CNMN > Projects > Catalyst Music: A music improv video series

Kathryn Patricia

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  • Open (def: scores for unspecified instrumentation)
  • Found objects or art supplies
  • Acoustic instruments
  • 5 to 12 years of age
  • 13 to 18 years of age
  • Education
  • Family

Catalyst Music: A music improv video series


Cat­a­lyst is an online, music impro­vi­sa­tion learn­ing expe­ri­ence. Along with three instruc­tion­al videos, this guide will out­line some of the key com­po­nents of musi­cal impro­vi­sa­tion. This video series draws from the Cre­ative Abil­i­ty  Devel­op­ment method and music ped­a­gogy cre­at­ed by Alice Kanack.

Along with three inter­ac­tive videos, this accom­pa­ny­ing video guide can be used by indi­vid­u­als or small groups of a wide age range and musi­cal ability.

These instruc­tion­al videos are designed to work in con­junc­tion with an educator/workshop facil­i­ta­tor as a sup­port­ing activ­i­ty, or stand alone for indi­vid­ual use.

What is Cre­ative Abil­i­ty Development?

Cre­ative Abil­i­ty Devel­op­ment (CAD) is a method cre­at­ed by Alice Kanack where stu­dents use musi­cal impro­vi­sa­tion as a mean to devel­op the cre­ative side of the brain. The main goal of CAD is to teach unique self expres­sion or musi­cal­i­ty.  When stu­dents engage in impro­vi­sa­tion, there are three rules or inten­tions we abide by:

1. There Is No Such Thing As A Mistake

”Cre­ativ­i­ty Is About Mak­ing Choices”

Our first, and per­haps our most impor­tant rule, helps stu­dents to free them­selves into embrac­ing their own cre­ativ­i­ty in choos­ing sounds. Com­pos­ing is mak­ing deci­sions with sound; impro­vi­sa­tion is mak­ing those deci­sions in real time and exe­cut­ing them in the moment. Allow­ing our­selves to freely make musi­cal deci­sions with­out wor­ry­ing if they are right or wrong leads us on a jour­ney to craft­ing a musi­cal lan­guage that res­onates with who we are.

2. Silence and Applause

Prac­tic­ing Respect and Communication

Silence: Some­one once told me that grow­ing in our craft as musi­cians is cen­tred around the art of lis­ten­ing.  By active­ly lis­ten­ing to the music being cre­at­ed around us we are grow­ing in our musi­cal under­stand­ing and aptitude.

Applause:  When we hear some­one call out “Bra­vo! or Bra­va!” after a mag­nif­i­cent per­for­mance, it was not orig­i­nal­ly used to just cel­e­brate vir­tu­os­i­ty. When the word was first used in ancient Greece, it was used to rec­og­nize the brav­ery of a per­former.  When we applause, it may not always take place in the lit­er­al sense, but through our expres­sions, minds and our hearts we hon­our the musi­cal expe­ri­ence we are hearing.

3. Nev­er Crit­i­cize A Friend

”Because there is no such thing as a mistake”

Judg­ing a mas­ter­piece before it is com­plet­ed is a sil­ly idea–improvisation is a life-long jour­ney! ​When we engage in impro­vi­sa­tion we are tak­ing part in a revolv­ing feed­back loop:We make a deci­sion and cre­ate a sound.  We hear the sound, make anoth­er deci­sion, and the process con­tin­ues… To show respect for each other’s cre­ative jour­ney and process, we refrain from judg­ing some­one else’s musi­cal choic­es. This keeps the feed­back loop clear, and fos­ters an encour­ag­ing sup­port­ive com­mu­ni­ty for every­one to explore their cre­ative voices.

Impro­vis­ing and cre­at­ing sound­scapes with a loop pedal

Loop Ped­al Devices & Apps:

Boss Loop Sta­tion RC-20

Boss Loop Sta­tion RC-30

Boss Loop Sta­tion RC-300

Vox VDL‑1 dynam­ic looper

Super-Loop­er App

Loopy App

Cre­at­ing sound­scapes: A Frame­work For Cre­at­ing A Sound­scape With A Loop­ing Device

Start With The Root: Set the tem­po, char­ac­ter and feel of your sound­scape and show­case the key (this can be done by using arpeg­gios and oth­er scale notes)

Build It Out: Hold­ing long tones can help cre­ate a wash of sound and help par­tic­i­pants to get com­fort­able by blend­ing their sound into the texture.

Add Some Tex­ture: Cre­ate a har­mo­ny or counter melody, Change the type of bow stroke you are using (for exam­ple: pizzi­ca­to, trem­mel­lo etc.)

Leave Room For ‘Play’ : Rests are part of the music, Feel free to leave some open space with­in the sound­scape and let your melodies, breath.


About Kathryn Patri­cia Cobbler:

Loop ped­al vio­list, com­pos­er, and arranger Kathryn Patri­cia Cob­bler has craft­ed a sin­gu­lar niche in impro­vi­sa­tion, and clas­si­cal per­for­mance. She obsess­es over cre­at­ing unique­ly arrest­ing sound­scapes, whether in solo recitals, com­pos­ing for the­atre, per­form­ing in site spe­cif­ic art instal­la­tions, and more.

As an edu­ca­tor, Ms. Cob­bler is a Cre­ative Abil­i­ty and Devel­op­ment method teacher and teacher-train­er.  She con­tin­u­al­ly seeks to expand reper­toire for solo vio­la and loop ped­al, and has engaged with the 9th Hour The­atre as a com­pos­er and per­former for their pro­duc­tion of Halo. She has also been known to col­lab­o­rate with oth­er com­posers, includ­ing a pre­miere of a piece by the Cana­di­an cel­list and com­pos­er Raphael Weinroth-Browne.

Kathryn Patri­cia holds degrees in vio­la per­for­mance from West­ern Uni­ver­si­ty (B.M.) and the Uni­ver­si­ty of Ottawa (M.M.).  She per­forms on a vio­la by luthi­er, Sibylle Rup­pert and a Boss RC-30 loop pedal.

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