Main article: Musical composition
An old songbook showing a composition
"Composition" is often classed as the creation and recording of music via a medium by which others can interpret it (i.e., paper or sound). Many cultures use at least part of the concept of preconceiving musical material, or composition, as held in western classical music. Even when music is notated precisely, there are still many decisions that a performer has to make. The process of a performer deciding how to perform music that has been previously composed and notated is termed interpretation. Different performers' interpretations of the same music can vary widely. Composers and song writers who present their own music are interpreting, just as much as those who perform the music of others or folk music. The standard body of choices and techniques present at a given time and a given place is referred to as performance practice, whereas interpretation is generally used to mean either individual choices of a performer, or an aspect of music that is not clear, and therefore has a "standard" interpretation.
In some musical genres, such as jazz and blues, even more freedom is given to the performer to engage in improvisation on a basic melodic, harmonic, or rhythmic framework. The greatest latitude is given to the performer in a style of performing called free improvisation, which is material that is spontaneously "thought of" (imagined) while being performed, not preconceived. Improvised music usually follows stylistic or genre conventions and even "fully composed" includes some freely chosen material. Composition does not always mean the use of notation, or the known sole authorship of one individual. Music can also be determined by describing a "process" that creates musical sounds. Examples of this range from wind chimes, through computer programs that select sounds. Music from random elements is called Aleatoric music, and is associated with such composers as John Cage,...