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Cage, John

Cage, John

Born in 1912


Inducted in 2002

John Cage defied music traditions at every turn in his career, adding and deleting musical expectations at will so that the musicians and audience members were surprised each time his compositions were performed. It is called aleatoric technique where instructions on which notes to play are determined by a roll of the dice or other indeterminate actions. He was among the first to compose for a piano prepared with paper clips, sheets of paper, thumb tacks, and other items that distorted the conventional piano sound. One famous work, 4í33î, is three movements of complete silence. What the audience really hears, of course, are the muffled big city sounds that leak into a concert hall. His Imaginary Landscapes No. 4 (1951) written for twelve radios confuses everyone every time. Likewise HPSCHD (1971), which calls for fifty-one recorded tapes, seven harpsichords, and a slide show. Cage challenged the definition of music as controlled sound.