06 Cage

"When Theremin provided an instrument with genuinely new possibilities, Thereministes did their utmost to make the instrument sound like some old instrument, giving it a sickeningly sweet vibrato, and performing upon it, with difficulty, masterpieces from the past. Although the instrument is capable of a wide variety of sound qualities, obtained by the mere turning of a dial, Thereministes act as censors, giving the public those sounds they think the public will like. We are shielded from new sound experiences." -John Cage from "The Future of Music: Credo"

This excerpt from John Cage's historic lecture really struck me when i read it because it put into words an idea that i utilize on an almost daily basis. He's really talking about experimentation. With the advent of the information age, we have been given almost infinite access to an unlimited source of sounds. Most of these new sounds, created by synthesis, can in no way be heard naturally in the world and therefore have no precedence for their function. This is why John Cage is criticizing the early Thereministes, they had no vision for the possibilities of this inventive new instrument. I think this theory of experimentation can also be applied to sampling. When creating your own samples, you're essentially creating your own new instrument and you get to decide how it's played: what rhythm, tempo, progression, and tambre, anything goes. You have the choice to let the sample play dry in a normal boring fashion, the way it can be heard in the world, or you can bring into existence a new sound by chopping and processing the sample till you can't even tell what it is anymore. For example, you could the chirping of birds, pitch shift it down a few octaves and add some distortion and have a crazy synth bass line, the possibilities are truly endless. I think this is what John Cage was introducing us to, the idea of sampling. Any sound in the world can be used in a composition, and now we have the technology to take those samples and turn them into something that's never been heard before.

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