Musician Imogen Heap has decided to try and raise $54,000 for local charities on her North American tour by each night performing a completely improvised piece of music.
The audience will be asked to suggest things such as the key, the tempo and the time signature. Each of these new songs will be made available as a digital download shortly after the show – the proceeds from sales will go to the chosen local charity, all of which have been suggested by Imogen’s fans.
“There’s a tap in my head that mostly rests in the closed position when I tour,” explains the singer on her website. "The tap of ever flowing musical ideas. They’re there all the time. Just waiting for opportunities to flood out but touring is so not conducive to sitting down and writing/ recording music and I miss not making stuff.
“Something twigged in me at an event called Pop!Tech back in 2008 when I was asked to do an extra session. I had no more songs rehearsed so I decided to have a go at making stuff up on the spot in front of the audience. Of course I do this at home all the time but not normally in front of people. I called upon the audience to give me a key and a short melody that I could jam on, then I began playing, looping and singing whatever came into my head…
“Later, a man from the conference asked me if he could use this piece I improvised as a song for his charity. I thought why should it go to waste if it can find a loving home?
"I gave this idea a real test drive at my last London show. The result, was an improvised piece my mum titled “The Shepherdess”. Aptly named as it’s leading the way for the other improvised music for charity and it was performed at the Shepherd’s Bush Empire. All the proceeds go to Great Ormond Street Hospital. They really looked after me when my leg was in a spot of bother.
"Over the years there’s been many charities i’ve wanted to support but never have had the time to give them much. This way.. i get to spend 5 minutes on stage having great fun, the audience take part and experience the Heap creative cogs in motion and witness the performance of a piece of music that will only exist once. The local charity gets recognition, promotion and some cash from the downloads. Everyone’s happy!
“So my question to you is this. Which local charities would you be interested in me supporting? The plan is 50% of all proceeds from each recording goes to the charity in your area and 50% of it goes into a big win pot. I’m touring N. America in May, June and have many more touring plans in the works, all over the world this year. At the end of each tour, the local charity with the most votes gets the windfall.
“Please send ideas or suggestions to: firstname.lastname@example.org”