[Smt-talk] Fiat & Cage

Haskins, Rob Rob.Haskins at unh.edu
Sun Sep 28 07:48:21 PDT 2014

Charles Smith wrote in part:

"Has anyone seen the Fiat commercials . . . that use music that sounds to me like snippets from Cage's Music for Prepared Piano. Certainly inspired by this music, if not note-for-note, timbre-for-timbre exactly. . . .

"I wonder if the Cage estate is getting royalties? (or what his opinion was about the concept of royalties...)"


I found a commercial for Fiat at <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NwAlfH332iw> Is this one of the commercials you mean? The sounds resemble Cage's only passingly to my ears (they sound, maybe, a little more like the ones in John Adams's _John's Book of Alleged Dances_), and the foursquare rhythm doesn't help matters much, either.

As for the question of royalties, C. F. Peters sued the musician-producer Mike Batt about ten years ago for copyright infringement (Batt included a silent track on an album called "A Minute and a Half of Silence for John Cage" or something similar to that). They settled out of court and the settlement was rumored to be six figures. I hate to utter this overly-uttered phrase, but in this case I think Cage would have approved.

All best,

Rob Haskins, D.M.A., Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Department of Music, College of Liberal Arts
University of New Hampshire
<rob.haskins at unh.edu>

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