John Cage’s 1969 piece instructs the arrangement of eight to twelve turntables and three hundred records to be placed in the performance space. The audience are the performers and are free to play and mix the records as they wish.
This performance ‘happening’ is an example of experimental turntablism where turntables and records are used as musical instruments. Cage created a number of pieces such as Imaginary Landscapes No. 1 (1939), Imaginary Landscapes No. 2 (1940) Imaginary Landscapes No. 3 (1942) and Cartridge Music (1960) which utilised the turntable and playback cartridge as instruments for the creation of new music. 33 1/3 was presented at University of California, Davis on November 21, 1969. It was also incorporated into Address (1977). Discussing the creative us of records, Cage stated:
“The only lively thing that will happen with a record is, if somehow you would use it to make something which it isn’t. If you could for instance make another piece of music with a record, including a record and other sounds of the environment or other musical instruments, that I would find interesting.”