John Cage composed the 4’33” in 1952, a three-movement composition, which is often introduced as – four minutes thirty-three seconds of silence.
I didn’t really know about it, other than some people have called it silly, stupid and not music. I did hear that you weren’t really supposed to listen to music but more the environment around you. Because we are so attached and addicted to the sounds we want to hear, like notification on your phone.
As I was writing this post I found this website and iphone app : https://www.johncage.org/4_33.html (I will be listing to them all)
What I found interesting is that John composed this in 1952 and he pretty much foresaw today, where everything goes beep/ping from our refrigerator, emails, elevators etc. and that this is nearly the only thing we listen to.
Because we don’t spend time listing to where we are anymore, we are all “sucked” into just listening out for the next notification or phone call. When was the last time you sat down in a park or walked down the street and just listened and paid attention to what you heard.
It is amazing how much that is going around us that we don’t hear, most have become background noise that we just ignore. In the depths of a forest, the sounds there are clearly telling you something. Like – go way, watch out there is a predator coming, wind the the trees etc. Or just walking down a street in your own neighborhood – the sounds from traffic, building work, playgrounds – really tell you what time of the day it is, where you are – like a small story.
Over the last few years, I have become interested in field recordings and soundscapes. Especially when I was listening to the BBC World Update Daily Commute Soundscapes, which sadly got cancelled. People from around the world would send a sound bite from their neck of the woods. It was much better than a guide book in telling you what’s going on in that corner of the world, you could really explore.
Then I discovered the aporee.org website, where you can put your field recordings and soundscapes onto a map. This I really enjoy, listening to a recording while using Google Street View to navigate, erm to have a nose, around the area where the sound soundscapes were recorded.
The saying goes that a picture is worth a 1000 words, I can’t remember who said that a soundscape is worth a 1000 pictures. But they are correct, a short recording of a location does tell you a lot more and joined with a photograph, it really make you submerge yourself into the place.
If you are into sound and how sound works, interact with our lives, from how the are recorded and how they make us feel. You should point your podcast player towards Twenty Thousand Herz (20K.org) and listen to their whole catalog on binge. They also have a fantastic episode about John and his piece 4’33”, Dallas Talyor and his team explains 4’33” much better than I do.
I was thinking before I heard the 20K episode about 4’33”, that I should do something, but I couldn’t really decide what. Then it hit me, in a total blatant rip-off and a nod to John Cage, that every soundscapes from now on (where possible) gotta be four minutes and thirty three seconds long. So you can get to know the location and the sounds of where I have recorded it.
Bonus: if you like to sofa travel, I can highly recommend this podcast – Far From Home. It’s different compared to your other travel guides, as it uses field recordings of the location visit, talks to the locals not about them. I truly enjoyed season two, the way it is recorded, edited and told, it really submerged you into the location visited.