4’33” on a train – John Cage Centennial, 5th September 2012

(c) Edition Peters

Our modest contribution to the John Cage centennial celebrations. On 5th September 2012, we decided to undertake a performance of 4’33″on the train from Falkirk High to Glasgow Queen Street. Raising and lowering the seat tray served to mark the three movements. During our ‘silent’ performance this is what we heard:

Low bass throb

                                              – of train thrum.


                                              – of pitched track squeal.


a sigh

a cough

a sneeze.

earphones fizzzzz and

crisps crunch.


fingers tap on digital screens

as turning pages            – fan

distant carriage whispers.


The shuddering recoil – from

                                                     – the slap of a passing train

all sound and silence cocooned

                                                    – underneath a bridge.

Out in the landscape

– an imagined Williams Mix:

Doppler-shifted siren,

birdsong and turbine whirr.


a ratttttttttttttling window

“tickets please”


the seat tray creaks.

Happy 100th birthday John Cage. In another place you are walking around Walden Pond with Henry Thoreau looking for mushrooms.


Now Playing: John Cage and David Tudor – Rainforest II / Mureau – A Simultaneous Performance (Part I)

This entry was posted in Field Trip, Happenstance, Observation, Poetry, Sounds of Spaces and Places and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to 4’33” on a train – John Cage Centennial, 5th September 2012

  1. Superb performance! Felt like I was alongside in the carriage – hearing nothing, hearing all.

    • Thanks Julian. A much appreciated comment. Just wanted to mark the event in some small way. Was also reflecting this week that it was through Cage that I first got to Thoreau. Both are revisited for sustenance on a regular basis.

  2. dianajhale says:

    Another typographical triumph!

  3. Leigh Wright says:

    Superb! There are no boundaries within the Cage…

  4. This is an absolutey astounding piece of work – shows what can be missed when earphones are in, and also the complete lack of silence and background noise that we are subjected to in this day and age (not saying that that is a bad thing) – fridges and airconditioning units in pubs and newsagents all add to the sense of space and sometimes paranoia if you open yourself up to it!

  5. Pingback: Video Journeys #1 « jameskennedycentral

  6. Such a noisy sounding silence! I still hear the echo of his conch shell.

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