Researching 4’33″, I ran across a statement about harmony by Cage which I think bothers me more than anything else he ever said:
I now saw harmony, for which I had never had any natural feeling, as a device to make music impressive, loud and big, in order to enlarge audiences and increase box-office returns. It had been avoided by the Orient, and our earlier Christian society, since they were interested in music not as an aid in the acquisition of money and fame but rather as a handmaiden to pleasure and religion. (“A Composer’s Confessions,” 1948)
Geez, John, just because you had “no ear for harmony,” those of us who do have one aren’t supposed to use it? And if we use harmony to make our music “impressive,” that’s automatically for money and fame rather than pleasure? Isn’t giving pleasure what sometimes tends to bring money and fame? I’ve never read anything else of his that left such a bad taste in my mouth.