How to Improvise a Song Part 1

Updated: Jul 18

So you’ve got to grips with the concepts of Improv. You can build, expand and bring a scene home. You raise the stakes, you endow, add history, you 3/7/10, you play to the height of your character’s intelligence, feel comfortable naked in front of an audience, and you’re not afraid to fail – but, the idea of improvising a song makes you sweat from places you didn’t know you could sweat from!


“But I can’t sing!” – “I have no Rhythm!” – “What the hell rhymes with orange?” I hear you whimper, hiding under the table in the rehearsal room. Well fear not brothers, sisters, non-Binaries and whatever gender you most identify with(s) – It really is as simple as Do Re Me…


Let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start…

First of all a question. Where does your voice come from?


A: The Lungs

B: The Heart

C: The Head

D: The Mouth

E: Somewhere Else


Well, of course the first four answers are all part of the process of singing, but if you answered E (whether or not you knew the answer or just figured out it’s a trick question) then give yourself a gold star and a biscuit.

And the answer to E is?









THE LOINS

What! ‘The loins?’ Yup, the loins. Also known as ‘the balls’, but in the interests of gender equality we shall call them loins. Improvised singing starts with having the guts to just open your mouth and make a noise, no matter how awful you think it sounds.

90% of improvising a song is Selling it baby!


Ever been to a Karaoke night and watched someone (usually drunk) down on their knees wailing ‘Bat Out of Hell’ into the microphone at a pitch that could split the very fabric of time?


And what happens at the end of this unashamed display of bad taste in music?

The audience goes bananas! Why?


It was out of tune, out of time and definitely straight out of hell, but the passion and commitment displayed in the face of adversity brings everyone to their feet.


So, open your mouth and make a noise like Pavarotti walking on hot coals – the audience will love you!




Ok – I’ve girded my Loins. How do I get better at improvising songs?

To the left is an anatomically correct diagram of the Improvised singing process.

I’ve removed hair and limbs so as not to distract from the important stuff (although feel free to flail your limbs and hair around as you sing).


If you follow my ‘5 Steps to Winging It‘ Programme… (Copyright Ian Mclaughlin 2018, no derivatives or re-branding, as pursuant to the 1947 Del Close Harold clause amendment to the 1976 unfair use of intellectual property in improvisational arts section B2)… Then you will stand a good chance of getting to a point where you’ll be singing in tune, on time and in rhyme.


So sign up, tune up and the only way is up.


Next post – Taking it to Heart.

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