CNMN > Projects > Silent Rhythms

Geremia Lorenzo Lodi

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  • Voix
  • 5 à 12 ans
  • 13 à 18 ans
  • Adultes
  • Ainés
  • Intergénérationnel

30 minutes to 1 hour workshop, which can be further developed through multiple sessions

  • Éducation
  • Associations communautaires
  • Santé

Silent Rhythms


This acti­vi­ty intro­duces par­ti­ci­pants to crea­ting music by paying close atten­tion to the qua­li­ty of ano­ther person’s movement.

 The acti­vi­ty deve­lops the abi­li­ty to lis­ten and notice one’s res­ponses to the sur­roun­ding world. In fact, one’s mind, one’s ima­gi­na­tion, one’s senses, always respond to exter­nal sti­mu­li. Silent Rhythms is an example of a viable way of giving voice to such per­so­nal and unique responses.

 Silent Rhythms is an extre­me­ly ver­sa­tile acti­vi­ty. I sha­red it with very young chil­dren (5–6 years old) and elders ; with tee­na­gers and adults ; with people in situa­tions of men­tal vul­ne­ra­bi­li­ty and for­mer pri­son inmates. 

 The clips for­ming the video tuto­rial are taken from a work­shop for dan­cers. That work­shop aimed spe­ci­fi­cal­ly to pro­vide that com­mu­ni­ty with tools to bridge dance and music crea­tion. Although eve­ry dan­cer had an inti­mate connec­tion to music through move­ment, often they were obli­vious as to how to trans­late the move­ments of their body into an embo­died kind of sound pro­duc­tion. The fol­lo­wing pro­cess hel­ped them do just that :



  1. “Lis­te­ning with the eyes”

Par­ti­ci­pants orga­ni­sed in a circle, each per­son stan­ding a couple of metres from the people next to them. Par­ti­ci­pants are invi­ted to “lis­ten with their eyes » to what is about to hap­pen. The whole acti­vi­ty takes place in silence. Each indi­vi­dual, in turn, steps a lit­tle for­ward clo­ser to the centre and per­forms a repe­ti­tive move­ment with their body. The per­son per­forms the move­ment a few times and then stops and walks back to her or his place. At that point, the next per­son steps in and per­forms a new move­ment, and so on until eve­ry­bo­dy per­forms a silent body pattern.


At the end of the circle, the faci­li­ta­tor would ask the par­ti­ci­pants if, by « lis­te­ning with their eyes” (mea­ning : by paying close atten­tion to the qua­li­ty of the mover’ move­ments) they heard any­thing in their ima­gi­na­tion. Usual­ly people express that indeed they heard something. 


  1. Voi­cing

At that point the faci­li­ta­tor per­forms a repe­ti­tive move­ment and invites a volun­teer to give voice to what she or he “hears” with their eyes. In turn, the faci­li­ta­tor asks dif­ferent people to give voice to the same movement. 


After this demons­tra­tion, the group goes back in a circle and repeats the exer­cise from the begin­ning. Yet, this time, the per­son oppo­site in the circle to the per­son moving, voices what she or he hears by “lis­te­ning with their eyes”. The sequence usual­ly pro­ceeds fol­lo­wing this order : a per­son steps in the circle, starts per­for­ming a repe­ti­tive move­ment (the mover). After a lit­tle, the per­son in the circle oppo­site to the mover will start sin­ging what she or he hears (the sin­ger). When the mover stops, also the sin­ger stops, and the acti­vi­ty moves on to the next couple mover/singer. 


  1. Debrie­fing 

The expe­rience is fol­lo­wed by a debrie­fing to allow par­ti­ci­pants to express the emo­tions, thoughts and consi­de­ra­tions pro­du­ced by the experience. 

These are some of the obser­va­tions offe­red by par­ti­ci­pants in the past :


  • Each per­son “hears” the move­ment differently

  • Inter­pre­ta­tions can dif­fer great­ly and yet it is evident a clear rela­tion­ship bet­ween the move­ment and the sound was created 

  • Each inter­pre­ta­tion feels unique and legitimate

  • The sin­ging appears to be the pro­duct of a part­ner­ship bet­ween mover and singer


People at times point out the effort­less­ness of the pro­cess. Others obser­ved that a person’s voice can empha­sise and make appa­rent details of a move­ment that would have pas­sed other­wise unno­ti­ced to them.


I per­so­nal­ly obser­ved also that more expres­sive move­ments usual­ly offe­red more ins­pi­ra­tion for the sin­gers, as if a move­ment full of inten­tion com­mu­ni­cates more information. 


Fur­ther Developments 

Silent Rhythms offers dif­ferent lines of deve­lop­ment. While I encou­rage each faci­li­ta­tor to fol­low their intui­tion and fur­ther deve­lop this acti­vi­ty in their own ways, here are two pos­si­bi­li­ties that I often use.

  • Mul­tiple people voice one person’s move­ment. The acti­vi­ty pro­ceeds exact­ly as des­cri­bed above in the “Voi­cing” sec­tion. Yet, after the first per­son begins to voice the moment, the per­son in the circle stan­ding next to him or her will add her or his voice too. I invite the second sin­ger either to express parts of the move­ment that the first sin­ger left out, or maybe by cap­tu­ring with the voice a dif­ferent qua­li­ty or aspect of the move­ment. There is also the option of adding a second voice that does not refer any­more to the move­ment but that sim­ply responds to the first voice. Up to four voices can be added per mover. 

  • Move­ment-to-Voice-to-Move­ment. In this varia­tion, the sound pro­du­ced by the sin­ger is the ins­pi­ra­tion for a new move­ment per­for­med by a second mover. In this varia­tion the par­ti­ci­pants are dis­pla­ced in a line : the first mover faces the sin­ger, while the second mover is shoul­der to shoul­der with the sin­ger (in order to not see the move­ment of the first mover). The sequence can be video recor­ded and the three par­ti­ci­pants can watch it after­ward and com­pare the conti­nui­ty and diver­gences in the inter­pre­ta­tions of move­ment and voice. 


Dee­per Implications 

In peo­ple’s appre­cia­tion of this acti­vi­ty I dis­co­ve­red some­thing beyond its inten­ded pur­pose. Most times a sense of relief and a soft sense of exci­ta­tion per­vade the space.The com­mon sen­ti­ment is well expres­sed by par­ti­ci­pant Nadia Ste­vens : “It is nice to see and reco­gnize my move­ment in a person’s voice.” 

A simi­lar fee­ling was expres­sed by for­mer inmates at a work­shop for the asso­cia­tion Com­mu­ni­tas, which sup­ports for­mer pri­so­ners” rein­te­gra­tion in socie­ty. The orga­ni­ser of the gathe­ring Jeri expres­sed that Silent Rhythms pro­du­ced a soo­thing effect of mutual recog­ni­tion bet­ween par­ti­ci­pants, which was pre­cious for this spe­ci­fic com­mu­ni­ty of people at risk of social isolation. 

Han­nah Arendt says that we can­not know who a per­son is by gau­ging what a per­son does. Who a per­son is can ins­tead be dis­co­ve­red only by atten­ding the person’s spe­ci­fic way of moving or acting, spea­king or inter­ac­ting. Yet human beings are also confron­ted by the conun­drum that no one can see him­self or her­self from the out­side. We can only see our­selves reflec­ted in the beha­viour of the people who inter­act with us. I believe that this acti­vi­ty makes evident the webs of reci­pro­ci­ty that entangles the people in a group. Silent Rhythms invites people to inten­tio­nal­ly and play­ful­ly look at others” ways of moving, paying atten­tion to details, and the­re­fore opens the pos­si­bi­li­ty for a sense of recog­ni­tion and encounter.

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