James Pritchett: Writings on John Cage (and others)
This site contains a selection of my writings, mostly about the music of composer John Cage, but also about other music, and some original poetry of mine.
I've posted the notes I wrote for the new recording of the complete Song books, performed by Loré Lixenberg, Gregory Rose, and Robert Worby, and released on Sub Rosa. You can read more about it on my blog.
Frances White has a new CD out from Pogus Productions:
In the library of dreams. I wrote the liner notes, which you can read
I've just gotten a piano and have started playing again after many years.
It's great. Related to this, I have started a blog:
The piano in my life.
It will cover piano music by Morton Feldman, John Cage, etc., from the point of view of performance:
specifically, my own learning of the pieces.
I have contributed an essay on 4' 33" --
What silence taught John Cage
to the catalog for the Cage retrospective show
("John Cage and Experimental Art: The Anarchy of Silence")
that will open at the
Museu d'Art Contemporani de Barcelona
I'm digging into the archives here and adding some older texts that I just never got around to converting to HTML. First up: the notes for
I just added the
notes I wrote for the new
Centre Bridge, electroacoustic works by
Frances White. This is the first
CD devoted to Frances' works, which are remarkable and unique. Highly recommended!
I added a page of information about me, for those who are interested.
I also added a page with contact information.
I just added the notes I wrote for the new 2-CD release of Cage's shorter works for prepared piano (Mode 180-181). This recording by Philipp Vandré is an excellent companion to Vandré's earlier release of Cage's Sonatas and interludes (also on Mode).
This site is now hosted by Rose White Music, the website for composer Frances White.
I improved the web layout for my text The old rose reader to help people orient themselves. I also added a short explanatory text about this work.
Table of contents
The following is a table of contents to the site:
This is a
chronological listing of all the completed musical works of John
- The story of "The city wears a slouch
hat". This is the text that accompanies the recording
available on Mode
Records. It is an account of the history of Cage's score for
Kenneth Patchen's radio play. HTML PDF
- Cage and the prepared piano: a twelve-year history in six parts.
This is the text that accompanies the recording "John Cage: Complete Short Works for Prepared Piano". It is a history of Cage's shorter solo works for prepared piano, almost all of them written for dancers.
- Six views of the "Sonatas and
Interludes". This is the text that accompanies the recording
available on Mode
Records. As the title says, it presents six different
perspectives on Cage's well-known early masterpiece. HTML PDF
What silence taught John Cage: The story of 4' 33".
This is an essay about Cage's encounter with silence and how to understand the silent piece in this context. Written for the catalog of the Cage retrospective show at Museu d'Art Contemporani de Barcelona.
- The Ten Thousand Things. This is the
chapter from my dissertation (The use of chance techniques in
the music of John Cage, 1950-1956) that deals with the "time
length" pieces of 1953-1956. It is reproduced here without the
figures (for which I would need scans and permissions), but
otherwise intact. (I hope to put all of my dissertation online at
some point, time permitting). HTML
- Notes on Winter music/Atlas eclipticalis
and 103. This is the text that accompanies the recording of
these works as conducted by Petr Kotik, available on Asphodel
- Variations II. See under Other music below.
- Imitations/transformations This text
concerns Cage's Harmonies and Cheap imitation. It
accompanies the recording of these works available from Mode
- A dip in the lake in Potenza. An essay I wrote for an Italian performance of A dip in the lake in 2012. The story of this essay is on my blog.
- Freeman etudes. This combines the
two texts that accompany the two volumes of the recording by Irvine Arditti. The first part is a general discussion of the work;
the second part is an account of the completion of this work
after a lengthy hiatus. HTML
- "Instead of separation, a sense of
space". This text accompanied an installation of Cage's
"Essay" in Berlin in 1993. HTML
- On "Europeras 3 & 4". This is
the text that accompanies the recording available on Mode
Records. It is in two parts, one for each opera. Each part
consists of several sections dealing with a different aspect,
view, or impression of the work. HTML
- About continuity and Cage's Five3. This is the text that accompanies the recording available on
- One8. This is the text
that accompanies the recording available on Mode
- "Something like a hidden glimmering":
John Cage and recorded sound. This is a study of John Cage's
use of recorded sound in his music. It suggests a spiritual
perspective on the subject rather than a narrowly technical one.
- Introduction to "The music of John
Cage". This is the introduction from my book on Cage's
music, available from Cambridge University Press (and which can
be ordered from amazon.com).
The introduction presents my argument that Cage must be
considered first and foremost as a composer, not as a
- Choral music: a timeline. This is
the text accompanies the recording from Mode
Records. It presents views of a collection of Cage choral
works in the context of a historical chronology. HTML
- Five statements on silence by John Cage: Questions, hypotheses, second thoughts. An essay for Cine Qua Non's John Cage issue in 2012. The story of this essay is on my blog.
- Letter to Music report. My response to questions about Cage from the Iranian music journal. The story of this essay is on my blog.
- The electroacoustic dream theater of Frances White
This is the text that accompanies the Pogus Productions CD of electroacoustic works
by Frances White, In the library of dreams.
- Frances White: Centre Bridge
This is the text that accompanies the CD of electroacoustic works
by Frances White available on
Mode Records. It deals with the idea of transformation in White's work.
- Profile of Frances White This is a
profile of Frances White that I wrote for "Array", the journal of
the International Computer Music Association. HTML
- David Tudor's realization of Cage's
Variations II This essay documents the method Tudor used in
his version of Variations II for amplified piano. It is based on
my work with the Tudor manuscripts at the
Getty Research Institute. HTML
PDF (hosted at Getty Research Institute)
- Walls of sound. This is the text
that accompanies Ulrich Krieger's recording available on O.O. Discs. It presents a
background of text about unity and constant sound, coupled with
short foreground texts about the specific works on the recording.
- On Bach and the curved bow. This is
the text that accompanies Michael Bach's recording of J. S.
Bach's solo cello suites. The performer uses a curved cello bow which allows
him to play the three- and four-note chords without arpeggiation.
My text considers the significance and historical implications of
the curved bow in the performance of Bach's music. HTML
- Richard Strauss: Melodramas. This
text accompanies the recording of two Strauss melodramas ("Enoch
Arden" and "The castle by the sea") on Mode Records. The text is
primarily concerned with a presentation of the medium of the
melodrama in a critical perspective. HTML
- Alternatives to explanation. This is
a brief text that suggests ways to avoid the trap in writing
about music of explaining what happens. HTML
- The Old Rose Reader. Written to
accompany Frances White's composition for violin and electronic
sound. For the composition, an animated text video was made.
- Birdwing (for Frances). Written to
accompany Frances White's composition for shakuhachi and tape
- While listening to the waves (at Island
Beach). Written to accompany Frances White's composition for
erhu, zheng, xiao, and pipa. HTML
Copyright 1998-2007 by James Pritchett. This site last
updated 8 September 2007.
Rose White Music
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