In re: Experimental Machines

Activity: Talk or presentationInvited talk


John Cage used machines all his life. And he designed them: his compositional methods aspire to a mechanistic autonomy. His father was an inventor, after all, and he himself was an engineer, of sorts. But he was also a bricoleur, a handyman, an improviser who jerry-rigged his music from what was at hand. His materials—the sounds and silences— were found and assembled, for the most part.

He observed things rather than made them. This talk will explore these and related ideas in three contexts: Cage’s personal history, the evolution of his compositional practice, and the broad domain of pragmatist progressivism through which he ranged. I hope to show that Cage’s technologies—broadly conceived—were constructed to create opportunities, not musical compositions.
Period22 Feb 2020
Event titleElectroFest: 2nd edition
Event typeConference
LocationAbu Dhabi, United Arab EmiratesShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational


  • John Cage
  • Music
  • Technology
  • Composition