Improv Game of the Day: Clusters

My keyboard

1-2 players, at the piano. Player One picks any three adjacent white keys on the piano in the middle register and plays a steady rhythm; straight quarter notes work well. Player Two, alternating left and right hand, plays a solo that uses a minimum of two adjacent white key notes at a time, i.e. anywhere from two to as many as a fist, hand, or forearm can reach. Leave some spaces. Be dramatic in dynamic differences. Find a way to unify your solo (e.g. repeating gestures or rhythms).

Idea: Give the piece a name before you start.

Tip: Alternate left and right hands for more fluency in playing the clusters.

Variation 1: Have one player play only white keys, the other only black keys. You may switch colors whenever any player calls “Switch!”

Variation 2: Play the cluster (i.e. adjacent note group) notes sequentially sometimes.

Variation 3: Choose white and black key groups that overlap (e.g. F G A with F# G# A#).

Variation 4: Choose key groups that are as far from each other as is physically possible. Player’s arms will probably (and should) cross, sort of like the party game “Twister” for piano four hands.

Variation 5: Add one more player who plays exclusively inside the piano.