6,472 research outputs found

    The Metaphysics of Improvisation

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    In The Metaphysics of Improvisation, I criticize wrongheaded metaphysical views of, and theories about, improvisation, and put forward a cogent metaphysical theory of improvisation, which includes action theory, an analysis of the relevant genetic and aesthetic properties, and ontology (work-hood). The dissertation has two Parts. Part I is a survey of the history of many improvisational practices, and of the concept of improvisation. Here I delineate, sketch, and sort out the often vague boundaries between improvising and non-improvising within many art forms and genres, including music, dance, theatre, motion pictures, painting, and literature. In addition, I discuss the concept of non-artistic improvisation in various contexts. I attempt to portray an accurate picture of how improvisation functions, or does not function, in various art forms and genres. Part II addresses metaphysical issues in, and problems and questions of, improvisation in the arts. I argue that that continuum and genus-species models are the most cogent ways to understand the action-types of improvising and composing and their relations. I demonstrate that these models are substantiated by an informed investigation and phenomenology of improvisational practice, action theory conceptual analysis, cognitive neuroscience studies and experiments, cognitive psychology studies and models, and some theories of creativity. In addition, I provide a constraint based taxonomy for classifying improvisations that is compatible with, and supports, the continuum model. Next, I address epistemological and ontological issues involving the genetic properties of improvisations, and the properties improvisatory, and as if improvised. Finally, I show that arguments against treating, or classifying, improvisations as works are weak or erroneous, and by focusing on music, I provide a correct ontological theory of work-hood for artistic improvisations

    Musical improvisation as the place where being speaks : Heidegger, language and sources of Christian hope

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    The thesis enters several under-examined areas. First, improvisatory music will be considered as a human phenomenon in the widest sense (Chapter 1 ), and a phenomenon destined to suffer relative decline in the cultural environment of the modern West (Chapter 2). In consequence, the language in which improvisatory music is now discussed in the West will be shown to carry a negative charge (Chapter 3). Among various philosophies of music in the Western tradition, none appears to have foregrounded improvisatory music specifically. However Heidegger's philosophy, it will be suggested, harbours inner trends which favour the idea of music as a central component in philosophical discourse (Chapter 4) and may be used as a starting point for a re-emergent understanding of musical improvisation as a metaphysical principle (Chapter 5). Improvisation in music will be seen to be linked to the centrality of hope in human experience, and this will be exemplified in relation to certain cultures and twentieth-century composers (Chapter 6). Further to this connection between improvisation and hope, improvisation in a Christian liturgical context will be examined. There is a dearth of existing discussion, not only regarding improvisatory music in Christian liturgy, but liturgical spontaneity in general (Chapter 7)

    The Aural and the Quotidian: Everyday Experience in Listening and Practice

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    The research herein comprises an examination of the following question: in what ways do our experiences of the everyday inhere in our experiences of the aural as aesthetic and meaningful? It is not concerned with forging a definition of everyday sound as a category of sonic effects, but instead an analysis of the ways that the everyday, aural and otherwise, is interpenetrating with our perceptual capacities and the cultural practices encompassing aural aesthetic production and experience. This thesis extends extant discourses surrounding the notion that the experience of sound as meaningful and aesthetic is connected to our general experience as embodied beings in the material world. The following analysis encompasses aspects of auditory perception, music aesthetics, and sound art production from the perspective of the body, as it is the locus of the listening subject situated within the domain of everyday experience. This includes an investigation of sound transduction technologies, as the devices that enable aural aesthetic practice are central to its analysis in the context of the everyday. Listening attitudes are transformed through cultural practice, structuring the relationship between the domain of the everyday, the embodied listening subject, sound recordings as cultural artefacts, and the attendant process of transduction. Discourses that attribute non-material, disembodied understandings to aesthetic experience are examined and challenged. From this, a fundamentally material, embodied approach to auditory experience is proposed, and with it a consideration of the ways that sound art and acousmatic music engage with the process of human understanding and the constitution of meaning in sound. Self-reflexive methodologies in aural aesthetic practice are exemplified, with the aim of promoting an expanded conception of aural context that includes the technological, cultural, and phenomenal aspects of its production

    Rethinking Interaction: Identity and Agency in the Performance of “Interactive” Electronic Music

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    This document investigates interaction between human performers and various interactive technologies in the performance of interactive electronic and computer music. Specifically, it observes how the identity and agency of the interactive technology is experienced and perceived by the human performer. First, a close examination of George Lewis’ creation of and performance with his own historic interactive electronic and computer works reveals his disposition of interaction as improvisation. This disposition is contextualized within then contemporary social and political issues related to African American experimental musicians as well as an emerging culture of electronic and computer musicians concerned with interactivity. Second, an auto-ethnographic study reveals a contemporary performers perspective via the author’s own direct interactive experience with electronic and computer systems. These experiences were documented and analyzed using Actor Network Theory, Critical Technical Practice, theories of Embodiment and Embodied Cognition, Lewis’s conceptions of improvisation, as well as Tracy McMullen’s theory of the Improvisative. Analyses from both studies revealed that when and how performers chose to “other” interactive technologies significantly influenced their actions. The implications of this are discussed in terms of identity formation both within performances of interactive electronic music and interactive technologies generally

    Musical value in the jazz tradition of the 20th century

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    This thesis analyses the aesthetic principles of jazz, with the underlying motivation being the question of how different cultural perspectives regarding music and art, and their boundaries and definitions, are combined. It is fundamentally interdisciplinary – a synthesis of musicology and aesthetics that analyses the development of jazz’s aesthetic values, and their relationship with social and cultural influences. This approach serves as a corrective to the musicological exploration of creative socio-cultural phenomenon, which, while insightful, has lacked the inclusion of contemporary aesthetic analysis. In exploring questions of the philosophy of music, traditional aesthetic issues such as representation, authenticity, and expression in music are confronted. As this is developed, broader philosophical topics such as ontology, artistic virtue, and culture and appropriation are discussed, with jazz’s unique aesthetic values at the centre. In building an appropriate ethical and musicological framework, this thesis posits questions regarding the reliability of Western aesthetic theory when understanding diaspora culture, particularly the view of non-Western aesthetic principles as ancillary to the development of contemporary musical aesthetics. This informs an examination of the art vs entertainment dichotomy, and an assessment of the aesthetic legacy of modernism. This thesis emphasises the importance of the synthesis of philosophical aesthetics and musicology, and in understanding jazz’s aesthetic values we see the influence of the African American creative movements of the early 20th century, the role of factors such as social status, class, race, and economics, and how strict categories such as art and entertainment overlook unique creative values

    Musical Bodies, Musical Minds

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    An enactive account of musicality that proposes new ways of thinking about musical experience, musical development in infancy, music and evolution, and more. Musical Bodies, Musical Minds offers an innovative account of human musicality that draws on recent developments in embodied cognitive science. The authors explore musical cognition as a form of sense-making that unfolds across the embodied, environmentally embedded, and sociomaterially extended dimensions that compose the enactment of human worlds of meaning. This perspective enables new ways of understanding musical experience, the development of musicality in infancy and childhood, music's emergence in human evolution, and the nature of musical emotions, empathy, and creativity. Developing their account, the authors link a diverse array of ideas from fields including neuroscience, theoretical biology, psychology, developmental studies, social cognition, and education. Drawing on these insights, they show how dynamic processes of adaptive body-brain-environment interactivity drive musical cognition across a range of contexts, extending it beyond the personal (inner) domain of musical agents and out into the material and social worlds they inhabit and influence. An enactive approach to musicality, they argue, can reveal important aspects of human being and knowing that are often lost or obscured in the modern technologically driven world

    Remixing dub reggae in the music classroom: A practice-based case study on the educational value of music production for listening skills and stylistic analysis

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    This article examines learning opportunities of music production tasks by an exemplary unit on dub reggae following an action research approach. It addresses the educational areas of sound design, musical knowledge, analysis and listening skills, taking the sound of dub reggae as starting point for learner-centred activity. The main premise is to advocate music production technology as an effective tool for music learning allowing students to experience techniques of music production first hand, vividly illustrating creative approaches of remote musical cultures, their successive influence on popular music, and aesthetic experiences special to technologically created sound. The overall goal is to facilitate a higher awareness and a more detailed understanding of produced sound, and practical competences of integrating technological sound into musical action. The study took place within two vocational college courses for social and health (N = 10; 7 women, 3 men; average age 21 years) and art and design (N = 9; 5 women, 4 men; average age 18.3 years), and aimed to investigate the methodical practicability and the success of the suggested educational approach. It provides preliminary insights along with recommendations for improvements and further applications

    The 'Mandala' philosophy of music for South African schools

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    This thesis critically addresses the aesthetic versus the praxial philosophies of music culminating in the philosophical roots of the 'Mandala' approach to music. The 'Mandala' philosophy of music is based on Carl Jung's psychoanalytic theory as well as David Elliott's 'praxial' philosophy of music. The 'Mandala' philosophy of music rests upon two main tenets namely; that music is to be approached and taught holistically and that the significance and justification of music reside in creative thinking or creativity. A holistic approach to music is a humanistic view of education and which differs from the subject-based approach of the past. The emphasis of this approach is on what music practitioners can do i.e. their musical products, in the context of particular musical practices. Music is not esoteric aesthetic emotion producing qualities, but rather something that musicians practice within particular musical cultures and styles. The 'self as centre of the whole of the person serves as catalyst for creative products, self-growth and enjoyment in music. Creative thinking is, inter alia, tantamount to self-actualization, problem-focused learning, transformation and the higher form of integration through music education. Through descriptive illustrations, analyses, comparisons and syntheses key concepts of this approach are highlighted to support cogent arguments. This approach differs markedly from the present fragmented, one-dimensional music education approach in South African schools and which still lay stress on the sublime idealism of the aesthetic philosophy of music. The 'Mandala' approach substitutes aesthetic idealism with artistic pragmatism in the context of music practices and practitioners. The 'Mandala' approach to music emphasizes creative thinking, i.e. creative-action-learning and critical or reflective thinking, as fundamental to music making, to constitute the M.C.T.-model of music. This approach further juxtaposes creative thinking (creativity) and self-actualization as products or outcomes of both the conscious and unconscious creative thinking of humans. The tripartite interactions between the creative person, process and product, constitute the integrated condition of knowing. Knowing in music differs from knowing about music. In essence the 'Mandala' approach advocates that music, as product of the 'self, be placed at the core of the school curriculum. From this centre, self-knowledge, self-growth and enjoyment should blossom forth. The aim is not to create knowledgable musicians, but rather knowing music practitioners 'in situ', i.e. performers, composers and musician-analysers. Knowing in music focuses on the creative intentions or tangible products, i.e.performing, improvisation/composition and analysis. Creative products in class could be achieved through creative-action-learning in the context of a proposed intercultural South African Music Model and music curriculum in practice. Practical creative-action-learning music lessons are proposed as guidelines for music practitioners and to stimulate further experimentation. In conclusion, this approach to music is compatible with outcomes-based education proposed recently by the National Qualifications Framework
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