Music Improvisation Workshops
with Rory Cowal, Sara Roberts and Isaac Schankler
Date & Time
January 8, 2010, 8pm
January 10, 2010, 1pm–3pm
January 17, 2010, 1pm–3pm
January 24, 2010, 1pm–3pm
January 31, 2010, 1pm–3pm
Machine Project

For this series of workshops, musicians of all levels and musical backgrounds are invited to participate. Together, we will explore all of the ways we can interact through music and the extraordinary sonic worlds that arise as a result.

As a full ensemble and in different small ensemble combinations, we will find strategies for successfully cooperating as a group while still asserting our individuality and expressing our personal voices. We will use improvisation as a tool to better understand structure and form in a performance. We will also hone our compositional skills; while improvising, we must ask ourselves, “what does this work need and how will my contribution add to the character and evolution of the piece?” The fruits of our efforts will be spontaneous and extraordinary works of art. Tapping into our collective imagination and creativity, we will invent fantastic textures of timbre, melody, harmony, and color.

We will explore these ideas further with John Zorn’s Cobra, a popular and continually evolving improvisational game piece. In Cobra, players respond to a variety of gestures and cards that provide countless possibilities for musical interaction. However, players wishing to strike out on their own can become “guerrillas” and set their own agenda, making for an often unpredictable but always compelling spectacle. The workshops will culminate in a performance that incorporates all aspects of these improvisational strategies.

The series will close with a Shape Note Singing Workshop, led by Jessica Catron and Daniel Brummel. Come and learn as well as participate in a unique, alternative musical language. Utilizing a few shapes instead of basic music notation, the shape note form invites participants to hone in on harmonic structures in large groups, allowing beautiful sounds to materialize among people who have likely never sung together before. The music is easy, the sound is joyously resonant, and all voices are welcome — a willingness to sing is the only requirement.


Class 1
Friday, January 8, 8pm
Opening Performance
with Rory Cowal, Sara Roberts and Isaac Schankler
Class 2
Sunday, January 10, 1pm–3pm
Principles of Improvisation with Rory Cowal
with Rory Cowal
Class 3
Sunday, January 17, 1pm–3pm
Advanced Principles of Improvisation, Intro to Cobra
with Rory Cowal and Isaac Schankler
Class 4
Sunday, January 24, 1pm–3pm
Advanced Cobra and Guerrilla Tactics
with Isaac Schankler
Class 5
Sunday, January 31, 1pm–3pm
Shape Note Singing Workshop directed
with Jessica Catron and Daniel Brummel