Thomas DeLio

John  Cage’s Amores (1943) represents a farsighted and significant moment in the evolution of music in the 20th century—a vortex of oppositional impulses within which both organic and inorganic based methodologies are drawn together within one compositional framework. In this talk I will focus on one instance of his organic approach to composition. Oddly enough, this seems to be one of the least understood aspect of his music. His well-known work with indeterminate procedures has been the subject of much discussion and examination. The concomitant rejection of personal taste as a guiding force for his creative impulses is well documented. However, it is not often acknowledged how beautifully Cage could design music while relying on his own personal tastes, as the first and third movements of Amores can readily attest.  Indeed, these movements can easily stand in response to any who still persist in the tired view that Cage was a philosopher whose music is more interesting to talk and think about than to hear (or therefore analyze).

            In each of these movements a unique form develops that can only have arisen from the specific materials employed. Their interactions shape each movement in very specific ways that could not have been achieved using any other materials.  In the first and third movements form and materials are entirely codependent. The third movement, in particular reveals, Cage‘s remarkable skill in fashioning a truly multi-layered musical design from the simplest of sonic materials, one that captures the ebb and flow of time in a thoroughly hierarchical fashion—a true sign of organic thinking.