Musical Chairs is a game played by a group of people, often in an informal setting purely for entertainment such as a birthday party. The game starts with N players and a set of N-1 chairs; the chairs are arranged in a circle (or other closed figure if space is constrained; a double line is sometimes used) facing outward, with the people standing in a circle just outside of that. A non-playing individual controls a source of music. While the music is playing, the players in the circle walk in unison around the chairs. When the music controller shuts off the music, however, everyone must sit down in one of the chairs. The player who is left without a chair is eliminated from the game, and one chair is also removed to ensure that there will always be one fewer chair than there are players. The music resumes and the cycle repeats until there is only one player left in the game, who is the winner.
In the non-competitive version of "Musical Chairs" one chair but no player is eliminated in each round. All players have to sit down on the remaining chairs, while their feet must not touch the floor.
"Playing musical chairs" is also a metaphorical way of describing any activity where items or people are repeatedly and usually pointlessly shuffled among various locations.
See also: Chinese fire drill