But first, your Prompt: sing something for five minutes. You may meet this prompt in any way that is comfortable or meaningful for you. Our intent is that you should go solo, monophonic, and un-accompanied (but again, do what ya gotta do), and find your way forward, note by note, phrase by phrase, one idea to the next.
There’s a reason, we believe, that Bobby McFerrin says that the first thing you should do, if you want to learn to improvise, is to set a timer and “just go.” Our experience has been that one of the first hurdles to get over is “how are you able to just make up music like that?!?”—a question that perhaps belies a fear that there might be “nothing in there,” no musical ideas for you to express. And here’s the thing: there is something in there, a lifetime of musical experiences, your lifetime. And if you are not yet aware of this Truth, singing on a timer—20 minutes, 40, 80—will help you prove it to yourself.
Here is a demo response from Jascha, just to break the ice.
It’s good to have options. Here we offer ways that you can meet this prompt right where you are; or, alternatively, ways you can challenge yourself more deeply with it.
Option A: Stream of Consiousness – For an easier stretch, take the pressure off. Someday we will want to create musical ideas that develop, that logically follow, from one to the next and so on. But this is not that day. Allow whatever happens without judging it. If you get stuck for what musical idea should follow the one you’re on, give yourself permission to repeat the one you’re on over and over and over and… If you become disinterested in a musical idea that you’re on, give yourself permission to non sequitur to an entirely different, dis-connected thing. This is for you. Open it up and see what it’s got.
An option within this option: take the edge off. Do 20 minutes with a timer before you step anywhere near a recording device. Make friends with your non sequiturs and such before you do your five minutes to post. It’s an idea.
Option B: This Is That Day – For a deeper stretch—pre-supposing that you’re one who has already become somewhat comfortable with improvising—consider the standards that you hold music up to. What makes a piece of music a “good” one? And with those standards in mind, improvise something that has its own internal logic, something that takes us on a bit of a journey and leads to some kind of climax and denoument. You’ve discovered your improvisory super-powers; now use them for Good!
The steps are as follows:
- Step 0: Sign up for a free SoundCloud account here. Join the SSS group.
- Step 1: Record yourself singing your Five Minutes recording.
- Step 2: Upload to SoundCloud and post the track to the SSS group.
- Step 3: Listen to and comment on tracks uploaded by your fellow singers. (Play nice!)
Deadline: Your tracks should be uploaded by midnight wherever you are on Monday, April 6, 2015.
Length: The length of your finished work should be just about five minutes.
Description: It would be awesome to include a short description of where and when you sang your piece—and how it felt.
Title/Tag: When uploading to SoundCloud, put “[sss-fivemin]” in the title of your track. Also include the term “sss-fivemin” as a tag. This will help us find it.
Group: Once the track is uploaded, click on the “Add to group” button below the waveform and make sure to select the Society for Spontaneous Singing group. (This option will only appear if you have already joined the group! So do that now.)
Linking: You are welcome to include this info in your description:
This track is a reply to “SSS Prompt 10: Sing for Five Minutes.” More on the Society for Spontaneous Singing at http://singthis.org. You can join the SSS at https://soundcloud.com/groups/society-for-spontaneous-singing
Thank you, sweet singers!