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 an interesting occurence, because within classical music the experience of the audience is considered the most important, even when figures of a virtuoso, a conductor or a composer are occasionally celebrated. In popular music the situation is harder to interpret, the on-stage pleasures of star-performers are often on a display. But we might notice that their actual preferences don't matter and acting may complement music-making.

In games the role of the game designer is varied and depends both on the market and the genre, or more generally on a gaming culture. But spectating the game (audience) might be considered more of an exception and the experience of the performer of the game is commonly in focus. All games are intrinsically "ad libitum".


The term might mean things like:

  • performer decides on the tempo and/or phrasing
  • there is a place to perform an optional virtuosic cadenza ("solo")
  • a part can be ommited
  • 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 rare. The last definitions would be useful in modular composition approach which is a historically important way of realising open works of music.

See also

In controlled aleatoricism of Witold Lutosławski, "ad libitum" part was given simultaneously to multiple instruments (to realize independently), which yields a unique musical result intended by the composer.

Mark for clarification

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