5.3.2 Experiences and observations, second session

 

It was very important for me that this new tool seemed to be meaningful and inspiring for the whole ensemble. I will look at some important observations in this process:

Listening focus

Being 8 singers improvising together, the risks of descending into chaos rather than achieving form and clarity are always substantial. The rehearsal of, and focus on, the effects could actually help us to get into a listening mode that, to me, seemed somewhat different what we experience when we work without effects. It seemed like a natural adjustment of focus; a bit further away from our own sound impulses, towards hearing the actual outcome of it – as part of the music produced as a whole. The use of effects produced a lot of new information in the music, so we should – and could – at least for some parts, think and act minimalistically. This is a process that is useful to ‟bring back” to the work we do when we are improvising without the effects.

Movement, zones and structure

The zone division created a structure for the improvisation in several ways. Being in a sound zone, it felt natural to relate one’s musical ideas to other singers in the same zone. This seemed to help coherent group ideas to develop in a clearer way than usual. The flexibility of moving between zones also made it natural to step aside (out of zones) and be quiet, and this created more ‟space” than usual in our improvised sessions. The decision-making that motivated movements in and out of zones or stepping aside, required determination about what the singer wanted to do, to a larger extent than when standing still on the stage. This seemed to be reflected both in the musical outcome and in the appearance on stage.

Visibility and improvised choreography

Based on the responses received after the performance, the visualisation of choices seemed to play an important part both for the audience and for us. The video of our rehearsals and performance shows an improvised choreography that follows musical choices in a rather relaxed and natural way. One of the singers expressed very early that this was a great way to move on stage; not motivated by a directed choreography, which she sometimes found difficult, but as a result of her own musical choices.

Comments from vocalists in the ensemble

The overall response from the ensemble confirmed some of my hopes about how the singers would experience the system as a tool – illustrated by some quotations here (translated from Norwegian):

‟ It gives me a kick to feel like part of a large mixing board, to see the others and relate to both what I see and hear, move in relation to the others and the world of sound I want to go into – see who is standing there and hear what sound they make, and then to enter this with my impulses, go from there into something new- all in all the fact that the movement, sound and room are so closely connected is incredibly inspiring!” (Singer, T.V)

“A technical extension of the voice’s possibilities, which opens up for a new musical vocabulary, collectively and as soloists.[ ..] In this phase, when still new, you use your ears in a very structured way, where you have to make room, let the sounds be “clear” in the wholeness, to make the tool come to into its own.” (Singer, T.V)

“Good to have freedom from cables and controllers, the project is trigging ideas about different possibilities with effects, including more detailed adjustment of zones, to get more of the “morphe-zones”[…] Inspiring to get a direct link to movement, to become a “fader” out there[…]the system works in an intuitive and clear way.”(Singer, T.V)

 

The singers also had several ideas and comments about the limitations and how we could go further with this system:

– It is a challenge that the stage, and the distance between the zones, is so great. It takes time to move, so this sometimes slows down the time from impulse to sound.

– Going further with this, it will be necessary to work for a longer period with the system, really getting into the connection between impulse and response, and experimenting with different effects.

– An idea would be to have a combination of a bigger “neutral zone” (it was a challenge to make this large enough here) and the other zones, to be able to combine the more traditional concert setting with this possibility. Maybe three zones would be enough in this combination.

– It would be exiting to have effects that are triggered by special vocal inputs only – or that who reacted differently to different inputs.

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