Show Summary Details

Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD HANDBOOKS ONLINE (www.oxfordhandbooks.com). © Oxford University Press, 2018. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a title in Oxford Handbooks Online for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 01 March 2021

Abstract and Keywords

Contrary to many popular and even official definitions, improvisation is possible only by way of musicians being situated within an improvisational tradition and working with pre-existing musical elements. It is never purely spontaneous. This chapter argues that improvisation is grounded in everyday, practical human activity which is itself—more broadly—improvisational in nature. We improvise on the basis of what Aristotle terms phronesis, practical wisdom or the ability to act appropriately in a given situation. As something we do together, improvisation is fundamentally an ethical phenomenon. In this chapter, improvisation is seen as a musical dialogue that requires “taste” both for its aesthetic beauty and its ethical engagement. At its core is respect for the tradition in which it arises, for other people with whom one improvises, and for those who improvise by listening.

Keywords: autonomy, dialogue, ethics, genius, indeterminacy, phronesis, responsibility, tradition

Access to the complete content on Oxford Handbooks Online requires a subscription or purchase. Public users are able to search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter without a subscription.

Please subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you have purchased a print title that contains an access token, please see the token for information about how to register your code.

For questions on access or troubleshooting, please check our FAQs, and if you can''t find the answer there, please contact us.