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Various Improvisation Exercises

This is a page where you can add things that we can do at rehearsals, or bigger things that take longer or related to specific places or situations, as long as musical improvisation is involved somewhere. In the orchestra sometimes, the exercise we follow is not said, but it's "play on time and in rhythm with other players, and only out of tune if you mean to be. Try and give space to others. if others give space to you, do something to fill it".


This is an improvisation over prepared text for one or more vocalists/reciters and improvising musicians.

  1. Participants agree on simple conversation topics. Suggestions for topics are "the first time I got stoned/drunk", something from the news eg: "david beckham getting an OBE", the simpler the better, but good if personal eg something that happened to you or someone close.
  2. Each participant goes off and participates in conversations on these topics with friends or family.
  3. The participant transcribes everything they like - it doesn't need to make sense. These transcriptions are given to the singer/speakers
  4. Performers now meet to perform it. They agree order in which different conversations should be tackled.
  5. Performance then happens with singers and speakers reading or singing the "lyrics" to an improvised backing.

Play some quiet peaceful background music

Do what it says on the tin

Play with transitions

Each of these is a different exercise:


(did this before at an impro course -ale)

Split into groups. Each group chooses a colour from a hat. No-one gets to see the other's colour. Each group improvises to their colour. The others then have to guess the colour.

Performance with Audience

Ask audience for a storyline, characters, even ask audience to make up a simple tune that we can use as a riff. Everything quite in detail. Now play something completely different. The audience now thinks we are uncaring avant-garde oafs. Meanwhile, poet/speaker and conductor go off stage to figure out key themes to accompany different characters and a story /song to go with it. When finished and applause dies down, start playing the tune they invented:

  1. First just solo voice improvising slowly
  2. Then voice starts riff, and rhythm section kicks in. (This is a good time to go around the orchestra explaining what each theme will be - could be things like "when the bear comes into the story play something really scary")
  3. Now each theme is exposed in turn through conducting or cards.
  4. Finally the story begins, improvised. At each mention of a character or situation, the corresponding theme is played.


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Last edited January 30, 2008 3:12 pm by AleFernandez (diff)