The ear of the beholder: Improvisation, ambiguity and social contexts in the constructions of musical identities

Graeme Wilson, Raymond MacDonald

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review

Abstract

Qualitative research suggests that during group free improvisation, each improviser constructs musical meaning in context-specific ways rather than the group sharing objective understanding or knowledge. To assess the influence of research context on such findings, we compare improvisers’ talk about musical practice in publicly available media interviews with that in research interviews. In both contexts, improvisers construct identities as individuals whose shared musical values, eclectic tastes and hence understanding allow them to generate uniquely exciting music beyond genre boundaries. Accessing the voice of the improviser across multiple contexts nevertheless suggests that accounts vary depending on who is asking about improvisation, as well as where, and for what purpose. In particular, interviews in the media are characterised by anticipation of wider negative reactions towards free improvising that is not apparent in the research interviews. The results highlight the potential contribution of examining discourse about improvising in wider contexts.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHandbook of Musical Identities
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Print)9780199679485
Publication statusPublished - 23 Feb 2017

Keywords

  • Improvisation
  • music
  • identities
  • discourse
  • qualitative
  • group
  • social
  • creativity

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'The ear of the beholder: Improvisation, ambiguity and social contexts in the constructions of musical identities'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this