Friday, November 04, 2005

A golden oldie

I was just clearing up some old stuff, and I discovered this crazy, amazing-but-true kind of news from three years ago. It is an old Reuters report from September 2002 about a plagiarism dispute 'over two pieces of silence' that was settled.

John Cage, an American composer, once did a 'ground-breaking silent composition' called 4' 33", which 'consists entirely of silent notes [!] and takes four minutes 33 seconds to perform". Reuters also helpfully informs us that it is a piano piece divided into three movements, performed for the first time over half a century ago.

Mike Batt, a composer 'best known for novelty tunes', was 'accused of plagiarism by Edition Peters, publishers of the late Cage's work, after he put a track called "A Minute's Silence" on his ... album "Classical Graffiti" ...'

Well, I am tired of quoting the Reuters report (which is available online on some mailing list). Here are some more bizarre parts:

"The struggle was one of the most amusing disputes I've ever, er, disputed," Batt said on his Web Site (

"I'm sure John Cage had a dry sense of humor, and would have loved the spectacle of The Planets being all over the press protesting that their (my) silence was original silence and not a quotation from his silence," he added. [emphasis added by me]

Earlier this year [2002], the parties attempted to prove their points by each staging a performance of their piece. The result was inconclusive.

Oh, by the way, this Cage character also seems to be interesting. Apparently, he once said "I have nothing to say, and I am saying it". Hmmm, that would make even Yogi Berra blink, wouldn't it?

[Update: changed the title from an earlier, clunky one]