Improvisation methods

Conny Antonov and I have worked together with opera improvisation in opera formats for many years, both in Operaimprovisatörerna and together with students at the Malmö Academy of Music. Hence, we share the knowledge and techniques mentioned in Improvisation methods of Opera improvisation, above.

Interactions in the musical space
An improvised song, or an impromans, is characterized by traits from vocal chamber music. Since the format is often not staged (although we have worked much with solo scenes over the years), here the performers interact above all in a joint musical space, or layer. This means that the musical form and articulation of the phrases and musical colors are more central than often in opera improvisation in dramatic formats.

Inner images
The improvisations mostly take vantage point from a word from the audience, and the music emerges as a consequence of how we associate to this word. Here the individual inner images of the performers become central. When we get the word from the audience I often perceive an inner image in terms of a situation, or a place where I am. When we improvise I keep the experiences of being in this inner place and how the environment affects me: what I see, hear and sense. Remaining in the details of the experiences, and describing or giving voice to them, is a way for me as singer work when I become stressed in the improvisation. Although our research has shown that they often differ from each other, and the musical negotiations this seems to provide energy for the development of the improvisations.

Intentions as vocal and musical actions
In the improvisations both singer and pianist occasionally use the intention “translated” into musical gesture, or vocal and musical actions, as vantage point. This approach is based in a joint work with vocal actions as gestures and sounds based on the Laban/Lillieqvist system (Antonov, Håkansson, Wilén, 2009) which is described further below. Since the singer use words, the intentions of the vocal phrases often become bearing. At the same time the role of the piano is vital when it comes to harmonic, dynamic aspects of the music, as well as the choice of register, timbre and articulation.