John Cage - Prepared Piano Sonatas

  • Created by: Annie
  • Created on: 15-11-11 12:16

John Cage


  • prepared sound is determined by the material of the mute (metal, plastic or rubber)
  • can be varied by using the soft pedal (una corda) - causes only two of the the three strings per note to vibrate when a key is struck
  • of the 88 notes on a typical piano, 45 need to be prepared for this work
  • Cage suggests that pianists should determine their own way of preparation and not necessarily follow his detailed instructions


  • Entire work lasts over an hour because there are 16 sonatas and four interludes arranged symmetrically: S-I-S-I-I-S-I-S
  • Used the term 'sonata' in the sense it was used by Baroque composers such as Scarlatti, to mean a single movement in binary form, in which each of the two sections are repeated
  • repeated sections are clear to see but don't use tonal contrasts because of the prepared piano
  • Uses duration to structure the piece instead of tonality - an idea that possible arose from his work with dancers
  • Numerical sequences determines the proportions of the entire piece
  • 'micro-macrocosmic' (the small scale reflected in the large scale) - fractal - each subdivision of the structure resembles…


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