Indeterminate composition by note omission, shortening and contraction

Kit Buckley

Research output: ThesisMaster's Thesis

242 Downloads (Pure)


Although various forms of chance and indeterminacy have been utilised to varying degrees over the last 60 or so years by many different composers, not all possible avenues have been explored. This research proposes to examine three new methods of indeterminate composition, and compare them to established indeterminate techniques. This study will investigate three means of realising performance 'indeterminacy', through the removal of part of a written, determinate score by the performer. These procedures are note omission, where a note is replaced with a rest of equivalent value, note shortening, where part of a note's duration is removed and replaced with a rest of an equivalent value, and note contraction, where the note is skipped over, with the performer proceeding immediately to the next note. In each case, the application of these procedures should serve to highlight particular elements and sub-structures within the full score. In the introduction, the definition of 'indeterminacy', and other closely related terms, such as 'chance' and 'improvisation' will be established. As these terms have been used inconsistently from author to author, a clarification of their definition, as used in this thesis, is necessary before specific compositions and approaches can be discussed. After the literature review in the first chapter, the second chapter will examine some of the established indeterminate methods. Although this survey will not be exhaustive, it will discuss key indeterminate works, and works that contain indeterminate elements from the mid to late 20th Century, including compositions by Pierre Boulez, John Cage, Morton Feldman, Brian Ferneyhough, Karlheinz Stockhausen and Iannis Xenakis, to establish the context for the author's new methods of composition.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusUnpublished - 2012


Dive into the research topics of 'Indeterminate composition by note omission, shortening and contraction'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this