Aleatoric Music Composition

Aleatoric Music Composition

Robert Wascura
[email protected]
Nitschmann Middle School

TI:ME Technology Areas Addressed:



Middle School


General Music


MAC G4 Powerbook (or comparable PC)
Digital Performer (or any other sequencing program)


100 Minutes

Prior Knowledge and Skills:

Students know how to step enter music on a sequencing program.

MENC Standards Addressed:

MENC 4: Composing and Arranging Music within specified guidelines.
MENC 5: Reading and notating music.
MENC 9: Understanding Music in Relation to History and Culture


Aleatoric Music worksheet
Deck of standard playing cards
One six-sided die


Students will create a composition of aleatoric music approximately 12 “beats” long. Students will step enter the composition in a sequencing program. Students will make timbral and tempo choices for the composition.


Give a brief overview of aleatoric music including listening examples. Students will use the Aleatoric Music worksheet to assign one of the 12 pitch names, plus “no pitch” (rest) to each of the card values of a standard deck of playing cards. Students will assign the following rhythmic values to each number of a six-sided die: half note, quarter note, eighth note sixteenth note, dotted quarter note, and dotted eighth note. Students will determine a way to select the cards (sequentially from the top, every fourth card, random selection, etc.) Using the cards and the die, students will select a pitch followed by a corresponding rhythmic value using the die and note the results on the composition form on the worksheet until an approximate 12-“beat” duration has been reached. Limit the pitch range choice to two octaves. Using the sequencing program, the students step enter the composition. Students select tempo and timbre and listen to the composition.


Assess students on the accuracy of following the given procedures.

Follow Up:

Students may expand the composition into a longer work (looping the composition into a minimalistic type work, use standard composition techniques such as retrograde) Students may combine compositions into a larger work.

Items to Purchase:

Sequencing software
Decks of playing cards

When budget should be submitted:

One year prior for hardware and software.

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