A reinterpretation of ATLAS ECLIPTICALIS / John Cage
workshop conducted by Fie Schouten 05.09 – 09.09 / ore 09 – 16
for children from 6 – 12 years
This work was originally used as music for the choreographed piece by Merce Cunningham entitled Aeon, with stage decors and costume design by Robert Rauschenberg. It was later used for Cunningham’s first “Events” performance, Museum Event #1.”
Atlas Eclipticalis was composed on a commission from the Montreal Festival Society. Like Winter Music, a work with which it is often performed, each event contains from one to ten notes, divided randomly into two groups. Pitches are notated clearly, though in a somewhat unusual way, i.e. the sizes of notes determine amplitudes. Durations are notated above the events. Tempo is not given, but rather is determined by the conductor.
To compose this piece, Cage used the Atlas Eclipticalis 1950.0 (an atlas of the stars published in 1958 by Antonín Becvár [1901-1965], a Czech astronomer), superimposing musical staves over its star-charts. In any performance, this score may be played in whole or in part by any number of players, up to the full 86 specified.
In addition to Winter Music, Atlas Eclipticalis may also be performed simultaneously with Song Books. Cage also indicated the possibility of attaching contact microphones to some or all of the instruments, thus amplifying their sounds. In this case, an assistant to the conductor is required, creating his score using Cartridge Music. Atlas Eclipticalis is the first part of a trilogy of which Variations IV is part 2 and 0’00” is part 3