American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition
- adj. (adj) In music, using sounds chosen by the performer or left to chance.
Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- (adj) Literally, depending upon the throw of a die; hence, depending on a contingent event.
This word comes from the Latin ‘aleator,’ gambler.
“Merely 'aleatory' decision -- by actual use of dice -- he rejects as illicit, though towards the close of the book one of its most delectable episodes ends in his excusing Mr. Justice Bridoye for settling law cases in that way.”
“While John Cage's aleatory music attracts reverence in academic circles, it can terrify the layman. But Joan Retallack claims Musicage: Cage Muses on Words*Art*Music, her new book of interviews with the 20th century's most inventive composer, is for everyone.”
“Aleatory music should last for a few days, Minimalism a couple of weeks. What will last longer, I believe, is electronic music, or electro-acoustic music.”