In the late 1940s, John Cage was given a copy of the I-Ching, an ancient Chinese book of divination and it almost immediately changed his method of composition.

He used the hexagrams of the I-Ching and the rolling of dice frequently to make decisions about which scales to use in a piece, which chromatic transpositions to concentrate on, which instruments or sound sources to use, which notes or pitches to play next.

For a prolonged period Cage also liked to use star charts as overlays on his scores in order to set a particular sequence of notes or actions, or durations of sequences, based on where stars happened to align with his score.

Sometime he would hand over these ways of ensuring randomness over to the performers, so that no two performances of a particular John Cage piece could ever be the same.

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