SOUND PATTERNS

A Structural Examination of Tonality, Vocabulary, Texture,
Sonorities, and Time Organization in Western Art Music

by PHILLIP MAGNUSON

MICROCOSMS

Chapter 47. Indeterminism

Image
Chapter 41.
Impressionism
Image
Chapter 42.
Primitivism
Image
Chapter 43.
Neo-classicism
Image
Chapter 44.
Expressionism
Image
Chapter 45.
Serialism
Image
Chapter 46.
Jazz
. Image
Chapter 48.
Texturalism
Image
Chapter 49.
Minimalism
Image
Chapter 50.
Electronicism
Image
Chapter 51.
Neo-romanticism
Image
Chapter 52.
Eclecticism

INDETERMINISM: an appeal to spontaneity

ImageJackson Pollock:
Lavender Mist #1
Lavender Mist is an example of "action-painting". Pollock would throw, splatter, and dribble paint onto his canvas, allowing random motions to construct his art.1950

47.1 BACKGROUND

There has been a general tendency in Western music to restrict options for the performer, and to require more accurate performances. INDETERMINISM is a reaction to this, and follows traditions from other musics and other cultures. 20th century Indeterminism can be a result of actions made by chance (ALEATORY..."alea" is Greek for "dice") or choice (not by the composer). One of the first recognized composers of Indeterminate music was John Cage. Read more on the web about his most famous composition, 4'33" .

Certain Indeterminate features have always been a part of Western music. Performers are generally in control of dynamics, articulations, and tempi of older music, and improvisation has a long history, as in the creation of cadenzas. Whether by chance or choice, each performance of a piece of Indeterminate music will be different. The resulting performance is frequently a composition of great complexity, and this randomness can sound curiously like music produced with Total Serialism. In other words, although these styles could not be more different in concept, the end result can be surprisingly alike.

47.2 COMPOSERS ASSOCIATED WITH INDETERMINISM

47.3 MUSICAL ELEMENTS

At a glance:

IndeterminismTonalityVocabularyTextureSonorityTime
basically maintains:?????
generally modifies:?????
completely changes:?????

  1. Chance

    Chance can be created by any random process, such as

  2. Choice

    Choices can be made by the performers or audience.

  3. Materials

    Elements that can be selected, either by chance or choice, include

ASSIGNMENTS:

SUGGESTED LISTENING

ANALYSIS

  1. John Cage: TV Koln (1958) [ATM #21] Listen to a performance
  2. Aaron Allen: Mass Subjects Performers (2000)

SYNTHESIS

See project for Texturalism.

GO TO TOP OF PAGE


Copyright 2008-2009 by Phillip Magnuson.

Content on this website is licensed under a Creative Commons License.