Random Thoughts (1997)


Once I had recorded everything I had written that I thought I should record, I set about a new project: compose a piece of music with some very basic rules to be interpreted using a source of random numbers. As a result, “Random Thoughts” was written mostly with pennies and a few dice, along with a set of rules on how to proceed. Each piece had the same set of rules: start with a set of notes generated by 12-sided dice, play a rhythmic section determined with coin flips for whether notes were ‘on’ or ‘off,’ and follow it with a melodic section where the flips stand for up and down within the set of pitches.

Each piece follows the same rules, but had different coin-flips and die-rolls. I admit to having ‘influenced’ the dice and coins from time to time, but in general I attempted to keep my fingers out of the pie.
Being a set of randomly generated pieces, there isn’t really a theme separating one from another or even any way to reliably distinguish one from the next aside from memorizing the pitch class sets. Even the names were generated randomly: “four-letter word ending in ‘-ats’” “multisyllable preposition” the “noun describing a location or noun expected to be in some location.”

The cover art is a heavily processed photo of the hand of an articulated suit of plate armor in a museum in Louisville, Kentucky.

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