prepared piano

Since it offered him a cornucopia of sound opportunities, John Cage was always fond of using the prepared piano. This instrument—developed by Cage in 1938—is a piano which has been modified into a poly-sounding percussion instrument by inserting on or between the strings various objects such as combs, chains, screws or bolts.

John Cage wrote a great amount of dance music, mostly for Merce Cunningham’s company, but also—which is the case for Daughters of the Lonesome Isle—for Jean Erdman’s company. The piece is written in 19 modular sections which flow into one another without transitions. The metallic quality of the piano’s sound are exploited, evoking, as many have said, an atmosphere more oriental than occidental, although Cage always denied being influenced by gamelan or other oriental music while composing this work.