How To Use Randomness In Electronic Music, Without Sounding Completely Random

There’s a long tradition of using random or ‘aleatory’ techniques in electronic music. Composers have used randomness in the composition process, random elements in performance instructions and electronics to introduce randomness.

In this video tutorial, How To Random, Chris Randall (Analog Industries, Sister Machine Gun) shares some of the techniques he uses to incorporate random elements into his electronic music tracks.

He discusses several applications (links below). But Randall also demonstrates that using randomness, without sounding completely random, depends more on the decisions and judgement that you bring as a composer and performer.

Resources mentioned in the video:

Are you using random elements in your electronic music? If so, leave a comment and share what you are doing!

12 thoughts on “How To Use Randomness In Electronic Music, Without Sounding Completely Random

  1. Cool to see Phosphor on your screen. Love that VST. When I was a music major back in college long long ago lol, we had an alphaSyntauri system in our EM studio. So many hours of fun (and skipping my other classes). Nice video as well. Cheers. 🙂

  2. Not me. Some of the best things that happen in music are either ‘random’ or inspired jamming. Sometimes the ideas that just happen almost spontaneously either elevate the music itself or create entirely new ideas to form a new composition.

  3. I like setting up variations of MIDI drum clips in Ableton and letting Ableton randomly select between them. I wish there were more randomizing possibilities built into hardware drum machines, though.

  4. Xynthesizr on IOS has pattern morphing based on Conway’s Game of Life. I use this a lot. I use Xynthesizr as a sequencer even though it has a built in sound engine.

    Also, Arturia Beatstep Pro has a randomize function that I really like.

  5. You can get a lot of cool effects from adjusting both loop & groove/swing parameters of a clip manually and recording that into a new clip. The results are very mild randomness, both is groove and glitching. Works great on percussive sounds.

  6. Hey Chris – excellent presentation.
    You mentioned UpBeat. I’ve kept an older Mac running OS9 just for this amazing program. Did it ever get ported to OSX? Kudos to the C74 guys for moving M to OSX.

  7. Randomness is very important aspect of music but it is not easy to add in music.
    Sometimes we can not enjoy music because of random bits.
    Thank you so much for sharing unique and useful information.

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