Aleatoric Music

About four years ago, I was growing discouraged about composing music. It felt like everything sounded the same. I wanted to make something different. I had an idea. What if I created music by rolling dice? I played around with the idea, but things started getting weird real fast. I didn’t follow through.

After some research, I discovered that rolling dice in musical composition goes back to the classical era. It’s called aleatoric music, alea = dice.

Recently, I’ve been rethinking attempting to create some aleatoric or chance music. There’s no single method or set of rules as to how this kind of music is created.

Some composers rolled the dice for every single musical change, while others only rolled the dice for some of the basic parameters and structure of the composition. You might imagine that composers who rolled the dice for everything wound up with some weird music. Personally, I prefer the idea of only applying chance to certain aspects of a composition.

In the near future, I’ll be working on some Anderhill pieces that include playing with the use of aleatoric composition. For me, it’s an experiment less in making music that is weird and unusual, and more a challenge to create unique music that has set parameters and limitations.

Sometimes, you just have to roll the dice. – dse

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Author: Dan Steven Erickson

Dan Steven Erickson is a great undiscovered American songwriter.