CNMN > Projects > Silent Rhythms

Geremia Lorenzo Lodi

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  • Voice
  • 5 to 12 years of age
  • 13 to 18 years of age
  • Adults
  • Seniors
  • Intergenerational

30 minutes to 1 hour workshop, which can be further developed through multiple sessions

  • Education
  • Community associations
  • Health

Silent Rhythms


This activ­i­ty intro­duces par­tic­i­pants to cre­at­ing music by pay­ing close atten­tion to the qual­i­ty of anoth­er person’s movement.

 The activ­i­ty devel­ops the abil­i­ty to lis­ten and notice one’s respons­es to the sur­round­ing world. In fact, one’s mind, one’s imag­i­na­tion, one’s sens­es, always respond to exter­nal stim­uli. Silent Rhythms is an exam­ple of a viable way of giv­ing voice to such per­son­al and unique responses.

 Silent Rhythms is an extreme­ly ver­sa­tile activ­i­ty. I shared it with very young chil­dren (5–6 years old) and elders; with teenagers and adults; with peo­ple in sit­u­a­tions of men­tal vul­ner­a­bil­i­ty and for­mer prison inmates. 

 The clips form­ing the video tuto­r­i­al are tak­en from a work­shop for dancers. That work­shop aimed specif­i­cal­ly to pro­vide that com­mu­ni­ty with tools to bridge dance and music cre­ation. Although every dancer had an inti­mate con­nec­tion to music through move­ment, often they were obliv­i­ous as to how to trans­late the move­ments of their body into an embod­ied kind of sound pro­duc­tion. The fol­low­ing process helped them do just that:



  1. “Lis­ten­ing with the eyes”

Par­tic­i­pants organ­ised in a cir­cle, each per­son stand­ing a cou­ple of metres from the peo­ple next to them. Par­tic­i­pants are invit­ed to “lis­ten with their eyes” to what is about to hap­pen. The whole activ­i­ty takes place in silence. Each indi­vid­ual, in turn, steps a lit­tle for­ward clos­er to the cen­tre and per­forms a repet­i­tive move­ment with their body. The per­son per­forms the move­ment a few times and then stops and walks back to her or his place. At that point, the next per­son steps in and per­forms a new move­ment, and so on until every­body per­forms a silent body pattern.


At the end of the cir­cle, the facil­i­ta­tor would ask the par­tic­i­pants if, by “lis­ten­ing with their eyes” (mean­ing: by pay­ing close atten­tion to the qual­i­ty of the mover’ move­ments) they heard any­thing in their imag­i­na­tion. Usu­al­ly peo­ple express that indeed they heard something. 


  1. Voic­ing

At that point the facil­i­ta­tor per­forms a repet­i­tive move­ment and invites a vol­un­teer to give voice to what she or he “hears” with their eyes. In turn, the facil­i­ta­tor asks dif­fer­ent peo­ple to give voice to the same movement. 


After this demon­stra­tion, the group goes back in a cir­cle and repeats the exer­cise from the begin­ning. Yet, this time, the per­son oppo­site in the cir­cle to the per­son mov­ing, voic­es what she or he hears by “lis­ten­ing with their eyes”. The sequence usu­al­ly pro­ceeds fol­low­ing this order: a per­son steps in the cir­cle, starts per­form­ing a repet­i­tive move­ment (the mover). After a lit­tle, the per­son in the cir­cle oppo­site to the mover will start singing what she or he hears (the singer). When the mover stops, also the singer stops, and the activ­i­ty moves on to the next cou­ple mover/singer. 


  1. Debrief­ing 

The expe­ri­ence is fol­lowed by a debrief­ing to allow par­tic­i­pants to express the emo­tions, thoughts and con­sid­er­a­tions pro­duced by the experience. 

These are some of the obser­va­tions offered by par­tic­i­pants in the past:


  • Each per­son “hears” the move­ment differently

  • Inter­pre­ta­tions can dif­fer great­ly and yet it is evi­dent a clear rela­tion­ship between the move­ment and the sound was created 

  • Each inter­pre­ta­tion feels unique and legitimate

  • The singing appears to be the prod­uct of a part­ner­ship between mover and singer


Peo­ple at times point out the effort­less­ness of the process. Oth­ers observed that a person’s voice can empha­sise and make appar­ent details of a move­ment that would have passed oth­er­wise unno­ticed to them.


I per­son­al­ly observed also that more expres­sive move­ments usu­al­ly offered more inspi­ra­tion for the singers, as if a move­ment full of inten­tion com­mu­ni­cates more information. 


Fur­ther Developments 

Silent Rhythms offers dif­fer­ent lines of devel­op­ment. While I encour­age each facil­i­ta­tor to fol­low their intu­ition and fur­ther devel­op this activ­i­ty in their own ways, here are two pos­si­bil­i­ties that I often use.

  • Mul­ti­ple peo­ple voice one person’s move­ment. The activ­i­ty pro­ceeds exact­ly as described above in the “Voic­ing” sec­tion. Yet, after the first per­son begins to voice the moment, the per­son in the cir­cle stand­ing next to him or her will add her or his voice too. I invite the sec­ond singer either to express parts of the move­ment that the first singer left out, or maybe by cap­tur­ing with the voice a dif­fer­ent qual­i­ty or aspect of the move­ment. There is also the option of adding a sec­ond voice that does not refer any­more to the move­ment but that sim­ply responds to the first voice. Up to four voic­es can be added per mover. 

  • Move­ment-to-Voice-to-Move­ment. In this vari­a­tion, the sound pro­duced by the singer is the inspi­ra­tion for a new move­ment per­formed by a sec­ond mover. In this vari­a­tion the par­tic­i­pants are dis­placed in a line: the first mover faces the singer, while the sec­ond mover is shoul­der to shoul­der with the singer (in order to not see the move­ment of the first mover). The sequence can be video record­ed and the three par­tic­i­pants can watch it after­ward and com­pare the con­ti­nu­ity and diver­gences in the inter­pre­ta­tions of move­ment and voice. 


Deep­er Implications 

In peo­ple’s appre­ci­a­tion of this activ­i­ty I dis­cov­ered some­thing beyond its intend­ed pur­pose. Most times a sense of relief and a soft sense of exci­ta­tion per­vade the space.The com­mon sen­ti­ment is well expressed by par­tic­i­pant Nadia Stevens: “It is nice to see and rec­og­nize my move­ment in a person’s voice.” 

A sim­i­lar feel­ing was expressed by for­mer inmates at a work­shop for the asso­ci­a­tion Com­mu­ni­tas, which sup­ports for­mer pris­on­ers’ rein­te­gra­tion in soci­ety. The organ­is­er of the gath­er­ing Jeri expressed that Silent Rhythms pro­duced a sooth­ing effect of mutu­al recog­ni­tion between par­tic­i­pants, which was pre­cious for this spe­cif­ic com­mu­ni­ty of peo­ple at risk of social isolation. 

Han­nah Arendt says that we can­not know who a per­son is by gaug­ing what a per­son does. Who a per­son is can instead be dis­cov­ered only by attend­ing the person’s spe­cif­ic way of mov­ing or act­ing, speak­ing or inter­act­ing. Yet human beings are also con­front­ed by the conun­drum that no one can see him­self or her­self from the out­side. We can only see our­selves reflect­ed in the behav­iour of the peo­ple who inter­act with us. I believe that this activ­i­ty makes evi­dent the webs of reci­procity that entan­gles the peo­ple in a group. Silent Rhythms invites peo­ple to inten­tion­al­ly and play­ful­ly look at oth­ers’ ways of mov­ing, pay­ing atten­tion to details, and there­fore opens the pos­si­bil­i­ty for a sense of recog­ni­tion and encounter.

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