Cue cards

Cards that can be shown by the Conductor (or Prompter) to Players to cue the direction of improvisation.

Cues are quite often written (with large letters) but there are advantages of using symbols for some of the cues instead of text as they:

  • are language-independent
  • can be recognized easily regardless of orientation (e.g. upside down)
  • are faster to react to.

Many cues can be re-used in different music games, for that purpose let's gather them all here.


Text cue cards are commonly used in television, but their presence in music also has a history already. They are used for example in John Zorn's famous Cobra (see: Games of John Zorn). He introduced a well-thought way of using cue-cards: first you put it up (as an "announcement") to let performers prepare. Then your downward vertical movement of the card signals the moment of applying the cue. This is not a standard, intuitive usage, but for some games it's very useful to agree on that procedure.

Matt Butler (Everyone Orchestra) writes on a cue-card sized whiteboards (photo at Flickr) so having all the options open is also possible. There are many different possible sets of pre-made musical cue-cards. Let's put here as much info and examples of them as we manage.


Universal cue-cards deck

Universal cue-cards - description (section under construction)

Universal cue-cards developed on our wiki are language-independent and might be used in many different ways. Here is a list of meanings that seems to work with many games:

  1. Play
  2. Slow down
  3. Speed up
  4. Next
  5. Volume up
  6. Volume down
  7. Pause
  8. Poisoned
  9. Cut up
  10. Copy
  11. Invert

Other props:

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