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Workshop
Collective Improvisation in Music

THE CONCEPT

Our concept is based on the idea of translating bird’s flock behaviour into collective music improvisation to develop a unique musical language. A lot about the behaviour of flocks is still unknown. The formations they fly seem to serve not only as a means of locomotion or protection against predators, but also as a form of expression, an art comparable to music based on a feeling for rhythm and movement.
Still scientific observation has provided understanding of certain rules of flock behaviour that can be directly transferred to the playing of music.

THE FLOCK

A flock is a gathering of gregarious birds. This group of individuals is generally made up of the same species, but can also be composed of mixed species. Individuals gather to form one whole organism. The character of this new organism is not recognizable in any of the individuals that constitute it, it is a unique character born out of the relation between them.
The individuals follow very simple rules, and although there is no centralized control structure dictating how individuals should behave, local, and to a certain degree random interactions between them lead to the emergence of intelligent global behaviour, unknown to the individuals.

- use the up-wash from one of the wing-tip vortices of the bird in front of you to
  fly upwards
- move towards the middle of the group of birds that are within sight
- move away if someone comes too close
- follow the same direction as your neighbours
- mimic their manoeuvres

Each bird in the flock, despite his place, can decide a change for the whole formation.

THE FLOCK TRANSLATED INTO MUSIC

The initial idea is to bring together a group of musicians that blend into one sound body. One single organism that can move as a whole, breathe, change its form, density, action, direction and speed. How can a musical entity divide itself into sub-groups and individuals, get lost in chaos and reunite to establish one body, more complex than the sum of its elements? It is the relationship between these elements, their reciprocal influences that give life to the individual character of this new body.

A single large polyphonic instrument played by how many people, breaths, hands, fingers? Yet also a creature with many heads who want to go in all directions at the same time. How to join forces, while excluding a conductor or a written score, without compromising each others personality?

The goal is not to offer predefined sound material, but instead to invent modes of interaction between individuals by applying simple rules in order to create group movements that lead to unpredictable musical forms.

A musical research of group dynamic and collective intuition.

THE WORKSHOP

In our workshop we propose to discover a musical language, which demands a way of listening that differs from the traditional approach concerned with parameters such as melody, harmony and rhythm. Our interest is to develop a language that deals with the material of sound and its numerous transformations. Free from stereotyped roles of instrumentation, we explore the relationship between the individual and the group where everyone can change their function at any given moment between following or guiding the ensemble. Since there is no predefined sound material each member is a composer, sculpting the common sound body. Initiating a change of direction, often the individual does not know how the others will react and how it will influence the movement of the whole.