Skip to Content

Compose your own Imaginary Landscape!

Imaginary Landscape Tutorial Videos

How to download a sample from

How to create your own Imaginary Landscape using samples and Garage Band.

A sample version of Imaginary Landscape #5

Imaginary Landscape #5 was composed in 1952 by John Cage. It is a montage of sound clips with varying orders, duration and dynamics. Cage used chance operations to determine the durations and order and amplitude of the sound clips, so each realization of the piece will be different. The score is represented in block graph form. Cage used the coins of the I-Ching, but dice or spinner wheels can be substituted to create a score. Imaginary Landscape #5 was created from 42 different recordings on tape cut and pasted together in fragments denoted by the score. This creates a soundscape of recordings weaving in and out of silence and sound with often jarring articulations. The program notes of the original score do not indicate what theme or recordings should be used in this process. Cage has left it up to the composer of today to create his/her own original landscape. Digital technologies have overtaken the old form of composing by splicing and pasting tape, so how can we use the materials and technology we have today to create a piece in the style of Imaginary Landscapes #5?

After listening to the piece a couple of times and looking at the score notes it can be determined that a piece in the style of Imaginary Landscapes #5 will need to have:

Procedure for creating a piece in the style of Imaginary Landscapes #5

  • Determine what tracks you will use and if you want a theme (My first theme is Bjork and my second example is Halloween sound effects)
  • Determine how many tracks you want to use
  • Assign a number for each dynamic level. For example 3=piano, 8=fortissimo, Doubles=silence
  • Create a chart for each stave using dice to determine the amount of seconds each clip will play, the dynamics of the clip and the order of the clips.
  • Create a legend to interpret the score.
  • Use Garageband or your application of choice and line the tracks up according to the first stave determined by the dice. Set the control bar on the bottom to keep track of the length of time in seconds. Adjust the dynamics with automation.
  • If you don’t have technology just make a handwritten score similar to the way Garageband looks and perform it outright. Record it if you want. Use a stop watch to help you keep track of time on the clips, or just practice playing to only that length.
  • Play your score back and enjoy your new Imaginary Landscape


Share your Imaginary Landscape here by uploading an mp3 recording to our dedicated SoundCloud site or link to your own SoundCoud file in the comment section.

Send us your sounds

Sample Lesson Plans with Imaginary Landscape No. 5

Imaginary Landscape No. 5 Lesson 1 – History

Imaginary Landscape No. 5 Lesson 2 – Composing Without Technology

Imaginary Landscape No. 5 Lesson 3 – Composing With Technology

Continue exploring our project: