When we play music, we may wonder what is music really, and how do we find it? This little book contains some games for song.

A great way to get started with group musical improvisation is this sequence of group games – Floor Head Hum, Slide Away / Slide Home, Tee-Tee Notes, and then Tee-Tee-Note Thieves. These games build trust, collaboration, and musicality.

Twelve Count and Run, Jump, Hit-the-Wall will help the members of your group join in with creative motifs and phrases, building to some of the most wonderful circle games – Over and Over and Hey.

If a game wants to become a song – then let it!

Some games are for your solo practice, and help you to learn about yourself. Sing Sa helps us get in tune. Sing / Touch is the basis of playing any instrument. Metronome Ping-Pong teaches about time. Swing and Play Fast are magic for rhythm and speed. Sing Then Play is a warm-up for Make It / Let It. Make It / Let It is the most important game in this book. It asks whether you play the music or the music plays you.

If you have played the solo, group, and circle games with deep commitment, you will likely have had some ineffable experiences. You probably feel close with your group in new ways. You can begin to let all of the games lead you into improvising symphonies; Symphonies that represent, in sound, a shared way of being and mind for your community.

Now go play. Invent your own, and tell us about them! (And please remove your shoes.)

Games for Song is composed by Ben Vigoda

I owe many thanks to Jeff Lieberman for helping to produce this work with many helpful comments and suggestions — most notably helping to crystalize the tone of the book, Dan Paluska for supporting safe spaces for playing Games for Song, John Zorn for playing his musical game Cobra with us, Allaudin Mathieu for inventing musical improv games at Second City in Chicago in the 1950s and for providing a trove of historical information about the lineage of group musical improvisation, Trey Anastasio and the band Phish for pioneering the game Hey and other musical improvisation games with large audiences, Professor Lee Devin for introducing me to the game Floor Head Hum, and to Bret Bjurstrom, Jon Feldman, and artist Zoe Cohen for being some the first Games for Song enthusiasts and participants as we learned to make them work and codified them.

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