John Cage, Variations III performed by Lou Bunk – bowed object, Joe Burgio – home-built instrument, Morgan Evans-Weiler – installation, Chris Johnson – electronics, Jesse Kenas-Collins – turntable, Howard Martin – sax, Steve Norton – electronics, Tom Plsek – trombone, Michael Rosenstein – electronics, Jane Wang – toy piano, Walter Wright – Boardweevil.
Performed in memory of Lou Cohen, pic by by Matt Samolis.
Variations III (1962)
The third in the series is intended “for one or any number of people performing any actions”. It is the first entry in the series that does not make any references to music, musical instruments or sounds. The score consists of two sheets of transparent plastic, one blank, the other marked with 42 identical circles. Cage instructs the performers to cut the sheet with circles so that they end up with 42 small sheets, a full circle on each. These should then be dropped on a sheet of paper. Isolated circles are then removed, and the rest are interpreted according to complex rules explained in the score. The information derived includes the number of actions and the number of variables that characterize an action. Cage does not specify the performers’ actions, but notes that these can include noticing or responding to “environmental changes”. He also states that although some of the factors of a performance may be planned in advance, the performers should “leave room for unforeseen eventualities”; and that “any other activities are going on at the same time” as the work is performed.
[link to sound file]