Music KS23

23rd January 2004 at 00:00
Musicians sometimes imagine a melody as the "flow" of notes, moving forward unpredictably through time. When music involves a counterpoint, it is as though several streams join in a related, but continuously shifting, pattern. Composers such as John Cage experimented with aleatoric music (alea is Latin for dice), in which random events can create the musical equivalent of a delta. To do the same, start with a single "home" note, and toss a series of coins to determine whether the next note in a tune moves up or down in relation to its predecessor. A second tune can be generated in the same way, wandering out into a different configuration from the original starting point. Branching off from intermediate points in melodic lines can create subsidiary tunes. If several of the tunes are played at the same time, the contrapuntal nature of the piece will create surprising effects within the "delta" pattern. Use different instruments to hear the separate streams. You could also throw dice to decide how big the intervals should be. For more information about aleatoric music visit http:en.wikipedia.orgwikiAleatoric_music

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar,, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today