Improv Game of the Day: Notes to You

A conductor silhouette

4 – 8 players. One person is selected to be the conductor. This could either be each member of the improv group in turn, or a member of the audience in concert. Each person is assigned a different note from a C major scale. The selection may be 1) Random, from labeled cards 2) By audience members (in a concert) or 3) by each player; in this case, some of the pitches may be repeated by coincidence. The conductor points at each player to trigger the note. The conductor may use facial expression and body language; the player must respond in kind. The conductor is obviously limited to two notes at a time, but a variation would be to have two conductors and thus up to four simultaneous notes. Tip: Conductors do well not to incessantly use all hands at their disposal.

Idea 1: Launch several (other) players first creating a stable rhythmic accompaniment using some kind of percussion (body, instrument, found, mouth, etc.), then add the tones from the rest of the group in time over it.

Idea 2: Use occasional Soundpainting gestures when desired, e.g. Continue This, Long Tone, Louder/Softer, Memory 1, Volume Fader, etc.

Variation 1: Give one or more people a spice tone (b2, #2, #4, b6).

Variation 2: Use a pentatonic scale.

Variation 3: Give each player 2 notes to choose from.

Variation 4: The conductor makes a sign (e.g. form a “C” with the thumb and fingers) at any time to indicate that players should select a new tone or tones.

Variation 5: Use other kinds of scales, e.g. chromatic, minor, whole tone, etc.