Imaginary Landscape No. IV
John Cage
Brief description of the work:
A composition for radios. Cage decided on rhythms and sequences using traditional notation. The resulting piece remained unplanned, because the sound depended upon the place and time of the performance, broadcast frequencies and radio programmes.
Materials, dimensions, duration:
12 radios, 24 performers and conductor. Duration: 4'
Location (venue & dates, public/ private):
Premiered in May 1951 at McMillin Theater, Columbia University, New York, US
Audience information (size, mode of participation):
Experienced in a traditional theatre/ concert hall setting.
Other information (reviews, collaborators, funders):
Released 01.01.2002 as a recording on the album John Cage: Will You Give Me to Tell You, (Cikada Duo) 5:22
Floorplan, scheme:
sample of notation (photo by John Cage)
Visual/ audio-visual reference:
Key theme(s):
Listening to systems in action; observing one's awareness of listening
Further context:


1 min clip from Imaginary Landscape No. IV

In Imaginary Landscape No. IV, as in many other compositons, Cage tried to define a mechanism that would exclude any intentionality a composer might have. As he said:

"...one may give up the desire to control sound, clear his mind of music, and set about discovering means to let sounds be themselves rather than vehicles for man made theories or expressions of human sentiments. This project will seem fearsome to many, but on examination it gives no cause for alarm. Hearing sounds which are just sounds immediately sets the theorising mind to theorising and the emotions of human beings are continuously aroused by encounters with nature. [...] These responses to nature are mine and will not necessarily correspond with another's. Emotion takes place in the person who has it. And sounds, when allowed to be themselves, do not require that those who hear them do so unfeelingly. The opposite is what is meant by response ability. New music: new listening. Not an attempt to understand something that is being said, for, if something were being said, the sounds would be given the shape of words. Just an attention to the activity of sounds."

John Cage, from 'Experimental music', an address to the convention of the Music Teachers National Association in Chicago 1957, printed in a brochure accompanying George AvakianŐs recording of John Cage's 25 year retrospective concert New York Town Hall 1958.
(in John Cage, Silence, Lectures and Writings, Marion Boyars, London, p.9, f.)