Later today, Pete Doherty, the Kooks, Billy Bragg, Imogen Heap, Orbital and many more will gather in a London studio, collaborating in a bid for this year's Christmas No 1. But the strangest bit is not the team-up: it's that they are not recording a single note. The ad hoc supergroup is assembling in support of Cage Against the Machine, a charity campaign to take John Cage's infamous 4'33" – a composition of pure silence – to the top of the Yuletide charts.
The campaign has been gathering momentum over the past couple of months, winning celebrity endorsements, amused press coverage and around 60,000 Facebook fans. Their inspiration is obvious: last year's successful push to raise Rage Against the Machine's Killing In the Name, released in 1992, over X Factor winner Joe McElderry's The Climb. In 2010, instead of loosing a profanity-laden rap-rock tirade on the British public, Cage Against the Machine organisers want to unfurl the serene sound of silence, taking on whoever wins X Factor next week.
And lest we forget this, from 2002: Composer pays for piece of silence
British composer Mike Batt found himself the subject of a plagiarism action for including the song, "A One Minute Silence," on an album for his classical rock band The Planets. He was accused of copying it from a work by the late American composer John Cage, whose 1952 composition "4'33"" was totally silent.
On Monday, Batt settled the matter out of court by paying an undisclosed six-figure sum to the John Cage Trust.
Batt said: "This has been, albeit a gentlemanly dispute, a most serious matter and I am pleased that Cage's publishers have finally been persuaded that their case was, to say the least, optimistic. "We are, however, making this gesture of a payment to the John Cage Trust in recognition of my own personal respect for John Cage and in recognition of his brave and sometimes outrageous approach to artistic experimentation in music."
Batt credited "A One Minute Silence" to "Batt/Cage."
Before the start of the court case, Batt had said: "Has the world gone mad? I'm prepared to do time rather than pay out. We are talking as much as £100,000 in copyright.
"Mine is a much better silent piece. I have been able to say in one minute what Cage could only say in four minutes and 33 seconds."