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How to Get Started

A sound instillation by John Cage
Oct 2016

Sound installation of John Cage's "How to Get Started," featuring a library of previous performances.

About the Instillation

John Cage conceived HOW TO GET STARTED almost as an afterthought—a performance substituting for another that had been planned in 1989 for delivery at “Sound Design: An Invitational Conference on the Uses of Sound for Radio Drama, Film, Video, Theater and Mu-sic” presented by Bay Area Radio Drama at Sprocket Systems, Skywalker Ranch, in Nicasio, California. In his introduction, Cage talks about the difficulty of initiating the creative process, while exploring the usefulness of improvisation, a subject about which he had long been deeply ambivalent. He proposes a col-laborative framework in which sound engineers capture and subsequently layer his extemporized monologue, which consisted of ten brief commentaries on top-ics then of interest. This amounted to an experiment having to do with thinking in public, before a live audience.

Twenty years after John Cage's first and only performance of HOW TO GET STARTED in Nicasio, the John Cage Trust and Slought Foundation joined forces to create an interactive installation enabling the public to add yet another layer to the mix: your extemporizations on your ten topics of interest, in your voice. Drawing upon Cage’s realization of HOW TO GET STARTED as a script in effect, performers have been invited to participate in its further life, both in public settings and in the more intimate, specially designed recording studio at Slought.