John Cage
    4 Solos for Voice
              Electric Phoenix

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                                                                Electric Phoenix rehearse with John Cage, October Sound studio 2, London, 19th June 1988

Solo for Voice 93: Judith Rees

Solo for Voice 94: Meriel Dickinson

Solo for Voice 95: Daryl Runswick

Solo for Voice 96: Terry Edwards


4 SOLOS FOR VOICE: Electric Phoenix


Detailed notes on the recording (pdf)

Electric Phoenix and the Cage mafia backlash (pdf)

Daryl Runswick writes: In 1985 Electric Phoenix gave a concert in Zagreb (then in Yugoslavia, now in Croatia) at an international contemporary music festival whose guest of honour was John Cage. Cage attended our concert and we took the opportunity to ask him for a piece. The result, three years later, was 4 Solos for Voice. It's a virtuoso romp and became one of our greatest hits. In 1999 we recorded it.

The singers each perform 18 (the tenor 19) short events spaced out over 15 minutes at intervals part-fixed by Cage using chance operations, part-improvised by the singers during performance. The texts are chance-chosen from Cage's correspondence and the singers are encouraged to adopt different personas for each event and to give 'virtuoso' renderings (Cage's word). Cage instructs the singers to ignore one another while performing. In producing this recording I took this instruction to its logical conclusion and recorded each singer separately, alone, so that they couldn't hear or be influenced by one another.

As instructed by Cage, John Whiting at certain points 'treats' our voices electronically, the exact places and treatments determined by chance procedures.
















At the rehearsal he attended, Cage instructed the four of us each to prepare a visual 'joke' which we would do once at chance-determined moments during performance. Each of us chose our own joke. Judith Rees blew bubbles, Meriel Dickinson opened a fan and fanned herself, I put on a rubber toucan nose and Terry exploded some ticker-tape. In producing the recording I decided to substitute four noises for the visual jokes. Judith chose to play wood blocks, Meriel activated a 'laughing clown' toy, I turned on a digital camera and took a picture, and Terry crumpled a snack packet.

Produced by Daryl Runswick.
Recorded by John Whiting at October Sound, 10th May 1999.
Assembled and mixed by Daryl Runswick at The DReam Room.

John Whiting taped our rehearsal with John Cage on 19th June 1988. Here it is. A pdf transcript is also available here.

The rehearsal

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