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THE DIY OF UNISON GAMES

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Almost any activity or task, or sequence or combination of activities and/or tasks, may provide the basis for a unison game.  These activities or tasks may be determined before the game begins, or determined (within prescribed limits) by the players during the course of the game. 

Unison games generally require one, or more, umpires.  Umpires provide not only judgements as to whether an activity has been performed in unison  -  they may also provide guidance and encouragement to groups of players attempting to perform a particular activity with the same feeling and quality, with the same rhythm and timing, and beginning and ending at exactly the same moment. 

 Unison can only be achieved so far as the different bodies and the different vocal chords of the different players allow.  Unison can also only be achieved within the limits of the abilities of the players (some groups of players will be doing exceedingly well to achieve unison in footwork when it comes to running on the spot ;  other groups will be able to run on the spot with synchronous movements of feet, arms, head, and body posture).  It is generally up to the umpires to make judgements in these respects and to communicate these judgements to the players (usually without using words). 

 Unison games may be an equal source of fun and frustration.  Given sensitive (and sometimes firm) umpiring this sense of frustration may  -  perhaps following something of a marathon effort  -  blossom into a shared sense of achievement.

 Unison games may draw upon physical and vocal activities with roots in sport, gymnastics, dance, mime, drama, music, song, and poetry.  Games may be created to suit the special interests or skills, or the generalised interests and skills, of particular groups of players.  Unison games may draw upon activities which are brief or extended, familiar or unfamiliar, old or new, or suited specifically to the abilities or disabilities of particular groups of players.  

 One particular unison game described in this chapter merits some special attention.  Originally known as 'The Schoenberg Game' (because of a perceived link between the structure of the game and Schoenberg's approach to innovative musical composition) this game opens up a whole world of creative and very co-operative games.  This game appears in this chapter under the title "The Unison Game in which democracy is tested to its limits").

 

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