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  • Writer's pictureCorrina Crazie Espinosa

Exquisite Corpse Soundscape

Updated: Feb 22

Exquisite Corpse Soundscape - Each of you will be responsible for recording 5 random sounds from your life (10-60 seconds). It can be anything from coffee brewing, or birds chirping to noisy neighbors or chatty roommates DO NOT EDIT THE SOUNDS. Title your sounds and place them in our shared folder on Google Drive. Using a minimum of 10 sounds from the folder, create a sound composition with the software introduced in class. For your individual composition you may edit the sounds, or use them as they are. Make sure to include a wide variety of noises so that there is a diverse mixture of sounds in your composition. Composition length is 4:33, can you guess why?

Exquisite Corpse was invented in 1925 in Paris by the surrealists Yves Tanguy, Jacques Prévert, André Breton and Marcel Duchamp. It was made popular by the Dada movement. Dada Developed in reaction to World War I, the Dada movement consisted of artists who rejected the logic, reason, and aestheticism of modern capitalist society, instead expressing nonsense, irrationality, and anti-bourgeois protest in their works. The art of the movement began primarily as performance[9] art, but eventually spanned visual, literary, and sound media, including collage, sound poetry, cut-up writing, and sculpture.

Let's start with..... a toilet

Who knows what this "art" piece is called, who "made" it, and why it is so important?

is this art?

is this good art?

why or why not?

Meet Marcel Duchamp, and the concepts of ready-made, found object, idea above hand and the authority of the artist.

So.... It Fountain Art?

Is it good art?

Why or why not?

What impact did Fountain have on the art world?

What mentality or mode of thinking was introduced with the readymade?

What impact did Fountain have on the art world?

What is the impact on the contemporary art world?

Does this shift your opinion of the piece?

How is Fountain related to the images below?

Okay, okay... enough about toilets. Let's talk about sound and music....

John Cage

Imagine it's 1952. Before DJs before Remix, before raves and lofi beats, right before the King of Rock and Roll (Elvis Presley) started gyrating his hips and a handful of years before the Beatles started making young girls scream at the very sight of them, before the Doors, Led Zeppelin, Johnny Cash, Pink Floyd, and Frank Zappa-- Long before House, and Techno, and EDM there was John Cage. Take yourself back before music became what it is today, and imagine you are going to a concert. You don't go out much, and you paid a pretty penny for these tickets, you are excited to see and hear a real good musical showcase. Perhaps you have a date, or you are attending with friends and family. Imagine you walk into the theater, take your seat... and this is the show that unfolds before you. What is your reaction. What do you do? What is this all about?

"Everything we do is music." JC

John cage did for music was Marcel Duchamp did for art. He opened the doors for remix, electronic music. Without John Cage music would not be what it is today.

John Cage (September 5, 1912 – August 12, 1992) was an artist, composer, music theorist, and philosopher. He was a pioneer of indeterminacy in music (a composing practice in which some parts of a musical work are left up to chance or to the interpreter's choice. John Cage explained it as "the ability of a piece to be performed in substantially different ways"). Cage was also a pioneer of electroacoustic music, and the usage of musical instruments in a non traditional manner. Critics have credited him as one of the most influential (and controversial) composers of the 20th century.

Cage is most famous for his 1952 composition 4′33″, which is performed in the without the use of deliberate sound; musicians who perform the number don't actually play any notes, but simply sit for the duration specified by the title (4:33). The "song" is not "four minutes and 33 seconds of silence," as is often assumed, but is made up of the sounds of the environment heard by the audience during the performance. The piece challenges the assumed definitions of what makes music and made it a popular and controversial topic both in musicology and the broader aesthetics of art and performance.

"In 1952, it was performed first at Woodstock, N.Y. and many in the audience were indignant. It was in a hall called the Maverick Hall, which is out in the woods near Woodstock, and one could hear the wind in the trees during the first movement - there are three movements altogether. In the second, you could hear some raindrops - it began to rain - and in the third movement, you heard only people who were indignant, and many of whom were walking out. So it made a three movement sonata."

From the MOMA -- "Cage saw silence as a way to attune audiences to the soundtrack of everyday life, to bring them to consider all the sounds around them as music, thus undoing the idea of a hierarchy of sound, opening up the infinite possibilities of ambient sound, and rethinking the very notion of what music is. As a piece of music that cannot be controlled by the composer and which is necessarily different every time it is performed, 4'33" also exemplifies Cage’s interest in using chance as a compositional strategy."

Get the 4'33 App on you phone:

Cage was also a pioneer of the prepared piano (a piano with its sound altered by objects placed between or on its strings or hammers), for which he wrote numerous dance-related works and a few concert pieces. The best known of these is Sonatas and Interludes.

pictured: Cage preparing a piano, in 1947.Photograph by Irving Penn / © 1947 (Renewed 1975) CondÉ Nast Publications Inc.

In a 1957 lecture, Experimental Music, he described music as "a purposeless play" which 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".

John Cage career and love life-- courage to be true to himself, no matter.

There are many admirable things about John Cage, but one of them is his bravery and courage to stay true to himself no matter what. Frustration was a huge part of Cage’s strives in the music world. He was controversial, and that is a hard path to take. People didn't understand him, they sometimes reacted to his work with baffled terrible reviews and even laughter. He struggled to earn a living and be taken seriously as a composer. For decades, he was his own booking agent and personally asked people to help underwrite his concerts. He struggled valiantly to establish a center for new music at Cornish School, Bennington College, and Mills College—all to no avail. Tellingly, he wrote to young a composer: “I never made enough money [from my music]to live on until I was fifty. Interrupted my music in order to do odd jobs in order to eat, etc.” And yet he persisted, and in doing so he changed the world of music forever.

Not only in his determination to pursue his passion in art and music, which he did diligently and for his whole life long, but also with matters of the heart. John cage was openly gay during a time in American History when being so was beyond difficult, it could be downright dangerous. Now, he didn't talk about it publicly, and he wasn't shouting if from the rooftop, but he embraced his love of choreographer Merce Cunningham, who would be his life long love-- all the way to his death.

"While his public artistic persona was expansive, Cage was reticent about his private life. When asked about his relationship with his life partner, the great choreographer Merce Cunningham, he would often politely reply: “I do the cooking, and he does the dishes.” While openly gay, neither of them chose to discuss their homosexuality publicly." --

During their lives together they were not only lovers but creative partners. Over the years they created many collaborations and supported each others creative careers. There were times when their art lives kept them apart for travel, those times were filled with love letters so beautiful, profound and poetic they have been memorialized in a book. Now that's some relationship goals!

Rain finally came + it’s beautifully cool. Wonder how long it will last. It was marvelous because it started suddenly and then was alternately terrific and gentle.
I think of you all the time and therefor have little to say that would not embarrass you, for instance my first feeling about the rain was that it was like you.
Love you.

Here is your real inspiration:

Let's discuss this video:

1. What were some important things did you notice in the video?

2. How did people react to Cage and what was his response?

3. What new 2 specific techniques or performative behaviors did Cage introduce to the world here?

4. . Where do you see these repeated in contemporary music culture?

Take inspiration from Water Walk for this assignment. Create a composition using only the sounds in our shared folder, and what you record with your mic. We will use Adobe Audition for this assignment, your final project should be an art piece, a soundscape, and audio experience and should not sound like popular music that you hear on the radio, at a bar or club, dance to or listen to for entertainment. It should be an auditory adventure, a story told through sound.

You final project must:

  • Be 4 minutes and 33 seconds long (in honor of John Cage).

  • Include at least 10 clips from our shared folder.

  • Use a wide variety of effects.

  • Have a clear and consistent theme, concept, mood, feeling or emotion.

  • Have a title which describes this theme.

  • Not be too repetitive, must have variety.

  • Have shifts, changes, with a beginning, a middle, and an end.

  • Be posted on and the link shared on your blog to be graded.

Reading Assignment

Read the following article and respond in a blog post using 250 words, 5 images minimum. Use gifs and vids for a more dynamic aesthetic.



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