Indeterminacy in music  

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-'''Aleatoricism''' is the creation of [[art]] by chance, exploiting the principle of [[randomness]]. The word derives from the Latin word ''alea'', the rolling of [[dice]]. It should not be confused with [[improvisation]].+'''Indeterminacy''' in music, which began early in the twentieth century in the music of [[Charles Ives]], and was continued in the 1930s by [[Henry Cowell]] and carried on by his student, the [[experimental music]] composer [[John Cage]] beginning in [[1951]] (Griffiths 2001), came to refer to the (mostly American) movement which grew up around Cage. This group included the other members of the so-called [[New York School#The_Composers|New York School]]: [[Earle Brown]], [[Morton Feldman]] and [[Christian Wolff]]. Others working in this way included the [[Scratch Orchestra]] in the United Kingdom (1968 until the early 1970s) and the Japanese composer [[Toshi Ichiyanagi]] (born 1933).
-==Literature==+In 1958 Cage gave a lecture in Brussels called "Indeterminacy: New Aspect of Form in Instrumental and Electronic Music" (given again in 1959 at Teacher's College, Columbia). The lecture consisted of a number of short stories read by Cage in exactly one minute; because of this time limit the speed of Cage's delivery varied enormously. The second performance and a subsequent recording (Cage 1959) contained music, also by Cage, played by [[David Tudor]] at the same time.
-An example of aleatory writing is the [[automatic writing]] of the [[Surrealism in the Arts#Surrealism in literature .26 as a school of poetry|French Surrealists]] involving [[dream]]s, et cetera. The French literary group [[Oulipo]] for example saw no merit in aleatory work and its members altogether eliminated chance and randomness from their writing, substituting [[potentiality]] as in [[Raymond Queneau]]'s ''Cent Mille Milliards de Poèmes ([[Hundred Thousand Billion Poems]])''.+
-[[Luke Rhinehart]]'s novel ''[[The Dice Man]]'' tells the story of a psychiatrist named Luke Rhinehart who, feeling bored and unfulfilled in life, starts making decisions about what to do based on a roll of a die.+One strand of indeterminacy in music sees it as an aesthetic endeavour that strives to dissolve any fixed properties of music sound into a fluid process and do away with the traditional control of the composer over the material. In its most radical form, all sounds have equal value: sounds chosen by the composer, by the performer, and all the unforeseen and unpredictable sounds that surround us every day. Indeterminacy in this view is philosophically opposed to [[aleatoric music]]: there the indeterminate element was kept under careful control by the composer, usually by offering the performers a limited number of possibilities from which to choose.
-Charles Hartman discusses several methods of automatic generation of poetry in his book ''The Virtual Muse''.+==References==
 +*Cage, John. 1961. "Indeterminacy", in his ''Silence: Lectures and Writings'', 35–40. Middletown, Conn.: Wesleyan University Press.
 +*Childs, Barney. 1974. "Indeterminacy", in ''Dictionary of Twentieth-Century Music'', edited by John Vinton, [pages ?]. London: Thames and Hudson. ISBN 0500011001 American edition published under title ''Dictionary of Contemporary Music'' (New York: E. P. Dutton, 1974) ISBN 0525091254
 +*Griffiths, Paul. 2001. "Aleatory". ''The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians'', ed. S. Sadie and J. Tyrrell. London: Macmillan.
 +*Nyman, Michael. 1974. ''Experimental Music: Cage and Beyond''. London: [publisher]; New York: Schirmer Books. ISBN 0028712005 Second edition 1999, Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0521652979 (cloth) ISBN 0521653835 (pbk)
 +*Sutherland, Roger. 1994. ''New Perspectives in Music''. London: Sun Tavern Fields. ISBN 0951701266
-==Music==+==Discography==
-:''[[aleatoric music]]+* Cage, John. 1959. ''Indeterminacy: New Aspects of Form in Instrumental and Electronic Music''. Ninety Stories by John Cage, with Music. John Cage, reading; David Tudor, music (Cage, ''Solo for Piano'' from ''Concert for Piano and Orchestra'', with ''Fontana Mix''). Folkways FT 3704 (2 LPs). Reissued 1992 on Smithsonian/Folkways CD DF 40804/5 (2 CDs).
-[[Pierre Boulez]] applied the term [[aleatoric music]] to his own pieces to distinguish them from the [[indeterminate music]] of [[John Cage]], though both are often described as aleatory. While Boulez purposefully composed his pieces to allow the performer certain liberties with regard to the sequencing and repetition of parts, Cage often composed through the application of chance operations without allowing the performer liberties. Another prolific aleatory music composer is [[Karlheinz Stockhausen]]. Qubais Reed Ghazala, founder of the circuit-bending chance-music movement, is an important contemporary chance artist also pioneering aleatoric work in visual media (original techniques in suminagashi, dye migration, aperture shift photography).+
- +
-==Film==+
-In film-making, there are several avant-garde examples; Andy Voda's "Chance Chants" (1979) was created completely using various chance operations (coin flip, choosing words out of a hat, a recorded "telephone game", the vagaries of tracing over drawings) in the decision-making for each creative choice. It was a three part film, the first part being a hand-made computer film, the second a visualization of Allison Knowles'[http://www.aknowles.com] computer poem "House of Dust", and the third a visualization of evolution through a children's telephone game. +
- +
-[[Fred Camper]]'s ''SN'' (1984, first screening 2002) uses coin-flipping to determine which three of 18 possible reels to screen and what order they should go in (4896 permutations). +
- +
-[[Barry Salt]], now better known as a film scholar, is known to have made a film, ''Permutations'', six reels long which takes the word aleatory quite literally by including a customized die for the projectionist to roll to determine the reel order (720 permutations).+
- +
-Grant Patten utilizes an [[I Ching]]-inspired aleatory method to predict the date of his death in his short animation [http://www.grpatten.com/Dateofdeath.shtml "The (Rough) Date of My Death"] (2007).+
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Indeterminacy in music, which began early in the twentieth century in the music of Charles Ives, and was continued in the 1930s by Henry Cowell and carried on by his student, the experimental music composer John Cage beginning in 1951 (Griffiths 2001), came to refer to the (mostly American) movement which grew up around Cage. This group included the other members of the so-called New York School: Earle Brown, Morton Feldman and Christian Wolff. Others working in this way included the Scratch Orchestra in the United Kingdom (1968 until the early 1970s) and the Japanese composer Toshi Ichiyanagi (born 1933).

In 1958 Cage gave a lecture in Brussels called "Indeterminacy: New Aspect of Form in Instrumental and Electronic Music" (given again in 1959 at Teacher's College, Columbia). The lecture consisted of a number of short stories read by Cage in exactly one minute; because of this time limit the speed of Cage's delivery varied enormously. The second performance and a subsequent recording (Cage 1959) contained music, also by Cage, played by David Tudor at the same time.

One strand of indeterminacy in music sees it as an aesthetic endeavour that strives to dissolve any fixed properties of music sound into a fluid process and do away with the traditional control of the composer over the material. In its most radical form, all sounds have equal value: sounds chosen by the composer, by the performer, and all the unforeseen and unpredictable sounds that surround us every day. Indeterminacy in this view is philosophically opposed to aleatoric music: there the indeterminate element was kept under careful control by the composer, usually by offering the performers a limited number of possibilities from which to choose.

References

  • Cage, John. 1961. "Indeterminacy", in his Silence: Lectures and Writings, 35–40. Middletown, Conn.: Wesleyan University Press.
  • Childs, Barney. 1974. "Indeterminacy", in Dictionary of Twentieth-Century Music, edited by John Vinton, [pages ?]. London: Thames and Hudson. ISBN 0500011001 American edition published under title Dictionary of Contemporary Music (New York: E. P. Dutton, 1974) ISBN 0525091254
  • Griffiths, Paul. 2001. "Aleatory". The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, ed. S. Sadie and J. Tyrrell. London: Macmillan.
  • Nyman, Michael. 1974. Experimental Music: Cage and Beyond. London: [publisher]; New York: Schirmer Books. ISBN 0028712005 Second edition 1999, Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0521652979 (cloth) ISBN 0521653835 (pbk)
  • Sutherland, Roger. 1994. New Perspectives in Music. London: Sun Tavern Fields. ISBN 0951701266

Discography

  • Cage, John. 1959. Indeterminacy: New Aspects of Form in Instrumental and Electronic Music. Ninety Stories by John Cage, with Music. John Cage, reading; David Tudor, music (Cage, Solo for Piano from Concert for Piano and Orchestra, with Fontana Mix). Folkways FT 3704 (2 LPs). Reissued 1992 on Smithsonian/Folkways CD DF 40804/5 (2 CDs).




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