Event Title

Free Improvisation, Democracy, and Education: A Bakhtinian Perspective

Start Date

31-5-2011 11:30 AM

End Date

31-5-2011 12:00 PM

Description

This paper stems from the need to develop theoretical perspectives that enable us to perceive the educational value of musical improvisation is ways that go beyond its currently dominant apprehension of it as a form of skill-based expertise. Based on the author’s earlier studies that discussed the possibility of advancing a Bakhtinian aesthetic of musical improvisation the aim of this paper is to outline a Bakhtinian pedagogy of musical improvisation. From a Bakhtinian perspective, improvisational musical practices emphasise the oughtness of musical freedom. To improvise means to delve into a process that enacts the Bakhtinian notion of “non-alibi in Being” (Bakhtin, 1993, 49). Improvisation cultivates a particular “attitude of consciousness” (ibid., 6) that apprehends improvised musical invention as a mode of musical practice where freedom and obligation co-exist. Moreover, improvisation allows for intense exploration of notions of identity formation, for it is there that one must pursue that which one does not know. Within improvisation, responses to my own and my fellow musicians’ sounds is a process of othering myself through pursuing the unknown. Thus, a conception of dialogue that rests on an interpretation of Bakhtin’s notion of the dialogic might allow us to get beyond the self-evident assertion that in musical improvisation there is constant human interaction. Dialogue, in the sense used here, emphasizes the existence of the speaker’s awareness of the sources. Most importantly, dialogue emphasizes the conscious awareness and pursuit of openness and unfinalisability – of utterances, selves, and interactions. A Bakhtinian pedagogy of improvisation would also emphasise two senses of outsideness which emerge from a Bakhtinian reading the improvisation experience. The first relates to reflection-in-action, of a move of stepping outside, “a placing outside oneself of the individuality understood through empathizing.” (Bakhtin, 1993, 14). The second relates to the role of the audience to create temporary finalizations. It will be argued that improvisation marks the initiation of an attempt to create a culture of democracy; for “Democracy must mean more than procedure; it needs the depth culture has to offer’ (Hirschkop, 1999: ix). The decision to improvise marks the initiation of a search for a public musical space which is marked by the absence of fear, where exploration of musical freedom is pursued, where everything might happen but not anything goes.

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May 31st, 11:30 AM May 31st, 12:00 PM

Free Improvisation, Democracy, and Education: A Bakhtinian Perspective

This paper stems from the need to develop theoretical perspectives that enable us to perceive the educational value of musical improvisation is ways that go beyond its currently dominant apprehension of it as a form of skill-based expertise. Based on the author’s earlier studies that discussed the possibility of advancing a Bakhtinian aesthetic of musical improvisation the aim of this paper is to outline a Bakhtinian pedagogy of musical improvisation. From a Bakhtinian perspective, improvisational musical practices emphasise the oughtness of musical freedom. To improvise means to delve into a process that enacts the Bakhtinian notion of “non-alibi in Being” (Bakhtin, 1993, 49). Improvisation cultivates a particular “attitude of consciousness” (ibid., 6) that apprehends improvised musical invention as a mode of musical practice where freedom and obligation co-exist. Moreover, improvisation allows for intense exploration of notions of identity formation, for it is there that one must pursue that which one does not know. Within improvisation, responses to my own and my fellow musicians’ sounds is a process of othering myself through pursuing the unknown. Thus, a conception of dialogue that rests on an interpretation of Bakhtin’s notion of the dialogic might allow us to get beyond the self-evident assertion that in musical improvisation there is constant human interaction. Dialogue, in the sense used here, emphasizes the existence of the speaker’s awareness of the sources. Most importantly, dialogue emphasizes the conscious awareness and pursuit of openness and unfinalisability – of utterances, selves, and interactions. A Bakhtinian pedagogy of improvisation would also emphasise two senses of outsideness which emerge from a Bakhtinian reading the improvisation experience. The first relates to reflection-in-action, of a move of stepping outside, “a placing outside oneself of the individuality understood through empathizing.” (Bakhtin, 1993, 14). The second relates to the role of the audience to create temporary finalizations. It will be argued that improvisation marks the initiation of an attempt to create a culture of democracy; for “Democracy must mean more than procedure; it needs the depth culture has to offer’ (Hirschkop, 1999: ix). The decision to improvise marks the initiation of a search for a public musical space which is marked by the absence of fear, where exploration of musical freedom is pursued, where everything might happen but not anything goes.