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John Cage and the Music of Always

By Paul Hillier

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Composed by Paul Hillier. Book. Published by Edition Samfundet (PE.ED49).

Item Number: PE.ED49

ISBN 87-90056-89-2.

I began these mesostics a day or so after reading that John Cage had died. I soon decided that there should be seventy-nine of them - one for each year of his life. Just as John Cage had culled readings from the work of several writers, Thoreau and Joyce most prominent among them, I wanted in my turn to construct a little tribute by exploring various writings of and about Cage himself, and a handful of other writers whom I felt he would have enjoyed experiencing in this way. Among these additional source texts are The Cloud of Unknowing (anonymous 14th-century English); Heraclitus fragments; William Billings (his introduction to his books of psalmody), the composer from the time of the American Revolution, whose music Cage used for his Hymns and Variations; Russolo - The Art of Noise; Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland; and the I Ching. For those new to the idea, a mesostic is like an acrostic, but with the subject or theme word the middle instead of down the edge. Cage established special rules for working through a text to create a sequence of words, so that the selection would be limited and guided by change rather than taste. In effect these sequences form a chain of short poems. Usually the theme word was the name of someone - very often the writer of the text itself. In this case, it is of course John Cage. Gradually I built up a stock of mesostics from which I selected those that appealed to me - sometimes patching together interesting portions from two failed mesostics to form a new one. I was thus rather freer in my approach than Cage normally was. Apart from the possibility of interesting results, I found this to be a fascinating way of approaching any text which I already esteemed, and of experiencing it afresh, finding not only new or hidden meanings, gut a kind of hand-made crystallization of the text itself. The Music of Always" was a fragment gleaned from this same process too good to pass up." (Paul Hillier)

79 mesostics re and not re John Cage.

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