Here’s an excerpt which is related to the below TV show from 1960:
For better or worse, Cage attuned innumerable composers to the creative possibilities not just of recognizably musical sounds, but also of nonmusical sounds that most listeners would reasonably perceive as sheer noise.
A splendid example of this is his “Water Walk” for water pitcher, iron pipe, various birdcalls, electric mixer, seltzer siphon, bathtub, five radios, two cymbals and a grand piano—and so named, Cage said, “because it contains water and because I walk during the performance.” Cage performed “Water Walk” in 1960 as a guest on the then-popular television show “I’ve Got a Secret.” The show’s witty host, Garry Moore, introduced Cage as “probably the most controversial figure in the musical world today,” and asked him, “will you tell us quite seriously . . . if you consider what we’re about to hear—music?”
Cage responded, “Perfectly seriously, I consider music to be the production of sound, and since, in the piece you will hear, I produce sound, I would call it music.” Warned by Moore that members of the audience might laugh at what they were about to hear and asked by him if that would be all right, Cage smiled and replied: “Of course. I consider laughter preferable to tears.” Thus he invited the audience to respond naturally to the organized racket he presented. And it did. ∽ Read more…
Mr. Scherer, author of A History of American Classical Music (Sourcebooks, 2007), writes about music and the fine arts for the Journal.
P.S. — For a list of centennial events, feel free to visit johncage.org