- John Cage Work Detail
John Cage
Work Details
Work Title
Cartridge Music
Composed in 1960. Premiered in Bremen, September 15, 1960.
Ensemble Type
For amplified small sounds; also amplified piano or cymbal; any number of players and loudspeakers; parts to be prepared from score by performers.
This work was later used as music for the choreographed piece by Merce Cunningham entitled Changing Steps, with stage and costume design by Charles Atlas (from 1973, Mark Lancaster); still later, it was used for the choreographed pieces by Cunningham entitled Exercise Piece II and Exercise Piece III. The word 'Cartridge' in the title refers to the cartridge of phonographic pick-ups, into the aperture of which is fitted a needle. In Cartridge Music, the performer is instructed to insert all manner of unspecified small objects into the cartridge; prior performances have involved such items as pipe cleaners, matches, feathers, wires, etc. Furniture may be used as well, amplified via contact microphones. All sounds are to be amplified and are controlled by the performer(s). The number of performers should be at least that of the cartridges, but not greater than twice the number of cartridges. Each performer makes his or her own part from the materials provided: 20 numbered sheets with irregular shapes (the number of shapes corresponding to the number of the sheet) and 4 transparencies, one with points, one with circles, another with a circle marked like a stopwatch, and the last with a dotted curving line, with a circle at one end. These transparencies are to be superimposed on one of the 20 sheets, in order to create a constellation from which one creates one's part. It is also possible to create other pieces from these materials, such as Duet for Cymbal or a Piano Duet. Cage also used Cartridge Music as a means to compose several of his lectures, including “Where Are We Going? And What Are We Doing?” (1960), “Rhythm, Etc.” (1962), “Jasper Johns: Stories and Ideas” (1963), and “On Robert Rauschenberg, Artist, and His Work” (1961?).