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Thirty-seven remarks re an audio-visual performance
Category: Musical composition
Dated: Stony Point, September-October 1965
Instrumentation: Any number of musicians with photo-electric cells and at least 13 electronically amplified sound-sources.
Premiere and performer(s): July 23, 1965 at the Philharmonic Hall in Lincoln Centre, New York City. Performed by John Cage, David Tudor, Malcolm Goldstein, Frederick Lieberman and James Tenny (musicians); Robert Moog (electronic devices); Stan VanDerBeek (films); Nam June Paik (distorted television images); Beverly Emmons (lighting); Merce Cunningham, Carolyn Brwon, Barbara Lloyd, Sandra Neels, Albert Reid, Peter Saul and Gus Solomons Jr. (dancers); Billy Klüver (technical consultant). More details below.
Dedicated to: Mary Sisler
Choreography: Merce Cunningham: Variations 5 (1965)
Published: Edition Peters 6799 © 1965 by Henmar Press
Manuscript: Score (holograph, signed, in ink – 4 p.); Realisation, score (holograph in blue and blach ink and some pencil. 2 p. + 3 index cards containing instructions and timings for actions); Sketches and notes (holograph in blue and black ink and some pencil – 80 p.) all in New York Public Library.
The score for Variations V was made after its first performance and contains 37 remarks concerning an audio-visual performance, including a list of participants. The first performance was choreographed by Merce Cunningham, the sound-system designed by David Tudor, electronic percussion devices by Robert Moog, photo-electric devices by Billy Klüver, televised image distortions by Nam June Paik, film by Stan VanDerBeek, mixer designed by Max Mathews, tape recordings by John Cage, lighting by Beverly Emmons, shortwave receivers and their special placement arranged by Billy Klüver and Frederic Lieberman.
The sound sources for the first performance were short-wave radios and tapes with recordings of sounds like a kitchen drain (recorded by Cage). Photocells, reacting to movements of the dancers, triggered switches that could turn off and on the audio. Max Mathews designed the mixed to control volume, tone and distribution of the sounds among the six speakers in the hall.
In 1966 Norddeutscher Rundfunk Hamburg and Sveriges Radio Television produced a film-version of Variations V, directed by Arne Arnbom. Duration of the film is fifty minutes.
Sources: Published score; Paul van Emmerik: Thema’s en Variaties; New York Public Library online catalog; William Fetterman: John Cage’s theatre pieces: Notations and performances; David Revill: The Roaring Silence