Trading Fours Battle


A game-like spin on the timeless trading fours that has been passed around and used since the early days of bebop sessions.

Gameplay instructions

The first soloist is chosen to be a referee. The referee completes a solo and then, with two contestants in mind, faces one contestant and improvises for four bars.

When faced, the first contestant must play it back perfectly. If the first contestant succeeds in playing it perfectly, then the referee will turn to the second contestant and improvise something new for four bars. This will continue as long as both contestants play everything back perfectly. However, when a contestant fails to replicate the referee’s improv the other contestant is now the new referee.

First, he will complete a full solo then repeat the game with new contestants.

Gamemaster's notes

The referee is always right! Drummers must not only keep the rhythm, but also the phrasing and weigh the melodic material with the timbre of the drums. Pitched percussion is always welcome!


Trade fives! Sixes! Threes! Ones!


Marcus Staniec (notrightmusic)

Editor's notes

Photo used for decoration: "Black, White and Yellow" by Jen Gallardo (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

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