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Inspired: I want to play music like the elephant looks at everything!: the eye of the elephant as a metaphor for performing improvised jazz music

By Christophe Emile Genoux

Abstract

© 2009 Christophe Emile GenouxThis thesis aims to clarify what is meant by inspiration in music, especially in the jazz-based improvisational idiom. Inspiration is very difficult to define, as it is such a mysterious and elusive concept. Is it coming from ‘inside’ or ‘outside’ sources? Is it always present? Is it coming from ‘nothing’ or from ‘something’? Is it a ‘God-like visitation’ or the result of human work, discipline and commitment to the creation of music? Is knowledge necessary or does it represent an obstacle to the inspirational process? Through the examination of various characteristics of the concept of inspiration as well as the analysis of the various attitudes and psychological tendencies of the improviser/composer, this thesis intends to get closer to the meaning of inspiration, though, at the end, the ‘muse’ will still remain a mystery. It is, in fact, the different ways the improviser gets inspired that matter and which are analysed in this thesis, not the study of ‘what’ the improviser receives inspiration from or the examination of the quality of the inspired creative product. This thesis also aims to show the similarities between inspiration and improvisation as well as the causal effect of inspiration on the improvisational process. Is inspiration responsible of the spontaneity and originality of a jazz improvisation? Does the influential side of inspiration represent an ‘eye opener’ for the improviser or, on the contrary, are outside influences restrictive forces that the improviser has to be aware of and deal with?In order to become aware of what to avoid for inspiration and improvisation to flow freely, an analysis of some of the main reasons behind the lacking of inspiration may also provide insight. Ultimately, the notion of expressing the authentic self, in the most spontaneous way, seems to be a crucial process in improvisation and inspiration may be the force to naturally connect with as part of exerting one‘s self-expression. In conclusion, the metaphor of ‘the eye of the elephant’ will encapsulate what this thesis on inspiration intends to demonstrate: to be inspired by each improvised moment and to improvise each inspired instant

Topics: inspiration in improvised jazz music
Year: 2009
OAI identifier: oai:jupiter.its.unimelb.edu.au:11343/35495
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