12/19/14

Nachmanovitch Improv Workshop

Cover of "Free Play: Improvisation in Lif...

Stephen Nachmanovitch is the author of the mother of all improv books – Free Play. Everyone breathing shoujld read this book. I just received notice that he will be doing an improv workshop with Maria Kluge entitled “Improvising and Mindfulness” Feb. 27 – March 1 in Osterloh, Germany.

For more information:

www.achtsamkeit-osterloh.org

info@osterloh.org

www.freeplay.com/Teaching/Improv.Mindfulness.htm

01/29/14

Improv Class #3, Spring 2014

Cover of "Free Play: Improvisation in Lif...

In the third improv (regular readers of this blog know that I mean classical improv, not jazz improv, not theatrical improv, and that by classical improv I don’t mean improvising as they did in the Classical Era, I mean improvising with your own voice as a classical musician) class, we did a review of the last session – using sticks (on cardboard, on padded chairs, on notebooks, etc.) to acquire basic skills in control – steady pulse, adding accents (duple, triple, clave), dynamics, basic rhythms, free mix-and-match, density (from lots of notes to lots of rests), imitate (what you hear others play), add multiple timbres (hit something different to get a different color). It is a lot of variables when you add them all up when we get to the free play sessions, but they did well. We stressed that the most important part of this is listening. It’s great to add variety to your free sticking, but listen to the group: imitate the ideas of others and stick (pun intended) to the beat; if you hear the group getting ragged, simplify, go back to the steady 8th notes without an accent. Listen to yourself; continually adjust, adapt, and (re)calibrate. It’s easy to feel like you are riding an effortless, continuous stream of notes, but we need to stay alert to what is happening every second and make micro-adjustments. Paying attention is important. Don’t let the brain turn dull as soon as it perceives a pattern (e.g. regular sticking) and fall asleep.

Although we haven’t officially gotten into it yet, I added some Soundpainting (see www.soundpainting.com) gestures that seemed appropriate: the Density Fader, Volume Fader, Finish Your Idea, Exit.

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03/27/13

Improv Quote of the Day: Surrender

As an improvising musician, I am not in the music business, I am not in the creativity business; I am in the surrender business.  Improvisation is acceptance, in a single breath, of both transience and eternity.  We know what might happen in the next day or minutes, but we cannot know what will happen.  To the extent that we feel sure of what will happen, we lock in the future and insulate ourselves against those essential surprises.  Surrender means cultivating a comfortable attitude toward not-knowing, being nurtured by the mystery of moments that are dependably surprising, ever fresh.

–Stephen Nachmanovitch

01/22/12

Improv Quote of the Day: How Did the Dots Get There?

Example of game

Many musicians are fabulously skilled at playing the black dots on the printed page, but mystified by how the dots got there in the first place and apprehensive of playing without dots. Music theory does not help here; it teaches rules of the grammar, but not what to say. When people ask me how to improvise, only a little of what I can say is about music. The real story is about spontaneous expression, and it is therefore a spiritual and a psychological story rather than a story about the technique of one art form or another.

–Stephen Nachmanovitch

01/13/12

Improv Quote of the Day: Don’t Put Up With It

 

Major and minor scale

You don’t have to practice boring exercises, but you have to practice something. If you find the practice boring, you don’t run away from it, but don’t tolerate it either. Transform it into something that suits you. If you are bored playing a scale, play the same eight tones but change the order. Then change the rhythm. Then change the tone color. Presto, you have just improvised. If you don’t think the result is very good, you have the power to change it- now there is both a supply of raw material and some judgment to feed back the process. This is especially effective with classically trained musicians who think they can’t play without a score or develop technique without exact repetition of some exercises in a book. –Stephen Nachmanovitch, Free Play