Royal Flush

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This piece will never sound the exact same way twice! Using a standard deck of 52 playing cards, students realize a 13-to-39-measure work that encompasses every white key on the piano. (The audio file is a realization of a 13-measure movement created the night of August 17, 2017.)

SKU: AJM17034 Category: Tags: ,


An aleatoric composition has one or more of the musical elements created, arranged or controlled randomly. Royal Flush uses a standard deck of playing cards to create a pan-diatonic work that arranges the white keys of the piano in the order of the cards being dealt, creating a 52-note tone row from the piano keyboard.

Far from being a “way-out-there-weird” avant-garde piece, the piece will sometimes feel like it is in C major, other times A natural minor, other times one of the church modes (D dorian, E Phrygian, F Lydian, G Mixolydian, or B Locrian).

The piece shines as a practical way to demonstrate knowledge of pitch notation, as every white key on the piano will be written down once in the realization. If this is used solely as a written theory/composition exercise, it can be used with students of any level who are gaining fluency with ledger lines.

Performance times for each movement are as short as 15 seconds, and as long as one minute.

Key: pan-diatonic, centered around white-key church modes.

Mood: will vary, depending on notes, dynamics, and tempo.

Pedagogy: aleatoric composition methods, 8vb/8va/15ma, extreme unusual dynamic contrasts, unpredictable rhythms, tone-rows

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