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Unpredictable universe

Order and chaos, determinism and indeterminism, tectonic and atectonic as formative dichotomies in music history. For generative or interactive composition in modular synthesis, the point between these poles often flickers, sauntering in a fog.


LJ-user Tarrabass writes (translated from Russian):


'But here's something particularly remarkable! Whereas in the Classical-Romantic era the author, working within an ordered technical system, enriched it with elements of unpredictability and disorderedness (e.g., disruption of waiting), in the first half of the 20th century composers, working with fundamentally chaotic techniques (be it the expanded tonality of Debussy, early Prokofiev and Bartók or "free atonality" of Schoenberg and Webern) seek to counteract chaos by "cultivating" these or those variants of the new order. In this way the most remarkable and consistent example was dodecaphony: a purely external organisation of sound space, devoid of hierarchy and functional differentiation; external - as the order of the sounds is not determined from within the system of their links, but is brought in wholly by the composer's decision'

'The fate of the serial principle is well known: the short reign of total serialism of Darmstadt's leaders in the early 1950s denoted the utmost (in the history of European music) rigidity of organization and the maximum degree of determinism - in fact, it is quite a well-established, generally accepted point of view. But it is important to realise the specificity of this "rigidity", and, having realised this, to express a not at all generally accepted and paradoxical idea: the increase in the determinism of composition in the music of the second wave avant-gardists was accompanied by no lesser increase in chaoticism... (here it is appropriate to recall that in the natural sciences operates and such a paradoxical concept as "deterministic chaos"!) How is this achieved? After all, separate parameters, into which intonational matter is "split", are subjected to rigidly-deterministic organisation. As a result, even a single sound, which has always been an obedient material in the hands of the composer, now appears to be the result of the intersection of different structures'

'Hence the transition to aleatorics, electronic music and probabilistic composition soon after the hegemony of total serialism is not a fall into the opposite extreme, as it might seem at first, but the next logical and natural step of history. Composers consciously began to introduce chaos (randomness) as a principle of structure'

'In general, the combination of rigid structure and chaotic probabilistic openness of form reflects the modern natural science "picture" of the world (if it can be called a complete picture): a structure (generative model, formula) realized in an evolving, expanding and, most importantly, unpredictable universe'
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