Signs, Games and Messages are series for solo instruments and small chamber ensembles. Each of the three notions refers to an essential factor in Kurtág's music. Signs ties in with the composer's period of study in Paris as a young man, when he could not compose, merely put graphic signs on the paper. (Additionally, the word points to inspiration gained from the art of Klee and Michaux.) Games links with his nine-volume series for the piano with that title. Messages conveys the very personal content of these works, in that these short pieces are actually diary notes and missives to musicians and friends important to Kurtág.
The collection - like his earlier five series for stringed instruments - does not form a coherent cycle. The pieces can be played individually or in various orders or among pieces from Signs, Games and Messages written for other instruments.