Thursday Discussion – 1/21/2016

All the articles are arguing for improvisation as an art form. Though although they all have valid points, the way they structure their papers weaken their arguments. I found that their papers were not well structured, rambling, and often repetitive. There didn’t seem to be any consensus in the papers about how they defined composition or improvisation. In addition to the different understanding of the terms, they did talk about how people interpreted the music and improvisation differently. Which made me wonder what was the cause of all this disagreement in how people interpreted the terms.

In Towards an Ethic of Improvisation, Cornelius talks about how improvisation is an art form. Since you can not practice improvisation you need to train for it. He also talks about the ephemeral quality of it, since due to the nature of improvisation  you won’t ever play it the exact same way again. If you record it, you will never truly capture the experience. He also talks about how limiting only being a classically trained musician is, and how its easier to play rehearsed music. Although I agree with the first part about the ephemeral quality of improvisation, I wonder if there is some of that quality within composition music. Although people try to play music in a structured way, I feel like there is a lot of personalization in how people play and interpret music. Yoyo Ma and Izak Peralman have a specific way they they preform. Although people can easily practice music, it takes a lot of talent and hard work to preform and interpret composition music in a moving way.

In Quantum Improvisation: The Cybernetic Presence Pauline Oliveros talks about how technology and computing can be used to augment humans and music. She talks about some of the history of how computing and technology has been incorporated into music and improvisation. Though I really didn’t agree with her argument of machine intelligence being the same as human intelligence. I think she was too quick to embrace neural implant technology.  Something about humans is that we are not rational or algorithmic. That’s why we have bouts of creativity and spontaneity. Machine or artificial intelligence is algorithmic, even the randomize function in programming is based on algorithms. Therefore, I would argue that it is impossible for Machines to truly do improvisation or anything containing spontaneity. Although they may do the semblance of it or make music it lacks the spontaneity of improvisation.  I also appreciate how she argues technology should be used to improve creativity, but when she started talking about science I felt like she didn’t really understand what she was talking about.

For Improvised Music after 1950: Aerological and Eurological Perspectives Lewis talks about how people’s views towards improvisation is colored by biases towards races and socioeconomic history. Even though there was improvisation within music with european origins, improvisation is looked down on in general and associated with black slave culture. He also discusses how John Cage’s music does not fall within the normative definition of composition music, but John Cage makes sure to distinguish himself from improvisation music such as Jazz. He talked about the whiteness within music. Although Lewis makes a valid point about the cultural biases tied to music, I felt like he didn’t really develop his point very well and instead of expanding his point he just kept repeating the same point over and over.

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