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MUSICAGE: CAGE MUSES on Words * Art * Music [Paperback]

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Item Specifications...

Pages   408
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 1.25" Width: 6.25" Height: 9.5"
Weight:   1.45 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Sep 30, 1996
Publisher   Wesleyan
ISBN  0819563110  
EAN  9780819563118  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
"I was obliged to find a radical way to work -- to get at the real, at the root of the matter," John Cage says in this trio of dialogues, completed just days before his death. His quest for the root of the matter led him beyond the bounds of the conventional in all his musical, written, and visual pieces. The resulting expansion of the definition of art -- with its concomitant emphasis on innovation and invention--earned him a reputation as one of America's most influential contemporary artists.

Joan Retallack's conversations with Cage represent the first consideration of his artistic production in its entirety, across genres. Informed by the perspective of age, Cage's comments range freely from his theories of chance and indeterminate composition to his long-time collaboration with Merce Cunningham to the aesthetics of his multimedia works. A composer for whom the whole world -- with its brimming silences and anarchic harmonies -- was a source of music, Cage once claimed, "There is no noise, only sounds." As these interviews attest, that penchant for testing traditions reached far beyond his music. His lifelong project, Retallack writes in her comprehensive introduction, was "dislodging cultural authoritarianism and gridlock by inviting surprising conjunctions within carefully delimited frameworks and processes." Consummate performer to the end, Cage delivers here just such a conjunction -- a tour de force that provides new insights into the man and a clearer view of the status of art in the 20th century.

CONTRIBUTORS: Joan Retallack.

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More About John Cage & Joan Retallack

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! His teacher, Arnold Schoenberg, said JOHN CAGE was "not a composer but an inventor of genius." Composer, author, and philosopher, John Cage was born in Los Angeles in 1912 and by the age of 37 had been recognized by the American Academy of Arts for having extended the boundaries of music.

John Cage was born in 1912.

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Excellent!!  Jan 5, 2008
If you are familiar with Cage's art, you will love this account of Cages views on art and life. Joan Retallack's compilation of interviews and thoughts are precious and informative, to those of us who are fond of Cage's work and thinking. Great writing. If you are not familiar with John Cage, where have you been?... Well, it is not late to start. Excellent book.
a valuable document  Feb 1, 2001
Joan Retallack, a long-time friend and colleague of John Cage, has done us the favor of publishing this series of conversations between the two of them. These conversations (for they lack any conventional formality that might render them 'interviews'), which took place not long before Cage's death in 1992, run the gamut of topics. Through their amiable banter, one gets a great sense of what was going on in the oft-misunderstood artist's mind--especially as regards his fixation on chance operations and the I Ching. The talks also give ample insight into Cage's writing and visual art, practices for which he is lesser known. When not provoking thought about Cage himself, the two (and I mean both of them equally; Retallack has a meticulously rich and compelling mind, and expresses many enlightening points-of-view herself) have revealing conversations about everything from Duchamp to Joyce, Buckminster Fuller to the Koran.

Perhaps the most interesting and rare aspect of the book is the pervasive inclusion of the environmental and more mundane details of the conversations. She is careful to note the frequent occasions when Cage laughed, what he might have been cooking that day, interactions with an artist who stopped by to fix a bookshelf as a favor to Cage and to Merce Cunningham. Especially valuable is the penultimate conversation, when we are made privy to the beginning of Cage's composition process, as he begins to write a new piece on the spot with cellist Michael Bach. These insights into Cage's daily domestic life are perhaps the most revealing aspects of the book into his personality and philosophies.

For those familiar with Cage, this is a must-read. If you are skeptical or confused about his work, these talks will clarify a lot for you. If you have yet to be exposed to Cage, I recommend this book highly as an accurate and exhaustive portrait.

good stuff from precious minds  Aug 5, 2000
Joan Retallack is immensely gifted. If you're familiar with John Cage, you'll like this book. If you're not too familiar with John Cage, well, I have someone I'd like you to meet.

This is entertaining, compelling, thought-provoking stuff. I can think of few other people who are so mindful of WORD USAGE, or in this case, I guess, WORD "USCAGE." Many insights in this book. I recommend it highly.

Charming, delightful, thought-provoking  Aug 10, 1999
I know nothing about music, but I loved this book! Cage's conversations brim with humor, wisdom, and amazing insights into every subject under the sun. It's an enormous pleasure to spend a few hours "in his company" by reading this book.

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