John Cage on Silence

Philosophic composer & music theorist John Cage:

John Cage, Wikimedia Commons

John Milton Cage Jr. (September 5, 1912 – August 12, 1992) was an American composer, music theorist, writer, and artist. A pioneer of indeterminacy in musicelectroacoustic music, and non-standard use of musical instruments, Cage was one of the leading figures of the post-war avant-garde. Critics have lauded him as one of the most influential American composers of the 20th century. He was also instrumental in the development of modern dance, mostly through his association with choreographer Merce Cunningham, who was also Cage’s romantic partner for most of their lives.

Cage is perhaps best known for his 1952 composition 4′33″, which is performed in the absence of deliberate sound; musicians who present the work do nothing aside from being present for the duration specified by the title. The content of the composition is not “four minutes and 33 seconds of silence,” as is sometimes assumed, but rather the sounds of the environment heard by the audience during performance…

Explore more about John Cage at Wikipedia


  1. Dear Keith Wayne Brown,

    I am both delighted and impressed by your knowledge and interest in John Cage here. Have you ever read John Cage’s “Silence: Lectures and Writings, Calder and Boyars, 1968”. His chance music is indeed quite different from Schoenberg’s serialism and Xenakis’ stochastic music.

    Having study music and composition academically, I have come to know John Cage’s music and philosophy quite well. His composition “4:33” or “Four Minutes, Thirty Three Seconds” belongs to a type of concept music. Another kind of music that Cage composed quite regularly is called aleatoric music, which I am keen and curious to see how you relate it to Buddhism, Taoism and other eastern philosophies or religions, and also to psychology, psychotherapy and cognitive science.

    I happened to have published a post discussing various substantive issues about music, sound, noise, art, science and philosophy, and would like to welcome your perusal and critique of my posts. In particular, I would like to introduce you to paramusic, which can go much further than concept music and aleatoric music in what it can accommodate or encompass, as discussed in my post entitled “🦅 SoundEagle in Art, Aphorism and Paramusic 🏝” published at

    Happy mid-October to you!

    Yours sincerely,

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