COMPOSITION STRATEGIES

Like Brian Eno's Oblique Strategy Cards, the Composition Strategy Cards are used as a creative springboard for creating new pieces of music. They are interesting in that every aspect of the process is reduced to a random event, which eliminates the need to make conscious choices about what to compose. Very often the decision making process in songwriting can be paralyzing; compounded by the fact that creative decisions have to be made democratically in a group situation, and use of the cards is a way to break those types of creative blocks.

The cards are designed like traditional playing cards and have 12 "suits": Rhythm,Tempo, Key, Mood, Abstractions, Arrangement, Melody, Style, Topic, Meter, Treatments and Harmony. In each suit are 6-12 Cards, including an "Ace".

When playing the game in a group situation, the cards are dealt to each band member, and each person rolls a pair of dice, one numbered 1-6 and the other 7-12, representing the 12 suits. For example, one might roll 4 and 9, which are, "Topic", and "Mood", and that person will play a card from those categories. The player that has the ace gets to play the card of his choice in that suit, even if a card from that category has already been played. For example, if someone has already played a "topic" card, the person that holds the ace of topic takes control of that category and can replace that card.

Sample game result:

Rhythm: Staccato 16th Notes
Tempo: Medium Fast 129-144 BPM
Key: F# Minor
Mood: Religious Darkness (Light that only appears dark)
Abstractions: Clouds
Arrangement: Work off of a riff
Melody: Use an Exotic Scale
Style: Experimental
Topic: The Future: Bleak/Hopeful
Meter:8/8 (3+3+2)
Harmony: No sevenths
Treatments:"Clicky" bass


Strategies Library