Author Identifier

Izabelle French

Date of Award


Document Type



Edith Cowan University

Degree Name

Bachelor of Music Honours


Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA)

First Supervisor

Lindsay Vickery


Musical compositions that utilise game-like qualities and mechanics are commonly often referred to as “game pieces”. The history of the game piece spans across a long history, including “parlour games” of the Classical era, children’s games, and experimental Surrealist games of the early twentieth century. Ever since the emergence of Postmodernism, the boundaries of what a game piece can artistically achieve have greatly expanded, thanks to the work of composers such as Iannis Xenakis, Pauline Oliveros, John Zorn, Jennifer Walshe, and James Saunders. Following in their stead, this thesis offers a new and novel framework for considering and creating game pieces, specifically through the lens of the design of tabletop roleplaying games, a genre of improvisational character-based game which includes Dungeons and Dragons and Cyberpunk 2020, amongst others. To show that this approach is not only novel but substantial, the author has written three new experimental game pieces to explore specific ideas and recurring themes present in a variety of tabletop roleplaying games, from worldbuilding, ritual, the unique relationship between the “Game Master” and the players, character creation, and roleplay. This framework not only lends itself to interesting and underexplored ideas within modern composition, but can also be used as a site for further experimentation of game pieces within the future.



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