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In music, hocket is the rhythmic linear technique using the alternation of notes, pitches, or chord. In medieval practice of hocket, a single melody is shared between two (or occasionally more) voices such that alternately one voice sounds while the other rests.

In European music, hocket was used primarily in vocal music of the 13th and early 14th centuries. It was a predominant characteristic of music of the Notre Dame school, during the ars antiqua, in which it was found in sacred vocal music. In the 14th century, the device was most often found in secular vocal music.
Example of hocket (In seculum d'Amiens longum), French, late 13th century.
Observe the quick alternation of sung notes and rests between the upper two voices.
While this example is textless, the hocket was usually done on a vowel sound.

The term originated in reference to medieval French motets, but the technique remains in common use in contemporary music (Louis Andriessen's Hoketus), popular music (funk, stereo panning), Indonesian gamelan music (interlocking patterns shared between two instruments—called imbal in Javamarker and Kotekan in Balimarker), Andean siku music (two pipe sets sharing the full number of pitches between them), handbell music (tunes being distributed between two or more players), and many African cultures such as the Ba-Benzélé (featured on Herbie Hancock's "Watermelon Man", see Pygmy music), Mbuti, Basarwa (Khoisan), the Gumuz tribe from the Blue Nile Province (Sudan), and Gogo (Tanzania). It is also evident in drum and bugle corps drumline music, colloquially known as "split parts" or simply "splits".


The term comes from the French word 'hoquet' (in Old French also 'hocquet') meaning a shock, sudden interruption, hitch, hiccup.


See also

  • Kecak, Balinese performance piece also known as the Ramayana Monkey Chant.

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