Hello again, I’d like to pick right up where I left off in my last post, talking about Feldman’s sketches for his 1982 piece, For John Cage, and all those labels he used.

Though I focused mostly on For John Cage, I made a complete survey of the sketches for Feldman’s later works at the Sacher Collection, and, by far, number labels pop up most frequently.  Particularly common is the circled number, which is used to count out a specific number of measures per system.

I copied out–using a notation program and my own handwriting–a page of Feldman’s sketches, whose material eventually became the first 28 measures of For John Cage.  (The sketch page should be read from bottom to top—Feldman often sketched this way.)

What this sketch communicates to us: Feldman shifted the material within the system when copying out the sketch into the final manuscript score.  Feldman took the first measure of system 2 in the sketch and placed it at the end of system 1 in the final score.  The last measure of system 3 in the sketch was to become the first measure of system 4 in the final score.  Having made these shifts, Feldman assures 9 measures to a system, and in fact we find strictly 9 measure systems not only on this page, but on every page of the score.

Feldman often laid out his scores so as to contain a certain number of measures per system (usually a multiple of 3) that would generally hold throughout the score.  9 measures per system (as in For John Cage) and 12 measures per system seem to have been favorites for him.

Feldman’s apparent desire for the uniform placement of musical patterns on the page reminds me of the symmetrical placement of patterns found in the Eastern rugs he admired late in his life.  It could be that Feldman first sketched out his musical patterns, and then returned to label them according to the larger-scale organizational plan he had in mind.

That’s all for today.

Until next time,

Meg