Friday, October 7, 2011

The Music Game

I'd like to introduce a new feature of Patti's Music Reviews: the appropriately-titled Music Game. Inspired by the Film Walrus' Movie Game, this is simply an exercise of one's creative ability to think of songs that fit a set of conditions. If you look on the right side of this blog, just below the description, you should see a subsection containing the game's basic interface. [Edit 2014.06.05: It is now located on its own page and linked from the top of the website.]

The rules are simple. Press the button that reads "Draw Cards". You will see three short words, phrases, or statements appear. Each of these items or cards represents a theme, topic, or other element distinguishable in modern music. The idea is simply to name a song that meet the criteria of at least two of the cards.

For example, I just drew "Subject of a documentary", "Reinvention or genre shift", and "City". How about David Bowie's "A New Career in a New Town" from 1977's Low? I don't know if it was ever the subject of a documentary (although Bowie certainly has been), but the instrumental song stands as part of Bowie's shift from glam, funk, and soul into experimental and electronic realms. And if the word "town" in the title isn't close enough to city, then what about the fact that the album is part of the classic Berlin Trilogy?

Anyway, the subject matter runs a wide spectrum, including lyrics, genres, statistics, history, personnel, and technical information. We've tried to keep any one card from being too obscure or difficult, but in knowing that challenging cards can sometimes be the most fun, we struck the balance of including some of these ideas but encouraging the pick-two-of-three concept.

Playing in a group is recommended, either by taking turns or by each throwing out suggestions. As such, there is no "winning" or even really any scorekeeping, although if you really are the competitive type (can you tell that I am not?), you could certainly devise such mechanisms. The key is to be creative and have fun. Liberal interpretation of the cards is welcomed, if not encouraged.

If a particular set of cards seems totally impossible, then try to name an artist or band whose material fits the descriptors. Alternately, if you want an extra challenge, try to name a song that fits every combination of two cards, or try to name a song that fits all three cards. As another example, I just drew "Dissonance", "10+ album band", and "Guitar solo". Almost too easy – how about anything by Sonic Youth? Take "Candle" off of Daydream Nation, as long as you can call that instrumental guitar noise break a "guitar solo", which I will.

Have fun! Feel free to leave comments or suggestions for improvements or alternate gameplay styles.

P.S. I know that the game is somewhat rockist, or at least biased towards certain genres and styles, but that's what the authors know the most about. You can certainly try to apply classical or jazz works to the cards, but it may not be easy. There's no reason not to try if you'd like, though.

P.P.S. I should explain the "we" I've spoken of: most of the credit for the game goes to the Film Walrus and Jim Sabo. Thanks guys!

1 comment:

FilmWalrus said...

Nice intro and explanation. Jim still feels the game is too hard so there will probably be future rounds of updates to polish it. He also has some more ideas on new game modes like radio/ipod-shuffle version where you try to play out a hand and bingo edition. Keep the ideas comings!

Oh, and sorry for forgetting to comment earlier, but I thought the TMBG review was spot on.