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A practice tool to help you be more creative and confident. No experience or music theory required. For all musicians and all ages.
A practice tool to help you be more creative and confident. No experience or music theory required. For all musicians and all ages.
A practice tool to help you be more creative and confident. No experience or music theory required. For all musicians and all ages.
352 backers pledged $9,941 to help bring this project to life.

About

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TONIC - The Card & Dice Game for Musicians

$9,941

352

Making music is hard.

Whether you're experienced or not, it's easy to get stuck. The amount of theory, scales, and influences floating around in your head can be overwhelming. Sometimes, it feels impossible to know where to begin.

As a musician, I know what it's like. And when I reflected on my own experiences and talked to other musicians, I realized that I wasn't alone.

Improvisation is the most natural way to make music. Deep down, we are all improvisers. All creative people are.

But somehow, we forgot. And the result is that for many people, making music has become a source of fear and anxiety, rather than of joy and freedom.

I created Tonic because I think improvisation is something that all musicians can learn. Tonic helps open your mind and frees you of the need to sound "good." It has the power to change the way you connect to your instrument and make you a better musician today.

It’s for all musicians -- classical, jazz, rock, professional, beginner, young, or old. You can play it alone or with a group, and you don't need any experience.

Each card has an instruction that challenges you to create a short piece of music on the spot. Roll the dice to choose the pitches that you can use. 

To play, shuffle the cards and follow the directions.

There is no score, and there are no losers. The point is to have fun and make music. Your success is measured by how free and fearless you feel when working through the exercises.

Rules

  • Relax.
  • There are no wrong notes.
  • Always listen.
  • Don't try to sound "good." This is a judgement-free zone.
  • Have an open mind.
  • Keep it simple.
  • When in doubt, be bold.
If you're new to improvisation: Tonic is a safe and effective starting point. No stress, no complicated theory, no high expectations.

If you're an experienced musician: Tonic will guide you out of your comfort zone and stretch your mind in new ways.
 INCLUDES:
  • High quality poker-style cards on heavy card stock
  • A sturdy and slim carrying box
  • Three 12-sided black musical dice
  • Instructions with definitions of musical terms

Some cards tell you what pitches to use. Others have time constraints. Some are for specific instruments. A few are visual. Some tell you to use your computer or phone. Some are meditative, and some are chaotic. Some are straightforward, and some are...a little odd.

The main idea is this: When we are forced to act under certain guidelines, we rise to the challenge. Restriction breeds innovation.


Most cards ask you to select pitches, which you can do by rolling the dice. Tonic comes with a set of three 12-sided dice, with each side featuring one of the 12 notes of the chromatic scale.

Prototype.
Prototype.

You can also use the dice for your regular practice routines or compositions. Try using them to pick keys for drills, or to come up with unexpected harmonies or melodic lines. 

They're great any time you want to introduce an element of randomness into your playing.

Become the musician you've always wanted to be.

  • Learn to create music from nothing. Start composing and improvising today in a low-stress and accessible way. Play music the way you’ve always wanted to-- without anxiety or fear.
  • Break through creative blocks. Free yourself of the written page and tap deep into your subconscious to realize your full potential as an artist and performer.
  • Cure performance anxiety. Practice making music with no safety net, and you will learn to trust yourself and develop confidence in your art. Tonic will help destroy stage fright in all its ugly forms.
  • Train your ears. Without written notes to guide you, you’ll learn to truly listen. Maybe for the first time in your musical life. Tonic will develop your ear and help you translate the ideas in your head through your instrument.
Play Alone or with a Group
Most cards can be played along, with a partner, or a larger group.

Classical musicians:
  • Historically, classical musicians were improvisers, but it's a lost art. Tonic is an easy entry point because it removes the variables and tells you exactly what to do.
  • Build the confidence to play without written music and learn skills that will transfer to your classical studies.
Jazz players: 
  • The problem with jazz education is that there is TOO MUCH information out there. Every book and every teacher has a different approach to improv and a new set of exercises for you to learn. 
  • Take a step back and approach music like a child again. Learn to forget about changes, tunes, and theory, and just play from a natural and confident place.  
Teachers
  • Share with your students to encourage collaboration and critical thinking skills. 
  • Tonic is what I wish my teachers had when I was a student. It's a playful introduction to music for kids and grown-ups alike that also improves problem-solving and confidence.
Rock, blues, pop, and metal musicians: 
  • Works your idea muscle and will help spark fresh ideas for songwriting and solos.
  • Push out of your comfort zone and towards exploring new sounds and ways to think about your instrument. 
Non-musicians and beginners: 
  • Does not require any knowledge of music theory to play. All you need is basic knowledge of musical terms, which are explained in the instructions.
  • Challenge yourself to see what you're capable of, relying only on the expressive potential of your own mind.
The musician in your life (as a gift):
  • Great gift item for all musicians. Best for high school age and older.
  • An open-ended practice tool that musicians are free to use in their own way.
I believe so strongly in Tonic that I’ve made the cards available completely for free. You can download them as a PDF and print them out yourself.

It's taken me years of research and study to bring Tonic to you today.
 With the help of communities like Reddit (thanks r/musictheory!) and a devoted Twitter following, thousands of musicians and educators have already been influenced by Tonic. 

But now it's time to bring it to a larger audience.

To make Tonic commercially viable, I need to meet certain minimum order requirements with my manufacturer. This will cost thousands of dollars - a big risk unless I'm sure that the concept behind Tonic is something people want.

I need your help to make Tonic a reality. With your support, I can put the first edition of Tonic into production and share it with the world.

Tonic is more than just a card game. By supporting Tonic, you are showing the world that your believe in a different way to make music. Not only are you getting a cool new toy, but you’re also showing that you believe in the creative power of improvisation, and in making a difficult and intimidating concept more accessible to everyone.

This game is just the beginning -- Tonic will ultimately form the foundation of a much larger community of improvisers that will continue to grow and learn together long after the campaign is over.
Thanks for your support everyone! Now that we met our goal, these versions expand on some of the ideas in the original game. All use cards and dice like the original. 

These will become available ONLY if the campaign raises $13k. You will be able to choose your option in a survey after the campaign is over. If you pledge to get multiple versions, you will be able to mix-and-match versions.

Uses cards similar to the doodles and graphs in the original Tonic. Inspired by the unconventional notation of composers like Iannis Xenakis, Anthony Braxton, and John Cage.
Uses cards similar to the doodles and graphs in the original Tonic. Inspired by the unconventional notation of composers like Iannis Xenakis, Anthony Braxton, and John Cage.

 Example:

Theory-intensive games based on common and not-so-common harmonic, melodic, and structural concepts. For advanced musicians.
Theory-intensive games based on common and not-so-common harmonic, melodic, and structural concepts. For advanced musicians.

Example: 

"Create a melody that fits the following chord progression: I - iv - V7 - I. Repeat until you run out of ideas."

 
Games which help you take a simple theme and twist it around to form something new.
Games which help you take a simple theme and twist it around to form something new.

Example:

 
You will receive your reward by late September (US) or mid-October (International).
You will receive your reward by late September (US) or mid-October (International).
For many of you, this is the first Kickstarter project you've backed. Here's a rundown of the process.

Kickstarter isn't a store. Think of it as a way to pre-order something that isn't for sale yet.
 It helps independent inventors and creators like me get their projects off the ground.
 

For $25, you get a copy of the first edition of Tonic. If you pledge a higher amount, you can choose to get extra sets for your students or friends.


When you make a pledge, your payment information is recorded but not charged. You will only get billed at the end of the campaign.


You can change or cancel your pledge any time during the campaign.


By backing Tonic, you're helping to create a new approach to improvisation, and making the world a better place for all musicians.

Keep coming back for updates, or follow on Twitter: @tonicimprov

  • "Absolutely love the message of the game . . . You've turned a concept that is intimidating to so many people into something that's all about having fun and letting your mind run wild . . . I can see this game giving so many people the confidence to improvise while also making them good improvisers. Everyone wins." (1)
  • "Love it! Great to see something like this focus on 'free' improvisation. " (2)
  • "It's really hard to express to people how to improvise, even seasoned classical players, and this could be a fun game to get their feet wet." (3)
  • "Really cool idea! I can tell that you have put a lot of thought into each card. Can't wait to get to my instrument to try this out."  (4)
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Risks and challenges

This project is ready to roll (dice pun). All the artwork and text are finished. What you see above is the final production sample. I have trusted manufacturers lined up and a streamlined supply chain.

I have professional experience in making physical products, and handling operations to ensure a timely delivery.

Problems always pop up-- flash floods, tornadoes, etc., but I've done everything possible to plan ahead and give myself extra time in case of delays.

And there is also the chance that we won't reach the funding goal. If this happens, I'll rework the project and figure out how to do it better.

This is a pretty simple product-- just paper and plastic. Because of this, the delivery time will be shorter than most campaigns. I expect to ship early orders in late September and the remainder in October.

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Questions about this project? Check out the FAQ

Support

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $1 or more About $1.00

    Karma points. For anyone who just wants to say "thanks" and support the project.

    We will also keep you updated on new projects and initiatives, and feature you on the Hall of Fame on the website.

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    Pledge $15 or more About $15

    JUST THE DICE - Get a set of three 12-sided musical dice in a handy carrying bag. Use them in to play along with Tonic, or use them in composition, improv, practice, or any time you want to introduce an element of randomness to your playing.

    To order multiples, just add $15 for each extra set you'd like. (extra shipping charges will apply if outside US)

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    Pledge $19 or more About $19

    EARLY BIRD - Get the first edition of Tonic. Each set comes with cards, dice, box, and instructions.

    To order multiples, just add $19 for each extra set you'd like. (extra shipping charges will apply if outside US)

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  4. Select this reward

    Pledge $25 or more About $25

    Get the first edition of Tonic. Each set comes with cards, dice, box, and instructions.

    To order multiples, just add $25 for each extra set you'd like. (extra shipping charges will apply if outside US)

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  5. Select this reward

    Pledge $63 or more About $63

    [THREE PACK]

    Get three (3) copies of the first edition of Tonic. Each set comes with cards, dice, box, and instructions.

    Great as gifts for students and friends.

    To order multiple 3-packs, just add $63 for each extra you'd like. (additional shipping charges will apply if outside US)

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  6. Select this reward

    Pledge $105 or more About $105

    [FIVE PACK]

    Get five (5) copies of the first edition of Tonic. Each set comes with cards, dice, box, and instructions.

    Great as gifts for students and friends.

    To order multiple 5-packs, just add $105 for each extra you'd like. (additional shipping charges will apply if outside US)

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Funding period

- (31 days)