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Step in Step out

Step in Step out - workshop piece exploring the nature and practice of free improvisation in music.

The video playlist above walks the talk through the text below "Step in - step out". 




  • Introduction
  • Description 1; part 1; Step in for quartets
  • Description 2; part 2: Step out for quartets
  • Description 3; part 3: Step out & step in for quartets
  • Timeline
  • Quick thoughts & what is new
  • Extreme additional rule
  • Correspondance



Hello, this is the first draft of a workshop session piece [ what is the correct terminology ] it awaits peer review and comments. The musical genre is “free improvisation is music” The workshop piece is called - Step in - Step out.

Key concepts

  • Only three players can be in `free play` mode at any one time
  • `Free play` indicates the musician is playing, making sounds.
  • `Tacet`indicates the musician is not playing, not making sounds, nor is the equipment.

Description 1; part one; Step in for quartets

  • There are four players - improvisers - in the piece
  • Three players start playing, the fourth is in tacet mode
  • Step in: The fourth or player in tacet mode can enter into “free play” mode at any time, at this moment one of the three musicians in “free play” mode has to stop: become tacet.
    There is no set methodology to manage the process by which one of the musicians ceases to play, they have to manage this on the fly.
  • The process repeats
  • The player in tacet mode can enter into free play mode ( or not ) whenever they wish too.

PM POV - step in ( his name ) has been in his workshop repertoire for improvisers for 20-30 years: and he assumes others too. There are variables to this design, eg more players.

Description 2; part 2: Step out for quartets

  • There are four players - improvisers - in the piece
  • Three players start playing, in free play mode, the fourth is in tacet mode
  • Step out: One of the musicians in Freeplay mode steps out of the piece, becomes tacet: at this moment the musician in tacet mode has to join in, become active in free play mode.
  • There is no set methodology to manage the process by which one musician ceases to play.
  • The process repeats
  • The players in free play mode can exit free play mode become tacet whenever they wish too.

Step out: was introduced to the design by Jon Aveyard ( Uclan) during a “step in” session.

Description 3; part 3: Step out & step in for quartets

To do both, step in & step out, at the same time creates an added complexity


  • To work with a set time limit.
  • P Morton POV ( point of view ) is a set time of six minutes. This requires a timekeeping device & audible signal.
  • This is not a rule, the participants can run the timeline as they decide at the time

Quick thoughts & what is new

  • The improvisers may employ strategies and tactics as a response to the design of step in & step out.
  • The improvisers may employ musical ideas, aesthetics, as a response to the design of step in & step out rather than cognitive strategies and tactics
  • PM POV - the small number, a quartet, has a distinctive feel and is very focused.
  • PM - having done “step in” as a workshop piece for many years, the addition of step out, repeating both steps in and step out during the same session brings a very interesting dynamic and intensity. It becomes more than the sum of the two parts.
  • Part 2 - step out - introduces, the use of silence to shape a piece: an interesting twist in the improv workshop circuit IMHO.
  • Be aware, in part two, the musicians in tacet mode is obliged to start playing when an active player/musicians exit free play mode.
  • PM is unsure about part three. It is extreme

Extreme additional rule

  • To do step in & step out blindfolded.
  • Thus removing visual clues.
  • Attentive listening moves to another level.

1st delivery of the complete cycle as described, without the blindfolds!

  • Jigsaw 4 Preston June 2017
  • And…
  • Other historical notes to follow...pm


  • Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  • Discussion forum; YES URL LINK - USR - F489P889 - a forum for discussing the strengths and weakness of this piece.


  • Doc name id001 Step in - Step out & version - version 1. 1
  • Location - iNetworks Workshop GD account > folder 001 000 > id001
  • Shared - yes
  • Author - P Morton
  • Forum - To follow.
  • Signed off: No - document in development phase awaiting peer review
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