John Cage: Sound of Silence

“Wherever we are, what we hear is mostly noise.  When we ignore it, it disturbs us.  When we listen to it, we find it fascinating” John Cage



As the title describes, the piece consists of 4 minutes and 33 seconds of what can be considered silence, however 4”33” isn’t silent at all. The performance has since been covered by many, but mainly consists of one performer coming to the stage and sitting at a grand piano. The piece is played in three different lengths of silence with the performer opening the piano, not playing any keys, occasionally turning some music pages, closing the piano, bowing and leaving the stage. Cage comments on the idea that all sound is music, and he achieves this by highlighting the built environments sounds within the duration of the piece shifting attention from the stage to the audience and even beyond the location of the performance. The audience becomes aware of the sounds that would usually go unnoticed providing a somewhat intimate and unique ambience as the audience combines as a collective to create the content for the piece. The sounds which occur during the piece are in no way from the composer. Each performance is a matter of chance as no sounds will occur in the same circumstance.


K2Orch. (2013). 4’33” John Cage(Orchestra with Soloist, K2Orch, Live) / 4分33秒 ジョン・ケージ けつおけ!. [Online Video]. 8 December 2013. Available from: [Accessed: 3 May 2017].

WILL HERMES. 2000. The Story Of ‘4’33″‘. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 3 May 2017].

Scott Timberg. 2012. John Cage’s reach extended well beyond experimental music. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 3 May 2017].


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