Two-headed Soloist

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Two musicians are given the task of jamming over the accompaniment in a specific way. Quite difficult, improv-inspired, insertable game.

Participants

This game refers to usual modes of jamming in genres of rock, blues, funk, folklore or others. You need musicians competent in rhythmic jamming, but the game might be adaptable for a classical style, phrasing-oriented playing, although then will provide different challenges.

Apart from two chosen players, the ensemble of accompanists will play a typical (for the genre) repetitive pattern ("groove"). It can be improvised (e.g. by stacking) and can follow from 1 to 4 chords. It's good when accompanying band has a leader to facilitate ending of the game.

Gameplay instructions

Two players should play a solo over an established earlier accompaniment, but are allowed to play only one note at a time. You can't play your another note until your partner plays his/her note. Their mistakes should be punished with not-too-mean laughter.

Cheating

There are many possible foul plays:

  • staying on just one note for a long time
  • playing in one rhythm for a long time
  • playing random notes
  • and other plays that don't contribute to leading a natural melody.

These forms of cheating might be discussed after the game, or, in case there is "audience" (in the form of people waiting for their turn to play) the audience members can serve as a collective judge by shouting (or, as suitable for some of the genres, throwing objects at the stage…). You can use tagging-out for cheating players.

When players swap, it's a good moment for backing ensemble to mix up their patterns a bit.

Example

In the example the context is provided just by the drums and the automatic bass from one of the keyboards (an "arpeggiator loop").

Gamemaster's notes

  • For successful common soloing players should always keep in mind the length of notes they play (too much overlapping breaks the illusion of one melody).
  • It's better to have two soloing instruments with similar timbre.

Editor's notes

Photo used for decoration: "Two head" by Beshef (CC BY 2.0)


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