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date: 27 March 2017

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter argues that the prevailing orienting concepts and tenets of contemporary philosophy of music—the centrality of aesthetic objects, the assumption of the mono-functionality of music, the paradigm of European classical music, and the spectatorialist perspective—do not provide the basis for an adequate understanding of musical improvisation. The essays calls for a more robust philosophical consideration of the gamut of improvisational activity, including the aesthetic aspects of musical improvisation, the range of musical and social skills made manifest by improvisers, and the deeper social meanings of the practice, including the implicit reference to human freedom and situated meanings that arise from the national, ethnic, racial, gendered, and socio-economic contexts in which the music arises. Such a view would be theoretically nuanced, empirically informed, phenomenologically sensitive, and ineliminably indexed to the manifold ways in which improvised music situates itself in the complex of human affairs.

Keywords: improvisation, ontology, activity, aesthetic properties, mono-functionality, classical music, spectatorialism, skills, social meaning, freedom, spontaneity, repertoire, jazz

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