9. Communication: Rhythm

These exercises show you that everything that you do is a function of basic rhythmic forces.

1. Seven Patterns. We’ll study the juncture of words, sounds, and gestures, and we’ll look at how rhythmic patterning affects one’s use and identity. The exercises include a simple but strangely challenging exercise to coordinate your intentions and your gestures; and an innovative meditation on walking.

2. “Happy Birthday.” We’ll study basic rhythmic concepts (the beat, the measure, the superbar, the fermata, rubato, sforzando . . .) and learn how to organize them into a coherent whole, using “Happy Birthday” as a framework. Although ostensibly you’ll be learning to conduct yourself as you sing, in reality you’ll be learning to organize your thoughts and gestures so that they flow more smoothly.

3. Become Your Text. We’ll look at the rhythms of language in speech, and we’ll use texts (prose, poetry, verbal improvisations) as arenas for “working on yourself.” Awareness of a text’s rhythmic construction is the key to become comfortable in speech and communication. It’s possible for you to learn how to use the text itself as your “teacher of coordination.”

4. The Theater of Marionettes. To talk, to express yourself, and to communicate are all “multimedia activities” involving thoughts, words, sounds, rhythms, gestures, and many other features. Depending on how and why you do it, gesticulating while speaking is sometimes a handicap, sometimes a strength. In this workshop we’ll practice multiple styles of gesticulating (or using your hands as if they were marionettes in a play), so that you become the boss of how you talk.

Resources: Chapters 1, 5, and 6 of Integrated Practice: Coordination, Rhythm & Sound

Below, a video clip of a young Woody Allen performing stand-up comedy, introduced by Jack Paar. Watch the clip and start pondering "the theater of marionettes"! It's interesting to compare the body languages of Paar and Allen, and interesting too to become able to imitate them both.