CNMN > Projects > Words&Rhythm

Geremia Lorenzo Lodi

See profile

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

One/two hour(s) workshop

  • Education
  • Community associations
  • Diversity
  • Ecology
  • Memory



Words and Rhythm have a real­ly close rela­tion­ship since ancient times when poets sang the epic tales in iambic pen­tame­ters, both to bet­ter remem­ber and more eas­i­ly sing them. Words con­tain rhythm. We pro­duce rhythms every time we talk, although we do not real­ize. This activ­i­ty guides par­tic­i­pants to pay atten­tion to the rhythm under­pin­ning their words and uses their rhythm as build­ing blocks for a group com­po­si­tion. Such rhythms will be explored, var­ied and mod­u­lat­ed in order to build polyrhythms and poly­phon­ic melodies.


Often par­tic­i­pants do not per­ceive them­selves as capa­ble of impro­vi­sa­tion, sim­ply because they are not used to it. This per­cep­tion can become in itself an obstacle.

The exer­cise Words&Rhythm is designed in such a way to skip the prob­lem, ini­ti­at­ing peo­ple into a cre­ative process with­out them even real­iz­ing it. The process aims to guide their way of lis­ten­ing to rec­og­nize the respons­es that their body and mind pro­duces nat­u­ral­ly to music and then express them through the voice.

 In fact when lis­ten­ing, our minds and bod­ies always respond to music, through res­o­nance. We can see images in our imag­i­na­tion. We tap our feet on the floor. Far mem­o­ries are awok­en. I believe that such per­son­al respons­es are a mir­ror to our unique life expe­ri­ences, the root of our own voice. The goal of this exer­cise is to express and ampli­fy such responses.

 Each indi­vid­ual is guid­ed to use his or her own unique tool­box (the musi­cal skills and tech­niques that each indi­vid­ual already pos­sess­es) to give voice to what their bod­ies and minds already sing.

I believe that such activ­i­ty can con­tribute to a more musi­cal soci­ety: one where peo­ple can com­mu­ni­cate more per­son­al­ly and authen­ti­cal­ly because tuned to their bod­ies and their sin­gu­lar experiences.

Before start­ing the impro­vi­sa­tion work, the body first needs to be warmed up through stretch­ing and dancing.



  • A pen and a let­ter-size paper for each participant

  • Music play­er with three sug­ges­tive songs of dif­fer­ent character

  • Option­al: loop ped­al, micro­phone and speaker




  • Par­tic­i­pants gath­ers in groups of 4 (three singers and a wit­ness alter­nat­ing roles);

  • The process of cre­ation begins with a free-writ­ing exercise:Three songs of dif­fer­ent and con­trast­ing char­ac­ters are played in suc­ces­sion (1–2 min for each). While lis­ten­ing to the music par­tic­i­pants are asked to pro­duce three brief texts in response to each of the songs. Each par­tic­i­pant is encour­aged to use his or her own moth­er tongue. The texts will pro­vide the rhyth­mic mate­ri­als for the group composition;

  • NOTE: It has been cho­sen this free writ­ing activ­i­ty instead of, for instance, sim­ply pick­ing up words from a text to intro­duce par­tic­i­pants right away to a process of cre­ation as response. In fact, respond­ing to sound, respond­ing to the voice of the oth­er is one of the guid­ing prin­ci­ples of this activity.


First Phase: Just the Rhythm

  • Each par­tic­i­pant will choose 4 words from their text. By repeat­ing one word after the oth­er in a loop, they will make appar­ent the rhyth­mic pat­tern under­pin­ning the words; order of the words, speed of exe­cu­tion, paus­es can be mod­i­fied to explore dif­fer­ent possibilities;

  • The first singer of each group repeats his or her words in a rhyth­mic Phrase and loops it. The phrase should be repeat­ed with ease, leav­ing appro­pri­ate paus­es for breath­ing and main­tain­ing the loop with­out variations;

  • The sec­ond singer will join in, super­im­pos­ing their words on top of the first singer, find­ing a way of inter­lock­ing them. The sec­ond singer starts his or her phrase simul­ta­ne­ous­ly with the first singer (phas­ing phras­es could be explored in vari­a­tion of the activity);

  • The third singer will join adding a third lay­er in the same way. The result is a poly-rhyth­mic pattern;

  • The fourth par­tic­i­pant works as a wit­ness of the process, who can also record the result on a cell­phone to keep record of it. When the process is com­plet­ed, the par­tic­i­pants switch roles and start from the beginning;


Sec­ond Phase: Melodies

  • The first singer will start from the begin­ning, this time adding tones to the words;

  • The rhyth­mic phrase becomes a melod­ic phrase, repeat­ed in loop. If the singer is inex­pe­ri­enced, is invit­ed to sing the rhythm in a sin­gle tone. For some mag­i­cal rea­sons, after a cou­ple of rep­e­ti­tions, some mod­u­la­tion in the tone will nat­u­ral­ly appear, as if a melody were sug­gest­ed by the rhythm of the words itself;

NOTE: Even when the singer is a pro­fi­cient impro­vis­er, the first lay­er should be pur­pose­ful­ly easy, so to pro­vide a bal­anced mix of sup­port and inspi­ra­tion for the sec­ond singer;

  • The sec­ond singer, draw­ing inspi­ra­tion by lis­ten­ing to the first, will pro­duce a sec­ond voice that grafts onto it. The phrase of the sec­ond singer starts at the same time as the one of the first singer. If the singer finds it chal­leng­ing to artic­u­late his or her phrase, the leader can sug­gest a pitch that the singer can use to sing the phrase. By repro­duc­ing the words in that tone, usu­al­ly a melody will be shaped by the rela­tion­ship with the one of the first singer;

  • The third par­tic­i­pant is free to use his or her words more freely in a solo that enfolds on top of the basic loop. The third singer is also the con­duc­tor of the per­for­mance. He or she can raise or low­er the vol­ume of the oth­er singers and close down the improvisation;



  • The form of the exer­cise is close, as the phras­es pro­vide a clear struc­ture to the com­po­si­tion. The per­for­mance could be enriched with a mid­dle sec­tion of free and more dis­or­ga­nized impro­vi­sa­tion on the words to then resume the orig­i­nal pattern;

  • It is pos­si­ble also to extrap­o­late just the rhythms of the picked words and trans­form it with oth­er syllables;

  • A real­ly enter­tain­ing tool that can be employed in the exer­cise is the loop ped­al. The loop would allow each par­tic­i­pant to record their own voice instead of repeat­ing it continuously.


For more infor­ma­tion, con­tact Geremia at:

514 627 8875

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