An arrangement or a mechanic of there being more and more of something.


In the most basic meaning the term relates to musical parts. In this sense it is often used in popular music and its many subgenres. Stacking often works as a build-up at the start of electronic music piece and is a natural way of beginning a riff-based jams in jazz, funk, rock etc. In classical music appears in compositions based on ostinato (e.g. Maurice Ravel's Bolero), although the name is not used. We will call this vertical stacking.

It's also a frequent concept within improvised music, when constellation is gradually extended and musicians join one by one until the end of the piece (although again this is not the context where the name itself is the most popular). Here is a non-idiomatic example by Carl Bergstrøm-Nielsen and others:

Introducing new elements gradually makes a nice learning curve and this applies both from the listeners perspective and as a general game mechanic of increasing the needed skill. Every aspect of the activity can be accumulate in such a way and for gaming the method is ubiquitous, although usage of the name "stacking" depends on the context.

Chaining / horizontal stacking — music for children example

The principle of improvisatory horizontal stacking is nicely exemplified in Adder! from Sounds Fun. Outside of our library, but still on the crossing point between music and games, there are scouting/logfire songs or clapping games that let participants add more sounds to a song one by one. These pieces are popular but not improvisatory.

Stacking objects

An actual stacking of physical objects also has the property of becoming more and more difficult with the amount of objects stacked. Maybe one of the most popular of these, house of cards, doesn't have much musical qualities, but cup stacking or dice stacking are based on rhythm and while being a playful activity they result in a distinct percussive sound. See if you get musically inspired by the found sound on the video:

Skrillex, famously was inspired, albeit not by stacking sound itself…

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