Bandt_1974.pdf (9.87 MB)

Chance operations and indeterminate procedures in the work of John Cage, 1950-1970

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posted on 14.11.2018 by ROS BANDT
Since 1950, the inclusion of chance operations and indeterminate procedures in musical compositions has brought about wide-spread dispute. The complete musical process from the composer to the listener has had to be reassessed in the light of chance and choice, freedom and control, the predictable and unpredictable. Music involving these practices to whatever degree, is mobile and flexible. Having more than one possible realisation, it challenges the finite masterpieces which have formed the basis of Western musical tradition since the Renaissance.
From the outset, the terms chance operations and indeterminate procedures require some distinction. Both terms involve a plurality of possibilities, both thereby utilizing the uncertainty of the unknown. Chance Operations are techniques which bring about a result through random means within an already established method as in the throwing of dice, the tossing of coins, the dealing of cards. As a technique, the range of possibilities is more easily predicted when the norms of that technique are known quantities. When the possibilities lie within a fixed field, such as a series of numbers, then the outcome can be calculated through the application of probability theory […]


Principal supervisor

Laughton Harris

Year of Award


Department, School or Centre

Dept. of Music


Master of Arts

Degree Type


Campus location



Faculty of Arts