I was planning to write a long reply to dinakt the Great Skater debate > Yuna shines in qualifying for worlds (closed thread) who says John Cage's 4'33 is inappropriate because it means no music, and not appropriate for sport. I disagree with this, so I thought it might be fun to ponder this issue a bit further, given so many music thread is already out there to do with skating, so why not one more.
I disagree that 4'33 = no music, when it is written as a piece of music, performed as a music, with a full orchestral of musicians in support to realize it. It has a musical score, and has been performed in concerto halls (I attended one) so it does falls under music. Is there a rules in the competition hand book that says music must have sounds? I brought it up because our original post was about music intentions that are not covered by form. John Cage wrote this piece not because he lazy or gimmicky but there are there real important thought process and creative decisions behind them.
Is silence not a powerful part of music? I see it is one of the most important part of the music, to know when to pause, control the silence, capable of taking the audiences on the edge of their seats (or doze off) , control their breathing, anticipation, quicken their heart beat. To enable the audience's imagination to wonder. To test if their version syncs with the musician's own. They are all made possible because of silence.
Are silences all the same? Do they vary in tone, colour, ambiance, reverberation, impressions? Do they not vary on account to your spacial surroundings, silence in libraries, silence in concert halls, silence in gallery spaces, silences at skating rinks, silence during competitions as the skaters took their positions? Do you not hear your own heartbeat and other body sounds? How about to those who are completely deaf to those with perfect hearings? Does silence only exist in stillness, or do they vary in motion? Is it possible to hear music everywhere if you listen hard enough? From the sound of my keystroke on my computer key board as I type, to the sounds my radiator makes when it heat the room. The bird singing tells me it is morning. The urban sounds and rhythms as I travelled to work in the city. The ambiance rhythms as I rise up an escalator, in the park as I eat my sandwiches? These are the sounds of urban symphony if you only listen hard enough. I have brought the suggestion as I wish to repeatedly emphasized art appraisal at its highest level cannot be adequate by conventional methods guidelines, especially without weighing the pros and cons of different approaches, creative decisions that has entirely to do with the meaning and purpose the music was written about in the first place, and thus choreography movements and program construct that deliberate goes against conventions.
This would be my version John Cage's 4'33 for figure skating. (work in progress)
Concepts: Establish biorhythm of the skater, focus on unique individualistic rhythmic signatures according their type of skating.
This is about making the skater's best qualities shine (that separate them from the pack). They get to play with their blades like an instrument on ice together with movements, express different tones of the blade 'play on ice'. Maximise various specialist elements, showcase intimate relationship and skater signature with the ice. The rhythmic signature should outline the skater's favourite movements like music motifs. A Patrick Chan tempo may 'sound' very different than Hanyu's for example. Patrick may choose to showcase his long silent deep edges in footwork. Hanyu may go 4T3T2T1T or 3a3a just for the heck of it. How about Yuna's 3F3T 'sound' compare to her 3Luz 3T or her long spirals across the whole length of the rink without change of foot? Or she may do a fun hip pop version that actually focus entirely on the sound the blade on the ice to showcase the musical and rhythmic expressions before she proceed to the other 2 movements. (Sort of like if the skaters are members of 'Stomp' (Uk dance troupe that use ordinary object/body to make rhythmic sounding performances) and use the blade as a percussion instrument.
The beauty of silence is that allows complete freedom in expressions but with key is to create steady visual tempo and rhythms through choreography movements. Every skater gets to own and show off their unique signature during this first movements like music motifs that emphasis on pattern, rhythm with blade and ice.. They can take inspiration from their own culture, favourite piece of music, fav performances. Patrick may be inspired by Montreal Jazz work and do a footwork sequences like Jazz tap shoes etc.
Concepts: Speed, Power, Strength and Grace. An exercise in sporting performance, refinement and skill.
After the initial set up of the piece, this part emphasis on sporting performance, in particularly jumps, quad, 3a, 3/3s, 4/3s, build ups, how they sounds, with/without transitions, how the sound of great height, distance, speed etc.
Concepts: Finesse, control, speed variance winding down with firmer control exploring the romanticism of skating. Emphasis on smoothness of deep edge control, spirals, spread eagles, trace and turns footworks.
All three movements should have visually distinguishable choreography parts that separate from one another. Good emphasis to explore the core concepts, variance in speed and expressions.
The above are just basic conceptual framework, there are tons of rooms interchangeable upon the skater's and choreographer's preference and to fulfill the COP requirement. The work could test on Skater's impeccable timing and skills to listen the clocks internally as they skate and express without sounds in support. They can decide to play with the audiences and do some improvisation. For example, if they perform certain elements really well and received a round of enthusiastic applause, would they able to improvise and doing something else to build upon that momentum? It will challenge their expression and connection with the audience. Are the audience bored without music or can they continue to captivate the audience with their skills and the sound of their blades hit the ice? The sound of gliding, staccato during footstep sequences, deep edges, massive 3/3, quads in sequential? How they get to play the blade on ice like the most beautiful instrument in the world, display skating virtuosity like the skating rink is among the the world's best concert halls.
A fun bonus work out of this, is to have the their 4'33 performance recorded and become a music interpretation of 4'33 purely by sounds not vision. It allows the audiences to appreciate the subtle differences between different skaters blades. The quality between 3/3s, 3Axels, Quads, hear, different skater's skating quality and imagine it in their mind no different than what how some music can captivate the audiences. Can they hear the rhythmic sound of their skate? All skaters can do their own version of 4'33, and be compiled into an album to hear the differences. How would Daisuke's version sound from Florent's version (who is super rhythmic). How about the bursts of sounds as the blade lift from the ice and then the quietness flow out of a Yuna's beautifully landed 3f3t with good distance, airs time, soft landing and great flow. Will the audiences able to recognizable sound between different skaters overall. These could all make sweet music to my ears in the name of 'silence', and I am sure for some other skating aficionados may do too.
The philosophy of 4'33s in any case was suppose to motivate audience's to use their own imagination and judgement regardless of social conventions and other standard of believes. It is a music of chances which complement the fundamental of the sport well. Even athletes that have been trained at 90% consistency, subject to environmental factors, mental pressures, audience reception, may not deliver what they intend to. The sound of crowd reception should also be included into the overall ambiance sound of the recording. Just like the music intention should all be part of the performance of 4'33. One can almost imagine audience's anticipation of Patrick's version of 4'33 at WC, people will literally glued to their stop watch to see how the skater react to 'accidents' like if he crash into the board again or falls, whether it affect him in a big way and still make it on time at exactly 4'33? This work would be a great test to the skater internal musicality and artistry; and judge's aptitude for the arts and musical awareness paying attention to execution choreography movements and expressions.
According to the rules, there is -1 deduction for going over the music by 4mins 30seconds for the men, so who ever risk this piece, will have to be willing to get -1 deduction at start. But given they get to break history and create new memories, it seems a price worth paying for. On the other hand, if they go over 4'33, there doesn't seem to be -1 deduction on top, so it is worth it anyway. Is there any additional deduction for going over the music by 33 seconds? Otherwise ladies can do it too (doing no required elements after the 4mins mark)