I had an exhilarating and inspiring weekend with thirteen musicians for the maiden voyage of the Game Symphony Workshop!
The event brought together a diverse group of musicians, including professional orchestral players, band directors, university students, and amateur musicians. The two day workshop at Seattle Pacific University culminated with the premiere of sixteen original pieces. The performance featured an improvised film score, abstract soundscapes, meditative minimalism, musical settings for poetry, solo improvisations, and Soundpainting, a sign language for live composition.
Viola Spolin, the creator of improvised theater games, describes a spontaneous scene as “a timeless moment when all are mutually engaged in experience. You don’t know what’s going to happen and that’s where they joy is, the everlasting spiral.”
Courtesy of Flickr/Andrew Currie
Do yourself a favor and watch this stunning documentary!
On the Edge: Improvisation in Music is a 1992 4-part series produced and narrated by British guitarist Derek Bailey. The film features performances and interviews from master musicians all over the globe. You can stream the entire documentary below.
“I believe creativity comes from limits, not freedom.”
This is not a quote about music. It’s how Jon Stewart describes preparing for the The Daily Show with his team of writers (from an interview with NPR’s Fresh Air).
Stravinsky employed a similar process:
My freedom will be so much the greater and more meaningful the more narrowly I limit my field of action and the more I surround myself with obstacles. Whatever diminishes constraint diminishes strength. The more constraints one imposes, the more one frees one’s self of the chains that shackle the spirit.
– Igor Stravinsky, Poetics of Music in the Form of Six Lessons
A drone is a sustained tone that accompanies a piece of music. Drones can be found in musical traditions all over the word. Indian classical music, Scottish bagpipes, Gregorian chant (organum), Native American flute, minimalism, and modal jazz are a few examples.
Practicing with drones is one of the most effective ways to sharpen your ears and inspire your inner music.
Courtesy of Martin Spaink/Wikimedia Commons