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Work Title
Variations VII
Composed in 1966, revised in 1972. Premiered in New York, October 15, 1966.
Ensemble Type
For any number of musicians using photo-electric cells and electronic equipment.
This work is essentially a plan for finding an arrangement of a specific electro-acoustic system, in which performers are allowed to act in a free and unscripted manner. Where Variations VI was a tool for creating a sound system, here we have a tool for creating a musical score. Or, as James Pritchett puts it: "The sound system was designed with the limitation that only sounds that arose during the performance were to be used -- in other words, the performers would not make any actions to generate sounds deliberately, but rather would use technological means to discover sounds in the air "as through with a net."... ". The work was set up as a collaboration between and among artists and engineers. In it, one could hear amplified sounds of the heart, lungs, brain, and other body parts, as well as Geiger counters, radios, televisions, telephones, etc. Performance engineer: Cecil Coker. Grateful acknowledgment was made by Cage for the cooperation of: Merce Cunningham Dance Foundation, Luchow's Restaurant, A.S.P.C.A., The New York Times, The City of N.Y., Terry Riley, Robert Wood, Richard Hennessy, and Rubin Gorowtiz. In the souvenir program provided at the first performance, Cage wrote the following statement: "My project is simple to describe. It is a piece of music, Variation VII, indeterminate in form and detail, making use of the sound system which has been devised collectively for this festival, further making use of modulation means organized by David Tudor, using as sound sources only those sounds which are in the air at the moment of performance, picked up via the communication bands, telephone lines, microphones together with, instead of musical instruments, a variety of household appliances and frequency generators. The technical problems involved in any single project tend to reduce the impact of the original idea, but in being solved they produce a situation different than anyone could have pre-imagined."