APPROXIM Flocking Jazz

A flocking jam session is an interactive performance where musicians play by improvising without any preparation or predefined arrangements. It can involve a large number of open-jazz performers, gathered together for the purpose of an only one of its kind session. From the perspective of music, "flocking" is the collective motion of a group of self-propelled musicians. It is considered an emergent behavior arising from simple rules that are followed by individuals and does not involve any central coordination, based on a collective movement such as bird flocks and fish schools.

Interaction between simple noise of individuals produce a complex arrangement. The sounds are inherently nonlinear, so mixing them gives the emergent group dynamics a chaotic aspect. At the same time, the feedback tends to keep the group dynamics ordered.

The final result is unpredictability over moderate time scales. For example at one moment, the performers might be playing primarily from soft to loud. It would be all but impossible to predict which direction they will be moving five minutes later. At very short time scales the sound is quite predictable: one second from now a performer will be drifting in approximately the same direction. This quality is unique to complex predefined arrangements and contrasts with both chaotic improvisation (which has neither short nor long term predictability) and composed music (static or periodic). This fits with Approxim's concept that real music exist poised at the edge of chaos.


The basic flocking model consists of three simple rules which describe how an individual maneuvers based on the sound and rhythm of his nearby flock-mates:

Separation - Try to avoid crowding flock-mates (short range repulsion)

Alignment - Focus towards the average heading of flock-mates

Cohesion - Try to move toward the average position of flock-mates (long range attraction)

With these three simple rules, the musical flock of performers moves in an coherent way, creating complex sounds and interaction that would be extremely hard to create otherwise. The irreplaceable opportunity of this multifaceted sound will extended in several different ways. Each musician needs to respect his fellows, if only to find out a twist of fate. Each performer has in some way influence to the whole scene, but flocking requires that he reacts most of all to his fellow musicians. Noise could be considered a model of limited perception (as by fish in murky water) but it is probably more correct to think of it as defining the sound in which flock-mates influence a musical steering.

This creates new music from the interaction of individual musicians, with six simple rules to be followed to reach a common goal:

Time - The session lasts about one hour.

Theme - Pre-agree a common theme.

Together - Be in motion similar to the others.

Guidance - Listen into which direction it goes.

Cohesion - Move into the way of the average.

Obstacle - Avoid cheap effects and pitfalls.


A flocking jam session is like a musical odyssey, inspired by the flocking behaviors of a group of birds in flight, called a flock. There are parallels with the shoaling of fish, the swarming of insects, and the herd of land animals.