Living Room Music (1940) by John Cage
for four ordinary household objects

1. To Begin
2. Story
3. The End

Cage composed Living Room Music in 1940 and dedicated it to his then-wife Xenia (née Kashevaroff). The work consists of four movements for four performers. Cage instructs the performers to use any household objects ("ordinary household objects which can be found in a living room") or architectural elements as instruments, and provides examples such as magazines, cardboard, books, the floor, the wooden frame of a window, and so on. The first and the last movements are for the performer-chosen percussion "instruments." In the second movement, the performers speak or sing the music, which consists of excerpts from Gertude Stein’s poem The World Is Round. The third movement is optional, and it includes a melody played by one of the performers on "any suitable instrument." For this performance, Earplay will perform movements 1, 2 and 4, while leaving the optional third movement to the imagination. Living Room Musicis one of Cage’s earliest works that blurs the boundary between music and event. Its use of objects found in a common living environment as instruments anticipates his use of found objects and found sounds in his subsequent work.

— B. B.    

[from program for February 4, 2013 concert]