The Random Arts

Xenakis, Mathematics and Music

The glib use of the terms ‘random’ and ‘chance’ in the contemporary arts is almost without exception thoroughly anachronistic. It has been a philosophical and mathematical commonplace since the Port Royal Logic in 1662 and Bernouilli in 1713 that there is no absolute polarity between chance and determinism; that there is, rather, a continuous spectrum between pure chance at one end and pure determinism at the other; that both pure states are rare; and that it is, moreover, possible to argue with as rigorous a logic, with as extended a mathematics and with as fruitful results at the chance end of the spectrum as at the deterministic end: to describe and manipulate degrees of disorder, or the movement from order to disorder and from disorder to order.

Journal Tempo
Year 1968
Issue 85

Butchers, Christopher (1968) The Random Arts: Xenakis, Mathematics and Music. In: Tempo, No. 85. Available at


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