Various Artists

Some of "The Harmony of Maine" (Supply Belcher) for Organ and Six Assistants (1978)

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From the collection "Organ Music From the USA" composed in 1978, this "music about music" work (similar to the approach in Cage's "Cheap Imitation") utilizes 13 three-part songs (he re-names "Alpha C.M.," "The Lilly P.M.," "Transmigration," etc.) from the book of part song entitled "The Harmony of Maine" published in 1794 in Boston by Supply Belcher. By chance operations, Cage determined whether (1) a note is used or not, (2) how long the note should be held, and (3) what registration it should have on the organ. The registrations (tabs on the organ that determine which pipe a note will be sounded from and thus the timbre) are indicated in Cage's score by a numerical code, allowing the organist further freedoms in determining timbre. The resulting sound is like fragmentary echoes of music long ago, hardly ever full lines, but gestures, nuances and intervallic relations re-defined from a past that can never be relived. This piece can also be considered part of Cage's bi-centennial work "Apartment House 1776."