Music Improvisation Workshops
by Rory Cowal, Sara Roberts and Isaac Schankler
Date & Time
January 1, 2010, 1pm–3pm
Machine Project

4 Sundays in January 2010 from 1-3pm

Series organized by Rory Cowal, Sara Roberts and Isaac Schankler


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

**All workshops are hands-on so please bring an instrument or your voice and we will all play together!**

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.