University of Tasmania

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Complexity Through Interaction: An investigation into the spontaneous development of collective musical ideas from simple thematic materials

posted on 2023-05-26, 14:41 authored by Nicholas Haywood
The purpose of this research is to investigate and describe the optimum conditions under which collaborative improvised musical expression in performance can be established. This study is an exhaustive examination of selected performances of an ensemble in which I perform. This ensemble was newly formed, specifically for this research study. The research investigates the impact of the ensemble dynamic on the improvisations of each individual within the ensemble and the way in which this affects and informs my own playing. Performances and recordings by this ensemble are used as the basis of the research presented in the accompanying exegesis. The weighting of this project is 80% folio and 20% exegesis. The recordings have not been analysed in the traditional harmonic, melodic and rhythmic manner as the focus of this study is on the way in which musicians connect at an intuitive level. The manner in which each participant’s contributions affect their co-­‐performers has been analysed and discussed. Aural perception and the collective and individual musical history of the participants are seen as significant factors and as such have been investigated through interviews. It is proposed that a musician’s familiarity with repertoire should be such that conscious decision making in performance becomes redundant. In fact, it is felt that the need to deliberately think about both physical and material requirements of music making, when playing, is a hindrance to high quality musical performance, both during improvisation and interpretation of pre-­‐composed materials. To this end, there is a need to separate the manner in which a musician accumulates musical knowledge via practice, from the way they present music, as a performer. The study explores this important relationship in the context of the case study of the project album. These issues have also been examined with a view to offering some insight into the mindset and methods that best support the development of high-­level improvisation and interpretive skills.





School of Creative Arts and Media


University of Tasmania

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