Rhiannon's Guide to Vocal Improvisation

Improvisation is a gift, a necessity, a skill, a dance with the unknown. It is the practice of approaching the unknown, not with fear but with curiosity, and with trust that the path will be revealed. It is about staying awake, really awake, all senses vibrant, as you learn to be available to it all: the fear and the endless possibilities of each new moment. When you improvise you become part of all that is alive because constant change is the reality that all living beings encounter. This can be difficult, or an enormous blessing, as the thrill of improvisation takes over and a greater wisdom surfaces.

Learning to improvise in music seems to reverberate out to other parts of life: how to listen, to harmonize, to stand out or fit in, to get in the groove and surrender completely to the sounds as a part of the ensemble. The gift of music is that it is a language, a system that exists in all cultures around the world. There are chords and chord progressions, harmonies, rhythms, meters, styles, textures, and the mysterious meeting of music and the soul. Improvising can be as simple or complex as your heart and skills allow. The more you hone your skills and open your heart, the greater the freedom you will experience in expressing your musical self.

We bring you this music and an invitation for you to get inside it. Learn what you can from us and develop your own flight as we sing under, over, and all around you. Practice in the safety of your own world.  Use this an as opportunity to unleash your wildness, expand your boundaries, and explore new musical territory. After you've worked with this music in your home or car, share it with a friend or at a gathering. Use it in a class or ceremony. Sing every day in places you never imagined. Challenge yourself to develop the skills and spirit of improvising and see how it changes you. Enjoy!


Joey Blake

bass vocals
about joey
The bass is the foundation of most musical ensembles. It is responsible for setting the musical style and harmonic structure, and for keeping the time and feel intact... Read more

Laurel Murphy

about laurel
Blend is the heart of ensemble singing. It is quite the opposite of singing solo. You have to drop back and find a common sound, matching the other voices in pitch, volume, tone... Read more

Linda Tillery

gospel tradition
about linda
It really all began in the fields, on the plantations - secret prayer meetings held deep in the woods. Harmony, syncopated rhythms,  blues - a whole lot of feeling... 
Read more

Jeanie Tracy

the soloist in gospel
about jeanie
The soloist is never separate from the choir. She or he works with the ensemble, often repeating the choir's words, deepening and expanding them...   Read more

David Worm

mouth percussion
about david
Singing percussion is something I came to out of necessity at first. In order to complete musical ideas in an a cappella context, I realized I would need to use body sounds...  Read more



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    Home 4:58
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    Fine 8:34
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    Mouth 3:59
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