Co-creating a Brass Band Dance Number for a Large-scale Community Opera Project with the Aid of Improvisatory Techniques

Oliver Rudland 

University of Leeds/University of Cambridge

Context 48 (2022): 69–81.

Published online: 31 Jan. 2023


Community opera projects have often integrated bands of varying types to involve participants in ways other than singing and acting. Although many community opera projects incorporate co-creative elements and improvisation techniques in their composition, there is little coverage of how bands, in practice, can be involved as participants in the co-creative process of shaping a new community opera.

This paper documents a practice research project that took place with Waterbeach Brass Band based in Cambridgeshire, UK. It records in detail the process whereby aspects of a brass band dance number were devised during co-creative improvisation workshops, and provides both audio-visual recordings and notated examples that capture the emergent creative process, alongside a commentary explaining the processes and methodological approaches employed. The paper discusses the different ways in which members of the brass band responded to improvisational workshops, and how this fed into the co-creative process. It subsequently examines how such co-creative elements can form part of a larger musical-dramatic presentation, demonstrating how they can be developed during an extended operatic scene.

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