Games For Musicians (R. Reason)

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Games for Musicians is a card set created in 1969 by Richard Reason, who also generously allowed us to reproduce the piece for the wiki. It may be treated as a "free-to-play" game, but for commercial performance, please contact the composer (and we'll gladly help with that).

The layout and graphic elements are rather important for the work, for that, consult the scan in pdf. Below is a transcription of the cards (in a non-binding order) for searching, interlinking, and screen-reading.

For Lonely Musicians


Find suitable clues and/or play it.

Live Music (The stave game)


Mark on the ground a large stave and treble clef (e.g. use chalk on concrete or string on grass).

Your feet are notes, — jump, hop and move but always play or sing the note(s) where you land. If you are singing agree on the same C before you begin.

This game can be used either educationally with children, or many people performing a piece, or improvising.

To make it more difficult add a bass clef, a rhythm element, use bar lines etc.

Variations on a Theme

Theme Take your favourite story & act it or say it.
Var I Imitate the sounds of the dialogue on instruments.
Var II One person reads the commentary and the others imitate the sound of the dialogue using their voices.
Var III One instrument imitates the sound of the commentary and the others imitate the sound of the dialogue using their voices.
Theme Take your favourite story & act it or say it.

For Any Number of Performers


Using words, sentences, or stories, appropriate to the occasion, write them (in any way) on staves.

Then work together to play or sing it.*

Practice up to performance standard.

The title should be the first word or phrase used.

*If necessary rewrite in other "musical" forms and make parts for the performers.

Instant Coffee (Black)


1. Take a page of music of a well known classic.

2. With a sheet of tracing paper mark the position and values of all the notes.

3. Turn the tracing paper upside down, so that the top is at the bottom, and place it on an empty page of manuscript paper.

4. By adding bar lines, stalks to the notes, ledger lines, etc. change it into a performable composition again.

5. Make a cup of instant coffee (black).

Instant Coffee (White)


1. Take a page of music of a well known classic.

2. Cut it into separate bars.

3. Rearrange them in any order either by random or by choice.

4. Stick them on a piece of paper.

5. Make a cup of instant coffee (white).

Maths for Music


Solve and play these and other problems.

\begin{align} -2 [ ( 4 \times 3 ) + (-6 \times 2 ) - (4 \times -1 ) ] \times [-3 + (9 \times -2) ] = \end{align}
\begin{align} 43 + 96 \div [4y (3 \times \frac{6}{2})] = \end{align}

If one German waiter serves 10 tables and takes an average of 7 marks per table in 90 minutes and his personal profit is 10%, how many shillings and pence does he make per hour? 1 mark=2s.1d.



Single figure numbers are single notes.
Double figure numbers are either single notes or two note intervals.
Three figure numbers are either single notes or two or three note chords.
Any other symbol = any other sound (each symbol being the same sound each time)


Think of a note...

1. Think of a note between note-1.png and note-2.png

2. Double it

3. Add the original note

4. Add top E note-3.png
5. Divide by D note-4.png
6. Take away B flat note-5.png

7. You should be left with your original note.

For 3 Groups of Singers

1 2 3 4 5 6

Group One

The leader shakes the dice 3 times and starts singing the corresponding 3 note phrase finding the same tempo as the other groups. The others should join in as soon as they have learned the phrase. The phrase is repeated continuously using any words.

Group Two

The same procedure as group one only with four notes.

Group Three

The same procedure as group one only with five notes.

Closing Rite

At 10 minute intervals each group leader should shake the dice (still singing). If it is a six, that group finishes their phrase and stops.

Andante con moto.

[This text is written over a grand staff, 3/4 meter marked]

preface [under a fermata]

[violin clef] I was sitting in a crowded open-type compartment on the 16-30 from Liverpool St. to Ipswich and was eating my tea consisting of a pork pie and three tomatoes; I was just

[bass clef] biting into my third tomato when it suddenly spurted across the compartment showering a middle-aged lady with pips & juice — over her hair and full length of her white

[violin clef] raincoat. A few people looked up but soon settled back into their literature. The lady first looked at the ceiling suspiciously and then realised the source. I had an uncontrollable urge to laugh.

Fingernail Piece

C C♯ D D♯ E F F♯ G G♯ A A♯ B
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12

Each player in turn shakes dice ten times. For each number he writes the corresponding note on the fingernail of the player on his left, starting on his L.H. fingernail and working to the right.

This process is repeated until all players have marked fingernails.

Then they play any number of pianos. Each finger must only play the note written on it (transposed to any octave).

Var I (Cornelius Cardew)

Each player draws anything on his L.H. player's fingernail(s).

An improvisation rite takes place.
Your participation ceases when the marks have been erased by another player or by yourself.

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