What makes a meaningful group musical improvisation?
Is it a sense of connection and interaction? A cohesive musical output? Conversation? Expression? Groove? Interesting, unexpected ideas emerging? Group playfulness?
I would like to propose a framework for exploring this question through identifying the musical, emotional, and relational elements that are the building blocks of a group music improvisation. This can also apply to improvisation through movement, spoken word, theater, and other forms of expression.
Examples of musical elements:
Major, Minor, Repetition, Harmonic Progression, Free Form, Atonal, Ambient, Discordant
Rhythmic Elements: Polyrhythmic, Unified, Fast, Medium, Slow, Unpredictable, Spacious, Dense
Examples of emotional/relational elements:
Joy, Anger, Sadness, Fear
Curious, Avoidant, Playful, Serious,
I believe that a musical improvisation between two or more people will inevitably involve several or more of these elements to varying degrees. Whether or not there is an intentional agreement on particular uses of the elements, or a pre-defined structure for the improvisation, it is guaranteed that musical, emotional, and relational aspects will emerge. The more conscious awareness and agreement a group of has around the emerging elements and themes, the deeper the improvisation is likely to go.
To focus on a playful, conscious, and intentional exploration of this concept, the Free Sessions evening will be structured around 3 specific elements for each improvisation, using spinner game boards that I have created to randomly choose from the sub-set of elements within the larger categories of musical/ emotional/relational. Participants will be randomly matched with a goal of making sure that all attendees have an opportunity to play at least one time during the event, and that the number of players for each improvisation will vary.
My intent is to facilitate an evening exploring creativity within structure, and to encourage a safe container that supports participants of all levels of experience in meeting on a common ground and going deeper with their personal understanding of the possibilities of group improvisation.