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Improv Notes: November 2011


IMprov Notes:
News of the Moment
November 2011

Improviser-In-Residence Program culminates with a final FREE performance

Thursday, December 8, 2011
6:30PM - 9:30PM
Van Gogh’s Ear: 1st Floor,
10 Wyndham Street (at MacDonell St).
Free Admission and food by Salsateria

Please join ICASP, Jane Bunnett and friends in a celebration of the 2011 Improviser-in-Residence Program. The evening will include a performance by Jane Bunnett and the Vertical Squirrels, as well as videos of Jane’s residency in Guelph & much more.

Throughout 2011, Improviser-in-Residence Jane Bunnett was directly engaged with the Guelph community through a series of public talks, performances and innovative workshops for a variety of community-based organizations. Please come out and see what all the talk was about, and listen to some exciting and engaging music.

For more information please contact Amadeo Ventura at

The ICASP Improviser-in-Residence program is made possible through funding by Musagetes.
Improvisation, Community and Social Practice (ICASP)


Thinking Spaces: The Improvisation Reading Group and Speaker series runs a reading group session every second week during the academic year. The group currently meets Fridays 4-6pm. Throughout the year, this group also organizes public talks and workshops. Each reading group focuses on a particular reading circulated in advance, and may also include short informal presentations by current ICASP students, artists or community groups. Readings include articles and chapters, music and performances or other types of “reading”. The group meets at a central location, currently the Guelph Public Library.

The group also organizes social occasions following the reading group sessions and speaker events.

Join us at any time throughout the year. Community, faculty, students… all welcome!

Upcoming Events
Please join us for Thinking Spaces: The Improvisation Reading Group and Speaker Series on Friday, November 18 from 4-6pm in the 2nd floor board room at the Main Branch of the Guelph Public Library (100 Norfolk Street). And...

ICASP Conference 
Making the Changes:
Ethics and the Improvising Business. 

Friday, December 2nd, 2011 1-6 pm (plus 8 pm performance). Macdonald Stewart Art Centre

Co-sponsored by the College of Management and Economics and the Macdonald Stewart Art Centre.

KeynoteDr. R. Keith Sawyer, Professor of psychology and education at Washington University in St. Louis


Nancy Adler - Bronfman Chair in Management, Desautels Faculty of Management, McGill University

Ken Aldcroft - guitarist, co-founder of the Association of Improvising Musicians Toronto

Alan Convery - National Manager of Community Relations, TD Bank Financial Group

Dr. Peter Johnston - ethnomusicologist, bassist

Dr. Chris MacDonald - Associate Professor of Philosophy at St. Mary's University, Visiting Scholar at the University of Toronto's Clarkson Centre for Business Ethics and Board Effectiveness at the Rotman School of Management

Scott Thomson - trombonist, co-founder of the Association of Improvising Musicians Toronto

In the parlance of jazz improvisation, the phrase “making the changes” refers to the ways in which a jazz soloist or group of musicians spontaneously navigate a harmonic progression. In order to perform a successful improvisation, however, musicians must work collaboratively in order to achieve a performance that is innovative and creative. 

“Making the Changes: Ethics and the Improvising Business” explores the intersection of business management, improvised music, and social ethics. The conference brings together leaders in the fields of cultural studies, management, ethnomusicology, business ethics, and music performance to address issues that emerge from the intersection of improvisation and business management.


HELPS US TO WIN $50,000.00

Our proposal is to use the award to bring the AUMI (Adaptive Use Musical Instruments) drum circle to two schools, hospitals, or centers in the U.S. who can demonstrate in their proposal a commitment to sustaining it if we set them up. If you’d like a daily reminder, complete with easy links and suggested comments to post each day, please email Jackie at and we will put you on the daily reminder list.

To learn more:
Visit the Deep Listening Institute &
Visit the Deep Listening Institute's Refresh Page 

Quote of the Month:

During the sixties, assertions were often made to the effect that jazz groups provided glimpses into the future. What was meant by this was that black music—especially that of the sixties, with its heavy emphasis on individual freedom within a collectively improvised context—proposed a model social order, an ideal, even utopic balance between personal impulse and group demands.
Nathaniel Mackey, Discrepant Engagement 

 Nathaniel Mackey is an American poet, novelist, anthologist, literary critic, editor and Professor of Literature at UC Santa Cruz.


Improv Notes was initially distributed in 2008 as a quarterly newsletter. The ICASP team is happy to announce that the newsletter is back in action and will be distributed once a month. If you have anything improvisation related that you would like to have included in the newsletter, please send an email to:


This Month's Featured Artist:
The Vertical Squirrels

The Vertical Squirrels (Ontario)
The music of the Vertical Squirrels is group-improvised, live in the moment, and draws on a unique mixture of free jazz and post rock sensibilities with nods to Indian ragas, jazz-inflected minimalism, Zappa-esque bouts of sonic anarchy, and German rock music from the 1970s. Like the music they play, the Vertical Squirrels came together through a mixture of chance and perseverance. Long-time collaborators in and outside the academy (in projects musical and non-musical), Daniel Fischlin, Ajay Heble, and Lewis Melville started playing together as a group upon the arrival in Guelph of multi-talented drummer/percussionist Rob Wallace, in 2008, later adding acclaimed drummer Ted Warren to the mix. Initially conceived as an informal outlet to get Heble back into playing piano after years of curating the Guelph Jazz Festival (but rarely performing himself), the Squirrels quickly morphed into a recording and gigging band focused on their distinctive brand of in-the-moment improvisation. They bring together years of diverse individual musical experiences, a sense of humor and friendship to their playing, and a deep commitment to multiple forms of sonic expression, exploration, and freedom. 

The Squirrels latest-recording, Winter's Gate, is a set of 11 musical tableaux based on winter images, local neighbourhood landmarks, and poetic fragments. Highlight tracks include the atmospheric opening number "Winter's Gate," the driving funk piece "Santafunked," the haunting in-and-out-of-sync "The Pulse In this Great Sadness," and the quasi-pop tune turned inside-out, "Black Dog On White Ice." Winter's Gate is a unique boundary- and genre-crossing exploration of what winter might sound like when improvised into being.

The Vertical Squirrels are Ajay Heble (piano), Daniel Fischlin (guitars), Lewis Melville (bass), Ted Warren (drums and percussion).

Watch a video of the Squirrels playing with Jane Bunnett at the Creative music festival on March 10, 2011.

The Community of Rights -
The Rights of Community.

New book by ICASP researcher Daniel Fischlin and Martha Nandorfy (Guelph professor and scholar) explores global human rights.

ICASP researcher Daniel Fischlin and Martha Nandorfy release an important contribution to the discussion about global human rights, The Community of Rights - The Rights of Community.

Community of Rights - Rights of Community enters into a dialogue with global communities about the meaning of being human and having rights. Why has the individual largely superseded community as the privileged focus of rights discourse? How have contemporary notions of community betrayed the very origins of the term in the name of exploitative economic and political practices? Is it possible to re-conceive rights discourse in ways that acknowledge the diverse communities from which they arise?

Following on the dialogue they initiated in Eduardo Galeano: Through the Looking Glass and The Concise Guide to Global Human Rights, Daniel Fischlin and Martha Nandorfy examine the assumptions made about community and expose the impact they have on human rights debates. This final volume of the trilogy looks beyond the framework that bankrupts rights of any real meaning and thus reaffirms the power and agency of communities in the face of neo-liberal discourses of privatization.

This book will be on the shelves of rights activists everywhere as an inspiration to their own work in building better communities.

"This book is a major contribution to a new discourse on the notion of rights in relation to community." [Roger Clark, former Secretary General of Amnesty International]

"This important book on the recovery of community rights shows how we lost our collective freedoms and how we can reclaim them." [Vandana Shiva, author]

Get your copy today: Community of Rights

--- In other Daniel Fischlin news....

Fischlin has also recently released unique pedagogical software on the iOS platform, the Romeo and Juliet iPhone/iPad/iPod app., which features a media-rich version of the play specially designed for students and teachers working with the play.

ICASP is proud to welcome back
Elizabeth Jackson as the
Website Content Coordinator.

Elizabeth Jackson ( has returned after a maternity leave that began last October (2010). She will be working on the ICASP research collection and website. Elizabeth has over a decade of experience in university-level research and writing. She has worked as an editor of books, journals, and websites, and has a strong background in community service and organization. We are very happy to welcome her back to the ICASP team. 


The international Improvisation, Community, and Social Practice research project explores musical improvisation as a model for social change. The project plays a leading role in defining a new field of interdisciplinary research to shape political, cultural, and ethical dialogue and action.

As a form of musical practice, improvisation embodies real-time creative decision-making, risk-taking, and collaboration. Improvisation must be considered not simply as a musical form, but as a complex social phenomenon that mediates transcultural inter-artistic exchanges that produce new conceptions of identity, community, history, and the body. This project focuses primarily on jazz and creative improvised music. The dominant theoretical issues emerging from this music have vital social implications.

Check out our diverse research collection.

Want to read past newsetters, or refer a friend to the monthly newsletter, then please do!

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...partly because I know that’s the only way that we could solve a creative problem [using improvisation with children ranging in abilities] and what doesn’t work is trying to impose a template on the students who are not able to respond to that template.

– Pauline Oliveros (in working with Abilities First)