Cage’s piano playing archived

Cage Williams’ piano playing is in the Archive of the Now. It is an archive which features an amazing array of contemporary poets who are invited to record readings of their work. Angus Sinclair, the poet, asked Cage to accompany his reading of the Sonnets for Billy Barrix. You can listen to the result on the website of the Archive of the Now, which also allows you to download its content for free. Angus has some other work up on that site called True Pyramids, which he recorded on his allotment in New Cross.

Direct link to Angus Sinclair’s page on the archive.

Angus recorded the Barrix sonnets with Cage in a pub called The Joiners Arms, which is in Camberwell, at the bottom of Denmark Hill, and can boast two decades of musical history. Its location has particular significance because Cage learned to play on a piano from Camberwell and spent many hours looking at the name Camberwell which is printed on the piano lid just above the keyboard.



It is difficult to trace the S. exactly but there used to be quite a few Dales making and selling pianos in the Camberwell area around 1900. The closest on record is Edward Dale, who was just around the corner at 262 Camberwell Road. They are listed in the D section of the list of Piano-forte makers of England, European website, which is a useful resource for researching this sort of thing.

The pub piano in the Joiners Arms has no connection with any Dales though. No doubt the majority of piano makers were priced out of having a workshop or warehouse in Camberwell decades ago.

The geographic location at which Angus recorded the poems is also significant because the Barrix character in the poems is speaking from a place not dissimilar to Camberwell.


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