Posts Tagged ‘I Ching’

Music for starry skies, by Alfonso Alberti

John Cage was an ingenious master of intersections. Once he was also on the verge of a very peculiar intersection with gastronomy, when he dreamed of composing a piece where he was cooking notes and the audience were eating them. That piece, clearly, remained in the world of dreams, but there are many notable cases where his music is intertwined with a variety of other disciplines.Astronomy, for example – or, better, astral geography. In the Seventies, when many composer were still creating post-serial composition rules, he used to take maps of the starry sky, lay on them transparent music paper and “compose”. A star is a tone, a constellation becomes a series of tones. And then, with a number of details in need of specification (should this celestial body match with a single tone or a chord? A chord of how many tones? Natural or altered tones?) he used to browse the I Ching, the popular Chinese oracle, and through its responses refine the whole. A “whole” that was the Etudes Australes for solo piano, thirty-two pieces collected in four books, totaling many hours of music, where the star map becomes phantasmagorical tones constellations, the two hands restlessly swirling across the keyboard…
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