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date: 17 September 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter surveys psychologically oriented research literature on music improvisation. Improvisation—to many, a mysterious process—is found in musics of many cultures across the ages. The focus of this chapter is, thus, on what we know about how improvisation is carried out. One primary line of discussion is cognitive, bodily, environmental, and other constraints on improvisational behaviors. Improvisation in jazz—perhaps the most studied topic in improvisation—is considered through discussions of pitch and rhythm. A review of neurological aspects of improvisation is followed by a discussion of the body’s role in improvisation, and approaches to understanding improvisation through computational modeling. The social psychology of improvisation is briefly discussed before turning to improvisation, children, and learning.

Keywords: improvisation, musical performance, musical structure, computational modeling, neuroscience of music, musical interaction, musical identity, musical development

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