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The Blank Canvas Octet - Manchester and Improvisers' Orchestra

The Blank Canvas - Manchester Project Overview


The Blank Canvas - Manchester will play free improvisation in music using `System 5050`. A full description of System 5050 is displayed below.

This is the launch phase to research and discover if there is: an interest and if this interest is large enough to sustain the Blank Canvas - Manchester

The target number is 24 improvisers, this large number is required due to the complexity and density of modern lifestyles, to have 8 people present in a room on an agreed day, we need an extended, starting list of 24

If the interest is deeper and wider it is proposed we can explore the creation of an Improvisers' Orchestra as an extension of this Octet proposal. This is `getting ahead of oneself` but shows the options ahead are interesting.Phil Morton proposition is that: System 50:50 is the go to tool for developing free improvisation in larger numbers, say over 15 improvisers, and this disposes with the need of other external strategies such as: conduction, graphic scores, game strategies, contemporary composition techniques. More on that another time

Time lines: suggested The Octet project launch date, October 2018, there have been three rehearsals, this is an ongoing project.

Activities: Frequency, to be decided by those who are involved in the project

What happens next: To express an interest:in the Blank Canvas - Manchester please complete the form below or Contact Phil Morton: philmorton@improvisersnetwork.co.uk : UK: mobile 07999518582


System 50:50 The Accord

The music system being offered here is called 50:50.  

The duration of the piece is agreed before the start of the performance..
A performer must play for 50% of the duration of the piece and remain silent for 50% of the duration of the piece

Example; if the duration of the piece is 30 minutes, the performer plays for 15 minutes and is silent for 15 mins. Each player is free to choose when they play and when they are silent within the duration of the piece but they must have a 50/50 balance between playing and being silent. It is expected that each player will improvise their music, but other options could be explored.

Delivered by the primary and preferred time management option:

Mechanical chess clocks are required to facilitate the aim of the system. One of the pair of screens is called ‘tacet’ and the other ‘free play’ (refer to the image above). Each performer has an individual chess clock to monitor and manage their contribution. The performer plays when the ‘free play’ dial is running down and is silent when the ‘tacet’ dial is running down. Further modifications of the format can be explored (perhaps with duets sharing the same clock, or the ensemble split into two and sharing just two clocks) but the use of individual clocks to monitor the contribution of each individual performer is the original basic format.

Youtube demonstration: URL LINK
Link to image of an adapted chess clock URL LINK

Quick summary using 50:50 ratio
Each player `improvises` for 50% of the piece
Each player is `tacet` for 50% of the piece
The totals are aggregated
Each player/improviser has their own clock and manages their own time

In the beginning:
The system was originally devised or created for use in workshops and for large ensembles playing free improvised music. The system can be used for ensembles of any size, and with any duration. The simplicity of the system management device ‘the adapted chess clock’ enables the delivery of a wide range of outcomes from the simple to the complex.

Current concert opportunities and ensemble descriptions:

  • Blank Canvas 50:50 Quartet.
  • Blank Canvas 50:50 Octet
  • Manchester - Blank Canvas Octet & Manchester Improvisers' Orchestra
  • Ad hoc small ensembles
  • Workshop and conference opportunities.

Future Complexities:
Variations of the basic format could include:

  • The number of musicians
  • The duration of the piece
  • The percentage split or ratio between “freeplay” and “tacet”

The observation and strength of system 5050
`It is dynamic, different settings created by exploring the variables above can result in very different experiences and skill sets to be explored as an individual or as a group

Services and support:

Phil Morton has twenty adapted chess clocks which are available to interested parties. System 50:50 is managed by praxis : arts and System 50:50 has access to the resources of praxis : arts.

What happens next: To express an interest: complete the form below or Contact Phil Morton: philmorton@improvisersnetwork.co.uk : UK: mobile 07999518582

With thanks to:
Phil Morton has worked on this concept for some time - 10 years - but he acknowledges with thanks the recent input from the following: Martin Hacket (Oxford Improvisers), Robin Hartwell (Liverpool ) and the Centrifuge wiki-network (North).

System 50:50 Daccord!
P Morton: May 2017

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