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date: 25 February 2021

Abstract and Keywords

One of the particular joys of improvising music together is not knowing precisely the relationship between one’s own actions and thoughts (one has to surprise oneself, after all) or between one’s actions and those of other improvisers (did you do that because I did that? Or did I do that because you did that?). Drawing on research in social psychology, actor-network theory, and the extended mind thesis in cognitive science, this chapter argues that one’s experience of musical “authorship” can be enhanced or undermined rather easily by social, material, and technological forms of agency in the environment. It concludes that musical improvisation offers simultaneously a situated practice for exploring interagency—and thereby exorcising the humanistic ghost of a “self-luminous” will—and the possibility of creating some provisional closure, some fleeting reduction of complexity, in a world increasingly characterized by relentless machinic heterogenesis.

Keywords: improvisation, agency, authorship, interagency, extended mind, actor-network theory, social psychology, cognitive science, machinic heterogenesis

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