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The Full-Layout Casting

Stepping Into the Flow

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The full-layout casting differs from the one-up casting in a couple of significant ways. First, it involves more cards and dice: a full-layout can have from one to twelve positions, each containing a die and a card, or, in some cases, two dice and two cards. Second, the full-layout makes use of the black Musician’s Die.

The full-layout begins as all castings begin: with creating sacred space, posing our question, and mixing the cards. Before we begin rolling the Solfège Dice and drawing cards, however, we first cast the Musician’s Die.

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Keycenter and Direction: Casting the Musician’s Die. The Musician’s Die determines two things in a casting: it’s key center and it’s direction. The key center of a casting -- determined by which die face lands up -- doesn’t affect its meaning; it’s a reference point for later playing the casting on an instrument or listening to it via the Casting Engine. The direction of a casting, however, does affect the way it’s interpreted, and the way it’s laid out.

In a one-up casting, the direction in which the Solfège Die is pointing determines where the card goes; in a full-layout, the direction of the Solfège Dice is irrelevant. The full-layout casting is based on a musical scale, and the Musician's Die determines whether we are going up that scale or coming down; the cards and dice are positioned accordingly.

Here’s how it works. A casting’s direction -- either ascending or descending -- is determined by which way the Musician’s Die is pointing when it lands. If the bottom point of the Musician’s Die face -- the point below the letters -- is aiming upward or directly right, the casting that follows is ascending; If the bottom point of the die is pointing downward or directly left, the casting that follows is descending.

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Dice on the left indicate an ascending casting; on the right , a descending one.

If our casting is ascending, we place the Musician’s Die at the bottom of our work area, and the casting is subsequently laid out above it. If our casting is descending, we place the Musician’s Die at the top of our work area, and the casting is subsequently laid out below it. Ascending castings build up from the Musician’s Die; descending castings build down.

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Cards and Dice on the left are in an ascending casting; on the right, in a descending one.

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Casting the Solfege Dice and Drawing Cards. Once the Musician’s Die is cast and set in place, we begin the process of rolling the white Solfege Dice and drawing cards from the deck, working from left to right. For each die we roll, we select a card until we (a) roll a scalepoint for a second time, or (b) run out of Solfege Dice -- a rare occurrence.

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Do, a deer … There are two kinds of scalepoints on the Solfege Dice: diatonic points and chromatic points. The diatonic points are the ones you probably already know: do (doh), re (ray), mi (mee), fa (fah), so (soh), la (lah), and ti (tee). (If you don’t know them, check out The Sound of Music -- Ms. Andrews and the kids will teach you.) The chromatic points are the other five points on the dice: se (say), me (may), ra (rah), te (tay), and le (lay). Diatonic points: do, re, mi, fa, so, la, ti; chromatic points: the rest.

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Positioning cards and dice in a casting. If a casting is ascending, the casting builds up from the Musician’s Die, as explained above. The Musician’s Die goes at the bottom of the work area, the Solfege Dice go above it, and the cards go above the dice. If we roll a chromatic point, however, that die goes above the card drawn with it instead of below it, like so:

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A chromatic scalepoint, “se,” in an ascending casting.

If our casting is descending, things work in reverse: the Musician’s Die goes at the top of the work area, the Solfege Dice go below it, and the cards go below the dice. If we roll a chromatic point, that die goes below the card drawn with it instead of above it:

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A chromatic scalepoint, “me,” in a descending casting.

A good way to remember how to position the dice and cards is to always think of your casting as a diatonic scale. If it’s an ascending casting, your scale is going up -- do, re, mi, fa, so, la, ti, do -- and the casting reflects that: it builds upward, from bottom to top. If it’s a descending casting, your scale is going down -- do, ti, la, so, fa, mi, re, do -- and the casting reflects that: it builds downward, from top to bottom. When a chromatic point shows up, it represents a note from another scale traveling in the opposite direction. If our casting is going up, the chromatic points are moving against the flow, coming down; if our casting is coming down, the chromatic points are moving against the flow, going up.

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Completing a casting. We continue rolling dice and drawing cards, adding more and more positions to the right, until we roll a scalepoint for a second time. When that happens, rather than forming a new position, the repeated die is placed adjacent to its mate, and another card is drawn and placed across the card already in that position, with its defining end to the left (see below.) That final, two-dice, two-card position then becomes the axis of the casting, and the casting is complete. If we never roll the same scalepoint twice, the casting is complete when we run out of dice (that doesn’t happen very often.)

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A completed ascending casting. The bottom “re” was the last die rolled;
the horizontal Major Sixth of Brass was drawn thereafter, forming the axis.

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A completed descending casting. The top “fa” was the last die rolled; the horizontal
Theory Card was drawn thereafter, forming the axis.

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Interpreting the Casting. Interpreting a full-layout has much in common with interpreting a one-up -- there's just more of it. We find the cards in each position in the Card Index and click on them get to the actual card pages; once there, we click on the Solfège Dice link to open the pop-up window that contains the dice definitions. Each card and die is briefly defined by one or more keywords, and we mix and match those keywords in order to form our interpretation.

There are a few other things, of course, to consider in the full-layout. Because there can be more than one position, there is the relationship between the positions to consider, and the way all the positions together form a single story. Whether a casting is ascending or descending colors its meaning as well. The axis position is a casting's center, and carries the most weight; this must also be figured in. All of this and more is discussed on the Interpreting a Casting: Details and Examples page.

Finally, because the full-layout has a key center, the entire casting may be played. Hearing the music of a casting adds greatly to its emotional impact -- our movie has a score. Read more about generating music from castings here.


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