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Liverpool: Blank Canvas ensemble open session 22.09.2022

A relaunch of the Blank Canvas Ensemble based in Liverpool - starts 2022.09.22


If this ensemble and its creative content is new to you, you can register tyour interest via the tab marked registration.

Venue, date and time

Venue: Ship & Mitre Dale Street
Date: 22.09.2022
Doors open: 18.30 BST
Start time: 19.30 BST
All out: on or before 22.30 BST
Door tax: No decisions has been made about allowing an audience or its size. This will follow shortlt.
Subs to be paid by participants: of £3.00 is excempt for this session.

The performances

  • The Blank Canvas ensemble - the result of an open call
  • The House Band a quartet featuring the following
    • Clayton Jackson - percussion and electronics
    • GILL WHITELEY -keys and strings
    • GEOFF BRIGHT - reeds
    • PHIL MORTON, accidents and treatments


 The Schedule

  • Thursday 22.09.2022
  • October - October 20th
  • November - November 24th



The Online Schedule

There are weekly online sessions on a Monday, Wednesday. Plus Friday sessions every two weeks.
The criteria for the sessions varies, but there is no audition nor open door policy: you need to have a conversation then we can match the session to your needs and experiences.
To apply go to the registration tab to be found in this article and add a note in the comments section of the form that you are interested in the online Blank Canvas sessions.



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The name

This ensemble will be called The Blank Canvas Sextet until we find a better name.

NOTE - This ensemble was previously called `The Blank Canvas Octet` but during the pandemic the ensemble met `online` on zoom. The membership of the group changed. The ensemble now has a different identity to this proposed Liverpool based ensemble. Phil Morton decided to change the name of the Liverpool based ensemble to `sextet`.

The house band - The Blank Canvas Sextet - will play "free improvised music"  using the music system, "System 50:50" - for more information "System 50:50" click here
There is no short term aim to explore contemporary compositional methods, e.g. Conduction, Cobra, graphic scores.

Frequency: The aim is to deliver monthly sessions under the title of The Blank Canvas Sextet, within a weekly schedule of events under the banner of `Merseyside Improvisers`

There is no formal audition. New members are required to attend one performance as a member of the audience, then we have a discussion.

Past and current participants

Here is a list of musicians who may currently appear in and with the Blank Canvas Sextet, . 

  • IAN SIMPSON, guitar
  • PAUL PIGNON [ Stockholm! ]
  • MARTIN HACKETT [ Oxford improvisers ]
  • PHIL MORTON, accidents and treatments
  • CLAYTON JACKSON, (Lancaster) electronics
  • PETER JONES, guitar
  • TIM WISE, reeds, Salford.
  • SIMON ROSS, Turntables, (Macclesfield)
  • ALEX SCOTT, trombone,
  • GILL WHITELEY, keys and strings (Sheffield)
  • GEOFF BRIGHT, reeds
  • TIM VINE, electronic, (Stockport)

Lapsed or floating members of the Sextet: Julia Cadman, John Pearson, Adam Roberts, Yashashwi Sharma, Kristina Warren ( returned to the USA), PHIL LUCKING, trumpets, PHIL HARGREAVES, RICHARD HARDING, guitar, DAVID CANTER, bass clarinet, ROB THORPE, guitar (Manchester), ANDREW LESLIE HOOKER, no input mixer (Pandy Tudor)

Musical content

The Blank Canvas model is the following

  • To play will play "free ensemble improvised music"  using the music system, "System 50:50" - click here for more information
    • The open rehearsal section of the sessions will use System 50:50
  • To play free ensemble improvisation in music - no time limit (aka unmetered)
  • To play free ensemble improvisation in music - with a time limit (aka metered)

The Blank Canvas model is not the following

  • Compositions
  • Graphic scores
  • Games amd workshop pieces
  • Text pieces
  • Conduction or Cobra and their derivatives.

Some feedback on `System 50:50` from participants

On system 50:50 “Definitely something with LOADS of possibilities - the reaction in the car driving back was unbelievably positive - no one could remember playing in a large ensemble that was so "open". The openness allowed me to play quietly, which meant the dynamics were incredible for an improvising large ensemble.” - Charlie Collins Sheffield


System 50/50 works well - it’s a really good way to get a group to play effectively without egos , virtuosity , and shyness getting in the way. It is democratic, inclusive. coherent, leaderless, focused, there is room to think and time to listen, choices. It is less competitive more cooperative. Ends well Simon Ross (Macclesfield), Blank Canvas Sextet - Liverpool


It seems to me that any attempt to restrict what free improvisers play, presents a threat to the core nature of their music. Generally, 'To play or not play' is about as far as any predetermination can productively go, the player retaining (almost!) complete formal agency regarding when and what(s)he decides to play - Dan Goren Oxford Improvisers

To express an interest

to request more information, to communicate, please go to the tab above called registration and complete the form therein.

Phil Morton

about Merseyside Improvisers


to promote and establish free ensemble improvisation in music  in the region of  Merseyside


  1. Where possible Merseyside Improvisers` will organise weekly music sessions within one hours travel of a center of Liverpool to create opportunities for individuals to regularly play and listen to ‘free improvised music’
  2. Merseyside Improvisers` will create a ‘house band’. Concerts will feature the house band and another act.
  3. Merseyside Improvisers` will support/organise a concert series either directly or indirectly by developing relationships with other organisations in Merseyside to create a cohesive schedule of events
  4. Merseyside Improvisers` will maintain an online webpage. This will include; event information, listings, weblinks to organisations, social media feeds, etc.
  5. Merseyside Improvisers` will recognise and use digital networks for communication and marketing.
  6. To constitute a structure/network called, Merseyside Improvisers`, with an agreed strategic plan and formal steering group. The sole function of the group will be to promote ‘free ensemble improvisation’ and to deliver content within the region of Merseyside. The group will meet regularly to review events and plan in line with its agreed constitution.
  7. Looking further ahead, the group will create a framework for research and  development.

Read More: Here

Registration Form

To express an interest, to request more information, to communicate, please complete the form below

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