|dc.description.abstract||This thesis addresses the aesthetics, ideologies and practicalities of contemporary
European Improvised Music-making - this term referring to the tradition that emerged
from 1960s American jazz and free jazz, and that remains, arguably, one of today's
most misunderstood and under-represented musical genres.
Using a multidisciplinary approach drawing on Grounded Theory, Ethnography and
Social Network Analysis, and bounded by Berlin's cosmopolitan local scene of 2012-13,
I define Improvised Music as a field of differing-yet-interconnected practices, and show
how musicians and listeners conceived of and differentiated between these sub-styles,
as well as how they discovered and learned to appreciate such a hidden, 'difficult' and
idiosyncratic art form.
Whilst on the surface Improvised Music might appear chaotic and beyond analysis in
conventional terms, I show that, just like any other music, Improvised Music has
its own genre-specific conventions, structures and expectations, and this research
investigates its specific modes of performance, listening and appreciation - including
the need to distinguish between 'musical' and 'processual' improvisatory outcomes, to
differentiate between different 'levels' of improvising, and to separate the group and
personal levels of the improvisatory process. I define improvised practices within this
ifeld as variable combinations of 'composed' (pre-planned) and 'improvised' (real-time)
elements, and examine the specific definitions of 'risk', 'honesty', 'trust', and 'good'
and `bad' music-making which mediate these choices - these distinctions and evaluatory
frameworks leading to a set of proposed conventions and distinctions for Improvised
Music listening and production.
This study looks at the representation of identity by improvising musicians, the use
of social and political models as analogies for the improvisatory process (including
the interplay between personal freedom of expression and the construction of coherent
collective outcomes), and also examines the multiple functions of recording, in a music
that was ostensibly only meant for the moment of its creation.
All of this serves to address several popular misconceptions concerning Improvised Music,
and does so directly from the point of view of a large sample of its most important
practitioners and connoisseurs.
Such findings provide key insights into the appreciation and understanding of Improvised
Music itself (both for newcomers and those already adept in its ways), and this thesis
offers important suggestions for scholars of Musicology, Ethnomusicology, Sociology of
Music, Improvisation Studies, Performance Studies and Music/Cognitive Psychology,
as well as for those concerned with improvisation and creativity in more general,