NPR logo A Free Download You Won't Be Able To Keep Quiet About


A Free Download You Won't Be Able To Keep Quiet About

Careful listening: With the volume turned all the way up — that's the only way to listen to one of this week's free downloads from iTunes. hide caption

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If you've never signed up for an account at the iTunes Store, now's the time, because among this week's standard handful of free songs, videos and audiobook excerpts is one of the landmark compositions of the Twentieth Century.

That's right: for a limited time, you can own your very own copy of John Cage's 4'33" for nothing. The timing's a little suspect — it's not April 33 yet — and the audiophiles will surely argue over whether Apple's proprietary file format captures the piece with the same warmth and fidelity of vinyl.

But whoever wrote the description really understands the true essence of Cage's work, and the passage from 0:23-0:29 is genuinely gripping if you'll allow it underneath your skin. (No, really.) (No. Really.) Because it's only the first movement, though, it feels like it's over before it starts, just as it rises to a harrowing climax starting at 1:35. For the rest, you'll have to pony up another $1.98. Well-played, iTunes.