The duration of the piece is agreed before the start of the piece
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’.See 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.
Youtube demonstration: URL LINK
Link to image of an adapted chess clock URL LINK
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.
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 has their own clock and manages their own time
There three variables at the heart of `System 5050` and they can be explored in a workshop environment. Research into the three variables is rewarding and resulted in the term called the `density index`
- The number of musicians
- The duration of the piece
- The percentage split or ratio between “free play” 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 group
Services and support:
Phil Morton has twenty adapted chess clocks which are available to interested parties.
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).
P Morton: May 2017