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KIA is a piece for two musicians (with or without electronics) based on the parameters of a chessboard, in action, evolving through a chess game. KIA is an experience of the limits and the relations between randomness and human touch (which is not particularly about music).


I- Chess game

The two musicians have to meet (roughly) two weeks before receiving
the piece’s score. They will have a chess game (they can have more, it depends on the players), the game has to be filmed in its entirety (with
no cut during the video or no rest time during the game), the players
have to be really concentrated on what they play. However, the players
do not have to be aware of the parameters. The game really needs to
have no relation with its final musical result. It is also important that the players have a knowledge of the rules of chess but have no particular strategy pre-established.The game has to last a minimum of one minute. Once the game has been recorded, the video will be analysed and every movement and time reaction will be noted. Thus, every movement from one case to another and its time reaction will have an «identity». The composer needs

to establish some parameters on the chessboard.

II - Parameters

Parameters gives to a position a dynamic, a pitch, an articulation or a particular rhythm. It is essential that a position gives at least two pieces of information. For the established parameters, every position belongs to a dynamic. The time reaction also needs to be linked to a time signature and a tempo for the piece. For example, in the established parameters, one second in the game belongs to one second in the piece

at ( crotchet : 60 bpm). Thus, every identity can be translated into a pitch, articulation and belongs to a common tempo.It can be every parameter the composer or the musician wants : you can establish parameters in an horizontal trajectory, vertical or diagonally.

III - Results

What we realise is that even though the fact that players create the piece blinded
to the music context, the piece will not sound completely random : a human touch
is reflected in the piece. For example, every move of the players is a reaction to the
previous one, when a piece takes another piece that moved in previous play.The time
reaction is also an example.When the game is reactive, in an important part of the game, players play faster and this accelaration is reflected in the piece. It is also important to
realise that parameters can be based on very significant aspects. For example the KIA II is based on a mode of Messiaen. Through that parameter, every pitch already has one musical relation with the other positions of the chess board. You also realise that each piece has a special "power" ( for example, on a chromatic parameter by diagonals, the bishop only evolves in the whole tone scale when it moves to the the left, and only controls dynamics when moving to the right).


The first performance was given by Jess Martin & Rachael Halligan at Guildhall School music & Drama on the 29th of November 2018.

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