Randomness in music is becoming increasingly “in vogue” recently. There is an entire genre of music called “aleatoric” music” wherin some or all parts of the music-making process are left to chance.
One of the principle issues with this type of music is deciding how to notate it. Standard music notation creates a shared language for all practitioners of the artform, but in the world of aleatory, much of the symbolic representations of “sound over time,” become more literal. Rather than a quarter note, a composer may just write “continue for about twenty seconds.” Abstract and unconventional notation is rising in popularity, as composers attempt to find new territories of sonic expression, and aleatory is a composer’s playground in this realm of exploration.
Attached is a piece by one of the most famous contemporary compositional explorers in the modern era: Karlheinz Stockhausen.