Episode 37: Warm-ups with Creative Music-making & Steve Reich patterns

Episode 37: Warm-ups with Creative Music-making & Steve Reich patterns

This is Hester and this is María
and together we are the CONSORT COUNSELLORS! Last week we mentioned as part of our 20 tips
that is very nice to start or end your rehearsal with a low-pressure and fun activity… Today we bring you a couple of exercises
to start or finish your rehearsals with based on Creative Music-making.
These exercises are a follow-up of Episode 6, in which we are also doing group exercises based on contemporary music techniques. You may be wondering:
What is Creative Music-making anyway? It’s a technique in which a group of people can create
their own music together through various games and activities. We do not need to have the sort of “classical” skills
that we are usually training all the time, like sight-reading, a very detailed
technical command of the instrument… All of those things are not so important here. Instead, it is about reaction, concentration,
giving cues, improvisation and, most of all, about making your own musical patterns. Ownership is really really important in creative music-making. The group invents their own music with limited means
and without any sheet music. And since they create their own sounds, their own patterns,
the skills learnt will stay much longer with them. For this warm-up, we just need some head joints of recorders. Mix and match different sizes, also tenors and altos, maybe you even have a great bass
head joint, who knows…? In that way you have all kinds of different colours. Today we have a couple of lovely guests to help us! I am Beatriz Ferreira, from Portugal. And I’m Patricia Roa Johansen, from Denmark. I’m Paul Schauenburg from Germany.
Thank you guys for being here! As you see we are now sitting in a semi-circle,
but when you are practicing these exercises, please close the circle and you will see each other better. Exercise one! We are going to pass a short,
active and ‘staccato’ sound through the circle, reacting on one another’s playing. Next step: we all have the opportunity
to change the direction of the pattern. If you decide to make TWO active pizzicato sounds
the direction of the pattern is going to change: you give it “back” to the previous person, and so on… There is one more step we can add to this exercise:
how to end nicely all together. One of us is going to choose to end the exercise
by covering the hole and blowing a long note until he or she is out of air.
Everyone else is going to join and do exactly the same: playing as long as they have air. It doesn’t matter
that the last note is not finished simultaneously: we create a nice fade out
and that’s the end of the exercise. Now we are going to practice starting and finishing
all together, in the following way: We are going to play a low note
covering the end of our head joint. We are not going to agree on who is giving the beginning.
There’s going to be silence and someone will decide to start. If you are that person, make sure you are clear
in the way you take breath or move to initiate the sound all together. The same person
who starts the sound is also in charge to stop it, and to stop it in a very special way: by opening the end
of the head joint and ‘throwing’ the sound up in the air. OK! The next step is that after this moment, we all freeze, and then another person is going to take initiative
to again start a note and lift it up in the air, until the whole group got their turn
to start and stop the ensemble. Try to be creative with time.
Think about the length of the silence, of the ‘freeze’ moment and also about how you want to inhale to start a note again.
Do you want to have a bold sound? Do you want to have it quiet? Do you want to have it secretive? Be inventive! In the next exercise we are going to choose a position
from which we are going to extract a pattern. Your options are: sitting straight, standing up in front of
your chair, like this, or having your legs crossed, like this. Think for three seconds and find your position: 1, 2, 3! Did you notice what Hester did there…?
She assigned a rhythmic pattern to each position. People who were standing up got three beats,
people who are sitting with legs crossed got two beats and people who are sitting
with their feet on the ground got one beat. So, we got our code! We got a pattern
and we are going to say this all together. We are going to start with one person and end
with the same person, and we make two rounds. We have a four-beat count-off from the metronome and
we always leave one beat of rest between two players. Next step: can we do this faster
and clapping instead of counting? Can we do it even faster? Yes, we can! Next, we are going to repeat the exercise,
starting and finishing with the same person, but counterclockwise…! Ok, you are brilliant! The next step of this exercise is to “cut the group in half”. We stay in the same position, but one half of the group is going to do the pattern clockwise,
and the other half will do it counterclockwise. We all start with the same person, and we all end,
after two rounds, with the same person again. As you saw, we have been experimenting and varying
the sounds we produce with the head joint. Always feel free to do that, it will be more fun! This exercise is based on elements
in Steve Reich’s “Clapping Music” He uses a very nice pattern:
1-2-3, 1-2-, 1, 1-2 Then he repeats it again:
1-2-3, 1-2, 1, 1-2; 1-2-3, 1-2, 1, 1-2 But we are going to perform it in our own way today,
using the recorder. For “1” we use the head joint closed, like this. For number “2” we use the head joint
closed and half-open. That goes like this. And for “3” we use the head joint closed, half-open
and then completely open, like this. Exactly! And when you combine this
with a little aggressive articulation, you have a very nice piece! We are going to conclude this exercise having a little bit of fun
improvising on the pattern we just rehearsed. We are going to play the complete
pattern all together, twice. Then, the first person in the circle is going to
improvise for two cycles using nice melodic shapes! After two cycles the next person takes over,
then the next, the next and the next… Once I’m done improvising we close
with two full cycles again of just the rhythmic pattern. Agnes Dorwarth, from Germany, is a great and inventive
composer who uses special material and techniques. For example: special articulations, the use of voice
but also theatrical elements… …and she also writes especially for head joints!
What do you think of this “Kopfnuss-Tango”? Amd, since today we worked with patterns
coming from “Clapping Music” by Steve Reich, we also leave you a link to a performance of that piece.
Very inspiring and groovy! Have fun! And NOW… the moment you have all been waiting for!
The price drawing of our lottery after our quiz! Thank you all for sending us your answers! Here is the great Seldom Sene CD with our signatures that you are going to get! I guess you are all very excited
to find out who the winner is… Well, here in my phone are all the names
of the people who participated in the quiz and we are going to just press the button now, and then
the automatic generator will tell us who the winner is! And the winner is:
KOTARO UMEDA, from Japan! Congratulations! We will contact you, Kotaro, to find out your home address
and we’ll send you the CD and the coffee mug! For all the rest of you: see you at the next quiz!
Keep subscribing! Have a nice week! Bye bye!

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About the Author: Oren Garnes


  1. Interesting exercises. Listening to Steve Reich's clapping music I remembered Machaut's Hoquetus David, with extremely complex rhythmic patterns… There's a recording from Sour Cream ensemble: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ddzGZqZI5Q0
    Perhaps clapping patterns and the "gamified exercises" can be helpful to go deeper in concentration while not feeling any pain or frustration…

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