1913 piece of music by Marcel Duchamp which is a good early example of Indeterminate music
The instructions of his "Musical Erratum" for The Large Glass. This is an early example of aleatory music which was later was adopted by John Cage, Iannis Xenakis, Brian Eno, Pierre Boulez and many others.
In the first instance of this musical notes were drawn from a hat to determine a composition. His notes proposed a "random" or chance composition by having notes selected through "new" mechanical process. for a designated musical instrument (player Piano, mechanical organs or other new instruments for which the virtuoso intermediary is suppressed); the order of succession is (to taste) interchangeable; the time which separates each roman numeral will probably be constant (?) but it may vary from one performance to another; a very useless performance in any case.
Later versions of Duchamp's proposed system for a musical composition suggested the use of a funnel, a toy train with open trucks, and balls to be placed in the funnel. The balls are numbered and represent separate notes. Chance decides the order in which the balls land in the trucks: this in turn decides the tonal sequence of the composition, which is thus made variable.
Tomkins, Calvin, "DUCHAMP: A Biography", Henry Holt, NY, 1996
Last Updated 12.20.02