What happens in a Chamber Improv Jam?
We use Conduction ® - a vocabulary of conducted gestures - mixed with improvisational theater games and concepts to get everyone improvising stories and scenes together. By the end of 90 minutes, we'll be composing together in real time.
Chamber improv is a form of collaborative improvised chamber music being co-developed by myself and Ali Pappa, which builds heavily on the work of Butch Morris and his Conduction gestural vocabulary and philosophy. We think it can do a lot to unleash the inner creativity in professional musicians, and deepen the connections and collaboration experiences in both traditional and improvising chamber ensembles. We hope it catches on!
Short attention span?
Sound Worlds is a chamber improv theatre company, or something. We perform shows that combine musicians and improv actors to improvise plays with a rotating cast of actors and musicians!
In the Beginning:
After over a year of running chamber improv jams, Ali and I produced and directed four experimental virtual improv show through the Hideout Theatre in Austin, Texas. On the Hideout Twitch Channel, we performed a different show with a different cast every week in September 2020.
One of the main goals was to get actors and musicians to see that interacting with each other with a higher degree of connection than they might be used to was worthwhile and could be really fun to pursue - a sort of proof of concept of the art form.
Another main goal was to build a framework for teaching the skills of musician-actor interaction needed for a really fruitful hour of collaborative co-creation in front of an audience. Musicians also needed a crash course in some of the concepts from improv theatre that the actors were already familiar with. We smashed this process as best we could into two rehearsals before each show, had a great time and learned a lot in the process!
We gathered a cast of musicians and actors from different theatres and cities (Los Angeles, Chicago, Austin, New York, Miami, Orlando, Ottawa, Bangalore). We also curated the group the same way we do the jams, to have a diverse representation of racial, sexual and gender identities. The theme for each show was devised by the group.
Several months later, people were still asking me when the next Sound Worlds show was going to be. When a friend asked to book Sound Worlds in an online improv festival at the end of January 2021, I realized this was going to be "a thing." We did it with 4 musicians and 4 improvisers (the largest number of musicians yet), and decided to just keep doing Sound Worlds shows. The story continues...
"The enemy of art is the absence of limitations." - Orson Welles
Conduction: Bridging the Divide
On February 16th, 2020 I produced my first Conduction show, at Big Medium in Austin, presented by new music collective Density512. We have great media from it and an album coming out at some point, but right after this show I moved to Los Angeles and then coronavirus showed up, so if you're reading this, I haven't quite gotten it together to share yet.
It was a hit though! We sold out the intimate space with a 40-person audience, and had a great interactive time with the 11-piece ensemble (2 sopranos, flute, violin, cello, double bass, 2 keyboards, electric guitar, pedal steel guitar, percussion, and me conducting! This was really a launching point for me when I realized, "I can produce really meaningful shows!"
Ali attended this show and that's how we got started working and playing music together. While promoting this show we got to do a cool TV and radio spot, with their own unique improvisations:
Conduction with Density512 and Liminal Sound
Back on my 30th birthday - March 8th, 2018 - I had the opportunity to play in a chamber ensemble gathered by Density512 and Liminal Sounds. We were conducted by Dino Deane and it was completely improvised, and that experience led me to create everything else I talk about on this page. Conduction is the gestural vocabulary and framework that Dino used to conduct the musicians in our concert. It was created and pioneered by jazz cornetist Butch Morris in the mid-80s in Manhattan, and he later used it all over the world with all kinds of groups of musicians. Dino and a few other practitioners carry on his legacy today. Here is the music we created during that show:
Conducted by Kenzie:
Conducted by Dino, Kenzie on flute: