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About this Piece

This slow, careful, unaccented work for two pianos is as light and holey as a Swiss cheese. It was written at a time when Cage was coming under the influence of the Indian composer Gita Sarabhai. She had convinced Cage that the purpose of music was “to sober and quiet the mind, thus making it susceptible to divine influences.” Cage’s response was to seek a kind of musical Tai Chi: slow-moving musical exercises that incorporated silence were the result. Following the lead of Satie, he dispensed with forward momentum and harmonic narrative and instead brought in a calm consonance - parallel fifths and octaves - modal harmonies and Indonesian scales, structuring through balancing sound with silence. The work was written for a new dance piece by his boyfriend Merce Cunningham.