One time, my friends John Rice and Rebecca Rice, and I planned to get up early on a Sunday morning and have a listening party. We decided that we would listen to a piece by Arvo Part from start to finish. I couldn’t remember the last time I had sat down at home to listen to a classical piece with friends. What fun! If I remember right, after the piece was over, we had a little brunch in silence and then Rebecca picked up her Viola. John gathered his upright bass, and I my guitar, and somehow we ended up inventing this little game, which has ever since been one of my very favorites.
Choose some notes to play with, perhaps about 5 of them. A good first choice could be, for example, the D minor scale: D E F G A Bflat C D, but you could pick any notes that you want.
Someone starts to count out quarter notes with a foot or the like.
On each quarter note, each player chooses a note. Just like in the children’s game reauchambeau (rocks, paper, scissors) everyone makes a simultaneous choice of their note, without knowing what note the others might play.
Play Tee-Tee Notes until you are fluently playing melodies that harmonize and counterpoint one another.
Also. Play you can play Secret Tee Tee Notes. Instead of choosing 5 shared notes, have each player secretly choose 5 secret notes each. In other words each player has their own notes to play with, chosen without knowing anyone else’s.
There are lots of ways to transition from game to game to allow the sound and music to continue to grow and evolve. In Floor Head Hum, each person changes their note when they take a breath. In Tee Tee Notes, everyone changes their note at the same time, on the beat. If you were playing Floor Head Hum just before this, then one way to transition is to keep lying on the floor and to start tapping the floor with your hand at a walking pace. Transition from Floor Head Hum to Tee Tee Notes by having everyone change their note every fourth beat instead of when they take a breath. This creates a surprisingly huge change in feeling.
As we played, Rebecca started taking liberties, jumping onto eighth notes, and then to whole notes. And then we started stealing each other’s parts from one another. Which became the next game, Tee Tee Note Thieves.