Diversifying Improvisation

Activity: Academic talk or presentation typesInvited talk


Improvisation is a rapidly growing area of interest for educational and cultural institutions. A number of artistic approaches to improvisation have emerged, where there is potential to tackle issues of politics, gender, race, economics, environment, community and AI. However, fixed conventions and views of creativity found in, for example, Western Classical Music can provide the lens through which improvisation is practised and then conceptualised, privileging existing hierarchies. Improvisation has itself been marginalised in the past, but as it moves to the mainstream there is a danger of not questioning organisational systems and who gets to participate. For example, evidence for the exclusion of those with protected characteristics (e.g., gender, race, disability etc) from academic discourse and practice in improvisation has been outlined; but more work is required which centres the voice and experience of artists from such groups.

Dr Una MacGlone and Prof. Raymond MacDonald, both improvisers and researchers have investigated (i) barriers to participation that exist for creative musicians from diverse backgrounds and (ii) which artistic strategies and logistical aspects for improvisation best serve the principles of a diversified, accessible space for creativity. Through person-centred participatory research, 5 new commissions are allowing 5 musicians with protected characteristics create new work . An in-depth ethnographic consideration of working practices and artistic processes offer unique insight into different types and combinations of barriers, but also the creativity, resilience and drive of each person. Commissions include cutting-edge pieces exploring improvisation, AI and ethics and create new possibilities for community engagement. By capturing these progressive improvisation practices, understandings of new, multidisciplinary artistic innovations that are often hidden from view will be revealed. This presentation will therefore enhance how improvisation is practiced, taught and commissioned.
Period4 Feb 2024
Event titleSymposium: Musicians’ Perspectives on Improvisation
Event typeSymposium
LocationBerlin, GermanyShow on map