Music ETDs

Publication Date

Spring 5-8-2017


This work examines the social practice element of contemporary indeterminate music. Through historical and critical research, and analysis of some contemporary indeterminate works, I provide a view of indeterminacy as a subversive experimental music practice that challenges both the forms of alienation present in Western art-music culture and the concepts and power structures that have contributed to them. I compare and contrast indeterminacy with other terms and concepts related to “open works,” specifically aleatory, chance, and improvisation. A discussion of various philosophical viewpoints regarding the concept of the musical “work” and the role of the composer reveal ways in which indeterminacy challenges those enculturated notions which underlie various modernist alienations. Critical analyses of several indeterminate works by composers Christian Wolff, Mario Lavista, Tod Machover, John Zorn, and Carolyn Chen demonstrate some social practice strategies of countering or responding to alienation employed by contemporary composers.

Degree Name


Level of Degree


Department Name

Department of Music

First Committee Member (Chair)

Ana R. Alonso-Minutti

Second Committee Member

Patricia Repar

Third Committee Member

David Bashwiner


Indeterminacy, aleatory, free improvisation, contemporary music, social practice

Document Type


Included in

Music Commons