Improv Game of the Day: Descriptive Improv Experiments

English: R. Murray Schafer in 2007 at the Univ...

2+ players. Canadian composer, writer, and educator R. Murray Schafer has long been one of the most original voices in creative thinking in music education. His 1976 book Creative Music Education is chock full of creative ways to think about and do music. In the chapter “Descriptive Music,” he shows how to engage students in improvisatory experiments by taking sounds from nature and translating these into sounds on instruments. He classifies things into two groups: those having a unique sound of their own, such as a waterfall, gunfire, a cuckoo’s call, and inanimate objects that have no sound to imitate, but which can be brought to life nevertheless through improvised music. In this game, players choose one of Schafer’s examples to depict in music:

Stormy sea


Gentle breeze

Empire State building

Galloping horse


Wind in the leaves

Dog barking

Angry teacher

Or: Make up your own example!