For Imaginary Landscape
Visualizing John Cage
Imaginary Landscape is the title of several pieces by American composer John Cage. The series comprises the following works:
Imaginary Landscape No. 1 (1939)
for two variable-speed turntables, frequency recordings, muted piano, and cymbal
Imaginary Landscape No. 2 (March) (1942)
for tin cans, conch shell, ratchet, bass drum, buzzers, water gong, metal wastebasket, lion's roar and amplified coil of wire
Imaginary Landscape No. 3 (1942)
for tin cans, muted gongs, audio frequency oscillators, variable speed turntables with frequency recordings and recordings of generator whines, amplified coil of wire, amplified marimbula (a Caribbean instrument similar to the African thumb piano), and electric buzzer
Imaginary Landscape No. 4 (March No. 2) (1951)
for 24 performers at 12 radios
Imaginary Landscape No. 5 (1952)
for magnetic tape recording of any 42 phonograph records
All of the Imaginary Landscape pieces include instruments or other elements requiring electricity. Although all five of the Imaginary Landscape pieces were included in a Mode recording of "Percussion Works I", two of the pieces do not use percussion as such. The booklet included with the aforementioned Mode recording includes a quote from Cage; "It's not a physical landscape. It's a term reserved for the new technologies. It's a landscape in the future. It's as though you used technology to take you off the ground and go like Alice through the looking glass."
The Mode recording includes two versions of No. 4 and No. 5. One version of No. 5 uses period jazz recordings which would have been available to Cage at the time he composed it, and the other version uses recordings of Cage's work. The Mode recording of the Landscapes is No. 43 in their series of CDs of Cage's work, so the previous 42 recordings provide the correct number needed for a realization of No. 5.
Imaginary Landscape No. 1 was written in 1939 at the Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle, Washington. The work premiered on March 24, 1939 at Cornish College by John Cage, Xenia Cage, Doris Dennison, and Margaret Jansen. Scored for four performers who play a muted piano and cymbal as well as two variable-speed phonographs with amplifiers, the piece is important for being one of the first examples of electroacoustic music.