Musikalisches Würfelspiel

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"Musical dice games" were a pastime for musically inclined in the 18th century. After rolling the dice you check the result in tables to put together a generated piece of music.

According to Wikipedia examples include:

  • Johann Kirnberger, Der allezeit fertige Menuetten- und Polonaisencomponist ("The Ever-Ready Minuet and Polonaise Composer", 1757),
  • C. P. E. Bach, Einfall, einen doppelten Contrapunct in der Octave von sechs Tacten zu machen, ohne die Regeln davon zu wissen ("A method for making six bars of double counterpoint at the octave without knowing the rules", 1758),
  • Maximilian Stadler, Table pour composer des minuets et des Trios à la infinie; avec deux dez à jouer ("A table for composing minuets and trios to infinity, by playing with two dice", 1780).

We will focus on the one from 1792, that was attributed to Mozart. As this most famous musical dice game is in public domain, we hope to make it more available here too.

Instructions read:

To compose without the least knōledge of Music, German Walzer or Schleifer, by throwing a certain Number with two Dice.
1. The letters A—H placed at the head of the 8 Columns of the Number Tables show the 8. tunes of each part of the Walzer. Viz.A, the first, B, the second, C, the third, &c and the numbers in the Column under the letters, show the number of the time in the notes.
2. the numbers from 2 to 12 show the sum of the number that can be thrown.
3. For instance, in throwing for the first time of the first part of the Walzer, with two dice, the number G, one looks next to that number in the Column A, for the 1+8th time in the notes. This time is written down, and makes the beginning of the Walzer. — For the second time for instance, the number 9, being thrown, turn to the same table Column B, and the number 84 shall be found. This time is put next to the first, & one continues in this manner until the dice shall be thrown all the eight times when likewise the first part of the Walzer shall be finish'd. The sign of repetition is further placed & the second part begun, in case a still longer Walzer be desired, the beginning is again in the same manner, & one continues as long as one pleases.

There is a nice online implementation from

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