The legendary modern music composer John Cage would have been 100 years old had he lived until September 5, 2012.
To help mark the occasion—and to celebrate the music that he is passionate about—Jack Freudenheim has been feverishly working on a music app that brings the sounds of Cage's "prepared piano" to the masses, in time for the birthday milestone.
"This app is for anyone—from fans of John Cage's, to students of his music, or anyone who wants to try out this style of piano playing," said Freudenheim, 55, a software consultant and Katonah resident of ten years.
As one of the "fathers of modern music" and leader in avant-garde composition, Cage, who died in 1992, coined the term "prepared piano," which describes how he placed objects beneath and between the strings of a grand piano to create an entirely new instrument, Freudenheim said.
"Cage inserted nuts, bolts and erasers, among other objects, into the piano's strings, which affected the sound. It made the piano almost like a percussion instrument," Freudenheim explained to Patch.
There is a paid version for the iPad, which costs $1, and features all 36 prepared notes and the ability to record and save your performances plus make a ringtone of your creation. A free version of the app exists for the iTouch/iPhone and features nine sampled notes on a screen at a time. Both versions allow you to your record your performance and share it via Facebook, Twitter and email.
It's been a labor of love. Freudenheim has been developing the app in his spare time with Larson Associates in conjunction with the John Cage Trust in Poughkeepsie—in addition to other business and government software consulting work he does with Twin Technologies, a software systems integration firm.
Freudenheim knows a thing or two about modern music. He's a former student of it—he majored in ethnomusicology at Wesleyan University—and current musician. He plays in 46Bliss, an electronic pop trio best known for their contribution to the soundtracks of Veronica Mars and CSI-NY.
And he and his wife, Judith Sorokin, a psychologist and artist, are parents to two children interested in the arts. Gwen, a freshman at this year, has interests in the visual arts and Will, a junior, plays the french horn and is an electronic musician as well, said Freudenhim, who is a board member of , the district's arts booster organization.
The project succeeded in combining his personal interests with his professional abilities.
"I love music and programming. To make something that shares the joy of Cage's music with others has been really gratifying," said Freudenheim.