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Work Title
Water Music
Composed in 1952. Premiered in New York, May 2, 1952.
Ensemble Type
Work Length
6 minutes
For a solo pianist, using also radio, whistles, water containers, and a deck of cards. The score is to be mounted as a large poster.
This composition is probably one of Cage's first performance pieces. It involves, apart from playing the piano keys, the operation of a radio, blowing different kinds of bird-whistles, shuffling a deck of cards and dealing them over the piano strings, and shaking of water receptacles. The score, consisting of 10 sheets each with 2 half systems, is to be mounted on the wall as a large poster. In it, 41 events are notated in full detail (piano notes, radio-frequencies, actions with whistles, etc.) and with exact timings (in minutes, seconds, and micro seconds). Some details are left to the performer’s, such as the preparation of four notes. Cage leaves the choice of these notes to the performer, but the moments of starting and ending the preparations is notated implicitly. Cage’s notation equates space to time, similar to such of his works as Music of Changes. The title of the work should be changed to reflect the city where one performs the work, followed by the date of the performance. David Tudor has titled his performances variously (see above). Recordings of the work usually follow the rule of location/date as well; Steffen Schleiermacher, for instance, recorded it as Arolsen, February 8, 1998.
Peters Edition EP 6770