Understanding Cheap Imitation

I’ve written about John Cage’s Cheap imitation for piano several times. But it was only recently that I sat down and did a careful analysis of the piece. I looked at how Cage said he composed it; I looked at the score and compared it to Satie’s Socrate; I examined the choices that Cage made and tried to understand his motivations.

Much of what I present in this series of posts is pretty technical. But what I hope is that this will be more than just a documentation of how Cage composed Cheap imitation (although that’s certainly worth knowing). I’ve also used Cheap imitation as a way of demonstrating how I go about engaging deeply with a piece like this, based on technical analysis, musical feeling, and psychological intuition about John Cage.

1. Looking deeper into John Cage’s Cheap imitation

2. What Cage says about Cheap imitation

3. How Cage actually composed Cheap imitation

4. Choice and style in Cage’s Cheap imitation

5. Satie, Cunningham, and the meaning of Cage’s Cheap imitation