Jam Sessions: background

The Scroll Ensemble wants to share its love and curiosity for improvisation with the
audience. Although generally improvisation is always seen as something scary and
almost mystical, much of it is based on simple memorisation and mere experience.
We try not to forget improvisation was one of the most normal things in times paper was
expensive.

The main focus of the Scroll Ensemble lies with historical improvisation. This means
improvisation as it happened in the past. By investigating old learning methods and
pieces composed by famous improvisers we have set out a method to learn improvising.
Although this originally started from an interest in improvisatory practises from the
past, we soon realised the advantages to our general musicianship: we developed a
different way of listening, of communicating musically, of understanding music, of
working with tuning, ensemble playing and rehearsing.

The term ‘jam session’ comes from Jazz music. The jam session setting is one in which
musicians can play with each other, mainly improvising on a set of a priori learned
pieces of music. The Jam Sessions the Scroll Ensemble wants to organise are
atmospheric, friendly meetings, at which people gather to enjoy, experiment with and
demistify historical improvisation. A spacious bar will be the playground where leasurly,
with a drink or a bite, one can enjoy the flowing creativity of a music not meant to be
tied with ink. In short: a setting not unlike the habitat of music in the past.

Every Jam Session will focus on a particular harmonic pattern, technique, treatise or
theme, such as La Folia, Canon improvisation, Ortiz or a theme like Cliche in
improvisation. This theme will be known before hand, so people can prepare and expect
what not to expect. The Ensemble will give a short 15-minute recital to introduce the
theme, after which the stage will be open to anyone who would like to play, solo, in
ensemble or joining with the Scroll Ensemble.
After this the session might open up to other pieces as well and become freer.

Before every session a workshop could be held for amateur musicians to learn about the
subject of the session. After a break a lecture will be held, open for the audience,
musicians and amateurs, with regard to the theoretical premise of the subject of the
session.

A Jam Session thus will look like this:
2 hours practical work shop for amateurs
break
1/2 hour lecture by one of the Scroll Ensemble members or a guest
1/4 hour musical introduction by the Scroll Ensemble
Floor opens to anyone who wishes to play

Ideally this would be conjunct with a course of improvisation, possibly to be given separately.

Four times per year we would like to invite a specialist guest.

In short, The Scroll Ensemble proposes a monthly meeting of amateurs, students and
musicians to perform improvisations in a nurturing environment.

Improvisation changes ones approach to music completely and should be an unmissable attribute of musical life! It invokes creativity and freedom and leads us to the most modern of music making: that of “now”.