John Cage – 4′ 33″

Cage’s piece is in three movements. When played with a piano the performer usually opens the lid at the end of one movement and closes it at the beginning of the next. I have provided the same punctuation in the music by discarding my picks.

Two chords, an E Maj at the beginning and a discordant clash of harmonics at the end mark the start and end of the performance.

I haven’t manipulated the audio in any way so it’s quite noisy. The main hum that you can hear is from the amplifier. You will also be able to hear the minidisc recorder writing to disc every minute or so, the clock ticking, my chair, the wind and some aeroplanes. For best results, use a pair of closed-back headphones which will not only provide direct access to the subtle sounds of the room but which will also help to block any ambient noise at the listener’s end.

I found this quite interesting to record as I wanted to make as few changes as possible. Usually when one records a piece we practice it a few times to get the balance of the sound correct and to decide what’s going to happen. After recording we can then take the work, pop it into a DAW such as Pro Tools or Reaper and manipulate it to get the best possible output from the given input. I’ve purposely avoided all of these luxuries to record exactly what happened in the room as I listened.

I found the result to be surprisingly gratifying and easy to listen to, the noise from the aeroplanes and the clock providing a satisfyingly dramatic punctuation.