Shogi Composition


players.png ~2-10
time.png 60 min

A recipe for collaborative composition among various people with different musical backgrounds. Players compose short passages one after another. The composition and performance are two separate phases.


You will need paper to write music down. You don’t have to prepare 5-lined-music-paper because each player is allowed to write music down in their own way. You can use drawing paper, useless calendars, useless posters and so on. You also have to prepare colored pens/pencils. The bigger paper you have, the longer the piece will tend to be.


Each player is supposed to choose one color and use always the same color. When you complete the composition, the paper will be the artistic picture as well as music score. You need to decide who will start and establish the turn order (it's the most convenient to be in a circle, e.g. around the table, and to go clockwise).

Gameplay instructions

On your turn compose a short musical phrase on your instrument(s). When you complete your phrase write it down on a paper in your own way with the colored pencil. Please notate it as you will understand it later. When your phrase is written down, hand the paper to the next player. Now play your phrase and keep repeating it until your turn comes around again.

Similarly the next player makes another musical phrase which goes well with the first phrase, writes it down in their own way next to the first phrase on the paper, hands the paper to the next player, and repeats their phrase.

This process will continue until the paper comes back to you. Then stop playing, make a new phrase which goes well with what other players are playing, write your phrase down on the paper, and hand the paper to the next player. Keep repeating the new phrase until your turn comes around again.

Similarly continue this process. Each player’s notation doesn’t have to be understandable for everyone. If you understand your own notation and replay it later correctly, any notation can be welcome.

Each phrase doesn’t have to be the same size. For example after the first player composes 4-bar-phrase of 4/4 meter, the second player can compose 2-bar-phrase of 7/8 or 10-second-graphic-notated-phrase.

Continue this process without any break until you can’t find any space to write down on the paper. When the paper is full, composition is finished. Don’t stop the process until the paper is full.


Depending on the performance situation, you may photocopy the paper for each performer. Decide the title of the piece together and consult on how to finish the piece with each other before the performance.

For the performance, you will enter with your phrases one by one, at a much faster pace than during composition. In order to play fluently practice the piece, even many times before your performance. For example, it may take 2 hours for composition and only 10 minutes for performance.

Gamemaster's note

If you can’t help going to toilet, wait for your turn to compose. During your turn you may go to toilet quickly. For musical reason having a break is absolutely bad.

Editor's note

Photo used for decoration: Shogi by yoppy CC BY 2.0


Makoto Nomura, 野村 誠
Submitted with a kind permission from the author

“SHOGI COMPOSITION” (1999) is a kind of recipe for collaborative composition among various people with different musical backgrounds. It is just like playing cards around a table. A few players around a table compose short passages one after another instead of playing cards. Please enjoy it and compose new interesting music!

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