A Random Idea - Practicing With Dice

This is a set of polyhedral dice:

If you’re a nerd like me, you already own several sets. If not, sets are inexpensive and are easily found online or at your local hobby shop…

A set of polyhedral dice contains the following (numbers indicate number of sides)

d4, d6, d8, d12, d20

Which are the dice with shapes of the regular polyhedra, known as the Platonic Solids (tetrahedron, cube, octahedron, dodecahedron, icosahedron). The irregular dice are the d10 and the d%.

It has occurred to me that these dice might be a helpful practice tool for guitarists (and musicians generally).

The first use of these dice is for randomized self-testing of memorized information.

As a simple example, suppose you want to learn all of the note names over the fretboard. You could randomly self-test using the d6 and the d12.

Let the number on the d6 refer to the string. Let the number on the d12 refer to the fret. Roll the dice and name the corresponding note.

For example, suppose we roll and we obtain a 4 on the d6 and an 8 on the d12. This would indicate the note on the D string, 8th fret. We name the note Bb and we repeat.

Suppose we have another game. We roll the d12 twice. We let the first number indicate the fret on the low E string, and we let the second number indicate an interval in terms of a number of semitones. We name the starting note, the resulting interval and the ending note.

For example, suppose we roll and obtain a 4 and a 9. The 4 indicate the Ab on the 4th fret of the low E. The 9 corresponds to 9 semitones, which is a major 6th. The ending note is the note a major 6th above Ab, which is an F.

Suppose we have another game. We roll the d12 and the d4. The let the number on the d12 indicate a fret on the low E string. We let the d4 indicate a chord quality

1 = Major 7th
2 = Dominant 7th
3 = Minor 7th
4 = Half-diminished

Roll. name the note indicated by the fret. Name all the notes of the chord type. Name all keys signatures in which that chord appears.

For example, suppose we roll a 9 and a 1. The note at the 9th fret of the low E is a Db. The 1 indicates we name the notes of the Db Major 7th chord. The notes are Db, F, Ab and C. It is either the I chord in Db Major or the IV chord in Ab.

These could be done with the guitar in hand to strengthen fretboard visualization, or without the guitar.

The second use of these dice is to randomize exercises with the guitar.

Suppose we want to practice improvising. Suppose we roll the d12, letting the number indicate a fret on the low E string. We name that note, and practice improvising in that key.

Suppose we want to restrict ourselves further. We could roll the d12, letting the number indicate a position to work in.

Suppose we want to work on soloing over changes. Roll the d12 and d6. The number on the d12 indicates a fret on the low E string. The number on the d6 indicates a chord quality, as follows:

1 = Major 7th
2 = Dominant 7th
3 = Minor 7th
4 = Half-dimished
5 = Altered dominant
6 = Diminished

The result is your first chord. Repeat for your second chord. Work on playing over that change. Maybe restrict yourself positionally as before.

The aim here is to avoid practicing the same positions, keys and changes which we are comfortable with, and to force ourselves to be more adaptable with our instruments.


That is a cool and functional approach (as well as adorably nerdy).

The only flaw is that you assume i know any basic music theory. I learned my harmonic minor modes by heart and thats it :,)

(CtC, please put together some crashcourse in harmony for clueless shredders. With cartoons and Yngwie-liveclips so i can understand it)


First of, I love what you did with the title!

Second, while those dices seem really cool, you could also do this by tapping in “randon number generator” on Google (specially if you’re a cheapskate like me! ):


Not as poetic or artistic as usings dices, but it gets the job done :smile:


I’ve used this really nice music dice set in practice and composition. A dozen d12’s with the each of the 12 chromatic notes engraved offer lots of interesting opportunities.



I used random number generator app on my smartphone but for a bit different goal. I just created set of random notes (4-6 usually) and then tried to make ameaningful melody out of it.


Great stuff, simple ideas are the best!

Would love this!

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You had me at “polyhedral dice”…

Seriously though, this reminds me of a project I did in college for a programming class where I created a random chord-generator. I’d print out these sheets with 32 bars worth or random chords and practice playing the chords, related scales and arpeggios with the minimum number of moves.

Good lord, that was almost 30 years ago. This kinda makes me want to recreate it as a little web app. Hmmm…


Ahh well now you have to do it :wink: Sounds like a cool project!

I (rolls to form opinion) like this idea


I’m glad people like my idea. If you don’t want to spend a few dollars on a set of dice, I found a free app on the Google Play Store called Dice Roller which can be used instead. It’s quite a nice app, all the polyhedral dice are available and you can save certain combinations of dice as presets. I’ve installed on my phone and I’ve been using it to play these types of memory games.

Thank you. Most of theory I know I’ve learned through self-study. A problem I’ve encountered with trying to memorize information in list format is that when I need to recall the material, I can initially only recall the information in sequence. Randomized self-testing has been helpful for me in the past when I’ve wanted to get past this problem, and has resulted in much faster recall of information.

I used randomized self-testing when I was in university and needed to memorize information. Usually, my solution was shuffled flash cards. Writing up the cards can help memorization by itself, but it can be tedious when there is a lot of information. Also, whenever you move on to learn new material, you need a new set of cards.

The pun was very much intended. Maybe try to the dice app I mentioned. It’s free and much more entertaining to use.

I’m tempted to pick up a set.

Sure, that’s another way you could use random variables to force yourself to try new things.

Thank you.


Neat idea, I’d imagine it’s quite challenging to navigate through 32 bars of random chords.

I second this @alexvollmer!

Hopefully a low DC with a high modifier.


It you do the project consider generating the notation and feeding it to free engraving software,


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Without notation and export features it could be done for 5 minutes for windows, I mean simple console app with sybmolic output (Am Bbdim Emaj7 etc) :slight_smile:

This is a good idea :bulb: