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Analyzing Collectivity

Analyzing Collectivity

Models and Interactions in Practice

(p.137) Chapter Four Analyzing Collectivity
Making It Up Together
Leslie A. Tilley
University of Chicago Press

This chapter examines the collective aspects of improvisation, proposing an analytical framework for the examination of widely divergent forms of collectively improvised music. It assesses collectivity from two broad vantage points, musical and interactional, exploring each from a variety of theoretical perspectives. The concept of the “model” for improvisation, introduced in Chapter 1, is nuanced through discussions of model specificity and flexibility, the varying degrees to which models are consciously known, and the musical make-up of the model itself: whether it contains one or multiple strands of music and which musical textures are idiomatic to its realizations. Discussion of these factors for musical analysis is enhanced by consideration of cognitive processes and concepts of group flow, shared histories, and dynamic, shared knowledge bases. Interactional factors of collective improvisation are then considered through an examination of communication codes and modes of interaction as well as diverse interactional roles. The concepts of collaborative emergence and intersubjectivity, central to many discussions of group creativity, are tempered here by considering the varying degrees of influence and interaction at play in different moments of a collective improvisation. The end result is a comprehensive analytical model for examining the multifaceted aspects of collective improvisation across cultures.

Keywords:   collective improvisation, analytical framework, musical analysis, interaction, degrees of influence, model, cognitive processes, communication codes, collaborative emergence, group flow

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