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Cage's "Cheap Imitation" is a set of 3 piano works based on Erik Satie's "Socrates", which Cage reworked by varying the original using random extractions of hexagrams from the I-Ching.

Cage, John
Cheap Imitation [VINYL]

Cage, John:  Cheap Imitation [VINYL]

Label: MiruMir (Cramps)    
Released in: Italy    

"Like numerous other works by Cage, Cheap Imitation was a result of his collaboration with Merce Cunningham's dance company. However, in this case the original choreography relied not on Cage's music, but on a piano arrangement of Erik Satie's symphonic drama Socrate. In 1947 Cunningham made a dance based on the first movement of Satie's work, and Cage provided a two-piano transcription of the music (since Cunningham's dances were usually accompanied by means of piano only). In 1968 it was decided to expand the choreography by two movements, based on the remaining two of the Satie work. Cage, who was at the time working on HPSCHD, a large multimedia work, requested help of an acquaintance from the University of Illinois, Arthur Maddox, and together they completed a two-piano arrangement of the remaining two movements. The new choreography was to be premiered in early 1970.

However, in December 1969 Cage received news from Satie's publisher, Éditions Max Eschig, that he is refused the rights to perform the piece, even though Eschig haven't even requested to see the transcription. Because the choreography was based on the rhythms and structure of Socrate, Cage could not simply compose a new piece of music. He decided to imitate Satie's work in a piano solo. Cage titled the result Cheap Imitation, and Cunningham responded in kind, naming the choreography Second Hand.

Cheap Imitation became the last work Cage performed in public as a pianist: arthritis prevented him from doing any more performances. Nevertheless, even though his hands were painfully swollen, he still played it during the 1970s. Cage grew more and more fascinated with the piece, producing transcriptions for orchestra of a minimum of 24 performers and a maximum of 95 (1972) and for solo violin (1977) at the request of the violinist Paul Zukofsky (who in 1989-90 also assisted Cage in completing the Freeman Etudes, which had been started in 1977-80). The orchestral versions, however, were not performed until much later, because the musicians refused to rehearse and would subsequently discover the piece is too difficult for them.

Cheap Imitation became something of a departure for Cage, because it was his first "proper" composition, in the old sense of the word, since 1962. Furthermore, the open declaration of Cage's own feelings (about Satie's work) was something very unusual for his work, which was, since the late 1940s, almost entirely impersonal. Cage himself was well aware of the contradiction between the rest of his works and Cheap Imitation:

"In the rest of my work, I'm in harmony with myself [...] But Cheap Imitation clearly takes me away from all that. So if my ideas sink into confusion, I owe that confusion to love. [...] Obviously, Cheap Imitation lies outside of what may seem necessary in my work in general, and that's disturbing. I'm the first to be disturbed by it."-John Cage

Cage's fondness for the work resulted in a recording of him performing it, made in 1976-a rare occurrence, given Cage's negative attitude to recordings."-Wikipedia

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Price: $15.80
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Shipping Weight: 18.00 units

Quantity in Basket: None

Product Information:

UPC: 889397100612

Label: MiruMir (Cramps)
Catalog ID: MIR 100202LP
Squidco Product Code: 16524

Format: LP
Condition: Closeout (New)
Released: 2012
Country: Italy
Packaging: Vinyl 12" LP
Recorded at Mills College in Oakland, CA on March 7th, 1976.


John Cage-piano

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Track Listing:


Band 1 7:14

Band 2 8:27


Solid Band 20:30

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