Pritchett, James

2004

David Tudor as Composer/Performer in Cage's Variations II

Leonardo Music Journal: Vol. 14. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press: 11-16.

URL: http://www.mitpressjournals.org/loi/lmj

Language(s): English

Keyword(s):

Constraint-based Composition Live Electronics Experimental Music Mixed Work

Abstract:

In this article, the author ruminates on several questions that David Tudor’s life and work pose for him, particularly those concerning the emergence of his compositional voice; where did the composer David Tudor come from? What, if anything, does his composing owe to his work as a pianist? What caused him to move from one role to the other? And finally, what role did electronics play in this? Because so many of the performances he created in the later 1950s and onward involved electronics and amplification, it would seem likely that this common ground is key to understanding the path of Tudor’s creative life. The author examines these questions by using Tudor’s realization of John Cage’s Variations II as a case study, identifying the overlapping of performer and composer roles, both within this specific realization and within the context of Tudor’s history. He describes how Tudor’s voice differs from Cage’s (and from Tudor’s own performances of Cage’s music) and suggests how his work with electronics may have made Tudor’s discovery of that voice possible.