Contemporary music of changes

The I Ching, famously used by John Cage in the composition of his Music of Changes, is identified as a book of divination. However there are fascinating parallels with the binary technology that drives our contemporary digital culture. The sixty-four abstract figures of the I Ching are each composed of six lines. These lines can have one of two forms - divided (negative = binary 0) and undivided (positive = binary 1). 

In his The Way of Zen John Cage's friend Alan Watts compares the I Ching to the Rorschach ink-blot test used in psychological testing. He explains that just as a patient applies his own projections upon the ink-blot, so the user can project their own interpretation on to the hexagrams of the I Ching. In this respect the I Ching's  freedom of interpretation differs fundamentally from our binary culture which discourages individual interpretation and encourages online groupthink.  

Quite why Alan Watts' prescient wisdom is so neglected today is a total mystery. In the foreword to his posthumously-published 1975 book Tao: The Watercourse Way Alan Watts' longtime friend, neighbour, poet and philosopher Elsa Gidlow  is quoted as saying that "It was his vision that modern technological man, in attempting absolute control over nature (from which he tended to see himself divided) and over all the uses of human society, was caught in a trap, himself becoming enslaved. Every control requires further control until the "controller" himself is enmeshed". 

Tao's message of working with, rather than against, nature is developed in Laurent Rochelle's 7 Variations sur le TAO. This uses his neo-classical septet Prima Kanta to celebrate the power of nature. Defy groupthink and sample this contemporary music of changes via this link.


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