The Blank Canvas Ensemble Manchester project page

Project Overview




The Blank Canvas Ensemble - Manchester will play free improvisation in music using `System 5050 for improvisers`.
The ensemble may feature between 7-16 players.


Proposition is that: System 50:50 is the go to tool for developing free ensembles improvisation in larger numbers, say over 7 improvisers, and System 50:50 for improvisers disposes with the need for external referential strategies (noted below). To uncover the strengths and limits of free ensemble improvisation. It support a social music.

The Curator

Phil Morton, the curator of the sessions has been working on System 50:50 for improvisers for 20 years, with a intense research practice during 2017-2022.
This research has taken in a wide brief that has included over 100 weekly sessions with experienced players through a one of session with London Improvisers Orchestra (24 players) and ad hoc trios.

What has happened so far

There have been 500 session plus featuring System 50:50 for improvisers featuring ensembles and groups from three to thirty.
If you are interested in an ensemble music. a large ensemble music that is made without prior preparation the evidence supports the lsitening that this offer works, it is rewarding and it is fun FUN.

Strengths and limits of System 50:50

There are two ways of looking and listening to System 50:50 for improvisers output and development: to uncover the strengths and limits of free improvisation and secondly: it is a practice that can stand alone, it has its own strenghts and limits that are for the moment, unique and revolutionary. That the later will be the case until something new comes along.

For this Ensemble there will be no

  • Conduction
  • Compositions,
  • Graphic scores
  • Game strategies
  • Contemporary composition techniques
  • Or the hand picking of musicians who meet a personal aesthetic value and brief.

About System 50:50 for improvisers

Please refer to the `about System 50:50` tab for more information on System 50:50 for improvisers. .


go to the registration tab to add your name to the contact list, we will be in touch when we are good to go!

On a good night the sessions may looks like this, another night the room will be empty:
this lack of consistency is the challenge for this project .



When? the schedule

Due to problems finding a venues, a lack of funding, it will be a struggle to set out a cohesive schedule.
Watch the website and social media for updates, here is the currect schedule for 2024

  • 2024 01 13, a Saturday at the Peer Hat, 1pm - 4 pm.
  • 2024 February no date, no venue
  • 2024 March, no date, no venue.
  • 2024 April 13th, a Saturday, at the Peer hat, 1pm - 4pm
  • 2024 - no dates or venues for the rest of the year yet.


Criteria for participation.

All levels of ability and experience are welcome.


The Peer Hat Manchester is one of the venues under consideration.
More detail on the venue(s) are to follow soon.

About System 50:50

What is System 50:50?

a detailed summary is here: CLICK THIS LINK

What people say about system 50;50

System 50/50 works well - it’s a really good way to get a group to play effectively without egos , virtuosity , and shyness getting in the way. It is democratic, inclusive. coherent, leaderless, focused, there is room to think and time to listen, choices. It is less competitive more cooperative. Ends well. Simon Ross (Macclesfield), Blank Canvas  - Liverpool

On system 50:50 “Definitely something with LOADS of possibilities - the reaction in the car driving back was unbelievably positive - no one could remember playing in a large ensemble that was so "open". The openness allowed me to play quietly, which meant the dynamics were incredible for an improvising large ensemble.” - Charlie Collins Sheffield

It seems to me that any attempt to restrict what free improvisers play, presents a threat to the core nature of their music. Generally, 'To play or not play' is about as far as any predetermination can productively go, the player retaining (almost!) complete formal agency regarding when and what(s)he decides to play - Dan Goren Oxford Improvisers

Richard Harding Liverpool. ``Sometimes in free improv it is just not working but we carry on in the hope it will get better, in system 50:50 if it (free improv) is not working one can select tacet and stop playing`

Jon Aveyard, Lecturer UCLan University. `It gives me permission to do nothing`

Helen Conning, Liverpool. It is democratic

Reviews and project development

  • If the project moves forward it needs a team of four individual to curate the project. This may become an obstacle if four people cannot be recruited or found.

What happens next:

To express an interest:in the Blank Canvas Septet - Manchester:UK please complete form to be found in the registration tab
or Contact Phil Morton: :
UK: mobile 07999518582

Online Sessions

Zoom - Online sessions: The creative alternative

The Hybrid solution to artistic and social isolation.
if you cannot attend the `in the flesh` sessions we have the post covid solution that is a new normal: we can meet online!
The zoom not in the room sessions take place on a Monday on zoom at 19.00 hours


If you are interested in the on-line sessions please complete the form on the registration tab and add a comment in the `comments` box that you are interested in the zoom sessions.


To express an interest:in the Blank Canvas Ensemble - Manchester:UK please complete form to be found in the registration tab
or Contact Phil Morton: :

Top tip:

  • In the field, event please enter Blank Canvas Ensemble - Manchester:
  • in the field, location or region, please put Manchester
  • If you are interested in the hybrid element: that is online on zoom as well as in a room: pleae mention this in the comments section

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