[Dixielandjazz] Re: Art

Edgerton, Paul A paul.edgerton at eds.com
Tue Dec 2 15:28:50 PST 2003

Dan Spisak wrote:
> John Cage killed my interest in defining music or art: i.e., any 
> sound can be music.

This is interesting because it provides us with a test. Cage's 4'33"
specifies what WILL NOT be heard during its performance, specifically
anything from the performer of the "work." It doesn't tell us what will be
heard, and the human auditory process is such that whatever happens to be
present in the environment is what will be heard. So in this case, neither
the composer nor the performer have any control over what is heard.

I would argue that this is not art in exactly the same way that a sunset is
not art. There has been no human selection or interpretation. What you hear
during a "performance" of 4'33" may be interesting -- or not. But either
way, the composer and the performer had nothing to do with it.

Now might some other Aleatoric (chance) composition qualify as art?
Certainly. The composer specifies some, but not all of the performance
parameters. The others are left to the taste and skill of the performer.
Which is pretty much the same thing happening in Jazz, isn't it?

So by my standard, human selection or interpretation, Jazz is art. And those
same standards provide the beginning of way to evaluate the quality of art.

Paul Edgerton,
who has been on vacation, and is rested and ready for an argument.

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