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I'm trying to get a drone-like sound on the bass that relies on relatively inconsistent dynamics for effect. I added "a resilient and ominous drone" to suggest that it's meant to appear to reduce itself only to keep coming back, but I don't want a strict structure for it.

I notated some variations with the accents but what I really want to say is "vary the dynamics as preferred while keeping it around piano overall".

An example can be heard here.

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I can't think of a single marking that will do this; you'll likely just want to have text clarifying what you want the performer(s) to do. Options like:

Vary the dynamics randomly while staying within the piano range.

But for what it's worth, I felt like your recording exceeded the piano dynamic range. Maybe something like:

Randomly change the dynamic level of each pitch, keeping the dynamics between pp and mp.

You may also want to consider the following addition

Randomly change the dynamic level and strength of articulation of each pitch, keeping the dynamics between pp and mp.

Plenty of other options exist, of course.

And I really like your description of "a resilient and ominous drone," but I'm not sure I would have read into it enough to play it as if it were "meant to appear to reduce itself only to keep coming back." If I were a performer, I'd be more than happy to see that indication written in, as well!

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    Perhaps something like vary dynamics ad lib. also. And check out Penderecki scores to see how he specified random variations. – Todd Wilcox Jan 19 at 18:52

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