Paul Allain

University of Kent, Canterbury

“Heart without mastery is shit.” Improvising after Grotowski

Polish theatre director Jerzy Grotowski is well known for his dislike and mistrust of improvisation. His polemic is important, his language robust. Yet he spoke in a specific personal, cultural moment and context which needs to be understood.
Over 30 years later, in 2018, my ‘Physical Actor training: an online A-Z’ was published by Drama Online. Amongst its 65 films, alongside Images, Imagination and Impulse was Improvisation. This spoke to the role of creative possibility in training. Exercises usually depend upon precision, technique, craft – sometimes with little room for error. They need to be done right. But they are also not enough.
Grotowski’s was an extreme position. In our more inclusive time, how can we move from a strict training regimen into performance, where rules must be broken and play becomes fundamental? Improvising within and from structures enables the performer to move towards and into performing in order to open up creative possibilities and go beyond technique: towards what Grotowski called the ‘heart’. What has to be discarded and what should remain? And how does the performer know when to improvise, when to resist, and how much heart to put into it?
This presentation will explore these issues in practice in order to better understand how training can become performing and what might be missing when improvisation lacks mastery or is just ‘heart’.

Paul ALLAIN is Professor of Theatre and Performance at the University of Kent, Canterbury, UK, where he was recently the Dean of the Graduate and Researcher College. As well as being a movement teacher and specialist, he has published extensively on actor training and contemporary performance processes as both author and editor: in books, DVDs, articles and online, with a particular focus on contemporary Polish theatre and Suzuki Tadashi. He is also a specialist on Grotowski and has been celebrated for his contribution to promoting Polish culture overseas. His most recent research has explored digital training.

Matas Samulionis

Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre

Decoding Performance

Improvisation is an ever-changing phenomenon that breaks all concepts or rules and is based on experimentation and innovation. Unconventional means of fulfilling an artistic product and ways of thinking are one of the most important aspects of the value of improvisation. At first sight, improvisation is non-academic. However, it is clear no improvisation ever starts from a tabula rasa, and an artistic product based on improvisation is not just a chaotic jumble of accidents. 

From a creative perspective, it was decided to equate improvisation with a means of communication, using S. Hall’s methodology of encoding and decoding as the starting point for the research. In this way, the focus of the research becomes not the conceptualization of musical principles, which would essentially destroy the idea of improvisation, but rather the multiple meaning structures, their suggestiveness, classification and analysis of their interrelationships, the feedback of creative impulses, and the effectiveness of the chosen artistic means. Since theoretical analysis is inspired and at the same time inspires artistic solutions, and artistic practice is part of a homogeneous, but multidimensional, research, the artistic product and process is not defined as right/wrong or successful/failed, the chosen artistic means are not divided into acoustic/electronic, stylistic parallels are not drawn, but rather the starting points of the creative process are sought and discovered, the principles of different fields of art and science are combined, improvisation-based artistic products are created, the retrospective reflection of which enables logical solutions to improve the whole process of encoding and decoding, as well as the artistic product itself. The designation of a concert, a performance, an audition, a recording as an artistic product is just an inevitable expression of the 21st century interdisciplinarity, which has also penetrated the methodology of this research.

Matas SAMULIONIS is an improviser, composer, researcher, constantly searching for a balance between acoustic and electronic music principles. He graduated from the Lithuania Academy of Music and Theatre with a degree in jazz performance, and later in improvisational and contemporary music performance. During his Master’s studies Matas became fascinated with analogue modular synthesizers, the depth of sound and the infinite possibilities for timbre. His knowledge of electronic music deepened as a member of the electronic music duo Artfcl, where he released a number of albums, and later with the contemporary electroacoustic music group Quark Effect. In parallel, Matas develops other creative projects, not limiting himself to either style or format (e.g.: the embodied electroacoustic composition “Time and Space”, the soundtrack for the exhibition “Ethnographic Op Art: The Textile Tradition”, the live “voice-over” of a silent film, and live experimental chamber performances). Currently, the musician is measuring his status as an art researcher as a doctoral candidate at LMTA. 

Marina Stavrou

Royal College of Art (RCA), School of Arts and Humanities (SoAH)

Crisis and the Body; Automated E/Motions

Interested in the ways a crisis is represented in the body through the visual and performing arts, the intensity of a critical state is observed to relate with atmospheres of an ‘elsewhere; visualizations that go beyond recognition and relate conceptually with ‘images of thought’, as described by Deleuze in Difference and Repetition, outlining a different form of logic.
As the body makes its passage through technological media, it becomes a metaphor for the condition of aporia and the staging of dramatic intensity forming an aesthetic experience. This passage and the interruption it might entail, is notated by diagrammatic and/or improvisational work, as automated and technological plasticities meet with individual reflexes and gestures.
For this practice -led search a cross-disciplinary approach is generated, part of which observes how audio experiences could lead to imaginative encounters. In these Aesthetics of Crisis, active attention of aporetic spaces is suggested as an agonistic prerequisite for allowing a democratic imaginary to emerge, with the potential to open up new dialogic forms of ‘automated e-motions’.  

Marina STAVROU holds a Bachelor’s degree in English Literature from the School of Philosophy of the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens (UoA), a Master’s in Fine Art from the Utrecht Graduate School of Visual Art and Design (MaHKU) and is a PhD candidate in Fine Art at the School of Arts and Humanities of the Royal College of Art (RCA). IG: graph_the_path

Mia Heikkinen

Uniarts Helsinki / Sibelius Academy’s Doctoral School DocMus

Improvisation as a creative tool in operatic performance

Creativity and improvisation in performance contexts:
As a listener, I greatly enjoy when opera singer sing their roles magnificently, but as a spectator, I am very disturbed by their presence on stage: walking seems unnatural, movements have no thought in them, reacting to someone else is non-existent, or singers are overacting.
In my oral presentation, I will go through what kinds of things can be taken from improvisation to work with a directed opera production, such as presence, reaction, doing things together, being on stage. My presentation is based on my own experiences and research as an opera singer, improviser and pedagogue.
I strongly think opera as a genre needs updating. Improvisation has a great opportunity to open new creative paths for opera creators as well as performers and also to bring new audiences to opera.
Skill development in improvisation based on action research methods:
With my opera improvisation group I research the development of improvisation skills through our artistic activities. In performances, we test and evaluate skills that combine into operatic improvisation, i.e., improvising music, text and acting in live performance, and includes a combination of theatre and musical improvisation, clowning, buffo and physical theatre. Research material is collected from interviews, videos and diaries.
Listener participation:
Usually, in opera, the part of the audience is to listen to the performance without participating in it, in which case there is a fourth wall between the performers and the audience. In opera improvisation performances, the fourth wall is effectively demolished and the audience can participate in the performance. In my oral presentation, I will also share my experiences related to this theme.

Mia HEIKKINEN began doctoral studies at the Sibelius Academy’s Doctoral School DocMus Artistic Study Programm in University of Arts in 2021. In her artistic research, she studies how improvisation can be used as a versatile tool in opera. Improvisation is easily related to comedy, and since the performer’s skills play a leading role in the comical opera genre, the research is limited to opera buffa.
Mia Heikkinen has been successful in many singing competitions and sung a lot of opera roles, orchestra soloist parts and concerts. Nowadays she is making an artistic career as an opera singer but is focusing on improvisation as a researcher, a teacher and a performer.

Henrik Frisk

Royal College of Music in Stockholm

On the self and ethics in musical improvisation: what can we learn?

There have been many attempts to draw wide-ranging conclusions on the knowledge offered by the specific type of musical practice that is summarized by the word improvisation. The fact that we in the West tend to specify improvisation as the exception to score-based music, a norm situated at the center of Western high culture, is odd considering that most music was based on improvisation long before musical notation was invented. This view contributes to the understanding of improvisation as a practice that deviates from the rule, a fringe alternative on the outskirts of other, more dominant musical practices. This is further emphasized by the structural and economic differences between, for example, free improvised music and Western classical music.

At the same time, the discussion concerning improvisation has often excluded many non-western types of music that are improvisatory by nature, and instead mainly focused on its practice in Western musical styles. For that reason, I believe that the stylistic delimiter improvisation can be problematic. In this presentation, I will mainly discuss improvisation as a possible catalyst for individual, as well as more general knowledge formation closely related to ethics. I will introduce ideas about how improvisation can be part of a method with which different values may be proposed. Values that may offer an interesting opposition, or tension, to those proposed by the capitalist structures currently dominating the world. These are not necessarily ‘better’ but can help to reveal how a multiplicity of perspectives can be applied to questions concerning what it means to make good decisions, and to be a good human being.

The point I will attempt to pursue is how ethics in artistic practices, that is, the moral values that are expressed through artistic practices in music, specifically improvisation, may complement traditional views on ethics. Furthermore, the hypothesis is that the results of such exploration may contribute to the understanding of ethics in a more general sense. In turn, this could potentially have an impact on how improvisatory practices are esteemed in contemporary Western societies. The notion of the Care of the Self, as discussed in Michel Foucault’s Volume Three of the History of Sexuality, is used as a method to approach this complex area.

Henrik FRISK is Professor at the Royal College of Music in Stockholm, is an active performer of improvised and contemporary music and a composer of acoustic and electroacoustic music. His research is concerned with improvisation, interactivity, spatialization and experimental electroacoustic music. Henrik has performed in many countries in Europe, North America and Asia, and as a composer he has received commissions from many institutions, ensembles and musicians.

Jeonghyeon Joo

School of Performing Arts, Seoul Institute of the Arts

Beyond the Institutionalized Body: Extension of Body and Medium in Improvisation, A Case Study of a Haegeum Performer

As a haegeum (Korean two-stringed bowed instrument) player who has been routinely engaging with improvising as well as interpreting existing repertoires, I seek effective ways to utilize my body to play the instrument. Playing the instrument entails the interaction of two physical bodies: the performer’s body and the instrument itself. The left and right arm, from shoulder to elbow to wrist to fingers of the performer, is directly or indirectly attached to parts of the instrument, such as strings, bow stick, hand grip, and neck of the haegeum. Through daily acts of practice, the performer’s body absorbs how the instrument responds to her physical movement or action. In this interaction, not only two bodies but also different mediums that mediate two bodies, such as accumulated practices, musical training, social environment, or musical scores, actively contribute.
This research explores the physical and philosophical relationship between the instrument and performer, investigating how this relationship has been extended during my pathway from being a so-called “classically-trained” interpreter to an improviser who is frequently labeled as “free” or “non-idiomatic.” This research is not a generalization nor theory on improvisation or haegeum performance but interrogates an internally initiated process of transition.

Jeonghyeon JOO is an award-winning haegeum performer, composer, improviser, and researcher who is an ardent advocate for new and experimental music. Joo’s work explores the somatic, corporeal relationship between musical instrument and body, frequently collaborating with composers, performers, visual artists, choreographers, film directors, and dancers. Her recent projects have been supported by the Arts Council Korea and the Seoul Foundation for Arts and Culture. She received a Doctor of Musical Arts from the California Institute of the Arts (CA, United States) and is currently an Assistant Professor of Intercultural Arts at the Seoul Institute of the Arts and serves as a Program Director at CultureHub. https://www.joowork.com

Lina Navickaitė-Martinelli

Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre

Unleashing the Essence of Artistry: Creativity and Improvisation in the Performance of Classical Music

This paper aims to investigate the role of creativity and improvisation in the performance of classical music, exploring its significance, challenges, and potential for communicating artistic expression. By delving into the essence of artistic freedom, the aim is to reach a comprehensive understanding of the intersections between the notated music tradition and a musician’s personal expression when performing the classical canon.
Furthermore, it is of interest in the framework of this research what actually can be considered an improvisational element in the performance of classical music and which elements of the music performer’s art allow to consider their activity a creative (as opposed to mere re-creative) process. The cognitive and psychological processes underlying creative performance will be explored, investigating how performers engage with their musical instincts and intuition. By analyzing case studies of renowned performers (mainly, pianists dealing with the piano works of the Western art music canon) and their innovative interpretations, the author hopes to reveal the strategies, techniques, and artistic inspirations that contribute to creative and improvisation-like performances. Using as reference material both the analysis of interpretations and interviews with the pianists, their attitudes towards the role of a performer in the process of interpretation and performer’s relation to the composer/work will be discussed. The art of musical performance is conceived here as a distinctive type of creation, through which the creative ideas, insights and convictions of a performer are conveyed.

Lina NAVICKAITĖ-MARTINELLI, PhD, is Full Professor and Senior Researcher at the Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre. Her books “A Suite of Conversations: 32 Interviews and Essays on the Art of Music Performance” (2010) and “Piano Performance in a Semiotic Key: Society, Musical Canon and Novel Discourses” (2014) have been awarded as the best Lithuanian musicological works of the respective years for innovative research into music performance. Actively involved in promoting artistic research, Navickaitė-Martinelli is the founder (2013) and co-ordinator of the LMTA Hub of Artistic Research and Performance Studies (HARPS). More information at linamartinelli.wordpress.com. 

Indrė Dirgėlaitė 

Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre

Improvisation as a base for interdisciplinary connection. Action research method

The topic is based on my ongoing artistic doctoral research project “CVT VIA FREE VOCAL IMPROVISATION INTO THEATER”.
My practical and theoretical experience conducting research (Action research method) in organized sessions based on improvisation, interpretation and creation facing the process circumstances, development, leading to performance. Psychosocial theories have become important tools also. Why improvisation?
Jazz and free improvisation is the most developed forms of musical improvisation. It is called another way: the language of emotions, because it is heterogeneous, so it can be expressed with an extremely wide range of voice characters. Improvising brings total concentration”flow” state in which the highest is achieved point of excitement is ability. Therefore, for creativity and regulation of actions it doesn’t take that much effort anymore. Jazz improvisation may include all possible voice techniques. Why CVT?
(It’s the TECHNIQUE that covers all styles, from classical singing to heavy rock, giving you the opportunity to experiment with timbres and voice effects, guaranteeing voice techniques application in speech, justifying everything by physiology and anatomy. According to CVT researchers, the most important aspect is expression – to convey a message. What to convey and how to convey is an artistic choice that each actor, the singer, has to make himself. The CVT technique “leads” to the methods needed to “implement” an artistic choice. Useful for improvisational actor and singer vocal development, develop a natural voice a sense of presentation by expressing a thought in various spaces, to different audiences based on various why in theatre? Social situations and cultural phenomena. Most singing problems come from the wrong one’s technique of using “patterns/modes”, i.e., when singing in one style, and the voice apparatus is formed as if you were singing in another style. It is important to know to avoid errors and technical problems technical “models/modes” and freely vary them. When combining technical vocal “models/modes” can accurately extract desired sounds. Also precisely define your specific problems and errors, all technical “models/modes” are possible to lighten or darken, etc.
Why in the Theater?
The benefits of CVT in the theater are easy to predict. Actors and vocalists are often present during rehearsals and performances, engage emotionally and use voice with additional physical load: fight on stage, dance, movement improvisation etc. It combines sound and movement into one during…as well as sudden emotional breakthroughs like screaming, yelling, roaring, crying, etc. Control of breath and voice becomes relevant after active physical loads, dancing, running, stage fights etc.

Assoc. Prof. Indrė DIRGĖLAITĖ teaches at the Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theater for acting mastery students and is a doctoral student of art at this university.
He is studying the CVT method at the Complete Vocal Institute in Denmark, researching the possibilities of applying this method in the theater.
Visiting lecturer at the Danish School of Performing Arts and the Royal Academy of Stockholm.
In recent years, I. Dirgėlaitė has organized a number of concerts in Lithuania and Western Europe. Her musical biography is full of international projects, and the work of the group “Virsmas” was selected for the CD to represent Lithuania at the international exhibition “Expo” in Milan.
I. Dirgėlaitė performed several times with the Lithuanian State Symphony Orchestra, participated in Klaipėda Castle, Birštonas, Kaunas, Vilnius, Swedish Jazz Celebration, New Sound Made, Plartforma and other jazz and contemporary music festivals in Lithuania and Europe .
2002, 2007, 2008 I. Dirgėlaitė performed the role of Jurga in the musical based on K. Boruta’s “Baltaragis mill” (V. Ganelinas, S. Geda; director K. S. Jakštas). Her work is influenced by her studies at schools in the Nordic countries (Sibelian Academy of Music in Helsinki, Royal Academy of Music in Stockholm, “Complete Vocal Institute” in Denmark.)

Clare Lesser

Independent researcher

Framing Interpenetration: Improvisation in John Cage’s Late Number Pieces

‘I’ve always been opposed to improvisation because you do only what you remember.’ (Retallack 1996) Despite his long-time, and often vocal, dismissal of improvisation in music, during his final years, John Cage (1912-1992) came to openly embrace aspects of improvisation, especially in the later ‘number pieces.’ In these pieces, Cage used the compositional device of time-brackets, whereby events, pre-determined or improvised, occur within movable temporal zones or ‘frames,’ all taking place within the yet larger ‘frame’ of the piece’s total duration. Hence, concepts of the ‘frame’ as both temporary autonomous zone and borderland of creativity are central to these works. We also find similar concerns in Jacques Derrida‘s (1930-2004) discussion of parergon in The Truth in Painting (1978), where what is ‘neither simply outside, nor simply inside’ is put under close scrutiny. So, how can these zones and their borderlands be read, philosophically, conceptually, performatively?
In this paper, I shall discuss Cage’s interpenetration between improvisation and non-static formal structure in two of his late time-bracket works, Four⁶ (for four players) (1992) and One¹² (for a vocalist) (1992), using Derrida’s notions of parergon and lacuna. I shall outline the ways in which the frame and acts of framing allow for a rich and unstable interplay between modes of formal intention, performer agency and philosophical deconstruction in the music of Cage’s final years.

Clare LESSER is a performer, musicologist, and composer. Her research focuses on deconstruction, indeterminate and improvised music and performance and graphic notation. Currently, she is writing books on deconstructive approaches to experimental radio music by John Cage and Karlheinz Stockhausen, and hauntology in works by John Cage and Luigi Nono. She is recording new albums for Métier of music by Michael Finnissy and Hans Joachim Hespos. She is the founder of the ElectroFest festival of electronic music and was a senior lecturer and Program Head of Music at New York University Abu Dhabi until Fall 2023.

Ramunė Balevičiūtė

Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre

Agnė Jurgaitytė-Avižinienė

Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre

Mantautas Krukauskas

Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre

Improvisation as a Method of Artistic Research 

Kiki (Vasiliki) Selioni

The Makings of the Actor

Technē of Acting as Episteme 

Technē is translated in English as art. The current debate on art often excludes scientific validity as part of the process of artistic creation. In the same respect the word Episteme was translated as a science not related to the practice of the art of Acting. 

In Acting Laban’s analysis of expressive movement on the stage in his book The Mastery of Movement on the Stage is inextricably linked to Aristotle’s concept of Technē as episteme (science).  Aristotelian perspective proposes that Gnosis (knowledge), which is the main issue in both episteme (science) and Technē (art), is gained through training, and that training requires a conscious and rational approach.

The title of Aristotle’s book About Poetics (this is the original title of the book) as Ramfos indicates, suggests that the word poetics is an adjective and not a noun and means Περί τής Ποιητικής Τέχνης, namely About Poetics of Technē. According to Ramfos, Aristotle explains the know-how of the Poetics of Technē as Episteme. The word Mastery in the title of Laban’s book, reveals the connection with the idea of Technē.

Technē for Ancient Greeks was the productive capacity and not an artistic creation. It is the mastery of skills that have acquired through certain knowledge and has scientific validity [Aristotle] [….] Plato connected science with the Truth of Essence and degraded Technē to practical experience [without scientific validity] (Ramfos 1991: 43).

This discussion will try to clarify dichotomies such as poetic episteme and practical experience, prothesis and improvisation, mysticism, and logic.  Creativity will be examined as εξ’ αίφνης (all of a sudden) or Thyrathen nous (out of door) as perception and cognition theories.

Dr Kiki SELIONI is a movement teacher and acting coach in various Drama Schools and Institutions internationally. She has completed her studies in Dance Theatre at the Laban in London (BA and MA, City University. She holds a doctorate in Movement Training for Actors and in Acting (RCSSD). She was Affiliate Research Fellow at Royal Central School of Speech and Drama in a post-doc research project (The British Acting School: Biophysical Acting) regarding a complete acting method based on Laban’s work and Aristotle’s theory. She is the Founder and Artistic Director of The Makings of the Actor.

Palle Dahlstedt

University of Gothenburg & Chalmers University of Technology; Aalborg University · Computer Science and Engineering (GU/Chalmers); Academy of Music and Drama (GU)

Systemic Improvisation and Entangled Performance: Algorithms in Improvisation

In a series of artistic research projects, we have developed the concept of Systemic Improvisation, where simple algorithms and signaling systems mediate and transform musical group improvisation. From this research has also emerged the concept of entangled performance, where an improviser ends up being entangled in a binding way with her own future, through algorithmic implications. In this lecture I will give a brief introduction to the journey towards and the thinking behind these concepts and musical results.

Palle DAHLSTEDT (b.1971) is a composer, improviser, artist, and researcher from Sweden. After extensive studies in classical piano and composition, he continued into electronic music, and since the 1990s, modular synthesizers are among his main instruments, together with the grand piano. He is strongly focused on being a musician on the machines, with improvisation and physical interaction as key ingredients. As a researcher, Dahlstedt has completed a PhD (Chalmers, 2004) in the borderlands of advanced algorithms and musicianship, and has since 2005 lead a series of major research projects within electronic musicianship and improvisation. He develops new instruments, technologies and theories for improvisation, composition and art, and is especially interested in the implications of advanced algorithms in artistic creative processes, in technologies that allow for embodied performance on electronic sounds, and new kinds of interactions, based on a systems view of emergence from human-technology interactions. He constantly steps over into other art forms such as photography, video, visual arts and performance, and collaborates regularly with artists from theatre, poetry, dance and the visual arts. Dahlstedt has contributed art, technologies and theories to the field of computational creativity, and has received extensive artistic research funding from the Swedish Research Council and WASP-HS. Dahlstedt is currently Professor of Interaction Design at the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, University of Gothenburg and Chalmers University of Technology, and lecturer in electronic music composition at the Academy of Music and Drama, Gothenburg. He is also adjunct professor in Art & Technology at Aalborg University, Denmark.

Frank Pecquet 

Ecole des arts de La Sorbonne, Université Paris1 Panthéon-Sorbonne

Improvisation a subliminal composition

Based on listening, psychoanalysis, through recollection, “brings back time” to reconstruct memory. In music, we repeat for the pleasure of vibration, pulsation and song, sometimes to the point of ecstasy. Tonal rhetoric clearly exploits “coming back”, returns – ritornello, imitation, harmonic cycle – as the dynamic foundation of memory through repetition. Following the logic of sound and music, repetition “structures”, while “non-repetition” “deconstructs”. By extension, the psychoanalysis of sound suggests that without returning there is no feeling, a traumatic predisposition in aesthetics, a means for improvising.

Frank PECQUET is Professor, researcher and composer working at the Ecole des Arts de la Sorbonne. Member of the ACTE institute (Art Creation Theory Esthetic). Director of the “Fabrique des sons” a series of international seminars on sound anthropology. Author of “Sound design: application, methodology and case studies” (edited by Dunod), “From music composition to sound design” (edited by Delatour France) and several articles in music and philosophy.

Alejandro Olarte

The Sibelius Academy, University of the Arts Helsinki 

From contemplative to transgressive performance with electronic instruments

The affordances of electroacoustic instruments play a definitive role in the way we approach improvised music and sound performance, they connect us to very different traditions and even ontological positions of what we do and how we do these performances. 

In this presentation I will run along the line that connects the extroverted and transgressive Dionysian performance with the minimal and non-interventionist contemplative performance when mediated with electroacoustic devices.

Alejandro OLARTE is an electroacoustic musician, researcher and educator. Olarte works as Head of the Department of Music and Technology at the University of the Arts, Helsinki. He holds a doctorate in live electronics and pedagogy. He graduated from the National Conservatory of Paris and holds a Master’s degree in Computer Music from the University of Paris. He works with sound and its artistic articulation through the lens of technology, constantly reflecting on its affordances and its challenges in our daily lives as individuals, artists, and citizens. Committed to pedagogy, Olarte believes in educational exchange as a powerful force for the advancement of society, defends artistic research through sound and musical creation and performance, and is an avid enthusiast of modern lutherie.

Moss Freed 

Goldsmiths, University of London, Department of Music

Compositional voice in/as ensemble microtradition: collective self-organisation as compositional approach

This paper will consider the role(s) of the ensemble in providing meaning(s) in compositional frameworks and strategies designed for improvisers. I will position such improvisation-reliant approaches as particularly fruitful subjects of analysis in this context and examine the ways in which ensemble-level ‘microtraditions’ can be seen to intersect with compositional voice. Using my ensemble Union Division as a case study, I will examine the importance of leadership and ‘followership’ styles in the collective development of our performance practice and will discuss the processes by which we established particular modes of eliding improvisation and composition via self-organization. In examining specific changes that occurred subsequently within the group’s practice, and looking to David Borgo’s (2006) research on ‘swarm intelligence’ in free improvisation and Irving Janis’s (1972) concept of ‘groupthink’, I hope to illuminate: a) how these changes can be seen to have impacted meaning and understanding of the compositions played; b) how they were able to occur without conflict via non-verbal consensus within a large group; and c) how the group’s microtradition can be seen to have gradually become the dominant vehicle for compositional voice via a process of decentralization; moving beyond elements related to ‘ensemble sound’ to also include group-specific ways of working, modes of communication and socialites.

Moss FREED is a composer, guitarist and researcher. He studied music at the University of Edinburgh, Berklee College of Music and Goldsmiths before completing his PhD at the University of Hull. He has been supported by NECAH, the Bucher/Fraser award & Countess of Munster Trust. Moss runs acclaimed ensembles Union Division and Let Spin and plays with John Zorn/The Spike Orchestra, Charlotte Keeffe and Arun Ghosh with broadcasts including BBC Radio 3, Jazz FM, BBC 6Music and BBC 1. He is a lecturer in composition and performance at Goldsmiths, University of London.


Kasper Ravnhøj

Artistic Director of Mute Comp. Physical Theatre

Choreographer Kasper RAVNHØJ is Awarded Dancer of the Year by the German Yearbook of Tanz Magazine in 2011. In 2013 nominated for a Danish Reumert as Dancer of the Year.
Kasper Ravnhøj has won great acclaim both as a choreographer and as a dancer. His characteristic movement vocabulary carries an intense presence, an extreme flexibility and floating limbs that seem able to twist in any direction, even inside out.


Milda Al-Slamah and Boris Kulenovic

MIND THE GAP is a bi-lingual (LT/EN) play about encounters – between two strangers, between two stories, between two languages and disciplines. It has been inspired by the story of a “seven second memory” owner – a former musicologist and keyboardist who suffers from chronic retrograde amnesia Clive Wearing. This curious case of a man, who, due to his illness, is forever stuck in the present moment, where he cannot recall what his life was like a few seconds ago, somehow never fails to remember two things about his life: his love for music and his wife. Taking this real-life story as a source of inspiration, this performance questions the workings of the human mind, memory and imagination, and becomes an example of what its author, director and researcher Milda Al-Slamah calls the Theatre of Consciousness. Devised with the help of a pianist and improvisation researcher Jaak Sikk (PhD), this performance has evolved into an experimental theatre piece performed by the author-director Milda Al-Slamah herself with a different musician, who would participate in the piece as improvisor without any prior preparation, simply following live-fed directions provided on the night.



Project financed by: