Tuesday, May 13, 2008


Sounds of Venice

Well, it's been more than a year since my last post here, and what a year it's been! Or something like that, anyway. I got a job, moved to Kentucky, and finished another yearlong blogging project on a video game series. But in the meantime I need to catch up on plenty of new Cage recordings. Or, at least a few. I was inspired to this blog by the copy of Variations VII I picked up (to my surprise) at the local music store. But I'll probably save that for a future entry. I also need to write about One11, the Cage film, which conveniently enough comes with a performance of 103, one which I hope is actually performed according to the score, unlike the Asphodel CD.

I also need to buy the Mode with the first performance of Three, as well as the upcoming Il Treno recording, which is hopefully far superior to the obscure cassette in some Italian library in Florence that I still haven't gotten hold of!

Sounds of Venice
This is the first and only recording, on the Antes label, of a Water Walk-like work performed by Cage on the Italian quiz show, Lascia O Radoppia, which based on my Google-infused knowledge of Italian is something akin to Nothing or Double.

I like listening to this recording more than I enjoyed listening to Water Walk, just because the emphasis here seems to be more heavily on miscellaneous sounds (of Venice, no less!)--including birds, gondolier recordings, occasional bursts of music from a radio, a telephone, and what is supposedly a cat meowing, but what I swear sounds like a human just saying "meow." It does a pretty good job of capturing the sensation of what I imagine being in Venice would be like, and I don't feel as much is lost by losing the visual aspect as I feel is lost in the case of Music Walk and other performance art.

Telephones and Birds
I confess I don't have any idea what inspired this recording, because I'm not German--unlike the entirety of the liner notes! In any case, Telephones and Birds is a mixture of recordings of bird calls and telephone calls to various numbers that provide automated responses not requiring a response from the dialer. Alternation between these occur based on decisions made using instructions in the score.

It's a pretty oddball work, but entertaining. I can't quite decide why Cage chose the combination of recorded birds with telephone recordings. Since this was made in Germany, obviously the phone numbers dialed were not the ones envisioned by Cage, which may not exist anymore anyway, and I am not sure what the messages are saying...though one is obviously a phone sex hotline! I suppose you could say that birds enjoy sitting on phone lines, and therefore the combination makes sense. Yet I think that's probably a stretch! The performers, Zeitkratzer, make a point of recording the sound of the phone being dialed, which is pretty need.

The disc itself is tilted, The Force of Negation but I don't see the negation involved in the Cage piece--Except maybe in that familiar three-tone sequence indicating a failed telephone call, one of my favorite sounds, which is heard frequently towards the end of the recording. Th liner notes don't prove helpful, and don't even seem to mention Cage.

My favorite part of the disc, though, has to be the cover of Throbbing Gristle's Hamburger Lady, but that's the subject for someone else's blog!

It's good to be back! I hope someone is still paying attention :-)

First of all, I like your blog very much. Thanks for all the good information.

I have a question. Do you know where I can find a copy of the "Sounds of Venice" CD? Not even my library has it. I am another Venice lover and I would really like to have this record. Please, help me!.

Thanks again!
I'm not surprised your library doesn't have it, unless it has a strong Cage focus! As far as I know you can only find it at www.amazon.de. Of course, they don't ship to the US...In my case, I bought mine through Andre of www.johncage.info. It might be possible to find it through eBay or half.com or maybe an Amazon used seller.
Hey, welcome back!
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