By | April 25, 2019


Seattle Madrigal.


The performers will sing you a story in the ancient technique of the Madrigal.


The Madrigal is a social technological advance based on the Plain Chant of medieval Europe. A Madrigal involves multiple singers and harmonies which at one time were considered unholy by the Christian church. A Madrigal is expected to be sung unaccompanied, which means no musical instruments. However, this is a secular version of the Madrigal accompaniment that is not forbidden.

The Madrigal is a sentence at a time story. The story should follow what ever narrative tool that your house uses. Learn Improv uses the narrative tool STEPS. The performers line up and face the audience. As each performer contributes their sentence, they should step forward from the line and take focus. Unlike a Plain Chant a Madrigal is more musical and lyrical. The performer may add a flourish to their sung sentence. How the rest of the performers respond depends on how your house does a Madrigal. We will explain the simplest version here.

The first performer sings their sentence and steps back into the line. The second performer steps former and sings a second line that harmonizes with the first sentence but has new content. The first performer continues to sing, but they pull back on the volume. The third performer steps forward and sings another sentence. Performers one and two continue to sing background with their own lines. This is much more challenging than a plain chant.

  • First Performer – Smedley is a goat of many colours.
    • Others are quiet.
  • Second Performer – Smedley lived on a black and white farm.
    • First performer backgrounds Smedley is a goat of many colours.
  • Third Performer – Farmer Leslie liked to paint the town red.
    • First performer backgrounds Smedley is a goat of many colours.
    • Second Performer backgrounds Smedley lived on a black and white farm.
  • Etc. until a story is told.

Synchronizing the ending to the story takes quite a bit of ensemble work. It is usually signalled by the narrative arc, and the by all the performers trailing off into silence together.


  • None.


  • Mangled Madrigal – Performers have set sentences that they sing and then riff off each other.
  • Plain Chant – Historical precursor to Madrigal.


  • Information appreciated.