At the most recent Loop summit, we invited participants to give short presentations on an aspect of music making from their own personal perspectives and areas of expertise. This time around, we are happy to feature award winning artist and educator Toni Blackman speaking about the wisdom of the cypher.
What is the cypher? Essentially, nothing more than a circle of people taking part in an activity. But as Blackman tells of her experience participating in and later organizing freestyle rap cyphers, under the right conditions, this circle can become a kind of sacred space where each person’s abilities can be amplified and multiplied by the abilities of the others. For music-makers who want to become better improvisers and collaborators there is much to be learned from the cypher format with regards to active listening, preparation and mindset, as Toni Blackman explains: