Beyoncé 'Mute Challenge' Has a Much Longer Predecessor

Beyoncé has been packing screaming fans into football stadiums and arenas all around the world in her record-breaking Renaissance Tour which has now made its way to Canada.

One of the fun moments of the evening occurs during "Energy" when Bey sings the lines

Wait, I hear you just got paid, make it rain energy
She more Cancún, he more Saint-Tropez
Big wave in the room, the crowd gon' move
Look around, everybody on mute

And everyone is supposed to be totally silent. Something that is shockingly difficult for all of the tens of thousands of excited attendees in the presence of Blue Ivy's momma.

Cities have begun bragging about how well they handled the challenge while razzing those shows where people just couldn't keep their mouths shut.

Even celebrities are proving they know the game, as seen best by Spider-Man Tom Holland and his sweetie Zendaya.

If Beyoncé is the queen of being silent on stage and forcing her audience to follow suit, the King of Quiet is Mr. John Cage.

In 1948, Cage wrote 4'33" a classical piece in three movements where no instruments are played. Originally titled "Silent Prayer," the experimental composer shocked the world on August, 29, 1952, when the oddity was first performed at the ironically named Maverick Concert Hall in Woodstock, NY.

John Cage talking about talking and sound and music and silence.

Pianist David Tudor, using a stopwatch, approached the piano and opened and closed the lid when instructed on the sheet music. The bewildered audience eventually became angered at the idea of such a long time of silence and one person reportedly said, "Good people of Woodstock, let’s drive these people out of town!"

Maverick Concert Hall still stands!

Cage set them straight explaining, "they missed the point. There’s no such thing as silence," he philosophised.

"What they thought was silence, because they didn’t know how to listen, was full of accidental sounds. You could hear the wind stirring outside during the first movement. During the second, raindrops began patterning the roof, and during the third the people themselves made all kinds of interesting sounds as they talked or walked out," he said.

Thus, according to Cage, the Renaissance fans who just can't be quiet are just as beautiful as those who can. In fact, their shrieks are what frames the quiet.

If only Cage knew how that first performance at Woodstock would become nearly as groundbreaking to music compotition as the festival that would follow it 17 years later.

An entire orchestra performing the piece.

Cage's piece is still embraced today, decades later.

This version by Grammy winning Russian pianist and composer, Daniil Trifonov, has already racked up 69,000 views on YouTube

Impressive, but this metal version by Dead Territory incorporates the loud/quiet of "Energy," and has been viewed 802,000 times.

Cage would probably appreciate the Austrian band's willingness to try, but the composer would likely say the piece is meant to be played in front of an audience so that all of their little accidental, unplanned noises are audible.

William Marx understood the assignment as seen here at this performance in Palm Desert, CA, in a video that has been seen over 8.5 million times, one would assume, because of the audience's reaction. Particularly the fellow asking for an encore.

But perhaps the biggest name in popular music who has performed the piece was Andrew W.K. who was accompanied by the Calder Quartet in 2009 at the Largo in West Hollywood.

Being a pro, the LA show was not the first time the rocker who dresses in a minimalist white short sleeve shirt and white pants, had performed the iconic piece.

According to our database, Andrew also performed it the night before the LA appearance in San Francisco.

Because even when it comes to avant garde music: practice makes perfect.

Beyoncé comes back to the US this week but is winding up her US tour. Grab your tickets on her website if you can, and remember what to do during "Energy": nothing.

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Last updated: 25 Sep 2023, 07:05 Etc/UTC