The great thing about being a John Mayer fan is that he’s not only a great musician but he’s also an interesting person. He’s silly, sure (see: Borat thong) but he’s also quite brilliant. Perhaps that’s why his silly moments are so extreme. Regardless, sometimes I’m just grateful to be a fan of someone who is interesting in the discussion of many things. All of that to say that his blogs on a Japanese site, Honeyee.com, tend to be about things he’s interested in.
His current blog is about John Cage, an experimental musician, most active in the 50’s and 60’s. He was a pioneer in “chance music, electronic music and non-standard use of musical instruments” (According to Wikipedia).
His most controversial composition is entitled 4’33”. The entire piece is silent.
That’s right, not one musician plays a note. Weird? Yes. However, it made people think and it certainly got them talking!
I ran downstairs after watching a little while of the clip and asked my Dad if he had heard of John Cage. He said yes and explained to me that when he was in his composition class in college, experimental music was huge. In fact, his professor wrote a piece for French Horn that was about all the sounds a French Horn could produce without playing it traditionally.
I laughed and said, “I think I’d be insulted if I was a french horn player.”
He said, “Yeah but it was about stretching your limits.”
He told me about a fellow student in his class that had a leaky Oldsmobile. He painted a musical staff onto the drip pan and “composed” pieces out of the random drip pattern. He outlined what he wanted the piece to look like and then turned on the car and let it roll.
I said, “Did you think it was a joke?”
He said, “No, I was fascinated.”
He told me about how much The Beatles had been experimenting with early electrionic music and how pretty much everyone at the time was thinking about what else they could do with music. I asked if he heard a lot of crap in those days. He said he heard a lot of bad stuff and a lot of good stuff.
Then he asked, “Have you never heard some of my early stuff?”
I said no and he told me that it was pretty “out there”. He promised to play some of it for me soon.
Hmm…maybe the other great thing about John blogging about this is the fact that it helped me to get to know my Dad a little bit better.