Will Schube’s “4’32″” was eventually one-upped by John Cage.
Chance and luck are most crucially linked in their important differences. Luck is beyond our control, something put upon us outside of situation or circumstance. Chance is the result of a situation based upon likelihood. If you overcome large odds in a situation of chance, some call it lucky. It probably is. But Peter Broderick—whose latest record, Partners, was just announced—wants no part of luck. Luck can not be controlled.
Like John Cage before him, Broderick’s forthcoming album is a system based around chance, in which certain predetermined notes are assigned numbers and a dice is rolled to dictate the order in which the notes are arranged. What rarely goes mentioned when discussing this sort of compositional style is that the notes the composer settles upon have to be logically linked and he/she skilled enough to arrange them rhythmically to make a lasting impact.
Broderick’s—and Cage’s— music is affecting because of the gifts this chance based style affords him to unlock. A lot of “Carried,” the first track from Partners, is predicated upon a randomness, but a randomness within an already captured beauty: the notes determined before the chance kicks in.
Gorgeous piano runs are layered atop sundry ethereal vocals. The piano on “Carried” pulses not unlike Steve Reich’s work, but while Reich uses repetition as his foundation, Broderick shifts his focus to deviation. The root melody stays constant, but atop this anchor Broderick places scurrying and desperate piano runs.
Chance based compositions over the course of an entire album rely on diversity within the established stakes. Broderick’s a skilled and experienced—albeit still only 29—composer, and it’s hard to imagine someone of his caliber entering into this sort of experiment without thorough planning. Because who wouldn’t choose long odds over dumb luck?