Meanings of Interaction Among Musical Improvisers

Project Details


Post-genre improvisation is a key direction in current music, and is aligned with trends in other arts (e.g. performance and sound art, collaborative or process-based practice). Collective improvisation demonstrates a universal capacity for social, spontaneous and non-verbal creativity. Although the complexity of this unique artistic and psychological process is poorly conceptualised, it has parallels to discourse models of interaction, suggesting that insight can best be gained through close attention to how specific performance events are rationalised by performers. Groups of musicians and visual artists working live with sound were recorded improvising, then interviewed alongside a playback to explain their understanding of the process. Data were analysed to develop a psychological model for the process of group improvisation across disciplines and contexts. Findings will be disseminated to foster groundbreaking directions in practice for musicians and other artists, and develop approaches to group creativity for teaching and therapy.

Layman's description

Group improvisation in music or dance is a unique psychological activity: nothing else we do involves creating something new with other people in real time, without the use of language. Psychological theories in this area tend to be based on how individual jazz musicians 'solo'; yet free improvisation is something anyone can take part in, even if they do not share a common background. For this project, recorded performances by trios of improvisers from varied backgrounds recorded short performances. They were then separately interviewed alongside a playback of the recording, to explore what decisions they had made during the piece and why. Transcriptions of the interviews were analysed and compared to arrive at an understanding of the processes of choice while improvising in a group, and how consistent individual perspectives were within an ensemble. The findings will help to develop inclusive and innovative approaches to improvising.
Effective start/end date1/03/1430/06/14


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