What is this? Screws loose in a Steinway? A John Cage Composition.

Portion of a piano's interior showing loose screws and simple items from a hardware store placed between the strings to alter the piano sound providing more percussion and other types of sounds. This was the configuration for the Cage Sonatas and Interludes (1946-48) performed by Adam Tendlar in celebration of the John Cage Centennial.


Why loose screws and a story about the avant-garde composer John Cage on the Beany and Cecil site? John Cage (born September 5, 1912 and died August 12, 1992) and Beany and Cecil creator Bob Clampett (born May 8, 1913 and died May 2, 1984) were about eight months apart in age and spent a good part of their childhoods in Eagle Rock California. The comparisons do not end there. Both began to show their future talent by the age of twelve. Bob Clampett had a cartoon of his published in the Los Angeles Junior Times. Later, Clampett was offered a contract as a comic strip artist by the Los Angeles Examiner. John Cage came up with the idea and hosted a radio show on KNX in Los Angeles where he brought attention to great music by having it played on air and he reported on Boy Scout events.

John Cage as a young child on the left with the dog and Bob Clampett about the same age saluting. What was up with the sailor suits?


Cage a quick study skipped three grades and was Valedictorian at Los Angeles High School before attending Pomona College at age fifteen. Clampett had to drop out of high school during his senior year to go to work and help support the family. He did get to attend Otis Art School a couple of years later. Cage was influenced by animator Oskar Fischinger and his unusual approach to sound. The Clampett family later got to know the Fischinger family.

We do not know if Cage and Clampett ever met and are also curious if they happened to attend the same school. Clampett attended Eagle Rock Elementary School in the twenties. Cage lived on Moss Avenue in Eagle Rock about a mile from the school at that time. If anyone reading knows the answer to that question, please let us know. One item in the Bob Clampett archive might shed some light on this. There is a panoramic shot of all of the students posing for their class picture at Eagle Rock Elementary. We might be able to match the childhood photo of Cage seen above with the group panoramic. (We will post here the results of that search)

Cage and Clampett were two innovators who made significant contributions to their chosen fields within the arts.

We pay homage to an innovative thinker and musical giant John Cage on his Centennial.

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