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The Arranging Game - Outlining for Improvisation

The Arranging Game (AGame) is a way of organizing improvisational performance that allows musicians or any kind of improvisers of differing levels to act together as any large group. The terms from AGame are also useful for a group to arrange music together. It's also a great way to teach musical improvisation, invent improv games, learn about screenwriting, songwriting, and to encourage creative ideas in general.

Using AGame, you can make an outline of general intent, variation and timing. The specific content is improvised by the players. Terms laid on a graph as "sentences" are used to inspire variation of ideas along with the suggested characteristics. These terms and their general structure can be chosen or created on the spot by large groups of participants.

Rather than being another form of notation, AGame is intended to be used as a loose outline, containing inspirations and agreements of timing, and the sort of sympathetic relationships that formerly only experience created. What musicians do together to carry out this sympathy is part of what these terms describe.

AGame probably should be a music-making computer game, but it's not yet. For now, it's a game played on paper or a dry erase board that you write yourself. For now you can have me travel to where you are, and I'll offer your band or troupe some great fun. We'll make up a very unique style for your group and you'll learn fun stuff about arranging.

Using a poster-sized graph and large writing, we'll sketch an outline immediately before playing, with choices being made by consensus or solo. Terms we choose that make up this outline are pinned up as "sentences" for the various stages and players, where everyone can see as they go ahead. A "Signaler," which is sort of a conductor, can be used to help to mark where everyone is as they participate by improvising.

The resulting outline can be used over and over again - as a new style of music or performance. With endless variation improvised for content, the same AGame outline can be reused indefinitely as a template, resulting in unlimited variation as the content is improvised.

For instance, the form of jazz is often a very codified style that is used over and over. Most jazz has a composed short beginning announcement, with chords that accompany the melody as it is played. Then the musicians take turns improvising an additional melody over the same chords and rhythm patterns, while others in the group support. The original tune is usually repeated at the end, sometimes with it's own unique ending.

Another example is in comedy improv theater; for instance the famous TV show called "Who's Line Is It?" This TV show has formalized outlines of activities where the host often has the audience chooses the specifics of the content. Then the comics improvise on the spot, with delightful results.

If the terms are made on file cards beforehand, an AGame can be introduced and created in about fifteen minutes, allowing that people in the group will be selecting the terms.
Then, we play together to see how we like what we just made!

Interested? Check out more about AGame by clicking the buttons above. You'll have to use the "back" button to come back here as you read what is behind the buttons... but at least the content is there for now.

Points of AGAME and How It Works

>The parts in the sentence can be revised or altered to reflect any stages you want to include. Each sentence suggests inspirations, timing and what their relationship might be to other players.

>The various stages of a piece are regarded as Roles; players assume these roles and can also switch roles with each other.

>There are words to inspire how to carry out each of the Roles. Please invent more of your own terms to inspire your players!

>What musicians do with each other when they improvise have some new descriptions, called "InterActing." Please help with trying out and polishing these definitions so they're useful!

>Once you make an AGame, it can be used again and again; possibly becoming a style of music or improvisation game in itself.

Want your group to try out this idea?
I've appeared and brought my AGame to musical groups and they had a blast with it. If you'd like to experience how much fun it can be, please contact me and I'll be happy to give you the experience for the cost of my traveling and time. It's especially fun for music workshops.

Where Did This Idea Come From?
This is sort of a long story. But it's got an amazing dream in it, called "Ocean-O" Check that out by hitting the button named "Origin" above.