Notating Philosophical Suicide: Absurdist Realization and the Works of John Cage

Sarah Kindley, Dr. Terry Dean, School of Music, Indiana State University, 200 North Seventh Street Terre Haute, Indiana, USA 47809-1902

         As the foremost figure of avant-garde composition, John Cage presents a body of work fundamentally disparate to his musical predecessors, in which he reflects his focus on and emphasis of the artistic process. While scholars are quick to rally behind a descriptor of ‘philosophical’ for his pieces, there is a want for discussion as to the nature of Cage’s philosophy beyond a surface level; however, the manifestation of his values present themselves through his work in a manner that mirrors the stages of absurdist realization set forth by Albert Camus. Investigating Cage’s associations and impact provides a precise parallel to the process of philosophical suicide through understanding his ties to the Neo-Dada movement and the Fluxus group. Additionally, examining a number of his defining works, 4’33” (1952), Music of Changes (1951), Variations I (1958), provides notational evidence for this process through the use of graphic scores and chance, indeterminacy, and noise music. In an effort to further define Cage’s influence, I anticipate that analyzing these compositions in conjunction with their historic circumstances will contextualize his compositional efforts as an expression of the philosophical absurd.

Additional Abstract Information

Presenter: Sarah Kindley

Institution: Indiana State University

Type: Poster

Subject: Music

Status: Approved

Time and Location

Session: Poster 8
Date/Time: Tue 5:00pm-6:00pm
Session Number: 5674