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Context Responsive: intersections of design and improvised music practice
thesisposted on 2022-03-28, 17:19 authored by Clare M. Cooper
This thesis explores the practice of improvised music beyond its function as an experimental approach to music making. To date, little research has examined the specific nature of the creative music process in contemporary improvisation and its relational dimensions to audiences, time and space. Through an analysis of music and interviews with performers and curators, the thesis theorises performance and social contexts as key compositional tools in practice. It identifies the ways in which a trans-local (Bennett and Petersen, 2004) improvised music scene disturbs increasingly codified and stabilised modes of presentation. The thesis traces and shares examples of the way the artform has evolved via consciously context-responsive strategies across the trans-local scene over the last two decades. It proposes new models for understanding collaborative and iterative practice, drawn from progressive design scholarship, and presents two `key concepts - 'Contextual Variables' and the 'Context Responsive Improvised Music Practice Cycle' - to better understand the processes that are embedded within improvised music. The resulting investigation leads to new knowledge around forms of engagement, listening and collaborative authorship. The thesis argues that context-responsive improvised music practice promotes and 'futures' a more interconnected set of artistic and community actors, by encouraging us to engage creatively with dissonance and to respond to uncertainty for what it teaches us about collaborative processes overall, rather than focusing solely on solving performance 'problems.'