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Cage and the anechoic room

2004-06-21

Cage’s visit to the anechoic chamber at Harvard University in 1948 has been refered to again and again:

“I heard two sounds one high and one low. When I described them to the engineer in charge he informed me that the high one was my nervous system in operation the low one my blood in circulation.”

I find it hard to believe that you are able to hear your nervous system and has been searching around for facts. They seem hard to find. Didier A Depireux in a mail in 1998 seems to suggest that the high frequencies might have been caused by tinnitus.

The Wikipedia entry on John cage also seems to question the explanation offered by the engineer:

Whatever the truth of these explanations Cage had gone to a place where he expected there to be no sound and yet there was some. “Until I die there will be sounds. And they will continue following my death. One need not fear about the future of music.”

I guess it’s a question of honoring mistakes as hidden intentions…

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