Looking at a game structure for art that kind of connects players, non players though an interface of musical notes. I have been thinking of the game structure grandma’s footsteps. I have played this game a number of times in workshops and built it up to a sort of community artwork last year with some school in Gatesehead. It is the idea that one person turns away from a group who sneak up on them and have to tap them on the shoulder. They are stopped though and freeze when the person turns around,a nd set to the back again. A round finishes when the person is tapped on the shoulder.
So I spoke with Andy Jackson, who I have worked with before, he is composer/conductor and player and director of the armature orchestra scheme the Cobwebs. We talked through the idea, he suggested maybe 4 players, and adapting the piece of music into a one minute piece that kind of references it and allows the four players to be work as obviously I haven’t got a whole orchestra. I am aiming for a 10th March test, in the studio space, only a bigger space, and outdoors if poss at the back of the studios. Four players not that much, but might be ok. Anyway it is just a test. To see how the game mechanic of grandma’s footsteps work when there is sound involved that is played. I had imagined a whole orchestra, but maybe another day. Fingers crossed can get a string player, as at mo, it is brass only.
Anyway had a long talk with Andy about the whole thing and it did seem to develop on from my original ideas about using grandma’s footsteps, and looking into how to use the freeze kind of idea with musicians. Also moved on from the individual, to a structure where there are really two teams, those looking and freezing and those playing and moving. In this structure, Andy is designing a piece of music, specifically for the game-play. It also has a different configuration to the normal game. Four players will stand in a circle, facing away from the players, who stand at either side of the space,. The music for the piece is pinned on their backs and on the fronts of the people in the center. The players have to first sneak close enough to read the notes, so they don’t know what the music is beforehand, those in the center can turn around, if they turn around the player stops and plays different music while still for a certain time. All the players are moving in on the center and each person in the center controls a play. It is an experiment, test, see how it goes. This has moved far away from the original idea, and can see probs already, but maybe this is more gameful, and it is a kind of team game.
As it has progressed Andy, he is worried about the number of notes we can get on a page. So have decided to use more of a repeating motif, that runs again and again. I started to think about page turning, and how when people play the piano there is a page turner, In a way I am turning the idea of page turning, which does have rules into a kind of gameful experience. Also many years ago when I started the whole flash-mob orchestra thing with Andy and the Cobwebs, it was picked up on the way the notes were on the back of he players. There are the two diff sections of music, one on the front of people, one on the back, and when they turn they get the other section, but hopefully it will fit together ins some way. It is all pretty open and hard to know how it will go till the end. What is the best formation of the people in it.
I thought to begin with that it is a bit like the cards in Alice in Wonderland, the idea that they have the notes on them I am thinking sandwich boards. Anyway today Andy sent me the parts of the score, and asked for them printed big, which I have done, at A0 size. Not sure if that is too big, but was thinking about some of the circle properties like amplification etc,and just thought that yes, printing it out really big means it owns the space more, effects those around. I wasn’t sure it would blow up such small files, but they look great. So each is a back and a front for the same instrument,t o approach, and when the person turns around the other bit of music is played, but should fit in too. Not sure what the end goal is exactly for the game, Will see what emerges.