John Cage is probably most famous for his controversial work 4’ 33” which requires a performer to sit in silence, playing nothing.
Cage himself considered 4’ 33” to be his most important work and it certainly divides opinion. Many jokes have been made about how easy it is to compose and play a work of complete silence.
But Cage was making a serious and complex point about the nature of sound:
“They missed the point. There’s no such thing as silence. What they thought was silence … was full of accidental sounds. You could hear the wind stirring… outside raindrops began patterning the roof… the people themselves made all kinds of interesting sounds as they talked or walked out.”
David Tudor who was the first person to perform the piece claimed: “It is one of the most intense listening experiences one can have. You really listen. You’re hearing everything there is.”