A little late due to the holiday kerfuffle:
I actually ended up not a lot of “randomness” (every section was two minutes long, small deviation between notes).
I decided to focus on making the most of a little, and after picking my starting tone (A = 440, of course), I figured the next two notes would be adding the closest G and B possible. Then, to add a little tension, I added the closest F# and C possible, adding some minor 2nds and tritoney goodness.
For timbre, my accordion is a go-to for drone music. I also thought I could use a piano, drastically compressed and maybe also time-stretched to alter it into a drone. The compression also picked up a lot of room sounds, which add some nice extra noise.
I used my classroom’s piano, because it is a little beat up and has some “character,” and also there’s a really nice natural reverb in my classroom (which I don’t think really made it into the recording, but ok).
For every pitch, I recorded the highest-possible version and lowest-possible version of the piano and accordion, and then pitch-shifted them to match. This gave me a pretty narrow band of tones but an intense, writhing mass of overtones. I also changed the Warp method in Ableton to create different audio artifacts.
The piece ends with a one-minute fade out on middle C (which seems almost as fundamental as the “tuning” A).
Then I tweaked the introduction to make the very dissonant part (with the F# and C) happen at the golden mean point, because I like that kind of stuff.
I also livestreamed the recording process on Twitch, which was a fun new experiment.
And an excerpt of my score: