Games

CCQR133

Set up

Set a time limit and display a timer.

Gameplay instructions

Rule 1: In the first third of the piece approx. 1 in 6 sounds to be loud and short (P); approx. 1 in 6 to be long (up to 20 secs) and quiet (Q); the rest to be short and quiet (R).
Method: let x be the time available in minutes, and y be the number of players participating. 2x/y=z = the number of sounds (nearest whole number) to be made by each player in the first third of x. If z≥12, each player to make 2Ps, 2Qs and the rest Rs (all freely distributed). If 12>z≥6, each makes 1P, 1Q and the rest Rs. If z=3, 4, or 5, each makes 1P or 1Q and the rest Rs. If z=1 or 2, only the occasional player to make a P or a Q, the rest make R only, If z<1: either ½ Rs may be attempted, with an occasional ½P or ½Q. […]
Rule 2: Proceed smoothly from the first third through the remainder of the piece.

Game end

Game ends with a timer.

Editor's notes

This is one of the Improvisational Rites - notes of Scratch Orchestra (scholar info on the ensemble) from 1969. In the text you can find many interesting game mechanics like conversing with imaginary pigeons or giving money to other people ;). Inspiring!



Conductor's Remote

Set up

Playing this game requires one conductor and an ensemble of at least 3 players (one percussionist is advised). Try to pick a genre that the ensemble is capable of playing. The members should at least be able to perform organized rhythmic music. Before the game, players should agree on two grooves to be played. They can be within a certain genre, or completely improvised. These grooves should be comfortably repeatable.

You will need to agree on six different gestures which will be displayed to whole ensemble at once. Everyone should be able to recognize the gestures easily. You can use gestures that your ensemble is already familiar with. The conductor should demonstrate them before the game.

Action Example Gesture Info
Play Tap on your head Start playing or switch to next groove
Stop Hold open hand up Don't play until sign is shown
Volume up Horizontal hand up Increase loudness
Volume down Horizontal hand down Decrease loudness
Speed up Make circle with your hand fast Slowly increase tempo (bpm)
Slow down Make circle with your hand slow Slowly decrease tempo (bpm)
remote-control-gestures-display.jpg
If possible, display pictures of the gestures with labels as a reminder for the players. For example, the gestures in this image show directions in Polish (tempo directions are different than in an example table above).

Gameplay instructions

When the conductor gestures, the band starts playing the first groove. This groove is manipulated and altered by the conductor's continuing gestures. In the first phase, the conductor's goal is to train the players to accurately recognize and respond to the gestures. In the second phase, the conductor has free choice of gestures, but the level of difficulty should increase from simple to more challenging, possibly maneuvering through fun chaos!

Game end

Usually the game ends when everything falls apart. If the players successful in responding to the conductor's gestures, it's a good idea to end the game after a pre-set time.



Convergent Ostinato

Set up

One percussive accompanist and three melodic players should aggree before the game on comfortable time and rhythmic feeling. Before the game it's important not to play additional sounds as that could suggest key or scale to other players.

Every player independently should plan his or her first line to play, it should fit in one bar and you should be able to repeat it for a long time. This planning should include the exact way the line will be played (not only as a musical idea).

Gameplay instructions

After a short intro by game's percussionist, players start playing their planned parts together (confident entrance makes the best effect). Then at some time a player may decide to change his or her pattern.

Single change in the pattern is allowed for only one note at a time. The note cannot be removed from a pattern, but it can be moved to other place in the bar and it can get another pitch. After every change the player has to repeat his new pattern at least three times.

With these gradual small changes, players are tasked to change their usually random and dissonant starting pattern into a clear, harmonic, popular tune.

Game end

If a player considers the music played as being accesible enough for game's success, he or she should stop introducing changes to the pattern. The final call is for the percussionist who makes a fill to end a piece.

Variants

You can try to play it with more people, but it gets much more difficult very fast.

You can also play without a percussionist, but players should then have a very good time.

Editor's notes

"Gibberish and cliché" quote is from Paweł Szymański



Counterpoint Party

Set up

Agree on who starts as the eight-note player and who as the half-note player. These values provide Default Notes Density for a player.

Gameplay instructions

Game is played in a 4/4 rhythm. Each player will play in his or her Default Notes Density for two bars then players swap roles.

Game end

Try to come together to a musically natural end of the piece (typically with slowing down).

See also

3-split - free-form game about swapping states, where proper places for swaps are not set by the rules but to be discovered individually.

Video

Designer/composer

Ben Levin (description based on the video)



Hand Piece (With Memory Function)

Set up

You need to sit (or stand etc…) in a way that allows every participant to see every other, as anyone can take the role of a conductor at any moment. Unless you have mirrors, you will probably sit in the circle.

Gameplay instructions

Everyone can show cues that oblige whole ensemble. Hand down gesture in the cue marks the exact moment of introducing the change into music.

During the game, you use 4 cues, which meanings are defined as follows:
A. Wave your hand down (don't separate fingers): change music in any way you like.
B. Show 1-3 fingers with your hand and nod with your head: memorize your music (without changing it until next cue).
C. Show 1-3 fingers with your hand and wave it down: start playing music that was "recorded" under that number after cue B.

Game end

D. Show 5 fingers and wave your hand down to end the piece.

Example

Gamemaster's notes

Difficulty of this game grows very fast with increase in number of players. It's about high-intermediate with 4 players, and nightmare for 10. Still, all players need to be very careful when playing this game, especially to avoid showing conflicting cues. By default, additional body language is allowed.

As it's not exactly specified in the score, the music gets more diverse when you agree that the conductor has freedom whether to follow his/her own gesture or not. Also if you wish, you don't have to enforce the exact repetition of "recorded" patterns and allow for the approximate recall, where only some aspects or a general feeling of previous music is preserved.

Editor's notes

Original score can be found in International Improvised Music Archive, where you can find more "serious games" for music to learn about. (More playable scores will probably be imported to our wiki in some time).

Composer/designer

Shiba Tetsu, しばてつ

Submitted with kind permission from the author. (Thank you Carl Bergstrøm-Nielsen for contacting us with the author).



Loop Cycle

Set up

Players position themselves in a circle.
A Loop Leader is chosen.

Gameplay instructions

The Loop Leader improvises some kind of simple loop (1-4 bars). Continue to repeat it.
Within a short amount of time, the player to the right of the Loop Leader joins and adds to the loop.
Continue this process with all players.
Note that players can add slight variations and embellishments to their loops.
The last player in line has the choice to add to the loop or do anything they want with it (ex. solo on top).
Eventually, the Loop Leader will stop playing. From the right of the Loop Leader, in order, one by one, every player stops playing.
Now the player to the right of the Loop Leader becomes the new Loop Leader. Enter the second round by repeating the process with a completely different loop.
Try to create seamless segues from one round to the next.

Game end

Go through all the rounds until everyone had a chance to be the Loop Leader.
As a band bring the music to a natural sounding end.

Notes

When improvising a loop take into consideration the number of people in the group and how much ‘musical space’ you should leave in the loop. If you have something like 6 people in your group, leave a good amount of rests, and/or don’t play so busy. This way the other players will have room to fill in the spaces. However, if you have something small, like 4 people, you probably should fill up the spaces more.
Part of this game is thinking about how to leave room for the other players.

Variants

For groups of only 3 people, play through the cycle 2 times.

Video

Game Designer

Marcus Staniec (notrightmusic)



Musical Tetris

Set up

Decide on how many measures to loop. From 2 - 4. Choose an order for each player to play. Stay with that order for the remainder of the game. (It's best to sit or stand next to each other in that very order).

Gameplay instructions

Everything must be played between sixteenth and quarter notes. No less - no more.
Everything a player plays must be repeated exactly the same way at the same spot in the loop for the remainder of the game.
Players are not to play over anything else. No overlapping of any kind.
Everything played will continue in a manual loop played by the players (no loop pedals) until the end.
See the example below to help further explain the approach.

Game end

If a player makes a mistake then everyone stops and tries again from scratch.
Once all the empty spaces are filled the game is over.
It’s fun to play the final form a few times before ending as a celebrated theme of glory!

Gamemaster's notes

I’ve found that a medium tempo is easier than a slow tempo.
Personal note: I really like when this game uses all synths!

Example

In this example let’s say we have four players. They decided on a two bar loop.
A player can play any kind of sound - a musical note, untuned percussion, noise, ect. For his example everyone will play notes.
Player #1 starts by playing something anywhere within the chosen number of measures.
The loop begins:
1.png

Player #2 follows:

2.png
Player #3:
3.png
Finally player #4:
4.png
Now we come back to player #1. This player now plays his second note:
5.png
And this continues until there are no more spaces left and the loop is filled with no overlaps. The final product:
6.png
As stated in the rules, it's fun to repeat this a few times to celebrate the glory of completing this round of the game with no mistakes:
7.png

Editor's notes

Photo used for decoration is "Tetris" by Cotopaxi, CC BY-NC

Game Designer

Marcus Staniec (notrightmusic)



Musical Tetris, lvl 1

Set up

Main thing to agree is the starting player and the order of other players. You can also discuss how to resolve mistakes: you can reset on every mistake or continue playing until everything falls apart.

If you want to play the easiest version, set up the metronome to a comfortable tempo.

Gameplay instructions

In the 4/4 bar you imagine 8 empty spots. On full measures and eights ("1-and-2-and-3-and-4-and"). This bar will be on an ongoing loop throughout the game.

One by one players enter and need to add their sound (one note freely chosen) on the empty spot in the bar.

Upon taking the spot player should repeat his or her sound on this spot until the end of the game.

Game end

Game ends with a success when all the spots are taken. More often the game ends on a mistake or when everything falls apart.

Gamemaster's notes

The attempts at the game are relatively easy, but the success is surprisingly hard.

Variants

Play with or without the metronome. If you want to make it harder, you can change the meter or add bars.

Example

In the example above first sounds from the lower keyboard serve as a metronome. Drums are the first player in the game.

Designer-composer

This is a variant of a game by Marcus Staniec, Musical Tetris



Mutual Prescriptions series

Set up

Collectively, choose one of the pieces [A-K, see below].

Gameplay instructions

One player indicates by hand-sign a number between 1 and 5. Everybody then plays according to the instructions belonging to that number, until someone else indicates a new number. Sections with a new indication can may follow each other fast or slow as you like.

Game end

The piece ends when there is no playing and no one takes a new initiative.

Notes

No pre-arranged sequences neither of elements nor of musicians indicating numbers. You may practise contents first if you need to

Pieces to choose from

A
1. fast changes
2. slow changes
3. no change
4. something new/different
5. ad lib. (no prescription)

B
1. very fast call-response (pointillistic – unpredictable)
2. other kinds of call-response
3. more alternating than responding
4. neglect each other
5. ad lib. (no prescription)

C
1. light timbres
2. dark timbres
3. mixed timbres
4. interweawing timbres (making a pattern together)
5. ad lib. (no prescription)

D
1. like classical music
2. like popular music
3. like experimental music
4. like electronic music
5. ad lib. (no prescription)

E
1. very long sustained tones (more than 10 seconds)
2. sustained tones of middle durations (1-3 seconds)
3. extremely short tones (under and much under 1 second; pointillistic)
4. mixed durations
5. ad lib. (no prescription)

F
1. pianissimo
2. forte
3. piano with sforzandi (=sudden strong, short accents)
4. individually making sudden changes between different or contrasting, unchanging levels ("terraces")
5. ad lib. (no prescription)

G
1. individual slow crescendi and diminuendi as well as some passages having a constant level
2. individual fast crescendi and diminuendi as well as some passages having a constant level
3. individual both slow and fast crescendi and diminuendi as well as some passages having a constant level
4. Various individual changes, both sudden and gradual (and also some passages having a constant level)
5. ad lib. (no prescription)

H
1. melodies
2. motifs
3. patterns
4. something else
5. ad lib. (no prescription)

I
1. monumentally slow
2. very fast
3. slow, gradually becoming fast (accellerando)
4. fast, gradually becoming monumentally slow (ritardando)
5. ad lib. (no prescription)

J
1. widely differing tempos
2. shared tempo (someone starts) – keep it simple!
3. shared tempo (someone starts) – make it complicated!
4. no tempo
5. ad lib. (no prescription)

K
1. Only one musician playing totally solo (The first to start - but not the one giving the sign! A new one sign = change musician)
2. Two musicians playing (those who are the first to start)
3. Three musicians playing
4. Four musicians playing
5. ad lib. (no prescription)

Composer

Carl Bergstrøm-Nielsen (2009, published with the kind permission from the author)
Original score at: http://vbn.aau.dk/da/publications/composition-mutual-prescriptions-series-2009(fc60f4cb-89db-4dea-a6e9-dc5eb9783220).html



Perception 4

Gameplay instructions

1) The first musician plays a soft sound, lasting 5 seconds.
2) Pause (5 seconds)
3) The second plays the same sound (or very similar), slightly, but noticeably softer. (5 seconds)
4) Pause. (5 seconds)
5) The first plays the sound, slightly but noticeably softer than in 3). (5 seconds)
This continues until the sound is no longer audible.

Game end

When the point of inaudibility is reached, the players again find the dynamic level which was played right before the sound became inaudible and play the sound together 5 times, alternating 5 second sounds with 5 second silences.

Designer-composer

Michael Pisaro, published with the kind permission from the author
This piece is part of the series, which is also available: perception.pdf



Polyfill

Set up

Allot time signatures. Each Player choses among 7:4, 6:4 and 4:4, one for each — adjust the choice best to fit the skill level and preference of all three participants.

Compose the fill-in. There will be a recurring short theme in the piece. It should be of 3:4 lenght, should have a distinctive rhythm and is best to be played in rhythmic unison. Agree on the fill-in comfortable to play by all participants.

Compose your riff. Every player will have a repeating pattern in the allotted time signature. The riff should have a distinct strong sound at its last measure — it can be marked by timbre, number of compounds and/or register. When you have your riff, present it to other players so they can adjust their riffs how they prefer.

Tempo and starting method is the last thing to agree upon before playing. If you want to enter one by one, don't leave much space between the second and the third player. If you want to enter all at once, notice that there is no single time signature, so figure out counting-in beforehand.

Gameplay instructions

Players play a polyrhythmic pattern and every time when two players align with their strong sound they play the fill-in together before getting back to their riff.

With the aforementioned time signatures and when obeying the rules properly every pair of players should every now and then play the fill-in pattern in rhythmic unison.

For one-by-one entering method: If after some time you can't reach the end of the piece, the 7:4 player should add one fill-in played alone and everything else then continues as defined above.

Game end

Finish the piece when all players play the fill-in at the same time. Don't get back to your riffs after that.

Variants

To make a fill-in stand out more, you can agree to play it very differently than riffs. For example fill-in might be done vocally while all the rest is instrumental. This approach tends to add also a bit of comedic effect.



Staircase

Set up

Agree on the order of players (preferably stand in a circle). Announce a number 1 higher then the amount of participants, unless they are less than 5, then the number should be 7. This number will be the upper limit your melodies.

Gameplay instructions

In every turn active player will take a solo of a given length, and the last note of the solo will be held for next two turns as a context for other players.

First player plays a note and holds it. Second player plays two notes and the second note will be held (for two next turns). The third player will play a solo of three notes, and when he/she plays his/her last note (and sustains it) the first player should stop playing the note he or she was sustaining (cause that note's two turns just ended).

Every next player in line will play longer and longer solo to a two-note harmony provided by two previous players. When the number called in a setup is reached, consequent players play each solo one note shorter than their predecessors'.

Game end

Game ends when solo of only one note is played again to form a final trichord. If everything went well it should be played by the same player that began the game.

Variants

Consider making it an vocal only piece (a capella). Making a 'tail' of long sounds longer than two players often gives interesting results although is a bit more difficult.

Gamemaster's notes

To make following of longer solos easier, consider using smaller groups of notes (of 2 or 3) when planning your melody. If you want to play a few games in a row, it's fun to switch the order of players.

Designer/composer

Izaak (odolany)



Travel Routes

Preparation

It might be helpful to consult the "source material" before playing this game. Consider having a map or a globe, but it's not necessary.

Gameplay instructions

Start a journey anywhere. - Travel to approximately three different continents. - Over water, concentrate on variations of timbre and texture. Over desert, concentrate on infinite variations of tone durations. Over mountain areas, concentrate on frequent fluctuations of register. Over vast areas of land, concentrate on shifts in tempo. Add necessary stays and pauses during the journey. Dynamic changes to be adjusted to suit that of other musicians.

Game end

Players end their part when they finish their journey.

Designer-composer

Henrik Ehland Rasmussen. Submitted with kind permission from the author.

Here is the original score of Travel Routes. It is described as "shareware" (so do not treat this page as Creative Commons). The piece is a part of wider collection



Volume Waves

Set up

Each player secretly chooses two people from among the other players and assigns them two roles: Max and Min. This selection will be valid for the entire duration of the game.

Gameplay instructions

Everyone is playing simultaneously in their own pace. Every player sets a slow comfortable rhythm (e.g. "inhale-exhale") to transfer auditory attention alternately from his Max to Min and back (but be careful not to show your current state with sight or posture). When a player is in the stage of listening to his Max, player's volume should change to be lower than that of his Max. When listening to Min, player should play a little louder than Min plays at the moment. Changes between these parts should be as smooth as possible.

You do not have to play "quieter than silence" or "louder than you can". A comfortable limit on the maximum volume of playing is allowed to set.

Players start with the same time of attention directed to their Min and their Max, but in the course of the game, they are tasked to gradually spend more and more time with their Max and less time focusing on Min.

Game end

The music will finally come to a level of total silence. Here ends the musical part of the game and the guessing phase begins. Now, each Player bets up to two people who think they chose him as their Min or Max (in the basic version of the game it is also possible that nobody chose us, so you can bet on that option too).

When everyone has their types, each Player informs the other participants who was his Min and
Max so that the players can check the correctness of their guesses.

Gamemaster's notes

Participants that are not ready to improvise by ear might constrain themselves to just few tones. This way they will provide context for improvising players.

Variants

Easier way of changing state between playing to Min and to Max doesn't require keeping any inner rhythm.
Player is tasked to gradually lower one's volume until reaching Max level, then starts to play louder and louder until reaching Min level.

Although easier to perform, this version usually produces less interesting musical effect and sometimes fails to provide playful opportunities when player's Min is louder then one's Max for too long.



page revision: 10, last edited: 21 Apr 2019 18:45

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