Two teams, three moods. Musical rock-paper-scissors.


Choose two players to be two competing conductors for this game (a restricted role). The rest of musicians will be divided in two teams that will play with these two conductors (care for instrumentation of equal volume between teams).

Conductors should stand or sit back to back without seeing each other. Each one has members of 'opposing team' in front and team players see both conductors.

Agree on the sound for conductors to signal start of the turn. Foot stomp is the usual (and used below).

Gameplay instructions


Choose one of the signals: open hand, two fingers, fist.
Afterwards, when you are ready to begin the next turn, stomp. Right after both conductors stomped (i.e. after the second stomp or after one double-stomp if you synced) you should immediately show your chosen gesture. This gesture will be musically interpreted by musicians standing in front of you:

Count your points for the game. You get a point when:

  • you showed (1) when opponent showed (3)
  • you showed (2) when opponent showed (1)
  • you showed (3) when opponent showed (2).

You know what your opponent showed by listening to musical interpretation provided by 'your team'.


Interpret signals of the conductor standing in front of you:

  1. open hand, "paper"; music: surrounding, background, soft,
  2. middle and index fingers, "scissors"; music: sharp, painful, active,
  3. fist, "rock"; music: solid, to the ground, steady.

You should see both signals and also (collectively and quietly) count points to assess the end of the game.

Game end

Conductors: If you counted 3 points for you or for your opponent, turn around (and stand up if feasible).

Players: Play your last cue until both conductors turn around or one stomps when the other turns.

Assess if the conductor's turning was done at the proper time. If indeed someone got 3 points, additional 2.5 points are given to each who properly turned.

The final score shows the winner.

Gamemaster's notes

As you might have noticed, it's like playing "rock-paper-scissors" by ear, and in practice it is a suitable way to introduce it. But be aware, that there occasionally happen people who don't know rock-paper-scissors, so be prepared to explain the rules in detail.

Be careful how you divide players into team. Teams should be possible to be distinguished by sound, and should both have sound options that allow them to help conductors of their team. In this game you conduct the opposing team and not your team — any hindering or hiding your signals from them is disqualifying.

It's important for conductors to be disciplined with timing of their signs, otherwise it leads to possible cheating (showing your sign after hearing out opponent's sign) and it's also then hard to keep track of points.


You can also have a referee for this game who shows when a conductor should make new gestures and who counts points.
Gestures may be timed to beat from a drummer-accompanist.

Editor's notes

Photo used for decoration is by Sean Proulx, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

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