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John Cage : That's what I meant. I have heard another double bass player, not in Perugia , but in…

Michael Bach : In Japan ?

JC : No, in Fiorenza. You must know him, (Stefano) Scodanibbio. I thought he played beautifully. He played Ryoanji absolutely… better than anyone I ever heard

MB : Did he sing

JC : No. He didn't bother with that. That was something that Joelle could do, and so she wanted me to do both. But Joelle doesn't play the double bass as beautifully as Scodanibbio. And neither does Frances-Marie Uitti. In fact I haven't heard better double bass playing than Scodanibbio's. I was just amazed! And I think everyone who heard him was amazed. Many musicians, faced with the freedom that my notation provides, or directions provide, take – well, as Paul Zukofsky says in the notes (for MOMA Summergardenprogram) – where I give them a little freedom, they take more, and so on, until the piece is quite out of reach my original work. And this is certainly the case with many musicians, so that instead of making a solo, and making three recordings of it, which is part of my directions (for Ryoanji ), they choose three other musicians with different instruments and make a kind of chamber ensemble, which is not what I had in mind. What I had in mind was a person becoming four people, hmm? and then playing in this complicated way, one over the other. And Scodanibbio actually did that. He criticizes himself – the way he does it - and each year improves his tapes that he plays with, so he doesn't think of his work as being finished. He's always carrying it further. He's really extraordinary. I think. So, I've decided to write a microtonal piece for him, using ( pointing to notes with arrows ) this kind of notation. To write three such pieces for him, which he will again play with themselves. So that he would be surrounded by, say – there would be two double basses standing on either side of him, while he would be playing the middle one. And they would all be heard together… from three loudspeakers. I think it would be marvellous if the loudspeakers were not greatly amplified, so that the instrument he played wouldn't have to be amplified at all. Or maybe, I don't know yet, maybe just enough amplification to the ones beside him, so that you hear the three as being together. I'm actually thinking of the experience of one of Feldman's pieces.-


JC : Yes, the people who have played Ryoanji and who have taken liberties – substituted other instruments and so on – don't do as well as Scodanibbio did. His performance was absolutely magic,….


JC : Yes, and they do that, different people. The best, as I say, the best I've heard is Scodanibbio doing the bass version, without voice

John Cage in Conversation with Joan Retallack
Wesleyan University Press of New England, Hanover, 1996
Pages 278, 279