Max-Planck-Institut für empirische Ästhetik
IDEA Lecture with Raymond MacDonald
The Art of Becoming: what is improvisation and why is it important
Improvisation is a defining feature of jazz music and a key component of jazz musicians’ musical identity. Furthermore, in recent years there has been a significant growth in psychological interest in improvisation, not just as a feature of jazz, but as an accessible, unique, spontaneous, social and creative process that can facilitate collaboration between musical genres and across disciplines. Also, improvisation is a key aspect of music therapy and there are many health and wellbeing implications of improvisatory practices. This presentation outlines a number of research projects that investigate the fundamental features of improvisation. It explores how musicians talk about improvisation, comparing jazz musicians’ discourse with that of musicians from other traditions. It presents musicians’ critiques of their own improvisation, drawing on data from a study where musicians improvised in trios and immediately commented while listening to a recording. The presentation will also present a new conceptual model that attempts to summaries improvisatory practices across contexts and disciplines.
Raymond MacDonald is Professor of Music Psychology and Improvisation. After completing his PhD in Psychology at the University of Glasgow, investigating therapeutic applications of music, he worked as Artistic Director for a music company, Sounds of Progress, specializing in working with people who have special needs. He was Head of The Reid school of Music at Edinburgh University between 2013 and 2017.
He has published over 70 papers, was editor of the Journal Psychology of Music between 2006-2012 and has co-edited five texts: Musical Identities (2002), Musical Communication (2005), Music Health and Wellbeing (2012), Musical Imaginations (2012) and the Handbook of Music Identities (in press). As a saxophonist and composer his work is informed by a view of improvisation as a social, collaborative and uniquely creative process that provides opportunities to develop new ways of working musically. Collaborating with musicians such as Evan Parker, David Byrne, Jim O’Rourke and Marilyn Crispell, he has released over 60 CDs and toured and broadcast worldwide. He has produced music for film, television, theatre and art installations and is a founder member of Glasgow Improvisers Orchestra. He has a particular interest in cross-disciplinary collaboration and has extensive experience of working with artists and filmmakers.
Please note that the talk will be held in English.
The IDEA Lectures (Interdisciplinary Debates on the Empirical Aesthetics of Music) aim at bringing together internationally well-known researchers who discuss questions that relate to the production and reception of music from various perspectives. Musicologists from all branches of their discipline take part as do musicians, psychologists, cognitive scientists, sociologists, philosophers and ethnologists.
External guests are welcome.
Please call for registration 069 8300 479-201.