Musikalisches Würfelspiel

Musikalisches Würfelspiel

A Musikalisches Würfelspiel (Musical dice game) was a system for using dice to randomly 'generate' music. These games were quite popular throughout Western Europe in the 18th century. Several different games were devised, some that did not require dice, but merely 'choosing a random number.' Other famous examples are Johann Philipp Kirnberger's The Ever Ready Composer of Polonaises and Minuets (1757 1st edition; revised 2nd 1783) and Joseph Haydn's Philharmonic Joke (1790).

Mozart's Alleged Musikalisches Würfelspiel

The most well-known was published in 1792, by Mozart's publisher Nikolaus Simrock in Berlin. The game was attributed to Mozart, but this attribution has not been authenticated (Cope 7). The dice rolls randomly selected small sections of music, which would be patched together to create a musical piece. A 'computerised' version of the Musikalisches Würfelspiel making a MIDI file is available here.

Mozart's manuscript K 516f, written in 1787, consisting of numerous two-bar fragments of music, appears to be some kind of game or system for constructing music out of two-bar fragments, but contains no instructions and there is no evidence that dice were involved.

See also

  • Köchel-Verzeichnis


  • Mozart - Musical Game in C K. 516f*
  • Levy, David. "Robots Unlimited." Wellesly, MA: A.K. Peters, 2006.
  • Cope, David. "Experiments in Musical Intelligence". Madison, WI: A-R Editions, Inc., 1996

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