Going For A Song: ‘In A Landscape’

John Cage – In A Landscape

This is ‘In a Landscape’ by John Cage. I was played this piece on Saturday. I knew nothing about John Cage, or his music, except I knew of him. Consequently I had no idea what or how to write about it. I’ve experienced this same sense of doubt with other genres. Dance music, for example, I’ve listened to, and have some knowledge of, but never have really felt I could write about it with any sense of depth or authority. It’s not that I couldn’t write about how ’In a Landscape’ makes me feel, or write of the solo piano there’s a kind of still beauty in it, it’s more I couldn’t substantiate these feelings by discussing the music itself, the composition. I mean it took me a while to decide, in that second sentence, if I should write ‘In a Landscape’ was a piece or a song. This question then threw up other questions around if certain styles of music need certain styles of writing. In trying to work this through I produced, in an initial draft, an ill thought out, not worked through and possibly inappropriate penis / drawer metaphor to use in a post about the music of John Cage. I did this ostensibly to keep the reader’s mind from the thought that perhaps I was merely transcribing initial thoughts on to the page about a song I’d chosen to write about at the last minute. But also I was perhaps trying to make a point that though I feel certain styles of music need, or lend themselves, to be written about it a certain way, this shouldn’t be the case, especially if it stops me thinking I can write about them. My hope then was by using this necessarily crude metaphor I might circumvent and challenge my own notions that were hobbling me. However, I removed the metaphor because even with that end result in mind, I persisted with the metaphor, I admit, beyond what was necessary (one sentence) which I couldn’t excuse. By taking it out now I’m not sure whether I’ve caved into that doubt. But I’ll leave out and leave it at this: though it’s sometimes good to have that authority, on other occasions something might be reached by not having it.

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