пьеса «4’33’’» Джона Кейджа выполняет подобную роль в музыке, открывая новые возможности восприятия и подводя категорический итог всему тому, что было до этого. Каждый может нарисовать квадрат, каждый может исполнить пьесу Кейджа, наслаждаясь причастностью к искусству, которое, по сути, в этих пограничных формах обрушилось само в себя, явив миру то, что скрыто за мазками краски и нотами – мрак, пустоту и тишину, из которых формируется новая реальность, целиком зависящая от наблюдателя, его состояния и его окружения.


В год столетнего юбилея американского композитора и шестидесятилетия создания «4’33’’» немецкий лейбл «Gruenrekorder» и «Deutschlandradio Kultur» подготовили антологию «Sounds Like Silence». Идея поначалу кажется странной – ну как можно уместить тишину на CD? Издать пустые диски продолжительностью четыре минуты тридцать три секунды? Создатели отнеслись к этой работе более творчески и серьезно: тишина Кейджа подана в формате радиопередачи, состоящей из шести частей-комнат. Ее ведущие и «гости в студии» подробно рассказывают (на немецком, так что не знающие языка слушатели могут на данном этапе отсеяться) о личности Кейджа, о его влиянии на культуру, о его предшественниках, давая возможность услышать уникальные записи «до-Кейджевой эпохи тишины», а также известные исполнения этой пьесы. Существует множество ее версий – ее «исполняют» в концертных залах, на шумных улицах Нью-Йорка, в подземке, возле известных зданий вроде ВТЦ, не забыто первое исполнение в Вудстоке. Если посмотреть на имена исполнителей и послушать большую часть работ, можно сделать вывод, что все создатели «конкретной музыки» и «полевых записей», по сути, все время играют Кейджа, заполняя короткий временной отрезок гулом и грохотом коллектора, шумами, залетающими в открытое окно и другими фоновыми звуками, комбинация которых каждый раз неповторима. Среди видных имен – Стивен Вителло, Лассе-Мари Риек, Вики Беннетт, Брендон ЛаБелль, Кристофер ДеЛауренти и другие, те, на которые четыре минуты тридцать три секунды тишины оказали сильное влияние и подтолкнули к творчеству. Не забыты даже «Einsturzende Neubauten» – а что, «Silence in Sexy» вполне вписывается в концепцию сборника. На котором, кстати, звучит голос самого Кейджа, который относится к интервью, надо заметить, не без иронии, громким шепотом повествуя о своей творческой философии.


«Sounds Like Silence» – не просто компиляция, а серьезное культурологическое исследование, посвященное одному из символов современного искусства. Познавательно, если не брать в расчет трудности перевода.



Idwal Fisher | IDWAL FISHER

[…] ‘Sounds Like Silence’ is a straight lift from a radio program broadcast via Deutschlandradio Kultur on the 24th of August this year. In case you were unaware 2012 sees the hundredth anniversary of John Cage’s birth and there’s been various performances, exhibitions and radio programs to help celebrate this fact [I spent last Saturday night catching up with the various Radio 3 broadcasts devoted to Cage and enjoyed pretty much all of it but discovered only after the fact that Nyoukis and Constance were part of the Proms tribute to the man – bugger].


It goes without saying that Cage’s 4’33’’ is one of the 20th centuries most important compositions and remains one of the few works with the ability to divide an audience like no other. Its a great litmus test too, ask someone what they think of Cage’s 4’33’’ and if you get a dumb answer you can be pretty certain that the person you’re addressing has no imagination at all and should be excluded from the next round. Barnsley poet Ian Macmillan recently included 4’33’’ as one of his Desert Island Discs and had to virtually beg the host to play just a bit of it, the BBC fearing, as it does, that even a smidgen of silence will lead bemused listeners to tune away to other channels. But as stated here, the two seconds of silence that follows the last bong of Big Ben that signals the start of the BBC 6 O’Clock news is perhaps one of the most potent silences on the radio, the silence being heavy with portent.


The CD is divided into six rooms, in each of which 4’33’’ is approached in a different manner. ‘Room One’ contains various versions of 4’33’ as recorded by Cage and the introduction to the studio recording of Cage Against The Machine’s anti-single. ‘Room Three’ contains silences as broadcast on the radio including an extract from Marinetti’s ‘I Silenzi Parlano Fra Di Loro’ and the silences heard during various remembrance ceremonies. And so it goes, David Allen, Gruenrekorder’s own Lasse-Marc Riek, People Like Us, Nam June Paik and Cage himself of course. The last track on ‘Room Six’ comes courtesy of Einstürzende Neubauten and an excerpt of their track ‘Silence is Sexy’ which is all very arty and Teutonic and fitting which is probably why there’s no sign of Simon and Garfunkel’s mawkish ‘Sounds of Silence’ or The Tremeloes ‘Silence is Golden’. No sign here either of the two minutes silence as observed at Princess Diana’s funeral which was later released as a seven inch single and my other two favorite ‘silent’ tracks, Whitehouse’s ‘Birthdeath Experience’ and The New Blockaders ‘Symphony in O Minor’. All the tracks included are excerpts of course.


The presenters of the show speak in both German and English but theres enough English included to make this but the smallest of stumbling blocks for non German speakers.



Brian Olewnick | Just outside

A quite crowded and noisy compilation of many performances of 4’33“.

It’s an odd melange, incorporating many announcements (from the radio, for the most part, I think), in German and English, about the piece. The first of the six tracks, indeed, consists of virtually nothing but these announcements, including contributions from Cage himself (once between 103rd and 104th Sts. at 3rd Avenue, an intersection I know pretty well) and a sarcastic news reporter at Harvard Square. The former includes commentary from passersby, over a faintly heard „Day by Day“ (that horrid song from „Godspell“), before moving to a brief (14-second) second movement near the river. It’s a fascinating listen, somehow much more alive than most field recordings I’ve heard these days…


There’s much repetition here, in the spoken texts and certain sounds, but the works unspool in different directions. There are performances of 4’33 by, among others, Matt Rogalsky, Ulrich Krieger (a saxophone quartet version), Lasse-Marc Riek, Stephen Vitiello, Mathieu Saladin (the wonderful, full-volume rendition) and Einsturzende Neubaten („Silence Is Sexy“). As a kind of primer that, if nothing else, lists a number of approaches and to an extent, some amount of public reception, „Sounds Like Silence“ performs a small service. Personally, only the shards of Cage conversation (that live street piece, especially) were valuable. There’s no other attempt at explication to any substantial degree, presuming I’m not missing too much of the German text, which could be the case.

For completists only, I fear.




Subversiv, kritisch und aufregend

Dieser Tage jähren sich gleich drei Jubiläen: der 100. Geburtstag von John Cage am 5. September, sein 20. Todestag am 12. August und der 60. Jahrestag der Uraufführung seiner berühmtesten Komposition: der dreisätzigen Generalpause „4’33““, die am 29. August 1952 ihre Premiere hatte. Mit ihrem Feature „Sounds like Silence“ haben die Kuratorin Inke Arns und der Medientheoretiker und Kunsthistoriker Dieter Daniels die von ihnen konzipierte gleichnamige Ausstellung im Hartware MedienKunstVerein Dortmund (HMKV) eröffnet. Wohl auch deshalb ist ihre Sendung Stück in insgesamt sechs „Räume“ unterteilt.


Der erste „Raum“, „Stille mit Ansage“ betitelt, beginnt mit dem schönen Satz: „Bezeichnen¬derweise wird die Aufführung von Cages Komposition »4’33“« oft mit viel Lärm angekündigt.“ Denn Stille ist ein Differenzphänomen oder, wie es Cage später selbst sagte: „There is no such thing as silence.“ Nicht einmal das digitale Nichts, das Rafael Jové in seinem Hörspiel „Das Radio ist nicht Sibirien“ als Edelstille aus dem Großen Sendesaal des Dänischen Rundfunks in Kopenhagen ausgegeben hat (vgl. FK 21-22/12), füllte den Hörraum mit Stille, sondern hob nur die Geräusche in der Umgebung des Radios hervor.


Wie bedeutungsvoll Stille sein kann, wissen Leser und Hörspielhörer aus Heinrich Bölls Erzählung „Dr. Murkes gesammeltes Schweigen“ (1955), in der sich Herr Dr. Murke von einer schönen Frau nur ein Band beschweigen lässt – was die als beinahe unsittlichen Angriff betrachtet. Martin Conrads’ Stück „Dr. M.s gesammeltes Schweigen“ (2010) hat ebenso mit Vorwürfen der Unsittlichkeit zu tun. Aus einer Radiopredigt des umstrittenen Bischofs Dr. Walter Mixa zum Thema Nächstenliebe entfernte Conrads jeglichen gesprochenen Text – eine künstlerische Realisation und ein bissiger Kommentar auf jene „Zeit des Schweigens“, die der Papst dem Augsburger Bischof nach dessen Rücktritt auferlegt hatte. Ein ähnliches Verfahren hatte schon 2003 der amerikanische Künstler Matt Rogalsky angewandt, als er die 13-minütige Rede, in der US-Präsident George W. Bush dem irakischen Diktator Saddam Hussein sein Ultimatum stellte, auf „Two Minutes Fifty Seconds Silence (for the USA)“ kondensierte. Inke Arns und Dieter Daniels nennen dieses Stück, das als Klangereignisse nur den dumpf-schlagenden Nachhall von Bushs Worten enthält, „ein Destillat“ seiner Rede.

[… excerpt – more at:]


Frans de Waard | VITAL WEEKLY

[…] Although not yet mentioned in Vital Weekly, in about a week from now, its will be 100 years ago that John Cage was born, and no doubt the official overground world are already celebrating, and perhaps the underground too. Maybe we see some tributes popping up in the announcement section. ‚Sounds Like Silence‘ is the first of these tributes and is dedicated to perhaps Cage’s most (in-)famous piece ‚4’33‘. Do I need to explain what that is about? I should hope not, even when there are a couple of interesting points to be made about it. I’d like to refer to Kyle Gann’s excellent book on this piece ‚No Such Thing As Silence‘. On this CD ‚Sounds Like Silence‘ we have a whole bunch of pieces that deal with the notion of silence, and was broadcasted as a radio program. Its also an exhibition and a book (hopefully one to review!) and on the CD we find pieces that deal with silence, mainly from previous releases. Various recordings of Cage’s ‚4’33‘, announcements thereof, but also Jonty Semper’s silence on Armistice Day, empty rooms, cover versions (although none of the ’45’18‘ compilation CD, oddly enough but then according to Gann ‚unobtainable obscure‘), and makes up a great radio broadcast. Some knowledge of the German language is welcome, but many parts are by Cage himself, and other English speakers, so a great introduction to this piece. The audio part of Gann’s book and no doubt the exhibition. So, perhaps, to be continued, I hope!