Group improvisation around familiar themes is one of our favorite ways of getting in synch with each other’s styles, and getting to know the patterns of a new piece. Improvisation is also a great teaching tool, for performance and composition.
Our two favorite improvisations use themes from our original music: the introductory harmony for the bridge sections of Daughter of Apocalypse, and the underlying chant from Tumbling Away. Both these improvisations appear in multiple versions on our albums.
One of our habitual warm-up improvisations borrows the familiar melody and harmony from that eternally over-played piano practice peace Heart and Soul, a starting point from which we take great improvisational liberties, usually using the lyrics: “Wouldn’t this be very fun to play on the bells at Cornell University…” We have not recorded this, but you may sometimes hear it leaking out under the door during rehearsal.