Vanishing Points (2012)


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Both musical and allegorical methods contribute to the unfolding of Vanishing Points (2012). Its texts were drawn from various verses of the Dao De Jing by LaoZi. Inspiration for this piece came from a 1972 interview with John Cage in which he describes his feelings on China, Mao Ze-Dong, and Chinese language at large.

After studying some Chinese and interacting with many serious students of the language, I have come to appreciate that Cage’s views are quite naive. While I celebrate his music and continue to find innumerable lessons in his teachings and output, this instance of John Cage revealing an incredibly shortsighted understanding of the complexities of the Chinese language, and of historical events surrounding China in 1972, humbles and reminds me of something we take for granted in our Western heritage that might be difficult to find in some other cultures: that our masters can make mistakes too, and that we can in turn learn from their mistakes and their successes. John Cage makes his appearance here on more than just a philosophical level; the pitch material in Vanishing Points consists of chords derived from analyzed sonograms of Cage’s voice, taken from the recording of this interview.

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