Opinion: John Cage, Silence, and pop music

Containing small print, unique punctuation, lists of questions, and other means of presentation, Cage's writing, like his music, is often dense and unconventional. One benefits from taking it at whatever pace is necessary for understanding. It's anything but "pop" which may be creative and somewhat rebellious, but is rarely unconventional. "Pop" being defined here as a type of music that is easy for a majority of people to listen to (popular). If music is created for simple pleasure, it follows that pop music is great. If, however, music, is more and does more, isn't pop mostly just music's form of stagnation?

“What is the purpose of writing music? One is, of course, not dealing with purposes but dealing with sounds. Or the answer must take the form of a paradox: a purposeful purposeless or a purposeless play. This play, however, is an affirmation of life--not an attempt to bring order out of chaos nor to suggest improvements in creation, but simply a way of waking up to the very life we’re living, which is so excellent once one gets one’s mind and one’s desires out of its way and lets it act of its own accord.” 

I had the privilege to attend part of a recent John Cage city-wide event in Philadelphia earlier this year. A thought developed between hearing the music and rereading Silence that involved the evolution of musical taste and tolerance. Certain Cage compositions are produced by chance operations that don't always result in harmony. They sound unpleasant to many. His music is meant to, among other things, represent the same combination of sounds created by seemingly chance operations in the world.

If Cage is correct in his assertion that music is everywhere and life can be better enjoyed by reducing the barriers we create about what music is, shouldn't we push ourselves to progress by abandoning that which we find easy to listen to? Isn't growth and progress usually preceded by discomfort? If we avoid pop music and push ourselves to enjoy less typical rhythm and harmony are we doing ourselves a favor or denying a simple pleasure of life?

Like, most things it appears to be a balance. Cage's music wasn't all random and displeasant to unaccustomed ears. We like music because it is a human creation, a celebration of us. Unlike contrived music, the music/sounds of life and nature are bigger than us. A little of both and the recognition of the differences; not of sound and music, but of human contrived music and the music of life, could be a good thing.