R1 – Improvization

In the article ‘Towards an ethic of improvisation’, Cardew mainly argues to prove his point of view that improvisation is actually better music than plain theoretical music. He starts with comparing music to a city and comparing your experience with music to your experience in a new city. He also compares the language of music to that of the spoken language and arguing that both of these are not entirely complete. I agree with this argument especially in the context of language for music, as I too believe that no matter how much you try to write music down, there will always be some things that you won’t be able to put down on a piece of paper, things that can only be felt and performed. A very important point he makes is about the fact that written music stays forever, whereas improvisations are lost over the course of time. But the beauty of improvisation is not in its ability to reproduce, it’s in that moment when it was performed. The beauty of the improvisation lies in the fact that it is unprepared and live. It is not just skills, but it is when your soul and music and nature all become one. The fact he mentions about recorded music not having the liveliness and the richness that live music has, is indeed true in my opinion. The reason being you can never reproduce your improvisations when you go on to record a song. They come to you in that moment when you are entirely engrossed into music. One another very important point that was brought to notice in the article was how musicians may not be good score readers. People who can read music well are generally mathematicians, who may not be good musicians. The article mainly talks about these points giving several metaphors to explain this point of view.

The article ‘Improvised Music after 1950: Afrological and Eurological Perspectives’, as the name suggests talks about two perspectives of improvisation, what the writer calls ‘Afrological’ and ‘Eurlogical’. Afrological improvisation, as Lewis suggests, has some bounds to it. It is the way improvisation takes place based on some already existing genres and becomes a new genre by itself. Eurological improvisation on the other hand is more free, or as Lewis states, has indeterminacy in it. A reference of the music of John Cage is given to explain how the Eurological music has indeterminacy and how it is different from the Afrological improvizations. What indeterminacy actually means is as John Cage explains, it is the fact that one written form of music can be performed in many different ways and that is improvisation. This article mainly talks about the cultural aspects of improvisation more than the musical aspects of it. I would argue that improvisation shouldn’t be classified based on cultural differences as I believe that any music which is not specific and spontaneous is indeed improvisation.

The article ‘Quantum Improvisation: The Cybernetic Presence 11’ mainly talks about improvisation in music because of machine learning and computer involvement. The one thing I loved about this article is, it’s been written in 1999 and Pauline has made certain predictions as to what music will be after 10 years. Most of what she has said has actually come true. She mentions about computer being able to compose music, which is indeed true as we see a lot of algorithmic music now-a-days. She also talks about things such as computer being able to teach music. A lot of research has been going on lately on computer teacher and it is surely going to be a big next step. What she also talks about is how there will be chips made which will be put into humans in order to enhance their sound interpretation skills along with their music understanding capabilities. I am not so sure if that is going to be a good thing or a bad thing. I feel like the fact that humans are not computers is the reason why different people like different music. If chips are made to enhance music understanding, it might not leave any choice as to what music one likes.

The three articles mainly talk about improvisation defined in terms of different things. I found Cardew’s perspective about improvisation the most interesting as music is an art and the more you try to bound it, or scientifically analyze it, the more you are stealing away its beauty.

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