Roles explained for playing The Arrange Game

The Callers: In AGame, the first person to begin the theme could have the central role of the Caller. Of course you can have an introduction, but the Caller is the first character of the story that "sets the stage". This person's improvisation creates the general character of the piece; the mode, scale, melody line, rhythm, key, or mood. In improvisational theater the first person decides where, who they are and what their relationship is to the other actors.

The Keepers: The role of rhythm is usually filled by Keepers, who’s role includes everyone's. In improvisational performance, the Keeper role is the environment that nobody ever denies – the answer is always “yes” to indications anyone makes of environment. In music, the Keepers indicate dynamics of volume, speed and repetition, to have a united home base reference. Almost any instrument can switch to the role of being the Keeper. A drone, the common denominator bass line or the steady click track drummer are acting as Keepers.

The Signaler: Signaling is unique to AGame. It’s a surrendered form of conducting. Signaling punctuates and announces the stages, while leaving timing and execution up to the players. Signaling goes well with unique sound effects, as in musical theater performances. In a large group, it helps if the Signaler is using a prominent instrument or a microphone to be obvious enough for everyone to recognize. Keepers can also be the Signaler if no one else has that specific job.

Another option is to leave out the Signaling and let the players work everything out as they go, as improvisational music has usually been done. In a large group, it is handy to have whoever acts as the Signaler to physically move to a prominent position in front or use other prominent body language or costuming. The main job is to Signal how the current stage is ending and another is beginning.

The Supporters: Whatever has been started and kept, now gets the backup of other players who help enrich it. In the first few scenes of a movie or play you would see how a character acts in his environment with others. In music, this Supporter stage defines, contributes, and reinforces the Caller. Later on you’ll read a list of ways from a menu of the various ways to be a Supporter; from "repetition" to "teasing." AGame uses plain old words in a big list as inspirations for these stages. You are encouraged to expand these lists.

The Developers: Now the themes are first varied and then opened out. A Developer is the role that adds, suggests or contributes by leading to new ground; for instance, stressing, accenting, or elaborating. A story's character takes on a life of its own, with motives and reactions. This is where the music or story "goes somewhere."

The Contraster: A second counter-theme could start now and get it's own support and development. Contrasting is an action that counters, diverges or talks back. Essentially, this starts an alternate Caller, which can be fully Contrast-supported & Contrast-developed.

Players may switch roles with whoever is playing any other role. This switching lets another instrument come to the foreground, take over being the Caller, and be supported by the other players. By switching, you can have two (or more) Contrasting themes of the piece that happen and can interact together.

The Peakers: Once established, the themes (Caller) and the Contrast(s) interact. Callers with supporters and Contraster(s) with their supporters do such things as dance, blend, explore, or fight. The music or story line is driven up to a peak. Players then play the role of "Peakers." Peakers intensify to a climax.

How to Peak is a skill. The question is, how can a Peaker take the dramatic intensity farther? If someone did not have harmonic familiarity with an instrument, their playing could become suddenly different rhythmically or drive up to a drone. In improvisational theater, the actor or comedian would drive the story outrageously out of proportion to reality. Mini-climaxes can also occur at any musical stage; often right before the Contrast theme begins, or when any soloist's turn ends. The group can determine who is the best at Peaking and give the last time around to the most skilled Peaker. Some pieces end at the Peak.

The Returners: describes when the message or effect of our total experience is repeated or reviewed. The original theme returns and the performance piece will relax, but often has a new meaning from the experience. Its quality has been changed by proximity, speed or mood, even if it is played the same, by exactly the same instruments.

Add Additional Stages:

Any one of these stages does not have to be in this particular sequence, (this arrangement is traditional among music improvisers.) Other stages can be added or subtracted. If you wanted to have more stages, such as a bridge, you might describe Bridgers as an interlude that makes a link to the next Contrast-Call ...or whatever you require for the needs of your performance. Perhaps you’d want to add a Tag and describe it as an “ending” or “afterthought.” After defining, you would come up with a bunch of words that relate to these stages that suggest how you might carry them out.

Here are some of the words used in each of the stages to inspire and delight...

ACTING: Role Inspirations of an ARRANGE GAME


initiates, starts, theme, with a style, line of sounds or chords, mood, emotion, purpose, mode,

rhythm, scale, key, speed, volume


is a click track, the constant, drone, includes all roles, home base, the bass line, the rhythm,

is the default role of the signaler


indicates, conducts the stages, slows, speeds, stops, volume, number of repeats, starts,

punctuates, provides articulation


who helps, adds focus, defines, spices, annoys, teases, distracts, hinders, clarifies, reinforces,

backs up, frames, follows, stabilizes, ornaments, steadies, enriches


who contributes, leads off, adds, suggests, sparks, excites, comments, encourages, varies,

elaborates, drives, opens out, emphasize, accents, stresses


who responds, gets the word in edgewise, answers, destroys, spans, diverges, fights, argues, describes,

from another's point of view, moves against, changes, starts new chapter or direction, counterpoints


who is the same as Supporter, but supports Contrasting theme; helps, adds focus, defines,

spices, annoys, teases, distracts, hinders, clarifies, reinforces, backs up, frames, follows,

stabilizes, ornaments, steadies, enriches


who is the same as Developer, but develops Contrasting theme; who contributes, leads off,

adds, suggests, sparks, excites, comments, encourages, varies, elaborates, drives,

opens out, emphasize, accents, stresses


who intensifies, creates tension, catharsis, purgatory, hell, dramatization, impasse,

contest, predicament, struggle, skirmish, endless loop, build-up, amplification, exchange,

change, the retort, retaliation, revenge, coercion, mystery, riddle, suspense, vacillation,

pressure, cumulative effect, adds the straw that breaks the camel's back, shift, breakthrough,

apex, orgasm, tops, highest point


who reviews, makes a medley, quiets, mellows, stabilizes, eye of hurricane, changes attitude,

gets religion, is refreshed, renewed, grounds, cycles, understands, finds, illuminates, brings

to perspective, fruition