4’33” By John Cage Explains Mindfulness With 4 Minutes & 33 Seconds Of Silence

Read about 4’33” by John Cage, a musical composition with a period of silence in the interim equivalent to 4 minutes and 33 seconds.

Do you remember the quote by Mozart?

The music is not in the notes, but in the silence in between.

It’s true!

A musical composition is not merely a series of notes. The systematic silence in between gives the soul to the musical notes.

Musicians refer to the period of the silence in any musical composition as a rest.

Read about the rest values and rest duration in one of my earlier articles.

The rest values depend on the note values and have a definite period.

However, the question is how long a rest can be?

About 4’33” by John Cage

4’33” By John Cage is a musical composition that asks the performers to wait for 4 minutes and 33 sec

Listen to the silence performed by Japanese Orchestra K2Orch.

4′33″ is a three-movement composition written in 1952. Given the instructions, any musical instrument is suitable for the performance. 🙂

The only thing you would want to do is not playing anything for four minutes and thirty-three seconds.

4’33” is the quoted as the most famous and controversial creation by John Cage.

So, what key is the musical composition?


4’33” doesn’t have any musical notes. The musicians have to remain silent for the entire duration.

Now you know the reason for the controversy around the composition.

What inspired John Cage to compose 4’33”?

One of the stories reveals that the idea came to his mind after he visited an anechoic chamber.

An anechoic chamber is an architectural wonder that cancels sounds in the room using heavy sound-proofing from all the sides.

However, John Cage heard some high and low notes even in the highly sound-proof chamber. One of the engineers informed that the noise was Cage’s bodily sounds.

Using specialized microphones in anechoic chambers, you may hear the crackling noise of a caterpillar eating his meals.

John Cage said:

Until I die there will be sounds. And they will continue following my death. One need not fear about the future of music.

This experience of silent chamber led to the composition of 4′33″.

What is expected from the audience if they hear nothing for so long?

Silent Claps?


I believe everything John Cage composed had a meaning behind it.

What is the meaning of 4’33”?

Experts believe that audiences are expected to remain silent and listen to the environmental sounds.

What do you expect to hear in a closed orchestra hall?

Probably noise with someone coughing as loud as the thunder rolls.

I don’t think 4’33” is about ridiculing audiences in any way.

For me, 4’33” is about stop everything else, close your eyes, and listen to yourself.

Experts refer to this state of mind as a meditative exercise.

Who would deny the advantages of meditation?

The whole purpose of 4’33” is to take the regular pause in your busy lives.

Think about your purpose in life and plan accordingly.

The only thing I’m confused about is why four minutes and thirty-three seconds? let me know if you know the reason.

Thanks for reading my 92nd article in the series 100-day music blogging challenge. Stay tuned for more informative articles.

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Published by Bharat

Hi, I'm Bharat. An artist, blogger, musician and digital marketing professional dedicated to sharing musing and stories about music, art and mindful resonance! Follow me @bharatpc