Improv Game of the Day: Call to Quarters

Quarter Note

1-4 players. Pick a major key and moderate tempo (e.g. MM=72). The only note value allowed is the quarter note. Free choice of pitch (within an agreed-upon scale), and pitches may be repeated.

Tip #1: add rests so that everyone is not playing on every note. Occasionally take this to an extreme so that there are many more rests than notes – but keep the beat!

Tip #2: Listen to the other players for distinctive melody shapes and lengths. Imitate!

Tip #3: Use accents, articulations, dynamics, etc. to add interest to the line.

Tip #4: Steal melodic shapes from the other players. Often!

Variation 1: Same game, but now the eighth note is the only note value allowed.

Variation 2: Player’s choice of either quarters only or eighths only.

Variation 3: Change the tempo, starting really slowly, gradually speeding up to quite brisk, until.

Variation 4: Repeat in other keys.

Variation 5: Repeat using other kinds of scales: minor, pentatonic, chromatic, blues, whole tone, diminished (octatonic), Phrygian, Locrian, Klezmer, etc.