Improv Flash Mob!

English: Flash mob at UNC's Davis Library at t...

Today is the next-to-last class in my Creativity in Music class. CiM is for non(music)majors and it’s about where music comes from, that is, improvisation and composition. There are two lectures a week on some aspect of composition and one workshop session in smaller groups (about 14 or so) where we improvise. Improvisation takes place with what we have – the only instrument available is the upright piano – which is 1) body percussion 2) mouth noises 3) vocal sounds 4) room percussion (table, desktops, wastebasket [as a drum]) 5) found percussion (stuff brought from home that makes noise: pots & pans, ibuprofen bottle half filled with dry rice, any number of things). It’s plenty to come up with something. The last half of the semester they are assigned to quartets (“bands”), which they name themselves. Typically, I have a band come up to the front and give them from 8 to 15 seconds to plan the next piece, which has certain restrictions (“Clapping only.” “Feet only.” “Mouth noises and vocal sounds.” “Everyone on piano, but only 2 notes each.”). They put something together quickly and then perform it – a mixture of improv and composition (i.e. planning). Pieces are generally about a minute long or so. Then we discuss what just happened. This is harder that it sounds, apparently, but they are getting better at it. Instant aural analysis. Today is something on a larger scale, and outside the classroom.

Today is a lecture day, but no lecture today. Instead I will have each discussion group get together and make some sort of plan for a piece, then we will adjourn to the food court and do a flash mob (class is in the recital hall, which is on the ground floor of the Old Capitol Mall. The food court is right outside). I’ve never done one like this, but have seen many of them on video. Ours won’t be so rehearsed as those you see on YouTube, but it should be fun. I asked them via email to bring something small that you might find in a dining area, like knife/fork/spoon, salt & pepper shakers, glass/plate, etc. Or just something small that makes noise. If they don’t have anything, they can always use body percussion, mouth noises, room percussion. We’ll do like the YouTube flash mobs do: walk around, sit at tables, just look normal. Then someone starts and the rest join in. I wonder if there is a way we can work some kind of movement in. If you are a veteran flash mobber, please share your tips and tricks – for the next time. I am going to try to video some of it.

Merry Flash Mob!

[just got an idea: use the rhythms of Jingle Bells. Another idea: maybe each group could base their solo (I’m going to have each group ‘solo’ before the whole group plays together)…]

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