The Pool and the Soup

A set of rules for spoken improvisation.



Catalogue number : 18

Photo © Michela di Savino

The Pool and the Soup.

A set of instructions for spoken improvisation. Alessandro Bosetti. © 2007 – 2015

The piece can be played by any number of people starting from 2 but a number between 8 and 15 is preferred.

The piece can have any duration but durations of 5 hours or more are preferred. When opting for a long duration give the audience the freedom of coming and going from the performance space at will and to move around in between the performers.

Cues are given by a promtper and are valid until a new cue comes.

Once a prompter has been established she/he can give his role to another participant by touching his/her shoulder.

Anyone can take the role of the prompter by touching the current one on her/his shoulder.

Before any cue is given the prompter indicates the performer which is to carry it out.

Many different combinations of cues could be used at the same time. Combinations are virtually infinite.

Almost every cue is paired with a closing gesture which ends it’s effect.



Pointing : indicates to whom the cue is intended for.

Free speech: start speaking about the first thing that comes to your mind. Only topic to be avoided are those describing the current performance situation (for example : « I shuld speak but I am not sure what to talk

about… » or « we are sitting here, playing a piece called … » etc.). Every other topic is equally acceptable no matter wether it feels boring or exciting to you. No particular attitude or intonation is requested. Be casual about it and do not prepare in advance. Only grab the first thought that presents itself in your mind and follow it. If nothing comes take your time and wait. There’s always something coming sooner or later.

Free speech is to be intended as a monologue and does not imply any interaction with other performers. When several « free speech » instructions are given to several performers, performers are intended to speak at the same time and not interact with each other. Interaction is established by the « lock » gesture wich is discussed a bit further in the score.

Free speech is the most important and most difficult of all instructions in this piece. Be rigorous about it.

Stop: whatever you are doing: stop.

Faster: whatever you are doing: do it faster.

Slower: whatever you are doing: do it slower.

Louder : whatever you are doing: do it louder. .

Softer: whatever you are doing: do it softer.

Faster/Slower and Louder/Softer pairs of instructions are intended as « infinite knobs » type of controllers. They can be used with great subtlety for fine adjustments as well as to the extreme range limits of your ability to get louder or faster and to be extremely slow and quiet.

Lock: establishes an interaction between two or more performers wich are already in « free speech » mode. Once they receive the instruction they will start listening and interacting with each other. Take your time and make sure that the process happens smoothly.

Break the lock: the interaction ends and performers go back to monologuing « free speech » mode.

Pause: pause what you are doing (but remember what you were at).

Resume: resume what you were doing before you received the « pause » cue.

Lock with the audience: start interacting with the audience. Be aware that – unlike you – the audience doesnt follow any cue and is free to interact with you or not as it pleases.

Both « lock » and « lock with the audience » cues are interrupted by the « break the lock » cue.

Loop: start looping the last portion of what you were doing. The lenght of the loop is ad libitum.

Break the loop: stop looping and carry on with what you were doing before.

Loop size: adjust the size of the loop « region ». This does not involve any « stretching » but only looping a longer or slower portion of what you are doing.
(For example: « a longer or slower/a longer or slow/a longer or/a longer/a long/ etc…).

Larger region.

Thinner region.

A region can be made extremely thin which can be useful in order to create sound / noise / rythm textures. (for example: a long, a lon, lo, l,l,l,l,l,l,l,l,l,l,l,l,l,l,l,l,….).

Shuffle: make a loop irregular. Give it a rhythmically random charachter.

Sample: same as « loop » but sampling someone else’s material instead of yours. Cues is given in two steps: 1) pointing who is going to be « sampler » 2) indicating who is going to be « sampled » and to provide the material. Eye contact is advised for this cue in orde to avoid confusion.

Plug-in: apply a specific sonorous alteration (a « sound effect ») to what you are doing. Just use your voice and body, no electronics or other dispositives are to be used.

Remove the plug-in: remove one specific sonorous alteration.

Several Plug-ins can be given and « piled up » on top of each other functioning as a chain of sound effects.

Nose: start saying the opposite of what you intended to say.

Person: switch around the person – any other person

singular or plural –
of your sentence. (For example: « I am reading a book » could become « he is reading a book » or « we are reading a book » or « you are reading a book » etc.).

Pitch: freeze on a sustained tone having the pitch of the last sound you were hitting once received the cue. Keep the tone as steady as possible until you receive onother cue. Breath when you need to and then keep going.


Originally written for Die Maulwerker in 2006, revised in 2017.

© Alessandro Bosetti / 2024