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Cornelius Cardew is the best! There is very little video footage of him with the Scratch Orchestra. But, recently a book was published by the author of the essay that's linked on this page, Stefan Szczelkun, which features studies on the concepts of 'Improvisational Rites.' It's titled "Improvisation Rites: From John Cage's 'Song Books' to the Scratch Orchestra's 'nature Study Notes'. Collective Practices 2011 - 2017."
You can find out more here:
http://stefan-szczelkun.blogspot.jp/2017/11/improvisation-rites-from-john-cages.html
Definitely worth a read!

Scratch Orchestra Book by notrightmusicnotrightmusic, 24 Apr 2018 02:43

That's awesome! I wasn't aware of the print function. I'm guessing that you had to add it yourself? If so, thanks!
I just messed around with printing out single games. I had to tweak some of the print settings to get everything to fit on a single piece of paper. I changed the paper size to 'Letter' and adjusted the scale a bit. Getting rid of the 'Headers & footers' also helps the presentation. It might be a bit cumbersome of most users to get into the setting. Without doing so the prints come out way too big.
It's a very useful feature though. Especially for when we need to hand out game instructions to every player, which I usually like to do.

Re: Print-outs by notrightmusicnotrightmusic, 24 Apr 2018 02:09

It's very much like that. I pulled it out at a party last week when we suddenly decided to do some music games. Most players were rock type musicians. This game worked great with them. One of those games that helps ease people into the idea of music games.

Re: Speed-jamming by notrightmusicnotrightmusic, 24 Apr 2018 01:47

It should probably be useful to have easy printing of sets of games.
Kind of an aggregate page like:
http://musicgames.wikidot.com/print:easy-games

I work for now on easy games, but other types, and also custom sets should be also quite easy, when this works well.
Wikidot has a "print" button in the bottom, which let's you get rid of navigation bars. Great feature.

To be in the set the game needs "_print" tag (for "self-contained" games). I was surprised that there are actually quite many that don't work too well when printed out, for example with main body being explanation on YouTube - it's not a bad thing by itself I think, we just need a tag.

Any suggestions welcome!

Print-outs by odolanyodolany, 23 Apr 2018 18:21
Speed-jamming
odolanyodolany 23 Apr 2018 18:05
in discussion Hidden / Per page discussions » Loop Cycle

It seems like a regular pub (funk/rock) jamming, but much faster ;).

Also, because of print-outs compatibility, we now need to have double-plussed (++) headers as main in game rules, not single-plussed.

Speed-jamming by odolanyodolany, 23 Apr 2018 18:05

A house rule worked for us, when you are not allowed to make two consecutive cues.

Leader problem in co-op by odolanyodolany, 18 Apr 2018 19:46

Acapella Staircase is a nice idea. I might just steal that from you!
I put SiC in the middle of the difficulty spectrum because it can change depending on what characters are used. That idea puts it in a unique situation. And more character decks are coming, some that I found are much easier than the basic deck. It can be played with children, untrained musicians, and with those who have never played a music game before. Plus, there is that easy mode variation of not using skill levels. SyndaKit is difficult, Cobra is difficult. SiC doesn't come close to those levels of difficulty. Saying it's demanding on one's creativity is awesome though. I hope all my music games achieve that!
And I agree about not playing it with other short games. Usually, I would have a session of just SiC, maybe with an easy starter game to warm people up.
Breaks, yes, extremely important! I should add that to the How to Set Up a Music Game Meeting article!

Let me disclaim a bit, that these games are changed so much in testing that they soon become a group effort.
Apart from maybe Staircase which was playable/performable just as conceived. At this meeting though, have to tell I was surprised by my own game. ;)
We played it also in only-for-voices version and players went strong into exploring close harmonies. I always thought of it as a game of very simple harmonies but with all-over-the-place changes, but that was good, especially with voices.

As for SiC: in a library at "hard" difficulty we have the least games, SiC would fit there, although I admit, that it's difficulty is much different in nature from SyndaKit's or Hand Piece's for example, where there is musical skill and game-specific+memory skill. In SiC there is some game-specific also, but the game is mostly hard on your creativity - that's obviously a good thing.

On a different note, SiC doesn't get a great context in a meeting where you play mostly short games (usually for about 3 times in a row with different approaches). Then entering into this more minimalistic breath-like-a-whale piece isn't smooth.
…and I just realized we didn't take any breaks. ;) We probably shoud, and that would be a good moment.

Re: Music Games in the Hut by odolanyodolany, 10 Apr 2018 18:53

Sounds all kinds of fun! I love cozy acoustic only places to play music.
I recently played P-S-Rock, along with some other odolany creations, with a group of friends. I need some time to write about it. Got some video as well.
Any suggestions on a difficulty level with SiC?

That's great! I'm curious how you taught the game to your class. Did you explain and demostrate? WHat was your method?
I often use games as a method of teaching music. There are some very basic character games for teaching theory to children as well.
It sounds like you picked up the idea of these cards quickly.

I noticed a few students struggling to mark off their skill level while playing.

One trick is marking it off a short time before the skill level change, when you have the chance, but not applying it until the proper time. That can give you a bit more leadway. Or some people remember their skill levels without marking them - personally I wouldn't trust my memory though. For games with less stuff to remember I sometimes use game pawns. But they can easily fall down and mess things up. Really though, it just takes practice to quickly make a mark on the sheet.

The hardest idea for a few students was the order of skill level ups.

For sure. People who understand RPG type games pick up on it easily. For others, it's a new idea. Make sure they understand the difference between Skills and Skill Levels then explain, "Skills can be picked in any order, but skill levels can only be picked in order from left to right."
I'm looking forward to hear about the next session.

And about the forum email notifications. I looked into it and was told that the function is implimented, but it broke some time ago and that the Wikidot developement team have yet to fix it. So, yeah, lets hope they get on that!

Yesterday we had a music game meeting in the "hut" of Numinosum Foundation (Warsaw, Poland). It allows for acoustic setup and it's very cosy, it will probably be our regular spot for now (1ce a month or so). As I invite every participant to join our wiki ;), maybe here we will share some more remarks and conclusions.

The first game that we played is not in the library, as it's more of a game template. "Take a Cue cards deck and form a conducting system by picking or randomising 3-5 cards, than play a piece with or without timer". One new spatial variant we tried was when performers were in a circle facing outwards and conductor had to run around the group. All in all… good warm-up. And then: Where are we?, Hand piece (with memory function), P-S-Rock, Democratic chord writing, Stay in Character and Staircase.

I vote for upgrading Hand Piece and SiC to a Difficult category. ;) [I edited Hand Piece already as I put it on wiki]

Music Games in the Hut by odolanyodolany, 09 Apr 2018 16:24

I'll chime in here as I had the chance to play it in two different settings.
I first tried it with a friend who usually improvises on his computer. For the first game he choose the ambient character. His first instrument of choice was a guitar plugged into multieffects. He also had an iPhone ready with a sample app and his computer. I choose the rhythm character and decided to use an old drum machine. For the majority of the time my friend played a delayed guitar by scraping the pick on the low wound string creating the desired ambient effect. In the beginning my drum machine had heavy reverb on the bass drum and it complimented the ambience quite nicely. This quiet start of the game helped us focus on where we wanted to go. But it also kind of pushed us to think about change. I liked that. It really tested my focus. We both didn't even think about using any of the chance cards this first time. When we finished we talked about how this game relies on the players to be as creative as they can. And how better musicians than us would probably really get a lot out of this game. We tried a few more. Each one different from the others. We then planned to play it some other time with more people.
I also played this with a group of students. I used it as a way to explain the musical terms involved in the game. I've been wanted them to get into music theory for a while and I thought that this would be the perfect opportunity. It took two 2 hour lessons. The first lesson was a lecture on terms and theory. Dynamics, tempo, note functions with the melody and bass characters, chord types, all of that. Surprisingly the students picked up on a lot of the terms quickly. I realized that this is a nice tool for teaching such things. The next class we did a quick review and then spent the rest of the time playing the game and discussion. I would quickly switch the lights on and off to signal a skill level change. A lot of mistakes were made, especially with dynamics and tempo, but I was there to correct them. Also I noticed a few students struggling to mark off their skill level while playing. The hardest idea for a few students was the order of skill level ups. Some students jumped around with the skills. I had to draw a diagram on the board to help explain it better. But, all in all, a fantastic game for the classroom! They were so into it the whole time. And now they have a better grasp on theory. I had to remove some of the chance cards as they would not be appropriate for teenage students though.
This weekend I'll be playing it with a group of friends. I'm sure they will like the concept and challenge.
At first I thought that the starts of the games would be boring because of the low dynamics, but that turned out to not be true. It's up to the players to stretch their imaginations during the whole game.

I saw someone asking for email notifications to replies in the forums. I'd second that if it's possible.

Well, in a way it is, but maybe my diff is with 'your plan is 100% solid, you can do exactly the same every game'. Maybe more for making "general" plans…

Maybe a misunderstanding here. I’ve always considered planning one’s route as a general thing with this game. I might plan a few skill levels here and there in advance then completely forget about that plan after a minute in the game. Either way, it is fun trying to plan out a loose route, especially with other players. Even though it usually falls apart pretty early on. It can also be helpful to those new to this kind of way of playing music. I found it helps them feel grounded. Anyway, yeah, not meant as a 100% solid, you can’t escape your decision, idea. That would almost defeat the whole purpose of the game! I can change my wording on that in the instructions to make it more clear.

I still think it’s up to the player for things like Ambience. Restrictions are there for a reason. The main reason here is to be creative. For example, many acoustic ambient players might be better off choosing the Harmony character or Melody. A nice acoustic hurdy-gurdy could create nice ambiance using either of those characters.

I would feel bad making ppl read all the cards before the game.

With games like this, if I can, I always have the game characters available online, usually on places like FB event pages, or I email them to those who reserved their spot. I also give handouts with the game characters on them, and some other text, to the people as they enter the door to a meeting. It’s important for non-players to also have this information. People have a chance to read through everything and think about it before the game begins. I might make a few announcements that they should read the instructions. This is completely understood for a gathering titled ‘music games.’ There are usually a few of my friends there who know about the game and can help anyone who has questions. I never read through all the characters’ information myself at meetings. I usually simply go through the character names and leave the rest up to the players. I’ve yet had any problems with it. But, it is always good to have as many tests on these games as possible. Your way of holding meetings might bring completely different results, which of course are well worth investigating and discussing. It will only help all of us improve making better music games.

And how about someone who just takes "that last card that was left

I always have more than enough cards. I keep them in a big binder. Never ran out.

I agree with a lot of what you're saying here. I’d prefer to see examples of what you’re talking about. Especially for ‘optimizing.’

Remember how I told you that until about a year ago I didn’t consider my game rules as set in stone? They were always in flux. And I still prefer to keep them that way with the games I’m personally involved with. SiC is my first attempt at solidifying the rules to this kind of character-based mechanic. So, I appreciate that I can get help from people like you, and I’m curious what others like Skwawkish, and hopefully more, have to say about it. Of course, I want to improve on creating written game rules. But, also, I see this character based game as one of many, each with their own characteristics of gameplay and how they sound and develop. For example, this one will often start slow and quiet, especially if the Rhythm character is used. That’s its character. You can start loud if you use Melody and Harmony characters. But, generally, it has slow and quiet starts. Another game can be made that has an opposite characteristic of starting loud and fast. My game “Choose Your Own Adventure” is open enough where you can choose from almost any characteristic. But, that game is going take a while to get into text format, I’m testing out how to do it with games like this one. I hope to have more text-based rules for character games. It should be as easy as making different character card decks. This first one os the Standard deck. The Instrument specific deck will have more freedom with the actual music with the restrictions being in the individual instruments.

Thx for Soundpainting review. I viewed it as an exciting "ultimate”

An ultimate would definitely work for a more complex game. I tried keeping this one simple.

All this discussion made me realize that we need to start a “Help Me Make My Game” category n the forums where people can put their ideas and everyone else can help them out or even test the games and critic them.

Re: SiC - Varianting by notrightmusicnotrightmusic, 06 Apr 2018 05:13

What don’t you like about “You can plan a route to take or leave it up to the moment?”
I consider this a key mechanic of the game.

Well, in a way it is, but maybe my diff is with 'your plan is 100% solid, you can do exactly the same every game'. Maybe more for making "general" plans…
But sure, if players prefer certainty they can kick GM out, but not on this Sunday ;).

Ambience person has two non-acoustic lines, and Bass is almost there - not a big problem generally, 2/7.

Of course, like all players, they are responsible to pick characters that they believe will work well with their instrument, or they will “fail” and have to try again by picking a new character the next round. Again, like messing up your first RPG character the first few times and having to start over.

Surely there should be "fail" of developing your character in "bad" directions. But in SiC character picking is underinformed or might make for a boring start - I would feel bad making ppl read all the cards before the game. And how about someone who just takes "that last card that was left" with whatever instrument he happens to have?
Anyway Ambience-role would be bad with many seemingly good 'ambience instruments', as it would lead to dissapointing containment and Rhythm envy. ;) Usually in RPGs names of choices and very general knowledge of fantasy is enough. You know that following your dream of becoming elven blacksmith will be tough ;) without diving into mechanics beforehand. And in SiC this holds only to some extent.

It's a bit like "optimising for players' enjoyable first encounter" on one hand and "let people jump into the game asap" on the other. Ideally with no actual loss of depth. ;)

Making characters evenly spread is "optimising for the second game" - you can still jump to something totally on the other edge - potential diversity doesn't change and I don't think it's even noticable from group dynamics POV.
It's more about personal chance of taking small steps and getting something partially familiar to you every time, exploring the game slowly.

Thx for Soundpainting review. I viewed it as an exciting "ultimate", but objectively there might be something better for that role…

And I would have to apologize more ;) but let's not.

Re: SiC - Varianting by odolanyodolany, 05 Apr 2018 19:03

Thanks man!
All good points to consider.
Using as Gamemaster for this game can go many ways. For other versions of this game we use one, we call it the “kamisama” in Japan, a kind of god for Buddhists.
The GM giving a sign for Skill Level change is used for practice or as an easier version. Though, it’s understandable to use it when you don’t have a big enough timer.
What I found as a difference between commands to players to change skill levels from a GM and players responsible to change themselves by watching a timer is that usually, players make more mistakes when being commanded. The responsibility gets lost. Again, from what I’ve seen. Also, personally I enjoy the extra responsibility as a player to make sure I watch the timer and change when needed. It helps me with my focus on the game and the music. It brings an extra bite of challenge.
If you ever find a cheap smartphone projector I’d encourage you to buy one. They are very useful for music games among other things. In this case, I use the timer app on my phone and point the projector at a dropped white sheet hanging from the ceiling.

What don’t you like about “You can plan a route to take or leave it up to the moment?”
I consider this a key mechanic of the game.

I like the idea of having a GameMaster Character Card. Using the ideas you gave plus some more.
“Isn't it better now to boost something that got a lucky roll?” As an additional mechanic, I could see this working under the mentioned GameMaster Character Card. Yet, it doesn’t have to be used if there is no GameMaster Character chosen. What do you think?

“making every character depend on max one row that is not possible in full acoustic setup (practical)” Which skill set do you mean? This game works well with acoustic setups. Of course, like all players, they are responsible to pick characters that they believe will work well with their instrument, or they will “fail” and have to try again by picking a new character the next round. Again, like messing up your first RPG character the first few times and having to start over.

“dynamics is abundant and melody-role is not connected to anything” - both of these are intentional for various reasons. It depends what you wish to get out of making the roles more even. I’ve found that with these kinds of games various people favor different kinds of characters. Some people will go for a common stable well-known character. Some will go for the odd one out. Some might want a mix of things. Weird Sounds is obviously the oddest one out here. It’s also good for untrained musicians. And it has something very special - Soundpainting. Yet, I’ve experienced that many people are not so interested in Weird Sounds, especially after trying it out once. It’s extremely limited in many ways musically. The Melody character is in the middle. Its function is common - to play the melody, but everything else relates only to this character alone, giving it a bit of an odd quality.
Also, I’m a very weary man of the idea of making things even or irrelevant balancing. Unless it serves a dire purpose. This is a question of group dynamics, which doesn’t work that way.
I still prefer Soundpainting to belong to one character. Though the Melody character can swap with Weird Sounds at one point and have the chance to soundpaint. But, soundpainting is a special action. 5 out of the 7 cards have special actions. I found that to work well. Not every player is interested in using special actions. Like I said, I’ve seen people get excited about the idea of soundpainting, then after one person tries it, everyone’s curiosity fades and they stick with just wanting to play the game and make music. I’ve had games where soundpainting was available to everyone, and after the 2nd time, it was used people were disappointed when someone would choose it again. Kind of like a, “Oh no, not soundpainting again!”
In a similar game, I have a mechanic of stealing other player’s skills. I thought it would be too much to add to this game though.

Honestly, my favorite character for this kind of game is Bass. It’s so chill. Also, I enjoy focusing on Harmony so I can follow the chords and lay down the bottom. My least favorite is Weird Noises. I almost never use the conducting skills. I also like the Foley character a lot, which I’ll add to the next deck. You start your skill level in the middle and have to choose to go left or right. It’s a good challenge.

Anyway, sorry for the long comment. Writing these games is great fun, and obviously, a lot of thought is involved.
These are just my thoughts being thrown around and I’m always open to hearing the test results of what’s proposed.

Re: SiC - Varianting by notrightmusicnotrightmusic, 05 Apr 2018 10:46

As you provided blank cards, I used the liberty of adjusting characters for tests this weekend.
Here are the changes I made - for discussion and hopefully inspiration.

A lot of this I would consider also a bit of 'cleanup' in the mechanics, and some ideas that would increase general interaction between players on gaming level (not only music). Maybe the most important part would be a Gamemaster role.

Basic idea for Gamemaster is practical ;) - we don't have a big timer. So he's the guy, might be non-musician, to sit with a clock and conduct level-ups. His second role is messing others up a bit. Honestly, I don't like the part of

You can plan a route to take or leave it up to the moment.

Gamemaster can upgrade himself to also roll dice and then conduct people to level up certain skills (of number rolled or of his pick if 6 rolled) to make all the players maybe think twice about their previous choices. Isn't it better now to boost something that got a lucky roll?

Other changes revolve around:
- making every character depend on max one row that is not possible in full acoustic setup (practical)
- making a mesh of similarities between roles more even (now for example, dynamics is abundant and melody-role is not connected to anyting, this change should be better for early replayability, but maybe a bit worse for long term). In new variant Gamemaster will share 'conducting' skill with Weird-noises etc. max 1 in common (not everything is connected to everything obviously).

Change I'm gonna test is also: "anyone can soundpaint", theoretically. Soundpainting event would testly depend on number of skill you managed to have at level 4. For Weird noises it's enough to max any one of his skils, but for example Rhythm needs 4, not easy, but might attempt and get a lucky helping dice from Gamemaster etc. Soundpainting is such a big rule that it's weird to have it just conditionally, I also feel that there is not enough skills interaction on a single card now. And also - between players still.

Will get you know surely what works and what not, and maybe participants will have some ideas (as we usually treat rulesets openly).

SiC - Varianting by odolanyodolany, 04 Apr 2018 21:29

Thanks Sqwawk!
I've played different versions of this game for as long as a good three hours. It can be very focused and immersive. There's a mechanic that allows players to sit out for a certain amount of time.
I'd love to hear anyone's ideas for more characters. I have quite a few besides the instrument ones. For example:

Vocal
Foley
Mix (various roles)
Percussive (not responsible for the main rhythm)
Outside (Anti-musician)
Dancer

Also, I'm changing this to be possible for solo sessions. I warmed up with the Ambient Character by myself today and it was fine. Though, I do prefer to play with a group.

I'd love to see this game, as well as a few others, get professional physical editions out. A few people asked me before. No time to get into that now. If the time comes I could do a crowdfunding thing. I'll post about it on this site.
I'd LOVE to see/hear a video of you playing this with a few people. As I said it in the forum, this version still needs testing.

Re: You should sell this by notrightmusicnotrightmusic, 04 Apr 2018 13:19

I'd buy this if you made a high quality full physical version of it. I haven't played it yet but my imaginations running wild thinking of all the combinations I can put together with some other people. I'll video it and put it up when I have a chance to get a few sessions going.

You should sell this by SqwawkishSqwawkish, 04 Apr 2018 08:50

Ok this game looks epic! It might be exactly what I was looking for in the other thread. A game with deep mechanics but not as difficult to learn as Cobra.
You often hear people saying that they want a game or book or movie to get lost in and feel immersed. This seems possible here. have you played extended versions of it? Say around an hour?
You mentioned adding more characters. Besides instrument specific what else do you have? I might have some ideas.
Anyway looking forward to trying this out. It looks like it took a lot of work to put together.

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