John Cage 4’33”

On Make Music Day, 21 June, Beyond Skin, John Cage Trust and Make Music Day UK with musicians from 23 countries will premiere a special collaboration performance video of the John Cage piece 4’33”.

4’33” is a three-movement composition by American experimental composer John Cage (1912–1992). It was composed in 1952, for any instrument or combination of instruments, and the score instructs performers not to play their instruments during the entire duration of the piece throughout the three movements. The piece consists of the sounds of the environment that the listeners hear while it is performed, although it is commonly perceived as “four minutes thirty-three seconds of silence”. The title of the piece refers to the total length in minutes and seconds of a given performance.

Beyond Skin uses the arts as the dialogue to assist the development of a more peaceful, equal and intercultural society free from racism and sectarianism. Based in Northern Ireland, Beyond Skin through a large diverse team of artists, technicians and educators develop and deliver collaborative projects and events locally, nationally and internationally.

“This has been a fascinating discussion and journey with the John Cage Trust and publishers. Although the John Cage score is blank with no music there is still intellectual property rights and publishing permissions as if it were any other recorded piece of music by a famous musician. This process of identifying the right license and how it will be presented challenges everything we assume about diversity within music and sound. I am so glad we took this path to do it by the book professionally – that has been a learning experience in itself” Darren Ferguson, Beyond Skin

Complimenting the 4’33” collaborative video is a theme of loss. John Cage was influenced by Zen Buddhism and 4’33” was intended to also be a moment of reflection and mindfulness. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic the world has experienced loss. Not just in lives but also our loss of touch, connecting with each other and the natural world, our loss of our personal spaces as they became workplaces, and our loss of trade and business.

How to get involved

We wish to have representation from 23 countries – one video from each country. Edited in the final Make Music Day collaboration video 4’33” video, the 23 videos from 23 countries will have approximately 11 seconds each.

We welcome country representatives for Make Music Day to send an email to info.beyondskin@gmail.com confirming you wish to take part.

You will receive a conformation email that you are registered and to go ahead and record your video representing your country. We will also send you the 4’33” score.

We will operate on a first come basis. First 23 countries who register.

The experience

It is especially important that every musician in the videos submitted perform 4’33” in full and send the entire 4’33” performance to Beyond Skin. This is to ensure everyone involved is in keeping with John Cage’s wishes for how the piece should be performed and experienced.

We encourage participants to think creatively about their performance. For example, are you able to represent your country somehow in the video? Or could you perform in an interesting location in order to capture unique ambient sounds?

The video

  • Video needs to be recorded in landscape format.
  • Audio must be recorded to capture the environmental sounds.
  • Any number of musicians can be in the video recording. (1 recording/video for each country)
  • All videos must be sent via a large file transfer platform (example: wetransfer.com) to info.beyondskin@gmail.com
  • Please also send an email for full credits of all those involved including country and organisation/s.
  • All videos must be received by 4th June 2021.

The Premier – 21 June

The 4’33” collaborative video will be released on 21st June as part of the Make Music Day broadcast and it will also be hosted on Beyond Skin YouTube channel. A complimenting webpage will also be set up to host 4’33” Make Music Day information with press release and all participants credits. We will also host some photos from the video productions.

Legal

Beyond Skin has developed this project in partnership with Make Music Day UK, John Cage Trust and Edition Peters Group (publishers). A synchronicity license has been granted for this specific collaboration video only – the public release of a 4’33” audio/video featuring musicians from 23 countries.

Questions

Please contact Darren Ferguson  info.beyondskin@gmail.com

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