Throughout the history of Western music, musical notation has grown more and more precise. This development allowed composers a great degree of control over the execution of their works, but also limited the freedom of the performers and marginalized their role as interpreters. The second half of the 20th century saw the emergence of a new stream of composers who strove to break the composer-performer hierarchy by writing aleatoric music in which central aspects of the piece are left to chance or to the performer's judgement.
The course will explore compositions that demonstrate a variety of aleatoric approaches, from a technical/musical perspective as well as from a philosophical/political perspective. Additionally, philosophical and artistic movements that influenced aleatoric composers (dadaism, post-structuralism, etc.) will be explored. Discussions will turn around a few central themes such as the relationship between notation and control, the significance of the role of the composer as opposed to those of the performer and listener, and the manner in which these roles changed over time.