A big part of spontaneous singing is what I call listening for “instructions.” Instructions are those ideas and impulses about what to do or try that you might ignore in other situations.
Consider this, you may be the only person to hear a part that’s “missing” from the piece. By adding your idea, the whole work becomes more relevant to you and to the rest of the singing circle. Or to put it another way …
There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening, that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique.
– Martha Graham
Some of you – writers, storytellers and other word lovers – have the gift of language. Music calls up words, phrases, a line from a poem or another song. Give yourself permission to say it. And I encourage you to say it so that we can hear it – that it truly becomes a part of the music we’re making.
Others are drummers or dancers — you want to add rhythmic elements, tap your feet, clap your hands, click your tongues, dance, stomp your feet, wave your arms or wiggle your hips. Don’t be shy; the music needs rhythm and movement.
Then we have you, the songsters, songstresses and melody makers – you hear the melodies and their harmonies. You tend to hear the pieces as songs, you can find the beginning, middle and end of a piece. You can create structures.
Of course, all of us have all of these talents to varying degrees. The distribution of these talents is as unique as each singer in the circle.
The fun part is finding the music that each unique circle (ensemble, band, etc.) can create when they bring their portions of these talents together.
I recently got to play an entire evening of improvised music with some very fine musicians (Riotus N featuring Anthony Cox, Davu Seru and John Penny). My cohorts and I experimented with melodic and textural ideas and I tinkered with stories and tales.