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1939 __ Imaginary Landscape
John Cage (1912-1992)
Comment : “. (Imaginary Landscape #1”, composed by John Cage in 1939, combined recorded sounds played on two variable speed turntables, percussion and noise. Other 'imaginary landscapes' followed. “Imaginary Landscape #4”, composed in 1951, called for twelve radi)"Consider John Cage's “Imaginary Landscape #1”. Written in 1939 for two variable-speed record players, test records of pure electronic tones, and muted piano and cymbal, it is famous as one of the first pieces of live electronic music. But less obvious aspects of the composition are perhaps more revolutionary. Instead of using any of the expensive electronic instruments of the time, such as the Ondes Martenot or Theremin, Cage chose the record player.an affordable appliance, never before thought of as an "instrument", which could theoretically be played by anyone. With a prophetic eye toward alternative performance venues, the score specifically suggested that the piece be performed for "recording or broadcast". Finally, the sounds were indeed placed in a landscape, organized in a radical new way that mimicked the way sounds exist in life, rather than forcing them to "sound like some old instrument" (as he complained in his 1937 manifesto, “The Future of Music: Credo”). This intertwining of technology with its musical and social implications distinguished this piece from other music of the time and from any electronic music produced for at least 20 years, and is one of Cage's most important contributions to 20th century music.". (Nicolas Collins, "Imaginary Landscape: Electronics in Live Performance, 1989 & 1939", "Audio Arts Symposium", Linz, September 1988)In 1939 John Cage composed the first of a series of live-performance works called “Imaginary Landscapes”, which were to be performed with conventional instruments and electronic devices. While working in Seattle, Cage experimented with the electronic equipment of the recording studio at the Cornish School, and composed a part for “Imaginary Landscape No. 1” that required disc recordings to be performed on a variable-speed record player. (Jon H. Appleton and Ronald C. Perera, “The Development and Practice of Electronic Music”)This is one of the earliest electro-acoustic works ever composed. (Some sources give it the credit of being the first ever, but there were earlier examples like Respighi's 'Pini di Roma' (1924), using pre-recorded sounds of birds). Cage uses a muted piano, large Chinese cymbal and 2 variable-speed turntables. On the first of the turntables a Victor frequency record (84522B) and a constant note record (nr.24) are played, on the second is another Victor frequency record (84522A). It was premiered in a program together with his Marriage at the Eiffel Tower. (Leta E.Miller: “Cage's collaborations” in 'David Nicholls Ed.: The Cambridge Companion to John Cage'; New York Public Library online catalog; Paul van Emmerik “Thema's en Variaties”; David Revill, “The Roaring Silence”; Information provided by)
French comment : John Cage va composer, entre 1939 et 1952, les cinq "Paysages imaginaires" (Imaginary Landscapes), pour petits ensembles de batteurs. Dès le premier (1939), la part belle revient à la distillation, rythmiquement raffinée, de plusieurs innovations instrumentales – n'oublions pas qu'avant la fin 1938, Cage avait défrayé la chronique en inventant le "piano préparé"– ; et au nombre de ces innovations figure – plusieurs années avant la "musique concrète" du parisien Pierre Schaeffer – l'usage des premières sonorités électro-acoustiques. Les second et troisième Landscapes (1942) développeront une liberté du même genre, et s'inscriront dans une mouvance esthétique analogue. Mais la perspective change radicalement en 1951. Dans l'Imaginary Landscape Number Four, œuvre dont le succès de scandale ne manquera pas de corroborer la réputation quelque peu sulfureuse déjà faite à John Cage, celui-ci se permet d'afficher plus ouvertement la fascination qu'il éprouve pour les sonorités "extra-instrumentales". En effet, la partition fait appel, en tout et pour tout, à 12 récepteurs de radio actionnés par 24 exécutants. Et un an plus tard, soit en 1952, l'Imaginary Landscape Number Five – lequel se trouve être immédiatement antérieur à la célèbre pièce silencieuse 4'33" – va définitivement enfoncer le clou. (Daniel Charles, 29 nov. 2002)
Urls : http://www.olats.org/projetpart/artmedia/2002/t_dCharles.html (last visited ) http://www.johncage.info/workscage/landscape1.html (last visited ) http://www.medienkunstnetz.de/works/imaginary-landscape-1/ (last visited )

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