He took a quick glance at the tickets in their plain envelope. You've been talking so much about odd music lately, I thought you'd enjoy it. He handed the tickets to an usher and received two programmes in exchange. He gave one to Sherlock, who opened it right away and began to pore over it as John guided him to their seats. I've never had the opportunity to hear their music performed live before.
The curtain rose, revealing an assortment of drums, boxes, bells, and xylophones. John glanced at the programme and saw that the first piece listed was called The Anvil Chorus. That, he decided, was the one flaw in an otherwise excellent plan; it was entirely possible that an entire evening of listening to musicians bang on drums and boxes might drive him mad, or at least make him long for the more familiar squawks and wails of Sherlock's violin. But Sherlock sat next to him, looking utterly entranced, and John decided that he could put up with an evening of noise in return for the expression that was playing across Sherlock's features at that moment.
The house lights dimmed, and the audience applauded as a young woman dressed in black with her hair in a tight ponytail walked out onto the stage and bowed.
Without a word, she took up her position amidst the instruments and picked up a set of mallets. John plastered a smile across his face and attempted to steel himself for what the programme assured him would be seven minutes of pounding, headache-inducing noise.
He was pleasantly surprised to find that the piece began relatively calmly, with metallic notes that were far more rounded and resonant than he had expected, and that the jarring thumps of the bass drum were farther apart than he had feared. There was even a melody of sorts. After a minute or so, John was able to relax and even enjoy the ever-changing texture of chimes, thumps, pops, and clangs, and he found himself positively enjoying a softly tinkling section towards the end.
When the musician finished with a final thump of the bass drum and came out from behind the instruments to take her bow, John found himself applauding enthusiastically along with the rest of the audience. It gains so much when you see it live. Being able to trace the textures and rhythmic lines. That wrung a smile out of Sherlock. Not quite as exciting as a good murder, of course, but most satisfactory.
John gave a laugh that came out as half a snort. This isn't another one of those little talks we need to have? Sherlock directed John's attention to the stage, where a large metal gong now hung from a frame in front of the curtain. Two large felt mallets lay on a pillow in front of the gong. John glanced quickly at his programme, but was only able to determine that the full name of the piece was Koan: Having Never Written A Note For Percussion before a young man, also dressed in black, walked out onto the stage, bowed, took up the mallets and seated himself cross-legged on the pillow facing the gong, his back to the audience.
For the longest time, it seemed to John that nothing was happening. Then he became aware of a subtle rumbling, almost too quiet to hear. A few minutes after that, he realized that the young man had in fact been working at the gong for the entire time, slowly drawing an increasing volume of low, shimmering sound out of the thing.
John began to feel uneasy, and stole a glance at Sherlock. Sherlock was sitting in his seat, his eyes closed, his hands pressed together below his chin, his whole body quivering in rapt attention, almost as if he were vibrating in sympathy with the gong. The gong grew louder, and the sound seemed to expand to fill the entire concert hall, and John decided that the better part of valour was simply to surrender to the experience.
He wasn't sure what happened for some time afterwards. Powerful waves of sound surged through him, and sometimes he thought that he heard strange, unearthly melodies humming along just below his consciousness. When he tried closing his eyes like Sherlock, he saw strange colours flowing and shifting along the insides of his eyelids. For an instant, he thought he was almost able to taste the sound, but afterwards, he never could find the words to describe the flavour.
After what seemed like an eternity, the wall of sound thinned, and began to reduce itself. The strange melodies and flavours receded, and John was able to think again. Romantic Sad Sentimental. Sexy Trippy All Moods. Drinking Hanging Out In Love. Introspection Late Night Partying.
Rainy Day Relaxation Road Trip. Romantic Evening Sex All Themes. Features Interviews Lists. Streams Videos All Posts. Release Date March 30, Styles Experimental Modern Composition. Journal of Music Theory. In Kostelanetz, R. Writings about John Cage. A History of Consonance and Dissonance. New York, NY: Excelsior. In he composed the early plunderphonic composition Collage No. Avg Duration Share on facebook twitter tumblr. Complete Excerpt. James Tenney: Postal Pieces. James Fulkerson. New World Records.
James Tenney: Music for Violin and Piano. Matthias Kaul. New World RecordsWhile attending a concert by the Kronos Quartet at the Aspen Music Festival, composer Alvin Lucier found himself "riveted" by the ensemble's arrangement of James Tenney's Koan (originally composed for solo violin in ). Despite the piece's conceptual simplicity, Lucier observed, "You listen to one inexorable process, getting surprised by small occurrences along the way.