4’33” of Kappa Kappa Psi & Tau Beta Sigma

by Sara Zavorka, Gamma Phi, KKΨ |


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There you have it – 433 characters. Those characters above do not seem like much at first, but they have a drastic impact on this article nonetheless. Those characters, for example, could have been better used, so one thinks, filled with actual letters that make up words, which then make up ideas. Those characters could have saved ink during the printing process. However, those characters are still there, and there they will remain, their impact enduring forever.

Those 433 characters at the beginning are representative of 4’33,” the title to the most famous and most controversial composition by experimental composer John Cage. In this piece, three-movements are filled to the bar lines with the most intense silence one has ever heard. In fact, the silence screams for its audience to pay attention to the rests, just as most compositions scream for attention to the notes themselves. Some listeners become infuriated at the “sound” of this piece, because it is lacking. Others refer to Cage as a genius innovator in the style of bringing the rests in music to life. Moments of rest allow for an ease in the transition between one mood, one activity, or one event, to another.  The periods of silence in our own lives are crucial in that they may serve as moments of reflection, and preparation for future tasks.

The idea of this composition was to allow its audience to truly hear the sounds, that is, the intense sounds of life. To quote Cage, “There’s no such thing as silence. What [the audience thought] was silence, because they [don’t] know how to listen, was full of accidental sounds.”

The great fraternity of Kappa Kappa Psi, or the great sorority of Tau Beta Sigma, is its own 4’33” of the bands it serves. We Brothers and Sisters are the very rests in the composition of bands everywhere. At first glance, a spectator sees the bands thriving in what seems like an automatic or natural array. Its participants are staying hydrated at football games, its stands at those same games are staying clean, its band directors are happy as a musician who had just walked off a stage upon completion of their recital, at which a music stand was provided to them seemingly out of nowhere. Yet as the spectator continues to view the band programs, the more they look, the more they see the very purposes of Kappa Kappa Psi and Tau Beta Sigma come to life. Cage also wrote about his piece whereas “In a situation provided with maximum amplification, perform a disciplined action.” Kappa Kappa Psi and Tau Beta Sigma are constantly practicing discipline through our actions of service, and of music. Pertaining to either, our results must possess maximum amplification, no matter how small the task may have been.

This fraternity or sorority should not be written on the composition of life with a fortissimo underneath us. Its members are all chords united under the single fermata that is the eternal existence of music. We unite for one cause, and that is to service the bands. It is the very core of our existence, and we must be the very epitome of service, whether we have witnesses or not. All great men were once servants, and that is exactly what we must strive to be.

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