Nothing: John Cage and 4'33"

By Nicholas Day
Illustrators Illustrated by Chris Raschka Edition

Hardcover edition

Publisher Holiday House Imprint Neal Porter Books ISBN


Nothing: John Cage and 4'33"

In stock

What does nothing sound like? An offbeat history of John Cage’s 4’33”, a musical composition of blank bars, illustrated by Caldecott Medalist Chris Raschka.

One night in 1952, master pianist David Tudor took the stage in a barnlike concert hall called the Maverick. A packed audience waited with bated breath for him to start playing. Little did they know that the performance had already begun.

A rain patters.

A tree rustles.

An audience stirs.

David was performing John Cage’s 4’33”, whose purpose is to amplify the ambient sounds of whatever venue it inhabits. That shocking first performance earned 4’33” plenty of haters; and yet the piece endures, “performed” by the smallest garage bands and the grandest symphonies alike, year after year. Its fans hear what John Cage hoped we would hear: “Nothing” is never silent, and you don’t need a creative genius, a concert hall, or even a piano to hear something worthwhile. All you have to do is stop and listen.

Nicholas Day’s text is reverent with a healthy drop of humor, warm and refined; two-time Caldecott Medalist Chris Raschka’s childlike pencil-on-watercolor artwork is uninhibited and electrifying, with all the visionary spirit of the work it chronicles. Guaranteed to spark generative thought and lively debate among readers of all ages, Nothing is not to be missed.

About John Cage, with photographs. Recordings. Bibliography. Full-color illustrations were created with watercolor, pencil, and ink.
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