Where to Start
If you are interested in exploring our approach in your own choir - please do get in touch via the contact page. We hope that you will let us know if you wish to use the resources set out below and we kindly request that you ask permission if you wish to use them in a public concert. Jenni, or others members of TIC, can also visit your choir and offer workshops and coaching. If you have not done this kind of work before we highly recommend you reach out to us, to get the ball rolling.
Starting a piece in an improvisers' choir often calls on either drone, loop, vocal percussion and/or chord building. You can also use pre-agreed atmospheres (e.g. ‘monastic’) dramatic roles (e.g. 'surreal storyteller') or woven-in read texts (e.g. 'random book page'), maybe different language quotes (e.g. Turkish and Latin), or a verbal phrase to develop vocally (e.g. ‘in my end is my beginning’) to further characterise the piece you are about to improvise with signals. The 'verbalisation' of the voice is mainly non-linguistic, but might aim to be 'non-verbally highly articulated' when needed. Singers might also find actual words and phrases out of thin air that they can sing. Most pieces only need to call on a few signals. Some are built around specifically evocative ones for a certain style (e.g. monologue solo).
The list below will remain updated as and when new signals are created.
- Single sustained note – first finger pointing horizontally across the body.
- Add second and third sustained notes – middle, then forth finger pointing, as above.
- Copy – first finger pointing across from source voice to copying voice.
- Consonant drone, several pitches – one flat hand, other hand sweeps across
- Textured drone, several pitches – fingers dancing on flat hand, add small articulations
- Looping – thumb and first finger make a loop
- Loop variations – thumb and forefinger opening and closing to vary within material
- Percussive, non-pitched voice – flick fingers
- Harmonise phrase – copy + harmonise signals; see handout signal six then two
- Chorus hook, with or without text – thumb and first finger form a C shape.
- Ambiguous, dissonant harmony – overlap both hands with fingers in lattice
- Slowly shifting inner notes of sustained chord – hands weave like a cross stitch
- Whirlwind free sounds – spinning vertical finger
- Sing through general ‘stop’ sign – spinning horizontal finger
- Foreground solo – thumb up
- Foreground duet – both thumbs up
- Discrete solo – thumb up one hand; with other hand place ‘cap’ over the thumb
- Monologue solo (stream of consciousness) - thumb up, fist on chest other hand
- Choir pod 1 pick up – hand draws ‘rubber band circle’ over a ‘monologue snip’
- Transform loops canvas – interlock hands at waist, rise slowly unlocking hands 2
- Strict canon, same line enters x beats later – middle finger crosses first finger
- Weaving contrapuntal lines – both hands fingers crossed, forearms cross and uncross
- Crossfade music to something entirely different – forearms in large cross 3
1 Pod – a subsection of the choir.
2 The Cosmic Arc - reverse to return to original loops.
3 The Phoenix