Partager Partager Imprimer la page.  

Artists at school


Daniel Heïkalo

Performing arts
Music, digital photography


Following private classical guitar studies with Davis Joachim, Daniel Heïkalo embarked on a career as a professional musician in Montréal in 1976. He is a prolific and eclectic composer, building upon a solid classical and folk music foundation and freely combining it with world music, blues and free and modal improvisation. He has drawn from this vast pool of knowledge to build an oeuvre that includes electroacoustic, acousmatic and musique concrète compositions, prog rock and even techno. His work is represented on over 30 CDs, and he has received high praise from critics around the world. His work with guitarist Arthur Bull is published by the prestigious Montréal label Ambiances Magnétiques.

In addition to the guitar, Daniel plays the cittern, the banjo, the electric bass, percussion and the recorder.

Proposed approach and type of activities

Daniel Heïkalo’s musical practice combines strict composition and electroacoustic music with an approach based on improvisation and a deep understanding of many of the world’s music cultures. It is a kind of music that could be described as “actuelle,” or “current.” Daniel is a world-renowned free improvisation practitioner, and he has collaborated with many of the biggest names in the field: Jean Derome, Pierre Tanguay, Jean René, Fred Frith, Karen Young, Bernard Falaise and many others. Daniel offers participatory workshops about world music in his musical practice. He helps participants develop an appreciation for this type of music, as well as composition and improvisation techniques, using modal or atonal material.

Examples of activities offered

1  World music and improvisation

Daniel Heïkalo’s instrumental workshops on improvisation inspired by the great musical cultures of the world target students taking music classes in secondary III, IV and V. In these workshops, he provides an overview of the multiple world music influences in his work, supporting his presentation by playing the numerous instruments he brings to the classes and by presenting recorded examples from CDs. He demonstrates what makes these different from our western music: scales, rhythms, ways of producing sounds, nuances picked up from other cultures, etc. He guides students in applying some of these influences to their specific instruments. He insists on the quasi-omnipresence of improvisation in those other music styles. He provides students with printed materials on the subject and, most importantly, guides them in a series of exercises where they will be encouraged to improvise using a series of methods and strategies with a proven track record in previous workshops:

Improvisation with one, two, three notes, as soloists, and as an ensemble; on pentatonic scales with and without drone and with and without rhythm.

2  Free improvisation

Daniel Heïkalo has been a practitioner of free improvisation since 1974 and has given many workshops describing this music-making approach to students in composition, performance, music education and music therapy. Here, he is offering these workshops to secondary school students, introducing this widely used but lesser-known practice of creative music to them. Free improvisation is improvisation “in the moment,” not associated with a specific genre, style, idiom or even tonality. It is an excellent exploratory tool for the apprentice musician to learn. It is a non-hierarchic approach used to create participatory playing workshops, regardless of the student’s level of proficiency. It diversifies and amplifies the range of strategies that an instrumentalist possesses, giving them a broader palette with which to create spontaneous music.

One of Daniel Heïkalo’s favoured approaches is the creation of sounds from household items (or objects not usually associated with music), from the voice and from the use of extended techniques on instruments to augment participating students’ sound creation palettes. A musician familiar with some basic principles of free improvisation may have paths revealed to them that are rarely taught in secondary-level music classes, and even in many post-secondary courses.

Special conditions

The World music and improvisation and Free improvisation workshops require a room where a group of musicians with their instruments can be comfortable playing. It’s also important to have a CD player in the room.

For information

Phone : 450 760-1850
Email :

Subject to taxes (GST, PST)



Secondary 3, Secondary 4, Secondary 5

Available in

Lanaudière, Laurentides, Montréal

Haut de page