Improv Game of the Day: Übergroove

A regular feature of this blog will be the Improv Game of the Day. There are 556 (or was it 566) games in Improvisation Games for Classical Musicians, but since the book was submitted for publication (July 2007; published December 2007) I have continued to invent and collect games and probably have at least as many new games that may appear in a Vol. II some day. This collection of unpublished games will be our source for the games that appear, although I would like to send out an appeal to our readers to send us improv games of theirs (which could simply be tweaked versions of games from the book). You will be noted as the composer/author of the game.

If you haven’t yet invented a game, give it a go. Once you get the hang of the format, you will find that it is very easy to come up with new ones. Now we have a venue to share improv games and other discoveries with each other!

Game of the Day (Rhythm):


3-8 players. One player invents an ostinato (=groove). All other players join in at will with their own grooves that alternately and independently match (same rhythm) or complement (fill in rests) this main groove.

Use any of the following: 1) mouth percussion 2) body percussion 3) room percussion 4) small percussion instruments 5) instrument cases 6) extended techniques (e.g. col legno for strings, key slaps for woodwinds) 7) one note from an agreed-upon scale (or not) 8) two notes, creating strategic accents using dynamics or the higher of the two notes.

Idea 1: Players may switch at will between any of the sound possibilities listed above – or not (i.e. remain on the original choice).

Idea 2: After the Übergroove (all playing) is established, take turns soloing over it.