Draw It Yourself


First draw it, than play it. The rest is free-form. Playful approach to a milestone experimental invention.


Have drawing utensils and pieces of paper.

Gameplay instruction

It is not to be an image interpretation exercise but an employment of an 'old-school' Graphic_Notation understood as a linear sequences of understandable although broad musical cues.

There are many possibilities of structuring this experience as for composition and performance. Here are some examples

Separate in time

  • Makoto Nomura's Shogi Composition (1999) — where composition process is set as a game and is separate from performance. The process helps to achieve coherence in the piece.

Separate by performers

Players might be tasked with playing others' drawings - possibily similarly to Relay piece from Great Learning Orchestra's collection (but not for classical notation in this case).

Steve Treseler in his Creativity Triggers for Musicians writes (p. 17):

Divide into two or more groups, and ask each group to sketch pictures and/or symbols to structure an improvised piece. Swap drawings, discuss strategies for interpreting the scores, and perform for one another.


As a children's activity (number 1 on the list)

Proposition (untied)

This idea for a structure might work well for about 10 players. First establish your alphabet: every participant draws a symbol on their horizontally placed piece of paper — it should be positioned as the first symbol in a future line of about 5 symbols. Then one by one all the symbols are explained by their proposers. In the process, the enseble establishes the alphabet of that particular graphical notation. If you have fewer players, everyone sets two symbols.

The proposals might go in two ways, it's best to let both be used (by Players' preference):

  • let a player draw something and then think how it should sound or
  • player imagines a sound and ascribes the notation that fits to the sound

While proposing sounds take care that the description is broad enough to let everyone play the described sound (no instruments/voices are excluded). You are allowed to modify signs in the process. For example it's good to make a particular symbol wider if it's supposed to take longer time than others and vice versa so signs might be adjusted for duration when all are known.

Everyone fills their piece of paper in a line with symbols from the agreed set. This will be one line of the composition. Then the order of lines is established by discussion or randomisation.

Game end

Make the performance of the piece your final part of the game. It is performed "in unison" - As the score is sequential the end of the piece should be understood from the drawing. The tempo of changes should be carefully worked out during the performance. Try not to pull or drag whole group.

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