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Title: Actions towards freedom : theoretical and practical perspectives on improvisation and composition
Author: Hall, Andrew
ISNI:       0000 0004 5354 8782
Awarding Body: Brunel University
Current Institution: Brunel University
Date of Award: 2015
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This thesis, and the accompanying portfolio of pieces, is concerned with investigating practical and theoretical meeting points between improvisation and composition. Such meeting points are evaluated alongside a consideration of ‘freedom’ in improvised music, for which a frame is drawn from George Lewis’s concepts of the ‘Afrological’ (placing emphasis on expression of the ‘self’) and ‘Eurological’ (in which the ‘self’ is explicitly avoided). It is suggested that a reconciliation of these two extremes might be found in a compositional ‘creative displacement’, which might change an improviser’s environment in unforeseen ways and thus stimulate explorations of expressive novelty. Three different compositional approaches to ‘creative displacement’ are investigated: through fixed notation, through electronic real-time notation, and through leadership in a workshop setting. In each case compositional experiments will be undertaken and documented, detailing the creation and realisation of the pieces included in the accompanying portfolio. A terminology for the theoretical consideration of these approaches will draw on theories of complex systems, the philosophy of Gilles Deleuze, and various socio-musicological models such as those of Steven Feld and Charles Keil. Through an evaluation of the portfolio compositions in rehearsal and performance, this thesis will conclude that a reconciliation of Lewis’s ‘Afro’ and ‘Eurological’ can be found through the external application of limitations to improvisational creativity. Such constraints will be described as ‘creatively displacing’ if they provoke a performer towards an exploration of novel expressive approaches. In order to achieve this in practice, limitations must be carefully judged with regard to their degree of abstraction, the manner of their presentation and the nature of their notation; it will be suggested that the presence of a leader is vital in achieving this. These conclusions will lead to a questioning of conventional ideas of improvisation and leadership, and suggest a re-evaluation of indeterminacy within notation.
Supervisor: Wiegold, P.; Riley, C. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Improvisation ; Composition ; Complexity ; Deleuze ; Leadership