Improv Game of the Day: Ostinatos Only


(Photo credit: bram_souffreau)

4+ players. Ordinarily an ostinato game would be classified as a rhythm game, but we want to use one here to wake up and warm up our sense of musical alertness, to re-calibrate our feeling for pulse and timbre, and get the rust off and dust off our rhythmic imaginations. Player One starts a simple obstinate (take a short idea and repeat it and repeat it and repeat it). Other players enter at staggered (but not necessarily regular) intervals. Players must share a pulse but not necessarily the meter (one player could be in 3/8, another in 7/8, another in 4/4, another in 3/4, etc.). It is a virtue to leave some space in each ostinato. Accents are fine. The use of different timbres is a distinct plus. Players should give special attention to placing their notes exactly in the pulse. When all have entered, let it go on for a while. Then players may gradually vary their ostinatos. Ending: make eye contact; Player One gives a nod and all stop at the same moment.

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Improv Quote of the Day: Repeat It Repeat It Repeat It

Vamp riff typical of funk and R&B. About this ...

It is very easy for the teacher or facilitator to underestimate the degree to which repeating an idea can be musically valuable. This may be because western European music places so much emphasis on developmental procedures throughout its history; but other world musics tend to be more rooted in ostinato patterns, and in improvised music, the ostinato can be regarded as an essential point of departure. Repetition maintains energy flow.     – Rod Paton


Improv Game of the Day: Übergroove

A regular feature of this blog will be the Improv Game of the Day. There are 556 (or was it 566) games in Improvisation Games for Classical Musicians, but since the book was submitted for publication (July 2007; published December 2007) I have continued to invent and collect games and probably have at least as many new games that may appear in a Vol. II some day. This collection of unpublished games will be our source for the games that appear, although I would like to send out an appeal to our readers to send us improv games of theirs (which could simply be tweaked versions of games from the book). You will be noted as the composer/author of the game.

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