One4

Six time brackets for the “left hand” and eight for the “right….” Numerals on staves are cymbals and/or drums chosen by the drummer. The sounds to be made are either long…or very short…. Dynamics are free. Only one sound per bracket.

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Two and a half years ago, when I first saw the score for John Cage’s One4, my first thought was that I needed to re-notate the score to make it more user-friendly. While I appreciate the simplicity of Cage’s notation, it’s doesn’t do the greatest job at making clear the overlapping of parts and the progression of brackets through time. So I drew this:

The more traditional notation exposes all of the overlapping time brackets. The pink post-its indicate which instruments I’d chosen to use as well as potential start/stop points in performance.

I was nervous to tackle this piece because it seemed as though it would take great effort to train my brain to read four staves of music simultaneously. However, the piece is surprisingly easy to perform once you dive into it (once I stopped worrying about messing up). After two days of rehearsal, I was ready to record:

There is bound to be some debate about what counts as “drums” and “cymbals”. I watched a number of other performances on YouTube and decided I could make some concessions. I’m happy with the performance and hope to tackle other solo Cage works in the near future.

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