“The sound experience which I prefer to all others is the experience of silence. And the silence—almost everywhere in the world now—is traffic. If you listen to Beethoven or to Mozart you see that they are always the same. But if you listen to traffic you see it’s always different.”
As I write this—in silence—from my laptop in a cafe, I hear traffic outside. But I also hear the tap-tap-tap of computer keyboards and an occasional ringtone followed by half a cell phone conversation. A few minutes ago, I think Siri may have wafted over. This is the experience of silence in today’s world.
It’s not a world that Cage knew, but he was such a fan of technology that it’s clear he would have made artistic use of the mobile devices and the social media we carry around with us. Inspired by his 33⅓ (which uses 12 record players and any 300 LPs to create the work through audience participation) we are using the web to open up our upcoming performances of Song Books to everyone everywhere.
This is not just about streaming or live-tweeting a performance. Through social media, anyone can help create and actually participate in our shows in Cork (June 6), Amsterdam (June 9) and NYC (July 15). Sign up on Twitter or Facebook, and you’ll become part of Alarm Will Sound’s creative team led by Nigel Maister, Rob Haskins and Alan Pierson. Leading up to, and during the performances, you’ll receive instructions, contribute material, and lend your performance to the production.
We think Cage would have loved this. Talking to a visitor in a New York City apartment, he said:
“When I hear traffic—the sound of traffic (here on Sixth Avenue, for instance)…I have the feeling that sound is acting. And I love the activity of sound.”
Our social-media connectedness is like Sixth-Avenue traffic: present, constantly fluctuating, and almost unnoticed until we heed Cage’s call to experience silence. In our production of Song Books—and with your participation—we will transform the collective hum of our internet actions into the activity of sound.