A Riff in Time

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Jazz has never been my strong suit when it comes to playing music on the instruments I perform on. I have played in jazz bands before, and I can simulate the style with ease, but when it comes to improvising a riff, forget it. My creativity goes to hell in a hand basket.

I am an extremely creative person in many areas of my life, but when it comes to music, the area I have studied the most, an area that one would call creative, is one that I feel stifled in due to my classical training. I am highly glued to the written page.

I recently joined the group pictured above as a permanent sub on Sax to work on my sax chops since it is the instrument that I probably get the least performance opportunities on. It is a jazz orchestra, but it doesn’t require much to any improv, thank the heavens above. But it will at least help me to hone the jazz style once again to help me become even more versatile.

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These are pictures of the two musicals I have played that have required the most instruments in one show. The first picture is from the one I just got done playing this past weekend. As of right now, I own 10 different wind instruments. I recently did a photo shoot with all of my instruments. The photographer is still working on tweaking the photos, so I don’t have them yet. Unfortunately, I forgot one of the 10 when we went for the shoot. Which drives me crazy. So I am looking for an excuse now to purchase another auxiliary instrument so I can do a reshoot with her to get it right.

The photographer’s boyfriend mixes different sound clips and makes his own beat samples and has been talking about having me come up with some wind instrument riffs to go along with his beats. This is DEFINITELY an area I have not ventured down yet, but am open to, as long as he is willing to work with my ignorance and noviceness. Hopefully this is something I can get decent at if I keep trying as it would open even more avenues for me. I have been gaining a ton of followers on Twitter that are music producers and business promoters etc. that look for this sort of product. So I feel that I already could potentially have the connections without even trying. I have gotten very lucky on Twitter with visibility and have several verified followers and many people in the music industry following me without me seeking it out. It would be great if this all fell together somehow.

My birth cousin was looking for someone to compose a little diddy for a play she was directing at a high school. There were lyrics written where a landlady was supposed to sing a little song to herself but there was no music to go along with it. I composed a little two verse Melody for the written lyrics for the play. And I have never been much of a composer. So I am proud of myself for giving that a shot.

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This picture was from one of my first important performances back in high school. All-State Honors Band. Lately I have been sacrificing my performance career for “the good of my family” because the husband has been working all the time and that makes more money then my sporadic performances. But I am no longer wiing to sacrifice my performance career. It makes me happy. It does make me money. And it could be more steady, but it takes a while for me to get there, and I need to keep building my connections, my auxiliary instrument inventory, my playing skills and my resume in order to make that happen. And I will never get there by constantly turning opportunities down just because I don’t have a built in babysitter at my disposal or because his work has always taken more precedence because it makes more money, even if that money gets squandered away when it’s in his hands.

 

 

 

 

 

 

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/riff/

Feeling Famous

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Today I received an email from a professor at Fairleigh Dickenson University, a composer, asking me if I would be interested in taking a look at some of his recent compositions for clarinet. I just resigned from two different community colleges as the Adjunct Clarinet Instructor, but he sent this email to my direct email address, and it wasn’t flagged as coming through my website either. I think I may have the actual email address written out on my website somewhere, so he could have just copied it rather than linking to it. I never attended or taught at or that close to that University, nor do I have any connections at that University. I have NO idea how he found me. It is times like these that make me feel semi-famous in my little music world. To know that I was scouted out in some way, that my opinion matters in the clarinet and University/Professional level composer world means something to me.

I know I will never be the principal of the New York Philharmonic, or a big shot soloist. I made the decision a long time ago while I was still in college and met my to be husband that I wanted a family and I knew that meant I would need to make sacrifices in my career. Right now I’m still not quite where I want to be, especially recently because my husband has had to take 2 full time jobs to help us out financially which has meant that I have even had to turn down some gig opportunities because I need someone home with our 10 year old, and I don’t have many sitter options. I am hoping that as she gets older and within the next few years when she is able to start staying home by herself at night as well that I am able to start taking and seeking out more gig opportunities again. I miss playing more. I still perform, but hardly anywhere near what I used to, and even then it wasn’t as much as I had wanted to. I am 40. I’m getting up there in terms of music career to be feeling like I haven’t even really broken in the way that I have wanted to. I started a bit later having a kid (I started by raising my older step kids first, so I didn’t have my biological daughter till I was 29). I hope it’s not too late by the time I’m actually able to get myself back out there. The one thing I have going for me that’s unique is that I can play 3 instruments almost equally well, Clarinet (my primary), Flute and Sax. There are people who play all three in order to play pit orchestras, but not many can actually play the level of solo repertoire on all 3 the way that I can. I am able to play a full length solo recital and play all 3 instruments with equivalent level solo material on all 3 instruments, which makes for something that is not really done. So I hope that I am able to begin re-pursuing that in a few years again.

Emails like the one I got today are little reminders that my name is out there. People in other states have heard of me. I hope that this will work to my advantage 6 years from now when I really work on becoming famous for real. Fingers crossed.

My Professional YouTube Channel

Would love for you to give a listen to  my recordings of me playing and subscribe to my channel 😘

 

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(Yes, those are all my instruments, I played all of them in the pit orchestra for a musical a few years ago)

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Lines, Lines, Everywhere Lines

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My daily life is permeated by lines. Lines everywhere. I am a musician: performer and instructor. The picture above is my music studio office at one of the schools I teach at. It is one huge conglomeration of a myriad of lines. Written music, the lines where the walls meet, the memes that I decorate with, the artwork I made which was more of a logical art piece that was a mathematical presentation in an artwork of a musical composition, one of my favorite flute pieces which is hanging on the wall towards the window (also made of lines itself). There are chairs, my flute, a music stand, bulletin boards, ceiling tiles, etc….All of which are very Stark and straight lines. There are also more fluid or curvy lines such as those of the trees peeking outside my window, the pictures inside some of the artwork hanging on my walls, the fluid lines of the clefs on the large staff paper on the wall on the far right which contains theories of a research project that is part of my life’s work that I intend to see to fruition and that I hope will be a part of my legacy and that I truly believe in and that I truly think could make a notable difference in the music field.

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I read music all day long. Music is written on paper, paper made of 4 lines. The music itself that I and my students translate and transmute in to sound is transcribed on 5 horizontal lines and 4 spaces called a staff. There are vertical lines that divide the staff in to measures, which sort of punctuates the music and keeps it from looking like one gigantic run on sentence. The rhythm/length of the notes are notated by vertical and/or horizontal lines as well. The sharps, flats and naturals all contain lines. The articulations, how a musician tongues the note are mostly made of lines, some curvy and some are straight edged. And if any of those lines are printed in any deviation from what the musician holds in their brain to be associated with a specific note or rhythm, an unnecessary mistake will often occur. This is in a very raw form part of the basis of my research project. I am able to predict which printing variances produce specific mistakes and I believe I have figured out a way to make a preemptive strike against the potential and often iminent mistakes before they happen to many musicians, especially younger student musicians. I just need to get the right people to hear my theory and solution and I am confident that I can make a tremendous impact on the future of music education and performance consistency. The picture of the sheet music is one of my students exercises that is riddled with some of the deviations that have caused her several mistakes that I believe could have been avoided once I am able to develop my method once I find the company backing I am in search and in need of to get my idea off the ground. Fingers crossed to find the person who will be the right advocate soon.

 

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/photo-challenges/lines-2018/

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/notable/

A Trio of Quartets

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“What is the most resilient parasite? Bacteria? A virus? An intestinal worm? An idea. Resilient… highly contagious. Once an idea has taken hold of the brain it’s almost impossible to eradicate. An idea that is fully formed – fully understood – that sticks; right in there somewhere.” -Dom Cobb, “Inception”

A quartet of dreams, four layers down. A dream within a dream within a dream within a dream. To plant an idea, a thought so deep in someone’s brain that it will permeate like a disease. In my experience, dreams aren’t necessary to do this. Inception within a dream isn’t necessary for what is essentially mind control. Repetition of ideas and thoughts can accomplish this often times, and experiencing emotions at a primal level can also accomplish this as well. There are many ways an idea or thought can take hold, but it is very true that it can be stronger than a virus and more resilient than a parasite. Thoughts and ideas can be more powerful than death. Thoughts and ideas resonate and continue to regenerate and pass down long after the person who first uttered the idea or thought has passed.

Quatour pour la Fin du Temps

Quartet for the End of Time. The solo movement for clarinet alone-The Abyss of the Birds. Composed by Oliver Messiaen.

This piece is in eight movements. It is scored for Clarinet, Violin, Cello and Piano. This is a very unique pairing of instruments. Messiaen wrote the piece while he was a prisoner in German captivity during the war. The piece was premiered in 1941. It was originally written as a trio and then the piano part was added in, which he played in the premiere. The piece was premiered by himself and his fellow prisoners. The complete work has a duration of approximately 50 minutes.

In the preface inside the score, Messiaen wrote that the piece was inspired by the Book of Revelation from the Bible. The text that he was inspired by that is in the inscription reads as follows:

And I saw another mighty angel come down from heaven, clothed with a cloud: and a rainbow was upon his head, and his face was as it were the sun, and his feet as pillars of fire … and he set his right foot upon the sea, and his left foot on the earth …. And the angel which I saw stand upon the sea and upon the earth lifted up his hand to heaven, and sware by him that liveth for ever and ever … that there should be time no longer: But in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound, the mystery of God should be finished …

There are separate inscriptions to describe each movement. Some of the movements are for the full quartet, but some of the movements are for different variations of instrumentation within the quartet.

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The third movement is the Abyss of the Birds, which is the recording above of me performing this movement live at one of my former recitals. I played this movement during a recital that I themed as “Journey through the Woods”. I specifically painted the painting that is on my home page for that recital and I dressed within the theme and had a slide show in the background of Wooded scenes as pictured above. I also wrote a poem and had other poetry read in between pieces. It was a multimedia experience. I was very proud of this recital. It was very stressful putting it all together, but some day I hope to do something like this again, perhaps when my daughter is a bit older and I have a little more time to focus and dedicate the time needed to pull something like that off.

 

Humorous Scherzo by: Prokofiev

Performed by: Galaxy Quartet

Earlier this year, I had a faculty recital performance at the college that I used to teach Adjunct Applied Clarinet Lessons at. I just tendered my resignation this semester for several reasons (all for my own sanity purposes). At any rate, in the past for this faculty recital I had always done a duet with a fellow friend and colleague flutist. Last year I wasn’t able to perform so she had her quartet play. This year I was able to play again and her quartet wanted to play again, but they were short a clarinet player, so I subbed for their missing clarinet player and we all played the recital together. The quartet consists of 2 flutes and 2 clarinets. I had never played in this instrumentation of an ensemble before. It was unique. I enjoyed it, but the other clarinetist and I (who was the leader of the group) had a clash in personalities. So it will be a one time thing. But it was fun to play with a new instrumentation and explore music I had not played before.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/quartet/

Talisman

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I have ritualistic jewelry that I wear for my performances, a sort of talisman. It originally started with just my pearl and diamond earrings that were my grandmother’s that we had converted from clip on in to pierced after she passed away. I have worn those since I was in college. Since then, I have added other diamond like dangle earrings, black pearl drop earrings and my dragon cuff earring who whispers in my ear as I play my melodies. He breathes the life force spirit in to me and I breathe out the music spirit. There have also been specific rings, necklaces and bracelets added as well over time. It may seem silly, but it has just come to be a grounding technique for me as I perform.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/talisman/

My favorite place-WPC

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My favorite place isn’t one single place, but rather an omnipresence. My favorite place is the stage. Whether it is the solo stage (on any of my three instruments), the stage with my trio, the stage with my quintet or the stage having fun singing karaoke. The stage is where I feel at home and alive with vigor. I crave the stage more than I have the time to pursue. I can only hope that one day, when the job of motherhood becomes less demanding, that I will still be qualified to grace the stage with my presence.

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I’d rather be

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Left to Right/Top to Bottom

1) On roller coasters/in Theme Parks (pictured: my favorite-Rip Ride Rocket in Universal Studios Orlando)

2) Dancing: Ballet in particular-I miss it terribly and wish I would have done more as a kid. I wish I had more time as an adult to take classes again

3) Martial Arts: Specifically Tang Soo Do-the style I have my Black Belt in-I also miss this terribly and wish I had more time to take classes again

4) Dressing in Harry Potter gear with the family and doing Harry Potter activities

5) Karaoke-nuff said

6) Performing in Concerto Concerts-Ive only had the opportunity to do this twice, once in college and the time pictured here in 2012

7) Performing in pit orchestras- something I hope to do more of as my daughter gets older and I have the time

8) Art/Painting- I only do it when I am inspired, but I also lack the time even when I am inspired at times to even start. This was my last major artwork

9) Rock Concerts: meeting rock stars I idolize: me with Nelson

10) With the family at Rock Concerts

11) Again at Rock Concerts meeting rock stars: with husband and Geoff Tate of Queensryche

12) Watching my daughter play drums in band concerts

And still I have so many more hobbies than this….this just scratches the surface…..

 

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Music or Philosophy?

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Music is the art of combining tones to form expressive compositions, any rhythmic sequence of pleasing sounds (Webster’s Dictionary 1990). Philosopophy is the study of the principles underlying conduct, thought and the nature of the universe, the general principles or laws of a field of knowledge, or a particular system of ethics (Webster’s Dictionary 1990). John Cage, a 20th century American Composer, has been most widely known for his experimental compositions and philosophies on music in general. His most notorious work is 4’33”, otherwise known as his “silent piece”, in which the performer of the work remains still for four minutes and thirty-three seconds and does not produce a single note. Through this “silence”, Cage intends for the audience to take in the surrounding natural noises and treat them as music. Is he, then, simply stretching compositional techniques as did his groundbreaking predecessors, or is this piece a demonstration of philosophy rather than a musical composition?

Music is a form of self-expression, according to Langer. This connotation is the most widespread to this day. But John Cage had his own purpose for writing music. He adopted the Indian idea that, “the purpose of music is to sober and quiet the mind, thus making it susceptible to divine influences”. He also agreed with Coomaraswamy that it was “the responsibility of the artist to imitate nature in her manner of operation” (as cited by Revill). With his new insight into Eastern tradition, Cage’s purpose to quiet the mind was anything but achieved through initial performances of 4’33”.

The first performance of John Cage’s 4’33” created a scandal. At the premiere some listeners were unaware that they heard anything at all. People began whispering to one another, and some people began to walk out. They didn’t laugh-they were just irritated when they realized nothing was going to happen, and they haven’t forgotten it 30 years later: they’re still angry (according to Solomon).

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Cage knew before the piece premiered that it would probably be taken as a joke, but he knew that it was pertinent for him to do so because he felt it was the highest form of work. He stated that he did not write shocking pieces in order to receive that reaction. But despite the audience reaction, Cage remained hopeful that 4’33” would eventually have the impact he intended. He had come to realize through his Zen studies that one hardly ever learned or understood anything right away, but that understanding would come later, or perhaps not at all.

The underlying conflict with 4’33” is that for one to accept the piece as music, one must fully accept Cage’s philosophy of music. In order to accept this philosophy, one must abandon the traditional definition of music. For as Cage saw it, there was no such thing as silence. He came to this conclusion when he subjected himself to an abechoic chamber at Harvard University. He actually had expected to hear nothing, but instead he heard two sounds. When he asked the engineer about these sounds, he was told that the higher pitched sound was his nervous system and the lower pitched sound was his blood circulating. In an attempt to redefine silence as the absence of intended sounds, rather than the absence of all sound, he wrote 4’33” in order to heighten the awareness of the audience to surrounding noises. Cage was concerned with humanity accepting all noises of nature as music. But in order to do so, Cage had to change the world’s views, since this was not an accepted practice up until this time. Cage felt that music was a means of changing the mind, and thus his goal of composing was to change minds from the traditional usage of music as a form of expression to one of being aware.

Cage’s music must be subservient to his views and philosophies since his music dissipates all former views of music and is reliant on the acceptance of his philosophies. “Cage does not argue with the premises if traditional music. He rejects them wholesale for reasons which can only be inferred from his own position.” Cage believed that “everything is permitted if zero is taken as the basis. If you’re non-intentional, then everything is permitted.” Yet he knew the audience was “intending” to hear music in the traditional sense when he premiered 4’33”. In order to accept 4’33” in the way he ‘intended’ it to be taken, one must first change one’s method of thinking, which was the purpose of the piece. But if the purpose was to change the audience’s mind, then was it music when it was first experienced, or, was it an example of a philosophical groundbreaking work in action?

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Cage described his own position as a composer to be one where he changed his responsibility from making choices to asking questions. The answers are found in the content of the music (as noted by Kostelanetz). Cage was interested in what he did not know, and that is why his music is intended to ask questions. Cage insisted that music is not meant to be understood hut ht is about being aware and freeing oneself from likes and dislikes. However, in order to accept outside noises as music in the sense Cage is seeking, one must understand his logic and his philosophies before one can be aware of those things that he wished the world would see.

Cage believed that “if the composer has any function at all, it should be teaching people to keep attuned to all the implicit music that their environment offers.” Cage became more of a teacher figure with the performance of 4’33” than he was a composer. He set the framework and taught his unsuspecting audience a lesson in awareness.

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“Instead of a music of definable identity, we have conceptions whose essence is a lack of identity” (according to Pritchett). Cage stated that his favorite piece is one that is heard anytime, all the time, if we simply open our awareness and listen. But this requires no composing since it simply exists in nature. Although Cage did teach people to be aware of this ongoing ‘silent’ music, he, by no means, composed those sounds heard in nature. He gave up all control, with the exception of how long the audience was subjected to this ”silence”, and this denounced his position as a composer of a musical work with the composition of 4’33”. When Kostelanetz interviewed Cahe and asked him whether he still viewed his compositions as his own in the sense that he created them, Cage responded that he did. He explained that instead of exercising his control to compose, he asked questions that were answered by the process and within the process. But this is precisely the type of work done by philosophers, not musical composers. To compose, as defined by the Webster’s New World Dictionary, means to put into proper form or to create, this to exercise control over the content of the work at hand. Control, however, is precisely what Came gave up with the inception of 4’33”, because the sounds within the four minutes and thirty-three seconds we’re not under his control.

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Because Cage left 4’33” to nature to truly compose the content within those four minutes and thirty-three seconds, he has essentially given up his position as a composer. Because the “philosophical underpinnings are clearly more significant than any more sound”, the ideas become the content of the piece, which are thusly not musical. Though Cage had a strong musical training, his music became more conceptual than an auditory experience, which is the essence of music. “Conceptual music is either musicless music or it requires the reinvention of music” (according to Kostelanetz). Obviously, this was precisely Cage’s purpose, to reinvent music. However, if his purpose was to reinvent music through 4’33”, then this piece could not be considered music upon first experience because people’s minds would have to have already been open to 4’33” being music. Music had always been an immediate experience, not something that had to be contemplated after the fact. Though the audience may have accepted Cage’s point that all sounds are music, they could not have done so until the premiere of 4’33”, and thus, at that point in time, it could not be considered music. After the first Performance, the effect of the piece disappeared because the word spread about the piece and people were given the chance to ponder the issue without hearing the piece. This, the lesson could be taught without the performance of 4’33”.

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After the premiere of 4’33”, people were able to perform the work at any time in their lives. Yet, people were able to do so before 4’33”, if one was learned in the Eastern tradition of meditation. Cage felt that 4’33” was a “musical work that went on constantly, an invitation of the ultimate unity of music and life”. Cage was simply demonstrating to his audience, and the world (particularly Western cultures), what he had learned by way of his Zeb studies. He formulated what he discovered and put together an active demonstration which forced people to experience what he had learned, rather than by telling them in a traditional manner. Though he did use a musical setting (the use of a performer, a musical instrument, a concert audience, and a notated score), he was merely demonstrating the lesson he had learned. Although he used the subject matter of music (as he defines it), it was essentially an uncomposed work.

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Suzanne Langet, a leading philosopher contemporary with Cage, described the usage of natural sounds as musical material or models which composers may reconstruct into symbols to be used in a composition. But those unintentional sounds, utilized in an unconscious manner, are not art in and of themselves. She also believes the composer is the original subject of the symbols depicted in a composition. Yet Cage was not the original subject because the “music” to be heard in 4’33” was composed by nature, this making nature the subject. Even though Cage vehemently opposed the use of symbols in his compositions, he used them in 4’33”. The performer of the work served as a symbol, as did the composition itself, because no piece ought to be composed or performed for something that is naturally occurring in nature since the sounds are of nature, Cage had no hand in composing those sounds. He was only responsible for people’s awareness of those sounds, which was the concept of the piece, not the content.

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Kostelanetz describes Cage as a polyartist or one who “finds new media for his signature.” He describes how Cage used several medium (including visual art, theatrical productions and writing) to express his underlying thoughts rather than using just one medium. With this statement, Kostelanetz is classifying Cage as a jack of all trades, master of none. It is true that one must study music in order to compose, and Cage had composed several standard works aside from 4’33”. However, someone with no musical training could have composed a piece exactly like 4’33”. A Zen philosopher could have used music as his medium in order to awaken an audiences awareness to natural sounds just as Cage did, but he would not, therefore, be considered a musician. Buddhists, in fact, perform 4’33” daily, with the exception of the time frame of four minutes and thirty-three seconds, but they call it meditation.

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Even though Cage did compose pieces that utilized his musical training, this should not automatically categorize everything he composes as music. Cage also wrote poetry that is not counted among his music compositions. Yet, according to his philosophy that all sound is music, would not the speaking voice this be considered music when his poetic words are spoken? But still his poetry is not categorized as music. In a conversation with Cage, Kostelanetz referred to Cage’s work “Empty Words” as a literary work as it is deemed by all resources, but Cage labeled it as a “transition from literature to music.” Yet “Empty Words” is not listed as a musical work by Cage.

George Kubler observed that “the work of many artists often comes closer to philosophical speculation than most aesthetic writings.” Cage even admitted that he “intellectually programmed himself out of a musical career.” Yet he continued to compose because of the promise he made to his instructor Schoenberg to dedicate his life to music. Donald Henaham thinks that Cage perhaps redefined his position as a philosopher of modern music after he decided he would not be one of the worlds greatest composers.

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Philosophy is the general principle or laws of a field of knowledge. The philosophy of music is that which John Cage sought to change. He attempted to do so through his work 4’33”. Though that piece contained music as it’s content, it was through that work that Cage defined music as all sounds. If an audience listening to 4’33” is not aware they are listening to music, it cannot be music until the point when they accept that they are listening to music. Since the piece itself was the vehicle for this changing of the mind, it cannot be music until the change of mind has occurred. Rather, it is a work of philosophy in which the ideas are demonstrated instead of written. The setting of a musical composition is the medium used in 4’33” to open people’s awareness to Cage’s new principles of music. But the work is significant because of it’s underlying concepts, not because of it’s content. The content of the piece is uncontrolled by Cage and can be experienced in every day life. Thus, Cage transforms his philosophical ideas into the medium of his self-prescribed definition of music, making the work one of philosophy rather than of a musical experience.

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(Take notice of this last meme and that Cage is listed in the 4th level)- I wrote this paper when I was in college in 1999. Considering memes are a new commodity, it looks as though in the 21st century, since laying out my ideas in this research and opinion paper that was current and progressive during that time frame, that Cage has come to be accepted as one of the more socially accepted composers, or at least not one of the least disattached from social dogma. There are others who are more wholly disenchanted with the social norms than John Cage was. Society has evolved, and it has been due to pioneers like that of John Cage!!!!

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/noise/

As the lights dim

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The house lights flicker three times to alert the audience that it is time to take their seats.

After the rustling of the crowd dissipates and silence befalls the audience, the lights dim in the theater and stage lights illuminate.

A performer walks on to the empty stage to thunderous applause and takes her bow.

As she prepares to play her first note, she breathes in the energy of her audience, for that is her feeding source.

The nervous roller coaster of emotions she rides lasts for hours after her stage exit. It is a high like no other.

But that high slowly dims and begins to fade slowly. As time marches on, and the years add on, she wonders if the vibrancy of her younger career can be rekindled.

For it is still simmering, but not the open flame as it once was. Other life circumstances have taken precedence. The pursuit of this less lucrative and less opportunistic venue has taken a back seat to careers that support the need for financial security.

Will opportunities resurface once the little one no longer needs watching? Will she still have what it takes to grace the stage, when life provides the time?

The wills and what ifs plague her mind as the lights dim in her eyes.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/dim/