Interested in John Cage? Start with Our Spotify Playlist

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Slate's Culture Blog
July 2 2012 2:45 PM

Where Do I Start with John Cage?

John Cage performs in 1971
John Cage (right) performs with David Tudor in 1971.

Photo courtesy Cunningham Dance Foundation archive.

In the latest Slate Book Review, Seth Colter Walls reviews the latest biography of John Cage. For many music fans, Walls notes, Cage’s name conjures up silence, specifically the silence of his composition 4’33”. But what about the rest of Cage’s music? 

We asked Walls to put together a Spotify playlist of the best Cage works for newcomers. The playlist includes some of the experimental composer’s early piano music—which Walls calls “beautiful, even jazzy”—along with choral pieces, string compositions, and the kind of noisy turntable music you’re more likely to associate with Cage.


For those who don't have Spotify, these songs can also be found on Amazon: “In a Landscape,” is from In a Landscape: Piano Music of John Cage (1995); “Credo in US (second version),” is from The Works for Percussion I (2011); “Jazz Study,” is from Cage: Piano Works Volume 4 (2002); “Concerto for Prepared Piano and Chamber Orchestra,” is from John Cage: Concerto for Prepared Piano and Chamber Orchestra, Sixty-Eight (Musica Viva 8) (2003); “Cage: String Quartet in Four Parts – Quodlibet,” is from Lutoslawski: String Quartet (1964) / Penderecki: Quartetto per archi (1960) / Mayuzumi: Prelude for String Quartet (1961) / Cage: String Quartet in Four Parts (1950) (2007); “Hymns and Variations,” is from The Complete John Cage Edition Volume 18: The Choral Works 1 (1999); “Third Construction,” is from The Works for Percussion 2 (2012); “Imaginary Landscape No. 4, ‘March No. 2’,” is from The Works for Percussion I (2011); “Harmony V: The Lord Descended – Billings,” is from Cage Harmonies From Apartment House 1776 (2005); “First Construction (in Metal)” is from The Works for Percussion 2 (2012); “Ad Lib,” is from Cage: Piano Works Volume 4 (2002); “Music of Changes I,” is from Cage: The Piano Works 6 (2005); “Music for Marcel Duchamp,” is from Cage: Piano Works Volume 4 (2002); “4'33" - Open Windows Version,” is from A Cage of Saxophones 3 & 4 (2010); “ASLSP : No. 7 ‘as 2nd  piece’,” is from Cage: ASLSP; “Thirteen,” is from The Number Pieces 6 (2012).

Previously
Where Do I Start with The Beach Boys?
Where Do I Start with Talking Heads?
Where Do I Start with Madonna?
Where Do I Start with Bruce Springsteen?
Where Do I Start with The Magnetic Fields?
Where Do I Start with Lambchop?
Where Do I Start with Whitney Houston?

Seth Colter Walls is a freelance reporter and critic whose writing has appeared in Newsweek, the Village Voice, the Washington Post and the Awl.

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