|← Back to Works Index
Lecture on the Weather
Composed in 1975. Premiered in Toronto, February 26, 1976
For twelve speaker-vocalists (or instrumentalists), perferably American men who have become Canadian citizens, each using his own sound system, each sound system given an equalization distinguishing it from the others. Materials for an unconducted radio broadcast or theatrical performance: recordings of breeze, rain and thunder; film representing lightning by means of briefly projected negatives of drawings by Thoreau, and a preface. Recordings by Maryanne Amacher. Film by Luis Frangella.
This work was composed in collaboration with Luis Frangella, who produced its film, and Maryanne Amacher, who produced its weather sounds on tape, which were mixed live in performance. The performance begins with a reading of Cage’s preface. In it, Cage expresses dismay with the institutions of American government. The work then commences with (originally) 12 men reading text fragments drawn from the writings by Henry David Thoreau; they may also play instruments (ad lib.), guided by graphic notation derived from snippets of drawings obtained from Thoreau’s Journals. In part 1, this is accompanied by sounds of breeze, in part 2 by sounds of rain. In the third and final part, the lights in the performance space have dimmed to their darkest point, and the performers are accompanied by both Frangella’s film and the sounds of thunder. The film consists of fragments of Thoreau’s drawings, printed in negative, the projection of which resemble lightning at night (or white on black). The performers agree ahead of time on a total duration of the work (between 5 to 8 periods of 273 seconds each, resulting in durations as mentioned above). Every performer creates a unique program of starts and stops, covering the duration of the composition. The work was composed on a commission from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in observance of the bicentennial of the United States of America.
Peters Edition EP 6817R