This piece, The Story Behind John Cage’s 4’33”, reminded me of my earlier post on my vanishing tolerance for musical angst.
Here’s a description of a turning point in Cage’s approach to music. He’d been working with an Indian woman, trading lessons on Western music theory for lessons on Indian music as he went through an emotionally painful period in his personal life:
He was clearly distressed. But the more he composed, the more he realized that music failed to communicate his feelings. It made him feel worse…
Cage, like many artists, had taken it as a given that the point of music was to share emotions. But in one of his lessons with Sarabhai, she mentioned that, in India, music had a different purpose. “To sober and quiet the mind,” she said, “thus rendering it susceptible to divine influences.” Cage was taken aback.