Music Assessments: John Cage, Elvis Presley and American Pie



John Cage

Let’s look at John Cage’s more interesting piece of music “4’33”.” “4’33″” is definitely a unique piece as there is no music written for it. As written in the lesson, the audience is supposed to focus on the ambient sounds heard as they sit in the space. The musician sits on stage in complete silence. What are your thoughts on this piece?

Remember, it was at this time that music was moving into different and interesting sounds. Experimentation was one of the new aspects of music at this time. How would you feel if you paid to see a concert and for one of the pieces you had to sit and watch an orchestra or person sitting at the piano in silence? Would you would feel ripped off or try to be fully involved in what was happening?

Elvis Presley

Elvis and his music had a huge impact on people so much so that millions of people mourned his passing and millions have visited Graceland in remembrance of him. Why do you think people are so fascinated with performers like Elvis. What did Elvis have that made him so special? Was it just his music or more?

“American Pie”

The meaning of the lyrics to “American Pie” has been the focus of many a discussion over the years, since it was a hit in 1971. What makes some songs like “American Pie,” based on metaphors, particularly difficult to figure out? Are some lines easier to understand, since they reference an actual saying like “the day the music died”?

Go online and find the lyrics to this song and then post to the discussion board about the meaning of the lyrics to “American Pie.” (Make sure the lyrics are correct. There are several versions that say “Whiskey in rye,” instead of the actual lyric which is “Whiskey and rye.”)

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