CNMN > Projects > Words&Rhythm

Geremia Lorenzo Lodi

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

One/two hour(s) workshop

  • Éducation
  • Associations communautaires
  • Diversité
  • Écologie
  • Mémoire



Words and Rhythm have a real­ly close rela­tion­ship since ancient times when poets sang the epic tales in iam­bic penta­me­ters, both to bet­ter remem­ber and more easi­ly sing them. Words contain rhythm. We pro­duce rhythms eve­ry time we talk, although we do not rea­lize. This acti­vi­ty guides par­ti­ci­pants to pay atten­tion to the rhythm under­pin­ning their words and uses their rhythm as buil­ding blocks for a group com­po­si­tion. Such rhythms will be explo­red, varied and modu­la­ted in order to build poly­rhythms and poly­pho­nic melodies.


Often par­ti­ci­pants do not per­ceive them­selves as capable of impro­vi­sa­tion, sim­ply because they are not used to it. This per­cep­tion can become in itself an obstacle.

The exer­cise Words&Rhythm is desi­gned in such a way to skip the pro­blem, ini­tia­ting people into a crea­tive pro­cess without them even rea­li­zing it. The pro­cess aims to guide their way of lis­te­ning to reco­gnize the res­ponses that their body and mind pro­duces natu­ral­ly to music and then express them through the voice.

 In fact when lis­te­ning, our minds and bodies always respond to music, through reso­nance. We can see images in our ima­gi­na­tion. We tap our feet on the floor. Far memo­ries are awo­ken. I believe that such per­so­nal res­ponses are a mir­ror to our unique life expe­riences, the root of our own voice. The goal of this exer­cise is to express and ampli­fy such responses.

 Each indi­vi­dual is gui­ded to use his or her own unique tool­box (the musi­cal skills and tech­niques that each indi­vi­dual alrea­dy pos­sesses) to give voice to what their bodies and minds alrea­dy sing.

I believe that such acti­vi­ty can contri­bute to a more musi­cal socie­ty : one where people can com­mu­ni­cate more per­so­nal­ly and authen­ti­cal­ly because tuned to their bodies and their sin­gu­lar experiences.

Before star­ting the impro­vi­sa­tion work, the body first needs to be war­med up through stret­ching and dancing.



  • A pen and a let­ter-size paper for each participant

  • Music player with three sug­ges­tive songs of dif­ferent character

  • Optio­nal : loop pedal, micro­phone and speaker



Pre­pa­ra­tion :

  • Par­ti­ci­pants gathers in groups of 4 (three sin­gers and a wit­ness alter­na­ting roles);

  • The pro­cess of crea­tion begins with a free-wri­ting exercise:Three songs of dif­ferent and contras­ting cha­rac­ters are played in suc­ces­sion (1–2 min for each). While lis­te­ning to the music par­ti­ci­pants are asked to pro­duce three brief texts in res­ponse to each of the songs. Each par­ti­ci­pant is encou­ra­ged to use his or her own mother tongue. The texts will pro­vide the rhyth­mic mate­rials for the group composition ;

  • NOTE : It has been cho­sen this free wri­ting acti­vi­ty ins­tead of, for ins­tance, sim­ply picking up words from a text to intro­duce par­ti­ci­pants right away to a pro­cess of crea­tion as res­ponse. In fact, respon­ding to sound, respon­ding to the voice of the other is one of the gui­ding prin­ciples of this activity.


First Phase : Just the Rhythm

  • Each par­ti­ci­pant will choose 4 words from their text. By repea­ting one word after the other in a loop, they will make appa­rent the rhyth­mic pat­tern under­pin­ning the words ; order of the words, speed of exe­cu­tion, pauses can be modi­fied to explore dif­ferent possibilities ;

  • The first sin­ger of each group repeats his or her words in a rhyth­mic Phrase and loops it. The phrase should be repea­ted with ease, lea­ving appro­priate pauses for brea­thing and main­tai­ning the loop without variations ;

  • The second sin­ger will join in, super­im­po­sing their words on top of the first sin­ger, fin­ding a way of inter­lo­cking them. The second sin­ger starts his or her phrase simul­ta­neous­ly with the first sin­ger (pha­sing phrases could be explo­red in varia­tion of the activity);

  • The third sin­ger will join adding a third layer in the same way. The result is a poly-rhyth­mic pattern ;

  • The fourth par­ti­ci­pant works as a wit­ness of the pro­cess, who can also record the result on a cell­phone to keep record of it. When the pro­cess is com­ple­ted, the par­ti­ci­pants switch roles and start from the beginning ;


Second Phase : Melodies

  • The first sin­ger will start from the begin­ning, this time adding tones to the words ;

  • The rhyth­mic phrase becomes a melo­dic phrase, repea­ted in loop. If the sin­ger is inex­pe­rien­ced, is invi­ted to sing the rhythm in a single tone. For some magi­cal rea­sons, after a couple of repe­ti­tions, some modu­la­tion in the tone will natu­ral­ly appear, as if a melo­dy were sug­ges­ted by the rhythm of the words itself ;

NOTE : Even when the sin­ger is a pro­fi­cient impro­vi­ser, the first layer should be pur­po­se­ful­ly easy, so to pro­vide a balan­ced mix of sup­port and ins­pi­ra­tion for the second singer ;

  • The second sin­ger, dra­wing ins­pi­ra­tion by lis­te­ning to the first, will pro­duce a second voice that grafts onto it. The phrase of the second sin­ger starts at the same time as the one of the first sin­ger. If the sin­ger finds it chal­len­ging to arti­cu­late his or her phrase, the lea­der can sug­gest a pitch that the sin­ger can use to sing the phrase. By repro­du­cing the words in that tone, usual­ly a melo­dy will be sha­ped by the rela­tion­ship with the one of the first singer ;

  • The third par­ti­ci­pant is free to use his or her words more free­ly in a solo that enfolds on top of the basic loop. The third sin­ger is also the conduc­tor of the per­for­mance. He or she can raise or lower the volume of the other sin­gers and close down the improvisation ;



  • The form of the exer­cise is close, as the phrases pro­vide a clear struc­ture to the com­po­si­tion. The per­for­mance could be enri­ched with a middle sec­tion of free and more disor­ga­ni­zed impro­vi­sa­tion on the words to then resume the ori­gi­nal pattern ;

  • It is pos­sible also to extra­po­late just the rhythms of the picked words and trans­form it with other syllables ;

  • A real­ly enter­tai­ning tool that can be employed in the exer­cise is the loop pedal. The loop would allow each par­ti­ci­pant to record their own voice ins­tead of repea­ting it continuously.


For more infor­ma­tion, contact Gere­mia at :

514 627 8875

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