Tea With Chris: No Such Thing as Silence

Tea With Chris is a roundup of recommended links, posted every Thursday. Here are a few of our favourite things from the Internet this week:

Carl: The dawn of the school year is a nice time to think about anniversaries and cultural heroes and such. This revisionist look at Roxy Music on the 40th anniversary of their debut, by Simon Reynolds, suggests that the band’s glam image has overshadowed the actual power of its early ways of detouring prog rock, to the point where many would object to Roxy & prog being mentioned in the same breath. (Also a friend mentioned this week the odd fact that early Roxy went totally unsung in most of America, up till the days of Avalon, except in Ohio, where the freaks of Akron [Devo, Tin Huey] and Cleveland [Pere Ubu et al] listened closely. I’m not positive but I suspect that Toronto and Montreal also should be listed as exceptions – can I get any witnesses?)

Meanwhile, everyone is celebrating what would have been John Cage’s 100th birthday, including these 33 musicians (whose insights, er, vary) and the Guelph Jazz Festival this weekend. To hold your own celebration, perhaps you should turn your phone-devices into prepared pianos or read Kyle Gann’s lovely little book about “the silent piece” (pointedly titled No Such Thing as Silence), or watch this BBC doc wonderfully called Here’s a Piano I Prepared Earlier (not just about Cage but about the 1960s notational avant-garde in general).

Queer rock hero Freddie Mercury would have been 66 this week. Here’s a nice little essay about his other secret identity, “Farrokh Bulsara, a demure, bucktoothed Indian boy in a Bombay boarding school, listening to Lata Mangeshkar, playing cricket.”

Finally, this post about the “Slow Web” reminded me of the “Untimely Talk” part of B2TW’s own mandate/ifesto and made me eager to try the apps it talks about, such as “the only task management tool I’ve come across with the potential to help you realize you’re working on the wrong thing. “

Chris: My tea is all Cagean too, though not in the sense that you could play it as an instrument. Here is the “inventor of genius” (as Schoenberg put it, while unfairly dissing his compositional abilities) talking about silence near the end of his life; discussing collaboration, and sometimes approaching flirtation, with longtime partner Merce Cunningham; and distantly present in one version of the 4’33” score, below.

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