Imaginary Landscape No. 5

Imaginary Landscape No. 5 (sometimes also entitled Imaginary Landscapes No. 5[a]) is a composition by American composer John Cage and the fifth and final installment in the series of Imaginary Landscapes. It was composed in 1952.

Imaginary Landscape No. 5
by John Cage
John Cage (1988).jpg
John Cage (1988)
PerformedJanuary 18, 1952 - New York
PublishedEdition Peters
Scoring42 recordings


After working on his Imaginary Landscape No. 4 (March No. 2) and his Music of Changes, Cage's first two works to feature utter indeterminacy, Cage started working with Morton Feldman on graphical scores, which was fairly avant-garde at the time. Fascinated by the idea of detaching himself from the music he was making, he decided to write a piece that used the system in No. 4, but with recorded music rather than radio broadcasting. This piece was a part of Cage's two contributions to a project entitled Project for Music for Magnetic Tape, the other one being Williams Mix, composed in a similar fashion and also presented on graphic paper.[1] However, the piece was to be realized as a tape recording, and not to be broadcast.

With the help of long-time collaborator David Tudor and the technical assistance from Bebe and Louis Barron, Cage realized the composition on January 18, 1952. Cage used mostly jazz recordings to make this piece, which called for 42 recordings, presented as disposed in the score. This work became the basis of a dance piece, entitled Portrait of a Lady, which premiered in New York in 1952 by Jean Erdman.[2] The score was eventually published by Edition Peters.[3]


This piece consist of only one movement and the average duration varies widely from recording to recording. It is scored for 42 recordings disposed in eight tracks in a mixing studio, all of them being re-recorded into tape as disposed in the score. The score itself is a block-grid, wherein each square is meant to be three inches of recording (around 0.2 seconds). The score also indicates the changes in dynamics and includes crescendos and diminuendos.[4] Whereas duration and amplitude are specified in the score, there is no mention from Cage as to what recordings or what type of music should be used for performing the piece. The compositional method was use of the I Ching, creating a chart work with a five to five structure, as in Imaginary Landscape No. 4 (March No. 2).[3]


The following is an incomplete list of recordings of Imaginary Landscape No. 5:


  1. ^ The title Imaginary Landscapes No. 5 is used on the cover of the original score, EP 6719. The first page of the score, however, changes the title to Imaginary Landscape No. 5, for any 42 phonograph records


  1. ^ Cline, David (2016). The Graph Music of Morton Feldman. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9781107109230. Retrieved 10 March 2018. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  2. ^ Butterworth, Neil (2013). Dictionary of American Classical Composers. Routledge. ISBN 9781136790249. Retrieved 10 March 2018. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  3. ^ a b "John Cage Complete Works". Retrieved 10 March 2018. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  4. ^ "Manuscript Excerpt: Imaginary Landscape No. 5 | John Cage". Retrieved 10 March 2018. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  5. ^ "John Cage: Imaginary Landscapes – Maelström Percussion Ensemble, Jan Williams | Songs, Reviews, Credits | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 9 March 2018. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  6. ^ "Stradivarius - The leading italian classical music label". Retrieved 10 March 2018. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  7. ^ "John Cage - The Works for Percussion 1". Retrieved 10 March 2018. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)

External linksEdit