4’33” September 15, 2013

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September 15, 2013

Location: Sooke Potholes Park, Sooke, BC.

Set up: Music Stand on cliff above potholes, and Sooke River, facing NorthWest

Score: hand drawn from the Peters Edition, 3 sections Tacet: 33″, 2’40”, 1’20”, Copied from digitized image of Cage’s handwritten score from 1960

Performers: Tina Pearson and Judith Price

Conditions: Cool, damp, slight breeze, brisk, fresh.

Audience: Brenda Patays and Grace Salez

Photos: Tina Pearson and Brenda Patays

Recording: slight breeze (used large wind screen made by Ido Gavin)

Perceptions:

The group Open Actions had just finished a monthly performance at this site. My performance was called Listening with Water. I had been immersed in the water of the Sooke River, listening, moving with listening, listening to the sounds of the water from above it, and with my head in it, listening to the others’ sounds in and around the river, and responding to what I heard, letting what I heard determine my movement and listening focus. It was a profound experience being moved by the water in this way, and being moved by listening to sink into the cold of the water, bit by bit, to move along the rocks, to let listening pull my ears into the water, continuously listening. Over the hour, I sunk deeper and deeper into an observing and surrendering state, curious about the expanding frigidity of the water gradually and surely spreading into my flesh and bones, but not resisting it. Curious about the rocks, the slipperiness, the branches of the trees, the flow of the water over my body. The sound was new, alive with presence –  the feeling of being so immersed in the water and its sounds became like an acutely aware whole body kind of listening.

Performing 4’33” after this intense experience and in the company of my performance art colleagues, the listening, I believe with all of us, was vast and open. Judith Price, Brenda Patays and Grace Salez gave the integrity and depth of their practice to this listening too, a coda on our Open Action for this month.

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4’33” September 8, 2013

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September 8, 2013

Location: Elk Lake Park, off trail near Saanich Parks yard

Set up: Score clipped to moss encrusted birch, just off the trail, facing Southwest.

Score: hand drawn from the Peters Edition, 3 sections Tacet: 33″, 2’40”, 1’20”, Copied from digitized image of Cage’s handwritten score from 1960

Conditions: Hot, dry, still. Crispness, sharpness in the air.

Audience: on distant trails, a few hikers with their dogs and kids.

Preparatory Readings: Continuing reflections on James Turrell’s work with light.

http://www.npr.org/2013/09/07/219367766/james-turrell-experiments-with-the-thingness-of-light-itself

“I want to look at light, rather than have light illuminate another thing,” says artist James Turrell. “I’m interested in the thingness of light itself, so that light is the revelation.” NPR interview

Perceptions:

Reflecting on my listening these past months —

Performing listening, listening and not listening, being aware of listening, listening to the listening, a listening that hears itself.

Walking along the pathway in this forest park, a long walk, sensing for the right location. Sun and shadow through the trees. Listening to the sounds of walking, the distant traffic, to the near birds, to my breathing, to periodic air traffic – small planes and helicopters, crow, seagull, dogs, kids. Seeing in the sunlight a kind of glow in the forest – a shifting of light and shadow, illumination of detail. Spider webs built across smaller trails, among the branches, all between 2 and 5 feet up from the ground. Preparing for the winter.

As I walked, my sense of listening near and far, past and present, deepened, became more detailed. That old exercise that I do often, and use in workshops, of focusing the listening on the furthest sound, then the nearest, etc. suddenly became … multidimensional. If I focus on the furthest sound … can I also hear the sounds of the spider web that I passed ten minutes ago and the small flies brushing against each other on this branch here now … can all sounds be heard from here to the furthest sound, the tiniest microscopic sounds, the sound under the surface of the trail, the roots of the trees carrying their fluids, sharing chlorophyll with one another, the mushrooms pushing bits of soil and moss aside in their growing.

Can I hear all of this?

The sounds I imagine, the sounds I heard yesterday, the sounds of my dreaming. All of it, always here, all the time. I can decide to focus on any of it at any time.

Back to hear and now, in this body and this breath … walking focusing on what I am hearing right now and only being in that one focused place in each microscopic moment. Quantal sound. Scaling a moment to a pinpoint in time and place, expanding it.

During the performance of today’s edition of 4’33”, these reflections honed and sharpened my listening. My awareness that there is so much, utterly so much sound, made my listening much more acute and nuanced. Here and now is much less fuzzy. And it is both smaller and larger at the same time.

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4’33” September 1, 2013

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September 1, 2013

Location: Elk Lake Park, Beaver Lake, NorthWest Pond, Victoria, BC.

Score: hand drawn from the Peters Edition, 3 sections Tacet: 33″, 2’40”, 1’20”, Copied from digitized image of Cage’s handwritten score from 1960

Conditions: Hot, dry, still, slight changing breeze.

Audience: None.

Preparatory Readings: James Turrell interviews on National Public Radio. This quote:

“… I want to look at light, rather than have light illuminate another thing,” he explains. “I’m interested in the thingness of light itself, so that light is, is the revelation.”

Perceptions: My perceptions these past weeks have been influenced by my memory of the James Turrell Aten Reign exhibition at the Guggenheim in July. I recognize that I am not completely open to any sonic experience when I am seeking locations for the weekly 4’33”. Often, I seek a sublime place, a hi-fidelity place, where the air is charged with microscopic nuance of sonic detail. Where the complex yet interrelated shifts in sound are not dumbed down by the drone of air and ground traffic or machine. Since spending those hours with Aten Reign I am also recognizing the influence of light and colour on my listening. I become more still, more utterly still, seeking to sense more and more tracings of vibration whether I perceive them as sound or light or other. The time limit of 4 minutes and thirty three seconds hones my focus. This environment is charged with the activity of wasps, bees, flies, dragon flies and other insects flying close to the ground, crawling along the grasses and branches, skimming along the surface of the water. I place the audio recorder under some shrubbery close to the water’s edge, hoping for some collision sound that I will not hear until I listen to the recording.

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4’33” August 25, 2013

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August 25, 2013

Location: Mount Tolmie East parking lot, Victoria, BC

Set up: Score clipped to overhanging Garry Oak branch, edge of parking lot, facing East.

Score: hand drawn from the Peters Edition, 3 sections Tacet: 33″, 2’40”, 1’20”, Copied from digitized image of Cage’s handwritten score from 1960

Conditions: Very hot, dry, sunny, moderate wind.

Audience: Other people parked in the lot, people and dogs walking to and from trails.

Perceptions: Humidity and listening. The extreme dryness changes how sound travels, this is very noticeable. A sense of simultaneous near and far. A crispness, sharpness, pending. These short moments of focused listening each week have become simultaneously easier to accomplish and more intense. Listening as a holistic state of being that is part of the whole. Listening deeply with attention to detail and nuance, in these small windows of time. What revelatory curtains drift open today, last time, next time?

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4’33” August 18, 2013

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August 18, 2013

Location: Mini Golf Course, Cordova Bay, Victoria

Set up: Score clipped to low-hanging cedar branches near North facing course fence.

Score: hand drawn from the Peters Edition, 3 sections Tacet: 33″, 2’40”, 1’20”, Copied from digitized image of Cage’s handwritten score from 1960

Conditions: Cool, cloudy, slight breeze.

Audience: golfers, hikers, shoppers.

Perceptions:

Listening here, can I listen like the golfers – the parents, then the children. Can I listen inside the golf ball. Can I listen like the birds in these trees, the spiders spinning in this tangle of branches, leaves, old cedar boughs. Can I listen like the float planes overhead, the people in them. Listen like the dog coming along the trail, leashed to its master. Can I listen like the dog’s master. Who am I listening? What am I not listening? Am I trailing all the listenings before now into this listening. Feet on ground, breathing in and out. Moist air.

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4’33” August 11, 2013

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August 11, 2013

Location: Trinity Bellwoods Park, Toronto, Ontario

Set up: Score clipped to willow tree, facing East South East toward CN Tower. Standing on grass.

Score: hand drawn from the Peters Edition, 3 sections Tacet: 33″, 2’40”, 1’20”, Copied from digitized image of Cage’s handwritten score from 1960

Conditions: very hot and humid, slight breeze, people in the park doing yoga, having picnics, lounging, walking, playing with kids and dogs, a group of percussionists in a circle with others dancing. afternoon in the city.

Audience: people in the park.

Perceptions: Listening in the moment and what defines the moment. The immediate settling and awareness of breath, stillness, the quick focus of acute awareness. Awareness of present, of past of multiplicity of experience and perspective. What is recalled, imagined, how that filters awareness, too, just as the state of physical reality does. Sore foot, remembered event, planned documentation, the mind of the witness. How are others listening? Sounds, like smells, introducing themselves, leading to perceptions of depth, thickness, microscopic detail, thick bands of frequencies, overlapping meters weaving textures through electric hum, the steady earthy beat of drums, the hearing of birds, thinking of their tuning and does it veer their calls away from the streetcar screech. Feet on ground, eyes soft focus, spine vertical, antenna.

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4’33” August 4, 2013

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August 4, 2013

Location: A forest grove in a valley on Funny Farm, during Electric Eclectic Festival, Meaford Ontario

Set up: Score clipped to pine tree branch, facing West North West

Score: hand drawn from the Peters Edition, 3 sections Tacet: 33″, 2’40”, 1’20”, Copied from digitized image of Cage’s handwritten score from 1960

Performers: Gayle Young and Tina Pearson

Instruments: Bowed Tibetan bell and Mexican ocarina

Conditions: Warm, still, no wind in this shallow valley.

Audience: A couple of festival goers walking up the trail.

Perceptions: This performance was done during a weekend of feisty loud avant-garde live musics and DJ sets, and in the midst of two versions of measure for a mayfly, a listening sounding walk I brought to the Festival. Gayle and I had spent two days preceding this listening and working in the forest to find the best sonic playground for that piece, finding in the end one compelling and sublime listening spot near a large boulder under a pine tree. The two versions of measure for a mayfly ended in this place, and it seemed a fitting place, and ending to our weekend, to perform 4’33” there.

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Gayle Young

4’33” July 28, 2013

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July 28, 2013

Location: Governor’s Island, New York, NY

Set up: Score pinned to rose bush at the side of a large tree

Score: hand drawn from the Peters Edition, 3 sections Tacet: 33″, 2’40”, 1’20”, Copied from digitized image of Cage’s handwritten score from 1960

Performers: Viv Corringham and Tina Pearson

Instrument: Listening

Conditions: Sunny, partly cloudy day, hot. We had taken the short ferry ride over from the South Ferry Terminal to Governor’s Island to see the New York Electronic Arts Festival installation “The Spaces Contained in Each” by Stephen Vitiello and Steve Roden, “originally created as a performance for Rothko Chapel in Houston, TX and staged to coincide with the Menil Collection’s exhibition Silence, which looked at (and listened to) artworks related to Cage’s infamous composition, 4’33″”. While walking to the St. Cornelius Chapel, the location of the installation, we could hear waves of cricket sounds in the trees.

Audience: Passersby, staff of the island.

Perceptions: A beautiful and rich piece. The first movement contained a great chord formed from a ferry horn and passing floatplane overhead. The deep frequency rumble combined with high undulating chirping of crickets, with voices of kids and adults passing by, the ferris wheel and other rides of the kids park, wind in the trees, bikes, walking … glorious. Later, I had wondered why it did not occur to me to perform 4;33″ outside the location of Cage’s last home in NYC, where he was happy listening and writing and talking and composing. I know the reason lies with my own intention and owning of the process and the piece … in and out of a kind of focus on it, like in a relationship, like with being serious or not about one’s work in a certain way. My instruction to myself is that the “doing” of this piece each week should be part of what I am doing, without going too much out of my way. So it is. Perhaps next time I am in New York, I will go to Cage’s old address and listen.

Conversations with Brenda Hutchinson and Viv Corringham about this project have me reflecting again on women and their role in the professional, credentialed serious art world. Conversations about the work of women and its value, and how some ideas, movements, practices and techniques, although pioneered by women, are not really taken hold, taken seriously, worked into the fabric of the genre, until men absorb them.

I have a deep belly laugh when I juxtapose in my mind the image of Cage and Tudor and their colleagues in their neat black suits and white shirts and shiny shoes and short hair cuts … with the image of me, a middle – aged plump short woman with long dishevelled hair performing 4’33” wherever she happens to be and in whatever she happens to be wearing at the time.

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Viv Corringham

4’33” July 21, 2013

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July 21, 2013

Location:  Maverick Concert Hall, Woodstock New York

Set up: In the maple forest just beyond the concert hall, score placed on a large slate rock.

Score: hand drawn from the Peters Edition, 3 sections Tacet: 33″, 2’40”, 1’20”, Copied from digitized image of Cage’s handwritten score from 1960

Conditions: Very hot, moderate breeze. A string quartet is practicing for the evening concert.

Audience: staff at the Maverick, people walking in the forest, some with dogs.

Perceptions: I had been looking forward with a lot of anticipation to this edition of the piece, since it was the location of the premiere performance of 4’33” by David Tudor. Following my intuition, I let my feet find a location near the concert hall, which was open to the outdoors. A string quintet was rehearsing for a 4 pm concert. I started to feel sad for some reason. I found myself drifting further and further away from the hall, toward the maple forest and up a rock cliff behind it – where the hall was facing. I walked on the crisp leaves, many long-legged spiders on the ground, shale rock underneath. I likely would have gone further into the forest but my intentions for documenting the piece made me want to have the Maverick Hall in the photographs, and I was getting pretty deep into the trees and up the hill already. I placed the score on a large flat rock slightly sloping down the hill. Preparing for the listening, I again felt a distance from social constructs, sad, a little alienated; not from any circumstance with people on site but in general. The sounds and listening felt muted somehow, with the string quartet wafting in and out, intermittently, planes overhead, traffic. It was very still and hot. An anti-climax, but a poignant one. Later, while discussing the experience with the visual artist Julie Hedrick, she recalled reading that Cage was not in the happiest frame of mind when he was spending time in the Woodstock area. And that the audience was not happy with the piece. She thought that perhaps the mood I felt there was thus in tune somehow. Driving back on a long wonderful tour with Lisa Barnard Kelly, we talked about Maverick Concerts being very far removed from any semblance of a “maverick” context. The music programming choices there are very safe, with no apparent inquiry about the relationship with the environment in which the hall exists. Listening to all of this.

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4’33” July 14, 2013

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July 14, 2013

Location: EMPAC (Experimental Media and Performance Art Centre), Troy, New York, location of the Deep Listening Art and Science Conference.

Set up: Black music stand, set up on top of hill facing East.

Score: hand drawn from the Peters Edition, 3 sections Tacet: 33″, 2’40”, 1’20”, Copied from digitized image of Cage’s handwritten score from 1960

Instrument: Listening

Conditions: Very hot and sunny, moderately humid, mild wind.

Audience: a few passersby, a few participants in the conference, a few road crew.

Readings: No readings, but much discussion and listening practice and experience this past week at the Deep Listening Art and Science workshop, followed by the conference.

Perceptions: Walking out of the studio during the conference lunch break, I was thinking about where I should set up to do the performance. I turned left, walked over to the grass, and immediately saw a black crow feather sticking up out of the ground. I guess this is the place. My listening was charged after a week of practicing, talking about, thinking about listening. I was very excited about the piece in this context. I enjoyed it so much, I performed it twice.

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4’33” July 7, 2013

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July 7, 2013

Location: Toronto International Airport, outside domestic arrivals area.

Set up: Score propped on luggage against a pillar on the median between two roadways, facing East.

Score: hand drawn from the Peters Edition, 3 sections Tacet: 33″, 2’40”, 1’20”, Copied from digitized image of Cage’s handwritten score from 1960

Instrument: Listening

Conditions: Very busy at the airport. Air very thick, hot, humid, ripe with smells. Lots of activity, different speeds of walking and driving, complex soundscape, resonant from overhead roadway and airport complex.

Audience: Travellers leaving airport, people meeting travellers, taxi and limousine drivers and their passengers, people in cars slowly driving passed, or stopped to drop off or pick up passengers. Just as the performance ended, Gayle Young arrived to pick me up.

Perceptions: What a big rushing roar of sound and thick warm air. Exhilerating. The sound was captivating, invigorating.

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4’33” June 30, 2013

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June 30, 2013

Location: Mount Tolmie Garry Oak Meadow

Set up: Black music stand, facing West North West, on the hill overlooking the Salish Sea toward Mount Vernon.

Score: hand drawn from the Peters Edition, 3 sections Tacet: 33″, 2’40”, 1’20”, Copied from digitized image of Cage’s handwritten score from 1960

Instrument: Listening

Conditions: very hot and dry. Still – very slight breeze.

Audience: passersby on the trails, dog walkers

Photos: by Lyssa Pearson

Readings: Selections from John Cage Silence

Perceptions:

Filters of listening, focus of listening, distractions to listening. Listening as mediated by states of body, mind. Listening mediated by pain, discomfort, fatigue. Listening compressed, listening to the compression, what does the compression, the weighted perceptual sense, sound like? It is possible to listen always, from an acceptance of state of being.

The environment was dominated by the sound of crickets. Or, rather, my perception was dominated by this sound. Not that it was loud, not that it was louder than the traffic, people, air traffic. But the quality of it, the high pitch, the quietness, subtlety drew my attention more than anything. Exquisite.

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4’33” June 23, 2013

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June 23, 2013

Location: PKOLS Mountain sign, Victoria, BC

Set up: Facing West Northwest, black music stand, partially facing sign

Score: hand drawn from the Peters Edition, 3 sections Tacet: 33″, 2’40”, 1’20”, Copied from digitized image of Cage’s handwritten score from 1960

Instrument: Listening

Conditions: Cold, windy.

Audience: People at the lookout, in cars and on the South ridge of the mountain.

Photos: by Lyssa Pearson

Recording: Using new wind shield, very effective. Placed recorder directly below the bottom of the PKOLS sign. The sign is listening.

Readings: Pauline Oliveros’ A Composers Handbook, in particular, the simple text scores about listening, attention, perception.

Perceptions: Before leaving, thought of PKOLS mountain, listening. Listening to the shifting sands of history, remembered, altered, changed. Listening to stories of place and time, the stories, now heard, alter perception, and yes, stories alter listening.

Thoughts of bringing Cage to all of these places and times and circumstances, legitimizing this piece, in a way, studying it, as another way of contextualizing it. If I bring Cage here, I bring his ideas of listening here, and I add my own.

Listening changes circumstance, circumstance changes listening. Easy listening. Hard listening. Listening near and far in place and in time. Listening to time, to the memories of the sounds that have been in this place, been here before this time when I am listening to it. I am listening to this place, this time, to all places and all times. I am listening to myself, within myself. To my thoughts to my body and my breath.

Reviewing my text scores and workshop outlines about listening and sounding from the inside out – Listening and the Sounding Body. The intimacy of listening. The idea that one cannot listen to others without first listening to oneself. Or that one can only hear what one can ‘hear’ or imagine inside oneself.

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4’33” June 16, 2013

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June 16, 2013

Location: Entry of driveway of 6720 Willis Point Road, Sannich BC.

Set up: Just inside an interesting acoustic space formed from a large unfinished curved quarry stone entryway. This created a tunnelling effect in the sound.

Score: hand drawn from the Peters Edition, 3 sections Tacet: 33″, 2’40”, 1’20”, Copied from digitized image of Cage’s handwritten score from 1960

Instrument: Listening

Conditions: On a drive with Ido Govrin, on the way to do tests for Measure for a Mayfly. Slight intermittent breeze. Environment: Wild forest beyond the road, very little development except for the huge project where we have stopped to record – visually discontinuous with the forest.

Audience: drivers and passengers in passing motor vehicles at beginning and end of piece – none during the actual performance.

Photos and Audio recording: by Ido Govrin

Readings: Sections from John Cage’s Silence and Pauline Oliveros’ Software for People: Collected Writings 1963-80

Perceptions: This week included more focused listening practice, and talking with Ido about listening, deep listening and perception. (Ido is a visual and sound artist doing graduate work at the University of Toronto, and traveled to Victoria to do some focused listening work with me as part of a summer mentoring program.) The piece was very focused and vast at the same time. The forest was strongly present … the effect of being in an enormous dome of listening awareness. At the end of the second movement, my imagination created John Cage’s giant head in the midst of the forest depths, smiling.

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4’33” June 9, 2013

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June 9, 2013

Location: Bow Park Duck Pond, Saanich, BC

Set up: Black music stand, at edge of pond, facing North Northwest

Score: hand drawn from the Peters Edition, 3 sections Tacet: 33″, 2’40”, 1’20”, Copied from digitized image of Cage’s handwritten score from 1960

Instrument: Listening

Conditions: Sunny, cool, light breeze.

Audience: Ducks, ducklings, birds.

Recording: Audio recorder placed close to water.

Perceptions: Rich visual and audio scape.

Flies, very present but soft undulating shifting texture of wind, changing sunlight through the tree canopy. brilliant blue on the pond, pollen floating, birds, ducks, distant traffic, very hi-fidelity.

Recalling all the times of doing this piece,

Poignant memory, recognition of states of body and mind.

Listening through the distractions of pain and thought, of joy and well-being, of surprise or excitement. Back to listening.

Listening hears itself.

For the 4’33” duration of the performance, there were no people or dogs anywhere near the path where I was located. As soon as the piece was finished, people came – kids, dogs, old and middle-aged and young adults. Bikes. Unicycle. Very steady through my photo documentation, striking the set, and leave-taking. A lovely talk with a lady who sat at the bench, watching me and the ducks for a bit. She is from Wales. She said, “Oh, it is the wind making that sound! I was wondering what it was.” Then we talked about listening, and she asked about what I was doing. We talked about John Cage – she thought she might have heard about him and his ideas on CBC a few months ago. I told her the long story of the development of 4’33” for Cage and its first incarnation at the Maverick concert space in Woodstock. I told her about my decision to perform it every Sunday for a year in outdoor locations, my commitment to make it part of my life, to perform it near where I happen to be each Sunday afternoon. I told her about my gardening today, and that I my pleasure in it to come here to perform 4’33”. I told her that, no matter what I am doing, whatever the weather or other conditions, every time I do this piece each Sunday, I always am enthralled, and feel better. We talked about music making and how there is not enough good music making here, where we both live, and everywhere.

Sunny pleasant day.

I am left with the softly enormous, subtle but powerful, gentle yet insistent presence of the wind’s shifting changing texture. Presence. Its softness is what made me realize how big it is.

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4’33” June 2, 2013

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June 2, 2013

Location: Elk Lake, Victoria, BC, West side near shore of lake, swampy shaded area

Set up: Score clipped to branches of willow trees, right at shore and under main tree canopy.

Score: hand drawn from the Peters Edition, 3 sections Tacet: 33″, 2’40”, 1’20”, Copied from digitized image of Cage’s handwritten score from 1960

Instrument: Listening

Conditions: sunny and bright, some breeze

Audience: Kayakers, people swimming nearby, trail walkers and joggers, dogs

Recording: recorder tucked down on vegetation between trees

Perceptions: Intimacy of swamp life, surfaces, reflections in sounds and images. Near and far, dark surrounded by light. Focusing attention on near, small detail led by vision and smell … on far, by the sound, back and forth with far placing, giving context, safety, knowing of “elsewhere”; giving assurance so that deeper listening and observing can happen.

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4’33” May 26, 2013

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May 26, 2013

Location: PKOLS Mountain base, off trail in a thick grove, Victoria BC

Set up: Black music stand in stand of ferns, facing Northeast into forest.

Score: hand drawn from the Peters Edition, 3 sections Tacet: 33″, 2’40”, 1’20”, Copied from digitized image of Cage’s handwritten score from 1960

Conditions: Cloudy, still, soft rain, wet, warm.

Audience: People and dogs along the trail nearby

Recording: from ground, close to ferns dripping.

Perceptions: Soft rain, still. In a mossy, fern carpeted place, the tall cedar, pine and spruce trees silent and present. The traffic sound, although dynamic in amplitude, was constant, obscuring the delicate sound of water drops, and the calls of birds. People walking on the path a few feet away. The discordance between the luscious  multi-layered wet green of the forest and its soft floor bursting with life … and the sound of the traffic. Sadness. It was more difficult this performance to be a neutral observer of the sounds. This newly re-named mountain, PKOLS, carries its ageless presence and life … the sounds of industry and human invention ebbing and flowing with no apparent relation to, oblivious to, this reality. Driving here, the fog on the mountain was heartwarming. Tired and sore from working in the garden, after standing and listening, then photographing, in this environment gave my body sustenance, energy, light and life.

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4’33” May 19, 2013

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May 19, 2013

Location: grounds of The Haven, Gabriola Island, BC

Set up: Score pinned to trees, facing northwest to the Pacific

Score: hand drawn from the Peters Edition, 3 sections Tacet: 33″, 2’40”, 1’20”, Copied from digitized image of Cage’s handwritten score from 1960

Instrument: Ocarina

Conditions: Very bright, hot, sunny and windy.

Audience: Workshop attendees, visitors to the Haven, beachcombers, all strolling by.

Recording: Much wind

Perceptions: My body was very sore and tired after a 5-day voice intensive. Mind was also very tired. Hard to focus. The ‘distraction’ of being ‘full’ – of thought, pain, sensation, attention to external sound … all is simply distraction, yes. I see the courage of those in desperate political, physical and social situations, those who maintain focus and resolve despite much hardship and isolation and resistance. Simply attending to listening each week for four minutes and thirty three seconds is such a tiny paling compared to such heroics. Nonetheless, it is instructive. Listening is much more immediate, deep, wide, multi-dimensional when one is empty … and at ease. Still, this weekly ritual has its own life, and the listening, despite pain and tiredness, is again full and rich and liberating.

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4’33” May 12, 2013

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May 12, 2013

Location: Fairfield Gonzales Community Centre grounds, Victoria, BC

Set up: Black music stand, against a large rock, facing Southeast

Score: hand drawn from the Peters Edition, 3 sections Tacet: 33″, 2’40”, 1’20”, Copied from digitized image of Cage’s handwritten score from 1960

Instrument: Listening

Conditions: In a break from the weekend Soul Voice workshop. Exhaustion, leg pain not diminishing sense of continuous always present listening.

Audience: Participants from the workshop, passersby in automobiles.

Recording: Windy

Readings: Karina Schelde, Expression Into Freedom:

“I sit in the early morning overlooking a rice field outside Ubud, Bali, listening to nature’s symphony. Listening to the sounds of small cascading waterfalls in the garden, squirrels jumping form on coconut tree to another expressing their sounds, cicadas sharing their high frequency sounds mixed with bird calls … As I further extend my listening … I also hear motorbike sounds. I realize that they are not disturbing my inner silence, rather merging with nature’s harmonies. I sense that my inner focus and centredness is naturally creating a protective field around me … “

Perceptions: Listening to others, that skill of listening without condition, without interrupting, or nodding or giving advice or doing anything but being fully attentive, part of the weekend workshop’s content, made a parallel to the performance of 4’33”. In 4’33”, the intention could be listening without labelling, without commenting, without one’s presence being other than being fully completely attentive to the sounds. My instruction to myself when doing the listening exercise in the workshop (listening to a partner tell of a life instance that needed telling) was to embody a space and presence of welcoming for the telling to inhabit, as if the room, the continent, the solar system was ready to hear this story. The tendency is to nod, to smile, to encourage, to interrupt with question or comment. If there is no need to nod, smile and encourage the sounds of the wind, the birds, the cars, the sirens when fully listening to them, this same listening position can be applied to communication with humans.

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4’33” May 5, 2013

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May 5, 2013

Audio

Location: Beach off Tudor Avenue, Cadboro Bay, Victoria, BC, Canada

Set up: on the beach near the water, facing Southwest, score clipped to seashore tree

Score: hand drawn from the Peters Edition, 3 sections Tacet: 33″, 2’40”, 1’20”, Copied from digitized image of Cage’s handwritten score from 1960

Instrument: Listening

Conditions: Very bright, sunny, hot; slight intermittent breeze

Audience: a few passersby on the road above, cyclists, two hikers on the beach, residents from house next to beach.

Photos: by Lyssa Pearson

Recording: audio recorder tucked underneath tree, pack and case serving as partial wind block.

Perceptions: The delight of hearing these sounds – birds, small stream, airplanes, boats, intermittent lapping – on a relaxed sunny day.

Readings / Reflections: Since 2008, I have posed the statement “Listening is Everything” as a hypothesis for living. It has been a guide, a question. Today, preparing for this performance and reflecting afterward, threads coalescing: the past five years of listening and music projects, readings about John Cage’s time at Black Mountain, my deepening listening practice, the impact of a listening focus in specific and divergent contexts.

Conversations with media artist Grace Salez about our practice as artists, aging women, daughters, mothers, women with pain of injury and ailment, women coming to understand the inevitable and terrible and fascinating evolution of a life reaching more toward an ending. Making a commitment to engaging in and supporting art practices that recognize the impact and truth of this evolution.

As listening deepens, I am presented with paradoxical situations and find myself wondering if my input unwittingly supports artifice instead of art; if it supports a movement to “not listen”.

During today’s edition of 4’33”, as the ocean’s water sparkled in my vision, the arbutus tree reflecting on its surface, Listening Is Everything breathed itself to life, floated in and out of my thoughts mingled with John Cage’s writings about silence, listening, awareness.

My 2008 adoption of Listening Is Everything came as a question, moving to belief, that if every human being truly and deeply committed to listening as a practice, as a way of life, as a way of interacting, of studying, of solving problems, of being with other living beings, of simply being in the world … that immediately – very immediately and utterly – deep deep everlasting change of huge proportion would occur. So far, I see no reason why this would not be true.

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4’33” April 28, 2013

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April 28, 2013

Audio

Location: Queen Alexandria Centre, small cave in walkway leading to ocean trail. Victoria, BC, Canada.

Set up: Black music stand just inside cave entry, facing Northwest

Score: hand drawn from the Peters Edition, 3 sections Tacet: 33″, 2’40”, 1’20”, Copied from digitized image of Cage’s handwritten score from 1960

Instrument: Listening

Conditions: Moderate, sunny, calm

Audience: Birds. No people.

Perceptions: Driving into this location, seeking a performance spot out in the open, I happened upon this human-made cave with a steady stream of water leaking from the path above down to some vegetation at the cave entry. I liked the resonant static sound inside the cave, so decided to listen there. Listening, sensing the ears wanting to retreat, easing perception into opening, worlds of sonic detail in each moment, each drop.

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4’33” April 21, 2013

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April 21, 2013

Audio

 

Location: South side of Yates Street at Douglas Avenue, Victoria, alcove just outside the old Patch building doorway, next to Raino Dance; Victoria, BC, Canada.

Set up: facing NorthNorthwest

Score: hand drawn from the Peters Edition, 3 sections Tacet: 33″, 2’40”, 1’20”, Copied from digitized image of Cage’s handwritten score from 1960

Instrument: Listening

Conditions: Light rain, very windy, overcast, cold

Audience: Many passersby, workcrew waiting to get into the old Patch building

Perceptions: Buzzy energy, being on the street in the rain, many people, much traffic. Crispness, wet. Much different than the usual pastoral locations that I usually choose for these Sunday listening performances. The ears are not as apt to reach out in this setting, perhaps a form of protection against possible sudden loud sharp sound. Not the ears that do this editing, it is the mind.

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4’33” April 14, 2013

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April 14, 2013

Audio

Location: Gordon Head Recreation Centre, outside workout class, Victoria, BC

Set up: black music stand, within span of a cedar tree, facing ESE

Score: hand drawn from the Peters Edition, 3 sections Tacet: 33″, 2’40”, 1’20”, Copied from digitized image of Cage’s handwritten score from 1960

Instrument: Listening

Conditions: Sunny, warm, slight breeze to mild wind

Audience: people in the workout class, people in the equipment room running on machines, passersby on the road in vehicles and bikes, a few pedestrians

Recording: From under cedar tree

Readings: Various Buddhist texts

Perceptions: A beautiful piece. Planes overhead, birds nearby and further, periodic swish and hum of cars passing, swish of bikes, muffled music from the workout class, air and heating systems from the centre, wind in the tree, dogs barking, kids, men talking. Near the end, wonderful pan of a float plane overhead, moving toward Victoria Harbour.

Reflections on the focus of listening in this timeframe, four minutes and thirty-three seconds, its invitation to be totally completely deeply present for these specific minutes and seconds. A more intense and pointed kind of attention appears, as if the listening muscles, the attention muscles understand that there is a sudden need for short term focus. Toward a less muscular, less overt  simple opening, like turning one’s gaze, that reveals utterly unfettered listening attention that is always present anyway.

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4’33” April 7, 2013

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April 7, 2013

Audio

Location: Lambrick Park baseball diamond – kids’ park, Saanich, BC

Set up: Black music stand facing SSE

Score: hand drawn from the Peters Edition, 3 sections Tacet: 33″, 2’40”, 1’20”, Copied from digitized image of Cage’s handwritten score from 1960

Instrument: Listening

Conditions: Cool, almost no wind, wet from rain.

Audience: Joggers and walkers on trail, park attendants, baseball diamond workers, kids.

Photos: by Lyssa Pearson

Recording: moderate wind gusts

Readings:

“The starting point is realizing that letting go is not a dramatic moment we build up to some time in the future. It is happening now, in the present moment—it is not singular but ongoing. Letting go is based on our present realization of the reality of impermanence.”

– Judy Lief, “Letting Go”

Perceptions: Listening is infinite and a total letting go of categorization, thought, description, judgment. Listening is complete being-ness.

Setting up for this edition, excitement at the soundscape. Rich and hi fi, with cracks of baseball bats, the ball machine, crows and gulls, kids playing. Near and far sounds, the air charged, sounds are pristine and distinct, a good soundsphere. Shortly before starting, a man working on the baseball field across the pathway started a leaf blowing machine to clear debris from the diamond. The jokes of this process continue. The performance was good – the sound glorious.

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4’33” March 31, 2013

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March 31, 2013

Audio

Location: Royal BC Museum courtyard, Victoria, BC

Set up: Black music stand, on edge of pond, facing SSE

Score: hand drawn from the Peters Edition, 3 sections Tacet: 33″, 2’40”, 1’20”, Copied from digitized image of Cage’s handwritten score from 1960

Instrument: Listening

Conditions: Sunny, warm, very gentle breeze.

Audience: Passersby above on street, and in courtyard, Museum goers, viewing from windows on upper levels

Recording: intermittent wind gusts

Readings: Dropping Ashes on the Buddha: The Teaching of Zen Master Seung Sahn, Compiled and Edited by Stephen Mitchell, 1976, Grove Press, New York.

Perceptions: This performance was done right after presenting a workshop at “Wonder Sunday”, a family event at the Royal BC Museum. The workshop involved sounding wildlife photography with children and their parents. My senses were heightened from the preparations, the energy and enthusiasm of the kids, the performance and the resulting discussions. Listening within the museum is interesting – the residual noise of the air system is a prominent presence. We used ear plugs first to get a sense of the body. Then looking, imagining the scenes before us, making the sounds together. Exhilerating.

Walking around to set up the 4’33” site, listening to the sounds around the entryway, under the seating areas, in the courtyard – my listening was acute. The courtyard, being less windy and more populated seemed more alive than the architecturally interesting yet shadowed and less populated East corridor.

The varying sounds of traffic – cars, trucks, motorcycles; people talking, some birds. Then, the chiming of the clock tower! Amazing.

In this performance there was another variation on the lessons illustrating how attention works. The adrenalin rush of the workshop performance, not yet integrated into consciousness, is a presence through which listening becomes filtered, or less present. A bubble of thought. Breathing, it gradually dissolves, even if the attention wants to hang on to the euphoria of post performance bliss, addictive as it is. Simply attending, listening brings into focus the distracting drugs, the rush of endorphins, the seduction of ideas, the energies of engagement.

A lesson in appropriate pacing and closure. Letting the integration of events have their place and time, their due process, instead of simply proceeding as normal. Endorphins are good – give them some space!

Beautiful soundworld, this.

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4’33” March 24, 2013

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March 24, 2013

Audio

Location: 1734 Ashdale Place, Victoria, front yard at road

Set up: Score clipped to eucalyptus tree branches, facing South

Score: hand drawn from the Peters Edition, 3 sections Tacet: 33″, 2’40”, 1’20”, Copied from digitized image of Cage’s handwritten score from 1960

Instrument: Listening

Conditions: calm, slight breeze, grey overcast, clammy cool. Birds, crows, planes.

Audience: neighbours looking out of windows, passersby on street, a couple of drivers and passengers in cars.

Recording: very windy

Readings: Zen Koans, Zen teachings. “Dropping Ashes on the Buddha: The Teaching of en Mster Seung Sahn” Complied and Edited by Stephen Mitchell. 1976, Grove Press, New York.

p59 “Zen Master Un-mun said, ‘On the Buddha’s birthday, as he sprang from the side of his mother, I hit him once and killed him, and fed him to a hungry dog. The whole world was at peace.’ Do you understand what this means?”

Perceptions: If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him.

Simply be. Simply watch. Simply listen.

Impermanence. Death. Being-ness.

Breath, only breath. Zen Master Seung Sahn said frequently, “Only go straight, don’t check.”

Impersonal thinking, altruistic thinking. It is not what happens, it is what you do with / about / in response to what happens.

Pleasant listening experience. Crows. Near and far crows, distant traffic. In the final movement, noticeable pleasure at the deep soft distant sound of plane engines passing overhead.

Paring down to essense. When the time came to pack and go on this weekly 4’33” journey, I did not want to make it a big thing, a grand gesture. Jest-sure. I did not want to drive anywhere. I did not want to walk far. It sounded very nice in my yard. So this is where I performed, just on the edge where it is public space. Simple, short, no stress. A familiar sound environment, one that I enjoy, with all of its birds.

Breathing. Being.

This past week, reflecting on this project. It is Kong an practice. And killing the Buddha.

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4’33” March 17, 2013

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March 17, 2013

Audio

Location: Carnegie Street Park, Gordon Head, BC

Set up: score clipped to branches of shrubs and berry bushes.

Score: hand drawn from the Peters Edition, 3 sections Tacet: 33″, 2’40”, 1’20”, Copied from digitized image of Cage’s handwritten score from 1960

Instrument: Listening

Conditions: Sunny, clouds gathering, cool, brisk, moderate wind, a spring wind. New growth everywhere.

Audience: A few people walking dogs on park trail, a few observers from windows of houses abutting the park, a few kids in the park, a few people biking or walking along the road next to the park.

Recording: very windy

Perceptions:

A busy day, plenty going on to distract me. As I gathered the elements of my 4’33” kit together, I recognized I am coming to trust my ability to prepare and to be quickly “present” with listening in such a focused time. I can be very busy with thoughts and work and meetings and discussions, yet feel much less pressure about fitting this project into my Sundays. Rather, 4’33” is spilling into them as a reality of habit, pattern, normal responsibility that I don’t have to think too much about except in the back automatic daily places for things like feeding the cat, emptying the compost bucket, calling my sister. Check, check, check. Being with 4’33” is something I can count on completely. I know it will be an experience of depth, if not length, and I look forward to its manifestation each week.

I was thinking about a location … sometimes I know ahead of time where it will be, other times I let it be determined by what I am doing, my schedule. Sometimes I just leave and find a spot. Today, I wanted it to be even more simple. Something in a changed approach, a gentler way of going about things.

I recognized my gaze can shift, has shifted. Listening with my eyes, listening with my energy, with how much push or pull, intensity I give to any situation or moment.

Walking to the park, I thought about Cage in the context of the Women & Identity Festival residency I am doing this week, virtually on Facebook. I decided that Cage might visit the residency and I will post about the project. Reflecting on Cage and women, my identity as a woman, taking on this project, thoughts I had when my daughter was a babe and I happened upon the documentary of Cage and Cunningham while I was folding diapers one night in the basement. So much silence and peace and gentle contemplation, space to write, figure in the world of Cage Cunningham. Such longing arose in me, then, and a bit of feisty dismissal: “John Cage did not have kids”.

Walking to the park and reflecting on these Sunday moments of attention to listening with John Cage, like a necklace, a garland, with pearls of 4’33” of listening strung together with a thin cord of time.

Performing the piece this week again contained echoes of previous versions.

Thinking about the version with Grace Salez and her wonderful photos and video, the score clipped to the tree branches. I brought no music stand this week, thinking again about simplicity and about that March 3 edition, the shadows of the branches on the score, a different stance, cultural reference without the music stand. The props are the spicing. Not essential, but change the flavour.

As I do this and write about it each week, there is the accumulated pressure, or distraction of temptation to put some kind of meaning on it. To expect revelations, deepenings, awarenesses. This too is its own kind of bullshit, a kind of “not listening” that becomes part of the game, the humour, the humbling toning of the mind as it loses its hardy grip on the attention.

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4’33” March 10, 2013

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March 10, 2013

Audio

Location: Gyro Park playground, Victoria BC

Set up: Black music stand, facing SSW

Score: hand drawn from the Peters Edition, 3 sections Tacet: 33″, 2’40”, 1’20”, Copied from digitized image of Cage’s handwritten score from 1960

Instrument: Breath

Conditions: Mild changing wind, spits of rain, less than a drizzle

Audience: parents and children, a photographer, people walking on beach, some with dogs.

Recording: wind sounds, low level.

Readings: Zen readings, Dropping Ashes on the Buddha: The Teaching of Zen Master Seung Sahn, Compiled and edited by Stephen Mitchell.

“Your true self has no inside, no outside.
Sound is clear mind; clear mind is sound.
Sound and hearing are not separate.
There is only sound.”

Perceptions:

Softness,

Again, the sudden shift into focused listening. This happens immediately now. Observing this shift, a contemplation of the difference in inherent listening practices between long soundwalks, meditation sessions, retreats in silence, informal daily listening. This timing, 4’33”, lends itself to something similar and different – durational considerations of arbitrariness, brevity, sudden focused attention, commercial songs.

Listening and seeing the sailboats drift by in a row in a distance, like toys bouncing. Partly from the reminder from the Soen Sa Nim books, likely, I was reminded of Cage’s famous quote in response to the question about whether there was not too much suffering in the world, to which Cage responded, there is just the right amount of suffering. A realization of this level of acceptance brings a moment of great peace. Listening can do this. Even in this short span of time.

Today, some of the previous editions of this performance of 4’33” were there too – not the sounds, but memory of my attention. Driving to this location, I wondered what impact this weekly practice, would have on my listening. This brought me, for the first time, to thinking about the end of the year’s practice, and I suddenly felt such a strong feeling of sadness, that I would deeply miss these outings with Cage and this piece.

In a more cultural context, I pondered this event more critically. I thought about photos of Cage performing in the 1950’s, around the time of 4’33”, and having reviewed some of the photos of me performing this piece, I had some thoughts about “how it looks”. A past middle-aged fat mother dressed in gardening clothes lugging around a music stand and audio recorder each week to play this iconic pristine piece somewhere. Huge deep belly laugh.

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4’33” March 3, 2013

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March 3, 2013

Audio

Location: Dallas Road W of Paddon, E side of boat pond. Set up: Score clipped to tree branches, facing WNW

Score: hand drawn from the Peters Edition, 3 sections Tacet: 33″, 2’40”, 1’20”, Copied from digitized image of Cage’s handwritten score from 1960

Instrument: Ocarina

Conditions: Partly sunny, some cloud, brisk air, gentle breeze. Traffic.

Audience: Steady passersby on park trail and Dallas sidewalk. Also drivers.

Photos: Video by Grace Salez, photos by Grace Salez.

Recording: from ground level

Readings: Kyle Gann’s No Such Thing As Silence: John Cage’s 4’33″, in particular, an account of Cage’s was thinking about and finally writing 4’33”. Confusion about the exact timing of the score, also because of various versions and other artists’ memories, and Cage’s shifting memories. It is evident that Cage’s experiences teaching at Black Mountain College and his session(s?) in the new Harvard anechoic chamber session deepened his path toward realizing the piece, after discussions with Rauchenberg about the white paintings … Cage’s observation that the white paintings lead the viewer to realize the shadows, the dust, all the visual and movement elements around the white canvass. Cage’s compulsion to fill the need in the music world that the visual arts recognized, for a freeing of the conventional practices of the discipline toward a disciplined awareness of what simply IS.

Perceptions: This was a difficult performance. I am noticing more the varying levels of challenge in performing – my attention state, what is happening, if someone is with me or not. The weight of these distractions correlates to how far I am from a deeply present awareness state. The continuum of listening through filters, the range of interferences in attention, such as pain, thinking, hunger, discomfort, other people’s actions, stress, lack of sleep, etc. Although there was more challenge in this edition with listening, it was visually very very beautiful. I had forgotten to take the music stand out of the car when I was dropped off. I have been enjoying the juxtaposition of the stand in the various environments. Now, on reflection, I see how different the context and statement is, whether or not the music stand, and what it implies, is present. How it also determines in some part my own intention and stance. The decision by Grace Salez to make a video also heightened my visual perceptions – her way of seeing awakened my own.

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4’33” February 24, 2013

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February 24, 2013

Audio

Location: Victoria, Tuscany Village basement parking garage, across from Thrifty Foods exit escalator, just in front of maintenance door, alongside yellow marked walkway.

Set up: facing Southeast

Score: hand drawn from the Peters Edition, 3 sections Tacet: 33″, 2’40”, 1’20”, Copied from digitized image of Cage’s handwritten score from 1960

Instrument: Ocarina

Conditions: Grey cold day, cold air drifting down the ramp from outside into the parking garage area.

Audience: people in cars coming and going, people walking to and from cars with and without grocery carts.

Perceptions: This was an exciting fabulous version. It referenced previous versions … during its performance, sonic memory of the Fernwood-Belfry version and others came clearly to mind – the shapes and movements – in a musical way. During this version, I recognized my musical training and musical memory seeping in to try to shape the sound … in a descriptive but formal way. As in … seeing instruments playing, imagining an orchestra and the crescendi and diminuendi of various low and high instruments, strings, bass … rhythmic lines, builds, climaxes. Here in the parking garage below Tuscany Village, the sounds were so full, exciting and energizing. This inner experience was similar to being in a very dynamic, inspiring, energetic concert in an acoustically pristine hall. An experience in which one can’t help but comply with the mouth making a wide grin and the eyes extending their openness. I recognized that these sensations – memories were an illustration of mind, an attempt to frame this experience in that musical context, to give a carpet of reference, a safety blanket, a reaching to find context and reference points. A desire for the mind to entertain itself. Does the excitement of the sounds and their interplay have a relationship with musical context, my experience and training with musical form and content? Of course it does. There is no form or context of listening that is free from these or any other associations. All I can do is to listen as freely as possible, to be as completely devoid as possible from the need for association or context. The experience of this performance was viscerally very powerful. My breathing changed, my body was charged, I was ready to exclaim loudly in applause or to dance or go do something exuberant. It was very exciting and pleasant and edgy and pointedly strong and good. The sounds of the drone of some kind of electrical system sounded throughout, sometimes overcome by the sounds of car engines, doors slamming and echoing in the space. A horn, clatter of grocery carts. Cars receding and approaching, sounds of tires, people walking. All sounds present, distinct, clear, intact. All very very good.

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4’33” February 17, 2013

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February 17, 2013

Audio    

Location: Yates Street water park, Victoria, BC

Set up: Black music stand, various orientations.

Score: hand drawn from the Peters Edition, 3 sections Tacet: 33″, 2’40”, 1’20”, Copied from digitized image of Cage’s handwritten score from 1960

Instrument: Ocarina

Conditions: Sunny with some clouds. Crisp cool air, gentle breeze.

Audience: Many people. Sunday strollers, tourists discovering the waterfront, artists and new art aficionados who had attended performance art events the previous two nights, young nomads with back packs, resting on the rocks in the sun, gathering homeless folk who meet at this park each Sunday for hot food. A rich and varied congregation.

Perceptions: 4’33” was performed this week in the context of an Open Action Victoria monthly public performance. Open Action events usually last for about one hour, and consist of each artist’s individual response to a specific site, performed simultaneously and without consultation. For this occasion, I decided to combine the performance of 4’33” with my participation in the Open Action event. 4’33” was performed eight times over the hour from different perspectives in the setting. (Audio is from the first and last versions.) At the end of this hour of focused 4’33” performance, I felt extraordinarily elated and effervescent energizing an underlying stillness, calmness, serenity. This was one of the most exhilarating performances I have experienced. Listening / performing the piece from different perspectives, locations, in the small park area – facing the water, or facing groups people, or standing against stone, or amongst trees, or for one version laying down with the music stand at an angle. Many people viewed the score and asked about it. Some witnesses who happened to be in the park listened with me for parts of the piece. Others nodded, or gave thumbs up about ‘just listening’, gesturing all around and up and down with their eyes. An indigenous man, who might have been a street dweller, talked to me about listening. Like with others, much deep eye contact, clear open gaze, beautiful words about listening to earth, to sky. Later, after I had finished performing, he approached to give me a cedar heart, “for your listening”. I bow to him for his listening.

Listening in proximity of others, for others, with others, in spite of others. shifting perspective, traffic, gulls, johnson street bridge, planes, talking, wind, overall textures, details, transitions, conjunctions, beautiful moments, rhythms.

Gratitude.

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4’33” February 10, 2013

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Location: New Brighton Park overlooking Burrard Inlet, Vancouver, BC

Audio

Set up: Black music stand facing NNE, against a large boulder on the edge of the shore, facing the mountain range to the North across the Burrard Inlet.

Score: handmade from the Peters Edition, 3 sections Tacet: 33″, 2’40”, 1’20”

Performers: Randy Raine-Reusch and Tina Pearson

Instruments: ocarinas

Conditions: Sunny, with some cloud, mild breeze.

Audience: Passers by along the trail.

Photos: by Randy Raine-Reusch and Tina Pearson

Readings, discussions: Discussions and listening with Randy the past days, culminating in this performance. We had a listening walk the previous day along the Stanley Park Northwest seawall, watching patterns, listening and talking about listening, seeing and layers of perception. Layers of sounds merging with patterns of wind and water shaped sand, rocks placed by force of surf or by human play or sense of order, gulls, crows and seabirds among the sea vegetation and clouds of sea lice. Listening with the eyes.

Perceptions: Realizing this piece with such a deep, multidimensional listener as Randy brings it home. A very deeply settled performance, accepting the subtle but powerful rumblings of the ships and trucks in the distant waters and roadways, the muffled bird calls, people talking and walking. These layers too, with the sense of vibration under our feet and movement in the clouds.

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4’33” February 3, 2013

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February 3, 2013

Audio

Location: Mt. Doug Park, off Clendenning parking area, bushy area to NE

Set up: fold up music stand, facing ENE

Score: handmade from the Peters Edition, 3 sections Tacet: 33″, 2’40”, 1’20”

Instrument: ocarina

Conditions: mild, still, no wind

Audience: a few people and kids and dogs on the trail

Photos: by Lyssa Pearson

Perceptions: Relative quiet. In the distance, kids playing in background, low rumble of traffic, aircraft overhead. The distraction of pain in body. Memories of previous Sundays’ 4’33” float in and merge with this time and place. The recognition of the progression of the pieces and/or their juxtaposition / superimposition as an intact unit.

Later, talking with George Tzanetakis about Cage, the particular duration of 4’33” and its relationship to muzak and radio pop songs, how 4’33” manifested itself, through Cage, the way it did in 1952. It was the time and place and context for it, the right moment. Other public performances, with 4’33” and its reverberations known, do not hold the same caché.

I am reaching the crucial resentment stage. Up to now I have been deeply enjoying this series of mini listening retreats of precisely four minutes and thirty three seconds each week. For the first time in this process, I questioned why I was keeping on with this. Like in a Zen retreat – thinking suddenly it would be best to just get up and leave. A very good moment. Now it can begin.

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4’33” January 27, 2013

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January 27, 2013

Audio

Tuscany Village, walkway between residence and stores, breezeway.

Set up: black music stand, facing NE

Score: handmade from the Peters Edition, 3 sections Tacet: 33″, 2’40”, 1’20”

Instrument:Flute

Conditions: Very windy, cold, raining. Score blowing and fluttering, gusts of wind shaking the music stand.

Audience: People shopping, walking in parking lot, entering and exiting the condominium stairway in the walkway.

Perceptions: Listening in this corridor brought very close intimacy with the few people who came through it – both with the sense of them and probably for them of me, and sonically. The resonance of the space was very live. At the same time, there was an intense awareness, both viscerally and sonically, of what was just outside this corridor, open at both ends. The parking lot and busy street beyond it on one end, and the grass and quiet residential street on the other end. Three distinct blocks of listening.

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4’33” January 20, 2013

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January 20, 2013

Audio

Location: Mt Douglas Park, downstream Mt Douglas Creek, right on the beach near the water, and near the stream entering the ocean, same stream as last week.

Set up: fold up stand, facing East, Southeast.

Score: handmade from the Peters Edition, 3 sections Tacet: 33″, 2’40”, 1’20”

Instrument: voice

Conditions: cold, windy, cloudy

Audience: people walking on beach

Photos: by Lyssa Pearson

Perceptions: The preparations, the driving, walking to the location of the performance, unpacking the score, the audio recorder, setting up the music stand  … each consideration a part of the act of listening, the preparation for performing listening, listening, showing that listening is happening, listening to the performance of listening. With these gulls.

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4’33” January 13, 2013

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January 13

Audio

Location: Mt Douglas Park, Mt. Douglas stream approaching final outflow to beach, eddy where fish swarm during spawn.

Set up: black music stand, set into stream, recorder propped on log, along with glass and mallet.

Score: handmade from the Peters Edition, 3 sections Tacet: 33″, 2’40”, 1’20”

Instrument: one glass with mallet

Conditions: mild, some breeze.

Audience: people on trail above

Photos: by Lyssa Pearson

Recording: yes

Perceptions: a different kind of focus with someone else present and taking photos.

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4’33” January 6, 2013

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January 6, 2013

Audio

Location: Mt. Douglas Park, lower parking lot (near Ash Road), cedar grove between parking area and cliff.

Set up: black music stand, stool with black scarf, glass, mallet, recorder at some distance East facing East to Ocean. Stand = also facing East, (ESE)

Score: handmade from the Peters Edition, 3 sections Tacet: 33″, 2’40”, 1’20”

Instrument: One glass with mallet

Conditions: Mild, high cloud, moist, very still (no wind)

Audience: A few strollers and dog walkers, noticed.

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Readings: Some Kyle Gann

Perceptions: There is an interesting difference when one prepares to perform an instrument before such a piece as this, and when one is simply listening. The music notation, the stand and the instrument are props, triggers to signify a performance, but the preparation to perform is one of the most challenging parts of the piece. I have yet to make this a graceful internal movement … from the preparation of the instrument to the performance of listening. I will think more about it.

This piece, observing as a listener, was full of big fluffy transitions. During the second movement, distractions from pain, stiffness and fatigue were present. There is something about this kind of listening that makes it hard to ignore the state of body and mind. I notice that as soon as I am ready, starting the piece, my breathing shifts dramatically. I don’t tell my self to notice my breathing, or slow it. On its own, it becomes very deep. I believe this puts me more inside my body, thus I am not as able to ignore its signals.

People walking their dogs and themselves noticed the performance, slowed down. This brought a pleasant feeling. I noticed a disconnect between the pristine visual environment and its sonic presence. There was dense traffic sound from both the air and the road, even though the raven calls and other bird sounds were evident, resonating somewhere beyond the traffic din.

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4’33” December 30, 2012

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December 30, 2012

Audio

Location: Uptown Mall, upper parking area near escalators, Victoria, BC

Set up: Score pinned to construction fencing, facing Northwest and escalators

Score: handmade from the Peters Edition, 3 sections Tacet: 33″, 2’40”, 1’20”

Instrument: Breathing

Conditions: Mild, cloudy, no rain, gentle wind. Idle No More drumming was happening in the courtyard below the location, winding down from the demonstration held earlier.

Audience: Steady stream of passersby going to and from parking area, people in vehicles in parking area.

Recording: Added subsequent 10′ soundwalk recording down escalators around mall and continuing drumming, down elevator to car. Highlights: high subtle tinkling sound at escalator (on the way down), shopping cart sound near entry to Walmart and parking area, elevator, drumming.

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Readings: Kyle Gann 4;33″, particularly history of American music and its relationship to Europe and the idea of indigeneity – meaning not First Nations, but an indigenous American (continental) music; the precursors Cowell, Harrison, Ives … and the art / music landscape of the time … listening to environmental sound, and any sound. The sound of this place here and now. Recognizing that 4’33” was composed before Cage visited and studied the practices of Asian mystics.

Perceptions: 4’33” length, muzak, jingles, pop songs. Doing this Cage piece in the context of having been at the Idle No More chanting and drumming. Provokes thoughts about placement, belonging, context, appropriateness, appropriation, usefulness, and what really matters in the end.

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4’33” December 23, 2012

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December 23, 2012

Audio

Location: Fernwood, Belfry plaza, Victoria BC, near Belfry building, facing Northeast.

Score: handmade from the Peters Edition, 3 sections Tacet: 33″, 2’40”, 1’20”

Instrument: Voice, Movement.

Set up: Score propped on black gear bag. Zoom recorder in alcove.

Conditions: Very windy, gusty and steady, cold, slight drizzle.

Audience: Passersby, patrons of a restaurant across from performance area, traffic including bus.

Perceptions: Each time I perform this piece, I sink very quickly into the sound. The first 33 seconds … a kind of settling in. Something always happens – well, of course something always happens, but there is some point of focused introductory interest or movement that I notice (or that I need to notice as anchoring my attention), that sets things up. The second movement, the longest, has much depth and variety. The last movement is bittersweet, as I know the piece will come to its end, and the recording stopped, the score packed, the listening attention shifted as I get back to the movement of my day. It still seems so short – each week, I long to be immersed in this kind of listening more regularly, every day, for longer periods. Like soundwalks or zen retreats. What 4’33” gives is acute attention and focus, and adds the performative aspect. This day, scouting where best to place the performance, I tagged an intention to come back to this location, in milder weather, to perform on the stairs facing Fernwood street, with a music stand and flute. This will be glorious.

I am thinking about this preliminary set of performances of 4’33” as rehearsals. As I settle into the project, and become more adept at setting up the score, getting the timer arranged, placing the score and the audio recorder in the best locations, and focus my attention, I am more able to switch into deep listening mode each time. My awareness of possibly being observed, or something going amiss, is not in the foreground. Experiences with performing the past few years with anonymous and unannounced listening interventions, soundwalking and performing with the Open Action group has instilled a buffer against the self-consciousness of guerilla-performing in public spaces.

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Readings:

Kyle Gann’s 4’33” book, passages about the three sections / movements of 4’33”, David Tudor’s comments about the first performance and what was heard.

Thinking about perspectives within the same small area, in the same time. Mine is different than that of those in the restaurant, different than that of the Zoom audio recorder.

Thinking about holding the form and the space for listening. That a performer can perform this piece powerfully enough to provide enhanced listening for those not even aware that the piece is going on around them.

 

4’33” December 16, 2012

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December 16, 2012

Audio

Location: Centennial Square, Victoria BC, East side of water fountain, facing west, central patio area.

Score: handmade from the Peters Edition, 3 sections Tacet: 33″, 2’40”, 1’20”

Instrument: Voice

Set up: Score propped on black gear bag, Zoom recorder in set.

Conditions: Mild, cloudy, medium wind.

Audience: Passersby, bicyclists, traffic.

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4’33” December 9, 2012

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December 9, 2012

Audio

Location: Quadra Mackenzie Plaza, Victoria, BC, corridor on Northwest side, between Liquor Store and Chinese Restaurant and street, under overhang.

Score: handmade from the Peters Edition, 3 sections Tacet: 33″, 2’40″, 1’20″

Instrument: flute

Set up: Score on music stand, facing Mackzenzie Avenue, North

Conditions: Raining steadily, cold, moderate to mild wind.

Audience: Traffic on Mackenzie

Perceptions: The acoustics of this covered corridor created a resonant listening space, emphasizing the panning effect from passing traffic. Listening within this alive space was energizing, despite the cold damp grey of the day. The upper frequency spectrum was particularly lively.

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4’33” December 2, 2012

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Location: Topaz Park, children’s playground

Score: handmade from the Peters Edition, 3 sections Tacet: 33″, 2’40″, 1’20″

Instrument: Voice

Set up: Score propped on leg of swing set, on SE edge of playground area, on bark mulch. Facing Northwest

Conditions: Sunny, cold, blustery wind.

Audience: Very distant, a few people walking dogs.

Performer: Tina

Perceptions: Again, sinking into the deliciousness of listening to the sound, it seems so short. Making it more and more focussed each time.

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4’33” November 11, 2012

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November 11, 2012

Audio

Location: Clover Point, Victoria, BC, Score: handmade from the Peters Edition, 3 sections Tacet: 33″, 2’40”, 1’20”.

Instrument: Flute

Set up: on the stone platform surrounding the whale monument, facing approximately Southeast.

Weather: Very windy, cold, slight rain. Blustery.

Performance Surroundings and Conditions: Challenges getting the score to stay on the music stand. Finally set up, with recording running, timer ready, clock ready. Before starting, while setting up, two men approached and asked if it would bother me if they had a press conference there for the Green Party candidate running in the Victoria by-election. I told them I would only be about 10 minutes. They received a call that those in charge had decided that the location of the press conference should instead be down below, nearer the water. I saw them a few minutes later, a gathering under a number of green umbrellas.

Performance: I was very focused. The first 33″ section was exciting, with the thrill of beginning any performance, on time, with one’s wits in good order. I had decided that, similar to how Tudor performed the premiere, I would put my flute to my lips when ready, then put the flute in relaxed mode when the piece began – when I pressed the START button on the timer. The second movement was wonderful, full of sounds, my listening was deeper and more focused. I noticed that, as in all situations when listening is in the foreground of attention, in a globally focused way, that a tenderness and multidimensional sense of interest and wonder infused my consciousness – the particular synchronicities of the sounds near and far, with the wind and clouds was glorious. The third movement was similar, with a bit more urgency, with the anticipation of the end and a feeling of success. At one point I thought the music stand would blow over. Two simultaneous thoughts: One that I should make sure that it did not happen, and try to save the day by keeping my foot on the stand’s base; the other that it would be very grand for the whole thing to topple over in the wind with the sheet music flying off like the birds and the kites below, and wouldn’t John Cage love that.

Recording: Very windy

Audience: There were a number of people around the park, it is likely that some of them noticed me, dressed in an ankle length black coat, with a music stand and flute, coat flaps and hair and sheet music blowing about.

November 11, 2012

At noon local time, wherever you are on November 11, 2012, gather at a park near you or anywhere you wish to be with a musical instrument and perform John Cage’s iconic 1952 composition 4’33″.In Victoria, we will gather at the grass above Clover Point parking lot and in Vancouver at English Bay Beach.Everyone is welcome to participate, by performing or attending.Irwin Kremen on the original score (in proportional notation): http://johncagetrust.blogspot.ca/2012/01/on-score-of-433-original-version-in.html

Link to an available version of the score for purchase or viewing: http://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/4-33/1008430

An aspect of this score could be said to encourage listening without judgement. Listen to the world around you, listen to your heart, listen to all the sounds you have heard, listen to all that you have ever heard, will hear, have not heard, listen to everything at once without identifying it, labeling it or judging it as good or bad.

“No day goes by without my making use of that piece [4’33”] in my life and in my work. I listen to it every day. . . . I don’t sit down to do it. I turn my attention toward it. I realize that it’s going on continuously. More than anything, it is the source of my enjoyment of life. . . . Music is continuous. It is only we who turn away.”
–John Cage in conversation with William Duckworth

Please post locations and any documentation from other centres athttps://www.facebook.com/Cages433OnNov11th

A project of LaSaM Music and HMR3 Productions