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Virtuoso Brings Music Gaming to the Board

Virtuoso Brings Music Gaming to the Board

by Michelle QuillenJanuary 23, 2013

“Then, we can spin plates on sticks while ‘Flight of the Bumblebee’ is playing!”

“I’m pretty sure that was to the tune of ‘Sabre Dance’.”

“Do not challenge me on classical music, Michelle. I will maim you.”

And so went a past exchange between my best friend and me, no doubt amidst the making of one of our many absurd plans, this being apparently suitable for a “spinning plate” reference. Turns out that I was right about “Sabre Dance” being the standard soundtrack to the plate spinning routine, made popular by The Ed Sullivan Show and other variety programs. Not that I was around to see it, but thanks to the orchestral songs I’ve acquired from collecting instrumental music albums, my trivial fact base came to associate that classic composition with the amusing dish-balancing act.

Say I hadn’t stored that bit of information away in my frontal cortex and actually possessed a superior knowledge of classical music (as my friend so proudly implied she did), then Caleb Heisey’s latest creation would be the perfect game for me.

Virtuoso, “The Game of Musicial Proficiency and Spirited Competition”, is a new board game that caters to an uncommon fandom of classical music aficionados. Similar to Trivial Pursuit, players move their pieces across a wooden board that mocks the map of an orchestra pit, a focal point that wouldn’t be complete without dice whose distinguishing indicators of BPMs and time signatures replace the usual dots.

To advance in the game is to answer trivia questions based on music history, composition, and listening comprehension, which entails what creator Heisey describes as a possession of “a firm understanding of basic music theory.” Now I know what’s at the top of my former jazz mentor’s wish list.

The heartstrings of those with ADD tendencies will be plucked with the provision of an abbreviated lightening round called “Audition”, which the developer modeled after the true-to-life challenge of moving up to be “first chair” in your section (basically, “leveling up”) by exhibiting the needed expertise to pass up your competitors.

Originally the graphic design student’s graduate project for the Tyler School of Art, Virtuoso displays Heisey’s skill in every element of its composition, which is certain to satisfy the players’ musical taste with an equally refined and unadulterated typography.

By collaborating with a violin maker and local woodworker on the game’s accessories, Heisey weaves the rudiments of piano and strings  into the composition of Virtuoso as naturally as a conductor’s stroke. Each detail is brought together by the gold and black packaging that aesthetically tucks away a game that inherently marries skill and knowledge more beautifully than your ivory-tiled Scrabble board.

While Virtuoso isn’t quite for everyone, high schools and colleges alike have acquired the game as an educational tool, punching students with an orchestra hit that will leave its players either starving for Strauss’s last sonata… or just more relaxed.

Check out some more shots of the Virtuoso game in the gallery below, and for more of Caleb Heisey’s work, visit his official website.



About The Author
Michelle Quillen