The Philharmonic game offers a digital recreation of an 18th century musical game based on an original manuscript in the Biblioteca Nacional de España collections.
“Musikalisches Würfelspiel” or musical dice games were very popular in mid-18th century Western Europe. The “Philharmonic game” is an example of this system used to create music randomly, dated from 1780 and attributed to the composer Franz Joseph Haydn (1732-1809) according to sources from the time, although it would appear that the true author was another Austrian composer, Maximilian Stadler (1748-1833). The game was devised as an entertainment for social gatherings, but also as a theoretical study of musical composition.
With a simple dice game anyone with no musical knowledge could compose endless short “minuet” pieces, the most popular ballroom dance at the time.
Here we offer a digital recreation of this curious game using innovative technology that reproduces how the game works: roll the dice, create a unique, new minuet from the trillions of possibilities offered by the game, listen to it and save the score, play it and share it on social media.
The Philharmonic game development code is available for download and free reuse on the BNE GitHub account: