Ad libitum

"As you like it", a score annotation that gives a level of freedom to the performer.


Let's appreciate the fact that this term refers to the pleasure of the performer of music. It's certainly rare in classical music that the experience of the audience gets "overshadowed" in such a way. That's in opposition to actual games where spectating the game might be considered more of an exception and the experience of the performer of the game is more commonly in focus. In popular music the situation is hard to interpret, but we might notice that actual preferences of star-performers don't matter and their on-stage pleasures might be acted out as well.


The term might mean things like:

  • performer decides on the tempo and/or phrasing
  • a part can be ommited
  • there is a place to perform an optional virtuosic cadenza ("solo")
  • performer chooses one of the few presented versions of the section

Strictly speaking, ad libitum isn't applicable often in music games, because dealing with musical notation is quite rare here. The last definition would be probably most useful in that case, but on a more general level analogies seem clear.

See also

In controlled aleatoricism of Witold Lutosławski, "ad libitum" directed many performers at once to realize independently.

Mark for clarification

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License