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date: 24 June 2017

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter draws on an agonistic background of Apollonian contest, judgment, and punishment to articulate a concept of improvisation impromptu. This concept is distinguished from the more familiar concept of improvisation extempore. The two concepts are drawn apart as a contribution to a critical theory that regards our lives, practices, and concepts as constantly contested. The argument interweaves ancient and contemporary philosophical discussions of improvisation (from Quintilian and Castiliogne to Schlegel, Nietzsche, Freud, Ryle, and Derrida) with discussions of the cutting contests of jazz and rap, with the cutting edge, Werktreue or perfectly compliant performances of classical musicians, and the deathly cutting down of Karaoke singers in the Philippines. Special attention is given to the 1940 film of the Harlem Renaissance Broken Strings.

Keywords: improvisation, impromptu, extempore, contest, Harlem Renaissance, broken strings, Werktreue, perfect compliance, Apollo, karaoke, jazz, rap, cutting contests

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