A conceptualization of uncertain compositional devices as a set of possibilities;
each assigned a notational value—a performance schema which draws on the circumstances that originally occasioned it, namely the game of chance, the
die and its faces—is an enduring one.
Within indeterminate composition
the ‘occasional cause’, the
spontaneous metaphysics of the performer/gambler continue to
exert an intuitive hold on thinking concerned with
uncertain eventualities, coloring its interpretation
and its application to diverse situations.
these semantics, the meaning of composition remains
as enigmatic as ever: an idealized construct that neutralizes
contingency by integrating infinite ‘trials’;
or a real property, propensity, or ‘random generator’
As a Composer, the asymmetry of the wager is dramatized in the
figures of the naive punter (performer) who faces every roll of the
die as a hazardous adventure, and the casino manager (composer)
who controls the long game and never loses.
On one hand chance may be figured as subjective epistemological
shortfall, on the other as the object of technical knowledge. This tension between
musical knowledge and contingency is conceptually condensed in the notion
of probability and latterly in that of risk—a concept belonging to a relatively recent compositional history, but one with immense consequences for modernity.