About

Free improvisation.

The process of performing music from a fully notated score, something that tells the player exactly what notes to play and how to play them is historically a relatively new phenomenon, and is still unknown in many cultures today. Free improvisation reconnects with the very roots of music-making wherein, a player may use any instrument to make music without the strictures of a formal composition. What results is an expression of that particular instrument, the skill and imagination of the player and the effects of the moment. It is in this respect the purest form of music making.

Today free improvisation is an internationally respected approach that embraces players from the worlds of jazz, classical, experimental and ethnic music. By putting aside the rules and structures that enclose so many forms of music free improvisation allows players of widely differing training and technical ability to come together and to create extraordinarily diverse and rich music ‘in the moment’.

Oxford Improvisers welcomes all players of all levels who are interested in exploring new paths to music. Players can come to the Monday evening sessions freely and without any prior experience. We ask only that you have an open mind, a willingness to listen, to respond and to enjoy.

Although free improvisation does not restrict a player to specific keys, time signatures or harmonic structures there are numerous approaches and strategies that are used to draw the best out of a specific group of players. Oxford Improvisers is constantly seeking to further the boundaries of music-making through its weekly open sessions, monthly concerts, workshops and large scale events and collaborations.

Oxford Improvisers

Oxford Improvisers was established in 2001 to continue the work begun by the Oxford Improvisers’ Co-operative in the 1980s with the following objectives:

1. To promote the performance of improvised music in the Oxford area primarily by musicians living, studying and working in the area. This performance can be as free improvisation; or by integration with graphic, textual and other minimally notated scores.1

2. To promote a culture of listening and meaningful dialogue in the performance of improvised music. Improvised music is not seen as a display of isolated virtuosic ability but as a sensitive intercommunication between individuals and audience. We do not see music as a universal language, but a set of agreed methods of communication by a particular community. We aim to facilitate interaction between the many different musical cultures that co-exist within Oxford.

The Oxford Improvisers membership includes over 30 musicians, each of whom contribute uniquely, supporting a broad range of co-existent perspectives. Currently expanding in membership, we always very much welcome new members as well as visiting artists.
Julian Faultless
Since 2001 Oxford Improvisers has staged and promoted nearly 200 events including four Cohesion Festivals and featuring hundreds of musicians, dancers and visual artists of every kind. Details of all these events will be available again on this website soon.

Performances are run by members of the collective and frequently feature visiting and invited practitioners. To raise the standard of local music we also promote concerts by outstanding artists of international stature. Weekly session provide practical experience and training in improvisation. Workshops are run by members of the collective or invited practitioners, usually as part of larger events run by or contributed to by Oxford Improvisers.

Oxford Improvisers work closely with a number of key local organisations, including Oxford Brookes University, Oxford University, The Old Firestation, Oxfringe Festival, Pegausus Theatre, Modern Art Oxford. The organisation has also established an excellent record in attracting funding from various sources including Arts Council England and Oxford City Council.

Operating as a collective, Oxford Improvisers current executive committee are:

Paul Medley – Chair
Malcolm Atkins – Vice-chair
Jill Elliott – Treasurer
Dan Goren – Secretary
Anne L.Ryan – Publicity Officer
Martin Hackett – Membership Officer


1. Oxford Improvisers are committed to the principles of equal opportunities and eliminating discrimination in every aspect of our work. We strive to ensure that no individual or group is treated more or less favourably than others on grounds of ethnic origin, nationality, age disability, gender, sexual orientation, race or religion.