App Review: John Cage’s 4’ 33″ App for iOS

Developed for the John Cage Trust, the 4’ 33″ App for iOS enables users to create their own version of Cage’s iconic piece. The app includes a recording of ambient sound from Cage’s last apartment in New York City, which according the John Cage Trust, he found to be a “source of constant surprise, inspiration, and delight”.

Users are also able to upload their own performance to the “World of 4′ 33″”, an interactive map that features performances from around the world.

User Interface/Experience

Once the user hits the record button, the app records sound for exactly 4 minutes and 33 seconds. The piece’s audio is split up automatically into three different movements of lengths that match David Tudor’s 1952 première of 4′ 33″, which are separated by ten seconds of silence.

Users can then name their performance and upload it for others to hear. Below is a screenshot of my upload (which is mostly the sound of me breathing) on the map.


Final Word

At just 99 cents, the 4’ 33″ App is an affordable and easy way for people to experience the work of John Cage by creating their own performance of one of his best known works. However, the Cage Trust would be better able to achieve this goal by making the app available for Android, so as to reach a larger number of users.

By formatting the sound and silence of users’ surroundings into the time constraints set by Cage, the App allows users to experience their own version of 4′ 33″. The 4’ 33″ App is unique in that allows a unique performance of a composition to be performed by users from their phone, helping to keep John Cage relevant for a new generation of listeners.