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(from Latin, alea: dice game) Any 20th-century music, particularly that of the 1950s and '60s, the composition or performance of which incorporates elements of chance. In aleatory music aspects such as the ordering of a piece's sections, its rhythms, and even its pitches are decided at the moment of performance. When not purely improvising, players follow lists of arbitrary rules or interpreted graphic notation that merely suggest the sounds. Charles Ives and Henry Cowell had used such techniques, but John Cage became the principal figure in aleatory; other aleatory composers include Earle Brown (1926–2002), Morton Feldman (1926–87), and Pierre Boulez.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on aleatory music, visit Britannica.com.
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