Thursday, October 7

"At the New School once I was substituting for Henry Cowell,
teaching a class in Oriental music. I had told him I didn't know
anything about the subject. He said, 'That's all right. Just go
where the records are. Take one out. Play it and then discuss
it with the class.' Well, I took out the first record. It was an
LP of a Buddhist service. It began with a short microtonal
chant with sliding tones, then soon settled into a single loud
reiterated percussive beat. This noise continued relentlessly
for about fifteen minutes with no perceptible variation. A lady
got up and screamed, and then yelled, 'Take it off. I can't
bear it any longer.' I took it off. A man in the class then said
angrily, 'Why'd you take it off? I was just getting interested.'"

--John Cage

fr. Silence
[Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1961]

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