John Cage Sonatas and Interludes

Performed by Tau Wey, Head of Keyboard, with Eliza Ruffle, Malek Marar, Alex Hall, and Niki Zhang

I, II, II IV                    Tau Wey
First Interlude           Eliza Ruffle
V, VI, VII, VIII           Tau Wey 
Second Interlude      Malek Marar
Third Interlude         Alex Hall
IX, X, XI, XII              Tau Wey
Fourth Interlude       Niki Zhang
XIII, XIV, XV, XVI     Tau Wey

This is a project that has been in the making since the start of the lockdown, when the students started learning parts of the Sonatas and Interludes in preparation for a rare opportunity to perform this music on a prepared piano.

The prepared piano is a great example of what can be achieved despite limitations. Cage (1912-1992) was asked to provide some percussion music for a dance show. All he had access to in the theatre pit was a grand piano. By inserting objects such as bolts in between the strings, he was able to completely transform the sound of the piano.

Cage’s creativity was inexhaustible. He had an interdisciplinary mindset. Not content with just the medium of sound, he found a creative outlet through painting, essay writing, and poetry, as well as developing profound interests in subjects as diverse as Buddhism and mycology.

In the Sonatas and Interludes, Cage projects in sound his interpretation of the permanent emotions of Indian tradition: the Heroic, the Erotic, the Wondrous, the Comic (the four light moods), Sorrow, Fear, Anger, the Odious (the four dark moods), and their common tendency toward Tranquillity. This was Cage's first composition using Hindu philosophy as a basis, and he composed the Sonatas and Interludes in a period of time during which he was reading extensively the works of the Indian art historian and critic Ananda K. Coomaraswamy.

Just as the students have learnt to express themselves through this new sonic dimension, may you as the listeners delight in the encounter with these new and alluring sounds. Click here to watch the video

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