Cage Against the Machine
Cage Against the Machine is a campaign to get John Cage’s landmark conceptual composition 4’33” - a three-movement piece for any combination of instruments where the performers are instructed not to play for its entire duration – to Christmas Number One instead of X-Factor winner Matt Cardle. What began, according to campaign founder Dave Hilliard, as something of a jokey response to last year’s successful grassroots bid for Rage Against the Machine to take the Christmas Number One spot has generated a surprising amount of public support and press attention. The C.A.T.M. Facebook page now has almost 90,000 fans, articles have appeared everywhere from The Mirror to Mixmag (not to mention interesting, illuminating comment pieces by Norman Lebrecht and Tom Service), and the piece has climbed download charts quite rapidly in the last week.
Dave and co-founder Julie Hilliard decided that all proceeds from the campaign will be donated to charity, and we’re delighted that Sound and Music has been selected to be one of them – together with some very worthy causes in The Campaign Against Living Miserably, Youth Music, The British Tinnitus Association and Nordoff Robbins. Besides this generous contribution, though, C.A.T.M. brings some important ideas and debates to greater public attention. Firstly, it is a continuation of what the Rage Against the Machine campaign achieved last year as a playful way to dislodge the X-Factor behemoth from - in the words of Mark Fisher - its “full spectrum dominance of entertainment media”. It expresses in some way the public’s dissatisfaction with the turgid balladeering from the Cowell songbook and opens a space for alternatives – or at least raises the possibility. It’s a reminder that we’re active participants in culture.
Secondly, Cage Against the Machine takes another worthwhile step in bringing avant-garde practices and ideas more widespread consideration. 4’33” is a piece that makes us think about the act of listening and the sound of our environment, and raises questions about our expectations of music and performance. Putting Cage in competition with Cardle shows these issues continue to be relevant and can be debated and understood by everyone, not just those in the lecture hall or at the proverbial dinner party. It’s the same approach that we take in promoting experimental work at Sound and Music, so:
CAGE FOR CHRISTMAS NUMBER ONE!
Get John Cage to Christmas Number 1 by visiting the Cage Against the Machine website or Facebook Page, and following the download links.