BN.com Gift Guide

No Such Thing as Silence: John Cage's 4'33"

( 2 )

Overview

First performed at the midpoint of the twentieth century, John Cage’s 4'33", a composition conceived of without a single musical note, is among the most celebrated and ballyhooed cultural gestures in the history of modern music. A meditation on the act of listening and the nature of performance, Cage’s controversial piece became the iconic statement of the meaning of silence in art and is a landmark work of American music.

In this book, Kyle Gann, one of the nation’s leading ...

See more details below
Paperback (New Edition)
$16.47
BN.com price
(Save 13%)$19.00 List Price

Pick Up In Store

Reserve and pick up in 60 minutes at your local store

Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (11) from $10.80   
  • New (7) from $13.52   
  • Used (4) from $10.80   
No Such Thing as Silence: John Cage's 4'33''

Available on NOOK devices and apps  
  • NOOK Devices
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK 7.0
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK 10.1
  • NOOK HD Tablet
  • NOOK HD+ Tablet
  • NOOK eReaders
  • NOOK Color
  • NOOK Tablet
  • Tablet/Phone
  • NOOK for Windows 8 Tablet
  • NOOK for iOS
  • NOOK for Android
  • NOOK Kids for iPad
  • PC/Mac
  • NOOK for Windows 8
  • NOOK for PC
  • NOOK for Mac
  • NOOK for Web

Want a NOOK? Explore Now

NOOK Book (eBook)
$10.99
BN.com price
(Save 42%)$19.00 List Price

Overview

First performed at the midpoint of the twentieth century, John Cage’s 4'33", a composition conceived of without a single musical note, is among the most celebrated and ballyhooed cultural gestures in the history of modern music. A meditation on the act of listening and the nature of performance, Cage’s controversial piece became the iconic statement of the meaning of silence in art and is a landmark work of American music.

In this book, Kyle Gann, one of the nation’s leading music critics, explains 4'33" as a unique moment in American culture and musical composition. Finding resemblances and resonances of 4'33" in artworks as wide-ranging as the paintings of the Hudson River School and the music of John Lennon and Yoko Ono, he provides much-needed cultural context for this fundamentally challenging and often misunderstood piece. Gann also explores Cage’s craft, describing in illuminating detail the musical, philosophical, and even environmental influences that informed this groundbreaking piece of music. Having performed 4'33" himself and as a composer in his own right, Gann offers the reader both an expert’s analysis and a highly personal interpretation of Cage’s most divisive work.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Gann, a composer, considers Cage’s 4’33”—a performance piece in which the pianist never plays a note—from just about every possible angle, explaining how it can be simultaneously “one of the most misunderstood pieces of music ever written and yet, at times, one of the avant-garde’s best-understood as well.” (To illustrate that latter point, Gann rounds up many of the descriptions of the piece included in Cage’s obituaries after his death in 1999.) Following a biographical summary of Cage’s early musical development, Gann considers the various influences that got him thinking about “silence, meditation, and environmental sound,” from 20th-century composer Erik Satie back to the medieval mystic Meister Eckhart, moving on to a sensible reconstruction of the piece’s development—down to telling details like the fact that its length is roughly the same as the temporal space on a 12-inch 78 rpm record. Though Gann clearly respects Cage and 4’33”, he doesn’t worship either blindly, and that critical appreciation makes his argument that this is a radical “act of listening,” not a provocative stunt, all the more compelling. Photos and illus. throughout. (Mar.)
Booklist
“Deftly profiling Cage and his influences in the process, Gann entrancingly communicates his love and fascination with Cage’s musical milestone in a spellbinding chapter of high-cultural history.”—Booklist, starred review
Bookforum

“The former Village Voice new-music critic examines the ways in which Cage's piece was and is boosted and derided, and the result is an easily digestible yet illuminating volume.”—J. Gabriel Boylan, Bookforum

— J. Gabriel Boylan

The New Yorker
“4'33", Gann argues, though often suspected of being merely a ‘provocative stunt,’ is actually one of the best understood and most influential works of avant-garde music. . . . In describing the piece’s premières and reception, Gann recaptures its ‘Promethean’ impact, which cost Cage some friends and prompted his mother to ask, ‘Don’t you think that John has gone too far this time?’ ”—The New Yorker
American Music

"Gann''s book amply demonstrates [that] Cage''s so-called silent piece is as resonant with philosophical, historical, and acoustical complexities as many a noisier composition. . . . Gann''s account so perceptively synthesizes the irreducible disparity about the origin of Cage''s seemingly simple gesture that it will doubtlessly become the (unstable) foundation for many future interpretive engagements with the piece. . . . It is the great merit of Gann''s book to have revealed just how multidimensional even Cage''s most seemingly unidimensional gesture can be."—Brandon Joseph, American Music

— Brandon Joseph

John Luther Adams
“John Cage opened our ears to the whole world as music. In this engaging book, Kyle Gann opens our minds to the deep reverberations of Cage’s most radical, misunderstood and influential work.”—John Luther Adams, author of The Place Where You Go to Listen
Robert Carl
“With composerly imagination and scholarly intelligence, Kyle Gann proves that 4'33" was not an offhand provocation, but John Cage's most important piece and the key that unlocks the composer's entire output.”—Robert Carl, author of Terry Riley’s In C
Larry Polansky
“Music is sound without meaning and Cage's 4'33" is no sound without meaning. Gann's imaginative and thorough scholarship offers us insightful ways to understand Cage's magnificent meaninglessness."—Larry Polansky, Dartmouth University and Frog Peak Music
William Duckworth
"An outstanding book. Gann not only makes 4'33" come alive, but also makes the writing of it feel important and artistically necessary. All in all, a big achievement"—William Duckworth, Bucknell University
Bookforum - J. Gabriel Boylan
“The former Village Voice new-music critic examines the ways in which Cage's piece was and is boosted and derided, and the result is an easily digestible yet illuminating volume.”—J. Gabriel Boylan, Bookforum
American Music - Brandon Joseph
"Gann's book amply demonstrates [that] Cage's so-called silent piece is as resonant with philosophical, historical, and acoustical complexities as many a noisier composition. . . . Gann's account so perceptively synthesizes the irreducible disparity about the origin of Cage's seemingly simple gesture that it will doubtlessly become the (unstable) foundation for many future interpretive engagements with the piece. . . . It is the great merit of Gann's book to have revealed just how multidimensional even Cage's most seemingly unidimensional gesture can be."—Brandon Joseph, American Music
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780300171297
  • Publisher: Yale University Press
  • Publication date: 1/25/2011
  • Series: Icons of America Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 272
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.10 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Kyle Gann is Associate Professor of Music at Bard College, a composer, and former new-music critic for the Village Voice. He lives in Germantown, NY.

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

Preface ix

1 4'33" at First Listening 1

2 The Man: 1912-1949 32

3 Dramatis Personae (Predecessors and Influences) 71

4 The Path to 4'33": 1946 to 1952 121

5 The Piece and Its Notations 167

6 The Legacy 188

Appendix 4'33" Discography 215

Notes 219

Bibliography 233

Index 241

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 2 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(1)

4 Star

(1)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 11, 2011

    Cage's 4'33'': A Silent Masterpiece

    This book is about John Cage's controversial piece, 4'33''. For those of you who don't know the piece, it is basically four minutes and thirty-three seconds of silence. The author, Kyle Gann, describes how Cage wanted to illustrate what happened in the silence of the piece, however, his first audiences did not understand his music. Gann relates personal experiences to Cage's work, and describes in detail the thought behind the piece. I like this detail because it gives me insight into what was going on in the brain of the composer. An obvious theme of the book is that there truly is no such thing as silence, as the book's title suggests. As a musician and composer, I can relate to this book because it is always nerve wracking to think that people will not understand or accept your music.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 16, 2014

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)