Free-form vocal improvisation
begins in the moment.
For the singer it is a journey; full
of opportunities for control and surrender, knowing and guessing. How do
you feel? Sing it. Nevermind looking for the words to express it. Let your
feelings tell your voice and the trusting begins. One of the first gifts
of free form vocal improv is discovering the power and playfulness of your
own voice. It happens every day, in all our verbal interactions.We speak
differently depending on: who we're talking to, our relationship with this
person, what information we're sharing, the emotional content, how much
time we have for the interaction, etc.
I learn a lot about vocal improv
from our son.
Listen to the song you hear all
day long at a restaurant:
Scan it for rhythm, what do you get?
See what I mean? Vocal Improvisation.
made up a song a couple years ago, no discernable melody, he was two-ish.The
lyrics are quite simple."I love my horsey, he's my favorite horsey, he's
my favorite horsey in the whole wide world." His daycare provider thought
he learned this song from me, I thought he learned it from her. When he
asked me to sing it, I called her up and we discovered it was his own creation.
Okay, good. How do I sing this song? I was worried about singing it wrong,
or changing it and then it would no longer be HIS song. I wanted to sing
it RIGHT. Oh the pressure!
I try to convey this idea to my
what I learned.
It didn't MATTER what melody or rhythm
I used to sing his song. Just so long as I sing the exact same lyrics,
according to Benjamin, it 's the "I love my horsey song." Whew. To this
day we have never sung this song the same way twice. It doesn't need a
repeatable melody, or any particular tempo, it changes with the weather.
Every version is correct, appropriate, accepted with glee and kisses.
who are still worried about "sounding
good" or "doing it right" -- whatever you sing is precisely what I want
to hear. What a relief, eh? May we all have that sense of acceptance and
celebration as we sing.
In a Vocal Improv workshop,
Someone told me about a comment made
by Charlie Parker, I think. It went something like this: A composer might
spend hours, days, weeks maybe, creating three minutes of music, while
an improviser spends three minutes MAKING those three minutes of music.
[if anyone reading this can find me that quote, please send it in. Thanks!
For more inspiring thoughts, check out COOL QUOTES.
whether it's with me or with other
teachers such as David Darling, you'll find it is NOT about HOW to sing,
it's about trusting your instincts to show you WHAT to sing. I think it's
best to experience a wide range of exercises to explore improvisation from
a variety of "roles" - not just as a soloist. Songwriters, composers, arrangers,
performers, students, singers of all kinds of music can have fun with,
and learn from vocal improvisation. For me, improvisation is a constant
interchange between tuning in and singing out, connecting and letting go.
You'll find a new exercise
at this web site several times a year
at TODAY'S IMPROV. These are taken from the "Toast
& Jam Recipe File," usually something I've done in a workshop. They
are here to get you started and keep you going. Vocal Improvisation is
like learning a new language, painting with new colors, cooking with all
new ingredients. Have fun, open up, and jam on!