Ah, this the Golden Age, my friends, when the mellifuous sound of Autotune is everywhere, bringing dulcet harmony and order to everything from the latest pop and hip-hop singles worldwide to even the news. And now, thanks to the inspiration of  Toronto composer Matthew Reid, even to the veritable sounds of “silence” as well!…  Of course we all know that John Cage‘s iconic piece 4’33” is not really three movements of silence; the point is that those movements frame and draw attention to all of the other sounds present in the space where the piece is being played. What Reid has done is to create a performance of 4’33”, and then turn Autotune loose on that “silent” background. It turns the ambiance of the space into the sound of ghostly choirs and tiny chordal outbursts. While the Cageian purist might say this undermines the whole point of the piece (listening to the sounds that be as themselves), to me there’s a bit of innovation and subversion that recalls the twinkle in Cage’s own eye:


3 thoughts on “Autotune the silence”
  1. well, to be fair, we can recall John Cage asking what might happen if we drew little pictures of Beethoven in the magnetic fields of the memorex tape emulsion and then ran them past the playback heads. Seeking the sound of Autotune set adrift in an aleatoric field of ambiance surely must be in some obtuse way a similar sort of question 🙂

  2. What a wonderful McLuhanesque experiment!!

    It reminds me a little of Morton Subotnick’s “ghost electronics” or David Behrman’s interactive computer programs.
    This is one of those simple but great ideas which I wish I thought of first.

    Congrats Mr. Reid on a cool idea.

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