In music, hocket is the rhythmic linear technique using the alternation of notes, pitches, or chords. 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.
The term originated in reference to medieval French motets, though the technique remains in common use in contemporary music (Louis Andriessen's Hoketus), popular music (funk, stereo panning, the work of Robert Fripp and Adrian Belew in King Crimson), Indonesian gamelan music (interlocking patterns shared between two instruments—called imbal in Java and kotekan in Bali), Andean siku music (two panpipe sets sharing the full number of pitches), Ukrainian and Russian kuvytsi (panpipe) ensembles, Lithuanian skudučiai (panpipe) ensembles, handbell music (tunes being distributed between two or more players), rara street processions in Haiti, as well as in the gaga in the Dominican Republic 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 group Dirty Projectors use hocketing as a very prominent element of their music, with instruments as well as vocals. The group's frontman Dave Longstreth has expressed his interest in the medieval origins of the technique. The technique is also prominently featured in the music of several other contemporary artists, including on the Animal Collective album Painting With, the alt-J album This Is All Yours, and on the King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard album Polygondwanaland.
The term comes from the French word hoquet (in Old French also hocquet, hoket, or ocquet) meaning "a shock, sudden interruption, hitch, hiccup," and similar onomatopeic words in Celtic, Breton, Dutch and other languages. The words were Latinized as hoquetus, (h)oketus, and (h)ochetus. Earlier etymologies tried to show derivation from Arabic, which are no longer favored.
- Bigwala, ceremonial music from Uganda
- Kecak, Balinese performance piece also known as the Ramayana Monkey Chant
- Melodic fission
- Lopez, Frances Michel. "Q&A: Dave Longstreth of Dirty Projectors sure does like Wikipedia". Phoenix New Times. Phoenix New Times. Retrieved 3 June 2012.
- The Oxford English Dictionary defines Hocket thus: “(in medieval music) an interruption of a voice-part (usually of two or more parts alternately) by rests, so as to produce a broken or spasmodic effect; used as a contrapuntal device.”
- Ernest H. Sanders. "Hocket". In Deane L. Root (ed.). Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online. Oxford University Press. (subscription required)
- Tagg, Philip. Hocket, Encyclopedia of Popular Music of the World
- Musical example from Cent Motets du XIIIe Siècle, vol. I, Paris, 1908, 64-65.
- "The Gumuz Tribe: Music of the Blue Nile Province" - Anthology of African Music (1980) - Reference D8072, Reissue (text by Robert Gottlieb)