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The "Burrito" is a music improv form, in which 4 singers layer lyric material on a repeating musical vamp.

The format of the Burrito, as used by such groups as Major 7th, Melodious Din, and iMusical: The Improvised Musical, is as follows:

  • Four singers stand in a horizontal line on stage.
  • A suggestion is received, after which the pianist establishes a repeating musical vamp.
  • After the musical vamp is established, Singer A improvises a couplet.
  • Singer A repeats that couplet. This informs the other singers, and the pianist, as to the length of each couplet, which should remain consistent for the duration of all future couplets in the Burrito.
  • Singer B improvises a different couplet.
  • Singer B repeats that couplet, while Singer A simultaneously sings her original couplet.
  • Singers A & B repeat their couplets, while Singer C simultaneously improvises a third, unique couplet.
  • Singers A, B & C repeat their couplets, while Singer D simultaneously improvises a fourth, unique couplet.
  • All four singers simultaneously repeat their couplets.
  • All four singers drop their volume, while continuing to simultaneously repeat their couplets. At this time, the singers alternate taking solos while the others are repeating their own couplets. These solos should be completely new lyric material, with the objective being to further elaborate the position/perspective of the that singer's original couplet. The solo ends when another singer interrupts them, at which time they resume singing their original couplet at the same lower volume as the other singers.
  • After a satisfying amount of time, the pianist will hit a sting, at which point all four singers will return to simultaneously singing their original couplets.
  • All four singers continue to sing their original couplets, only without piano.
  • As the singers repeat their couplets, at some satisfying point during the second or third repeat, either the pianist or one of the singers (predetermined) will conduct a "hold" for the singers, at which time all four singers will hold on the note/word that they are singing at the moment of the hold.
  • The conductor will then indicate to the singers when to stop singing with a cut-off motion, at which point the Burrito is finished.

Some things to keep in mind:

  • Rhyming is NOT important in this form, aesthetically, due to all the repeating.
  • After each singer has finished making his initial vocal entrance, all subsequent repeats of the couplet should be at a lesser volume, to allow the additional singers a chance to be heard for THEIR initial entrances.
  • This form works best when all four singers not only have different (and heightened) emotional states, but if they all agree on the same meaning of the suggestion (e.g., if the suggestion is "pain," all singers should choose to either sing about actual "pain" or about a window "pane," but not both.)
  • This also works best if the tempo is faster, rather than slower.
  • Additionally, though music in a major key can work just fine, minor keys tend to lend themselves instinctively to more tension within the singers' lyrical choices... which, in turn, can lead to more dramatic and therefore (ultimately) more satisfying Burritos.