Thoughts in Sound: Cage, Eno, Jarrett, Riley

Thoughts in Sound from musicians at the bleeding edges of music including John Cage, Brian Eno, Terry Riley and Keith Jarrett.

You can also hear an Audio Version of this blog, with music.

Every musician plays notes, but some of them think about the nature of sound a lot more than others. For them, music isn’t just a conveyor of melody and rhythm, but a pathway into sound itself. No one captured the meaning of sound better than avant-garde iconoclast, John Cage. John Cage died 1992, but in the spring of 1987, he was still enjoying the sounds of the city permeating his Chelsea home. In a Landscape Lectures and Writings

John Cage: I have a friend, Paul Zukofsky, the violinist, who used to come and stay where I lived in New York when I left and when Merce Cunningham left because it was so quiet but he no longer comes because this is so noisy. For me it’s a great pleasure though, to hear all the sounds. I find it very, just plain musical.

John Cage finds his concepts reborn in the work of ambient music pioneer and pop music producer, Brian Eno.

Music for Airports His Music And The Vertical Color Of Sound

Brian Eno: Music has become part of the tapestry of your life like lighting is or like the environmental sound that you here anyways…. Anyway I was excited by the idea of making music that acknowledged that and said “Here’s a music that is especially for that. Here’s a music that is intended to merge into the environment. “

Eno’s concepts were inspired by Cage and by minimalist composers who wanted to bring out sonic details and focus through repetition.  Rainbow in Curved Air Persian Surgery DeRvishes                                                                                 
Terry Riley:
Tape loop creates a stasis in the sound and you can watch something as if it were stopped in a camera frame and it repeats over and over again. And You start to notice the real deep details that can draw the mind in   also.

Surprisingly, pianist Keith Jarrett, who is anti-electronic, and far from minimalist, still reflects a similar desire to get to the essence of sound.
The Köln Concert Spirits 1 & 2Keith Jarrett: As long ago as when I was at Slugs with Charles Lloyd I had this feeling that I might quit music because all I had to play was one note, you know, and that recurs in different guises now and then. But what it suggests is that I don’t really need all that big an instrument to justify what I want to hear.

Keith Jarrett, Terry Riley, Brian Eno and John Cage. They are musicians who have gone into the microcosms of sound, often returning to produce some of the most influential, and even popular music of the last 50 years. They are among ten artists we’ll hear next week on a special Echoes series called Thoughts in Sound. This has been an Echo Location, Soundings for New Music.

You can also hear an Audio Version of this blog, with music.

Thoughts in Sound is a series we produced through a grant from the Public Radio Exchange.  It includes interviews with Karlheinz Stockhausen, John Cage, Brian Eno, Philip Glass, LaMonte Young, Steve Reich, Terry Riley, John Adams and Keith Jarrett.  You can read a more extensive article about this and hear each complete 5 minute audio piece here.

John Diliberto ((( echoes )))

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