Mobilising John Cage: The Design and Generation of Score Creators for the Complete John Cage Variations I - VIII

Catherine Anne Hope, Lindsay Vickery, Aaron Wyatt, Stuart James

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


The John Cage Variations provide a useful snapshot of a range of score writing
techniques employed by Cage throughout this career. From very complex preparations and realisation of parts required in Variations I and II, to the almost non-existent scores of VII and VIII, the complete Variations provide a range of opportunities and challenges. In 2011, Western Australian new music ensemble Decibel developed a software-based score maker and player for the works and presented a series of concerts of the Complete Eight Variations. The performances have led to the development of the John Cage Complete Variations App for the iPad tablet computer, developed in conjunction with Peters Edition. Drawing on the ensemble’s experiments with realtime and scrolling computer score generation and performance, and their unique make up of performers, composers, sound artists and programmers, the group has made the realisation of these works more accurate and possible in real-time for the first time. This paper discusses the approach taken by the group for the concept, design, creation and eventual performance of the scores for John Cage’s Variations
I – VIII, including the packaging of the works into an application. It will also cover
the challenges presented by the range of different score formats to the packaging of the collection as a whole.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)34-45
Number of pages12
JournalMalaysian Music Journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • John Cage
  • graphic notation
  • real-time scores
  • screen scores
  • music performance
  • music computing

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