The Art of Adaptation

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Adapting existing games to music is not rare. It happens in educational and artistic contexts, with sound-making or with just theory. The more popular the game, the more frequently it gets its musical version, but there are also other important factors for that, like simplicity, or the in-game usage of sound-space that influences the adaptability.

Pros: Familiar rules. High-quality components available without DIY. Tried and true solutions.
Cons: High risk of a boring, over-used result. Lost opportunity for additional creative engagement. Popular ≠ good.

To the last point, indeed, games might be popular not because they're good, but because they've been around for a long time and/or due to intense marketing. Now, let's see the frequently occurring options for adaptations.

Roll-and-move games

A simple mechanic of "roll dice — move that many spots — do what it says where you land" is probably the most popular for musical adaptation. Even here at the wiki, we have a Goose game with cues from all around the site.


We will have a specific page for all matters of chess music and musical chess. But let's note that due to the game's complexity, adaptations are realized in a more advanced, artistically involved contexts, and it's not easy to do them in a broadly participatory way.


A bit less internationally popular, but with much simpler rules than chess, Go has a few projects in a software-assisted realm for generating music from games. If you know of the pieces that work with live performance, please, please, edit that in.

Traditional playing cards

There are quite a few musical activities that are based on existing games with traditional playing cards, but probably there are more titles that use this prop in an originally musical way, without a connection to previous existing game. Currently on the wiki, there is one adaptation: CFSNAP!R148 (Snap! Rite) from 1969.


A popular game in education, especially in the "American" 5x5 version, and especially for children, being a game of chance. It's usually used with terms for memorization, performance-based adaptation is possible, but naturally will have a rather linear sound result, still with no decisions from players.

Adaptations on the wiki

CFSNAP!R148 an adaptation of a card game Snap
Goose A classic dice game for musical interpertation
Parallel Tunes improvise with verbal signals from all players

Adaptations outside of the wiki

4 links here (see all).

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