The last 30 odd years have seen two parallel developments with respect to improvisatory musics. First theorizing about improvised music has coalesced around the consideration of the ways in which improvisation serves as a potent site for the creation and mediation of assorted identities, both personal and shared. In this Improvisation Studies often foregrounds improvisation’s social and political potentials, its ability to mediate extra‐musical information, and the role it plays in greater cultural movements concerned with the contestation of assorted cultural, social, and artistic assumptions and paradigms. Such approaches stress improvisation’s essentially dialogical and intentional nature. Second, there has been concerted effort made to produce machine systems that can improvise, and/or the use of digital technologies to aid improvisers. Such attempts, which require great ingenuity and knowledge w.r.t. machine systems, the analysis and perception of music, musical cognition, methods of sound capture and dispersal, and complex learning algorithms‐‐let alone the expression of a particular theory of improvisation via code‐‐have produced impressive results, both as feats of engineering and as examples of creative music making.
Is there perhaps a tension lurking here, between the essential social nature of improvisation on the one hand, and the creation of improvising machines on the other? Have improvising machines become social creatures? Do, or should, we treat them this way? Have creators of improving machine systems achieved the holy grail of machines that manifest intentionality? Or, alternatively, have they shown us an alternative way to conceive of intentionality in collective improvised music making? Has the notion of an improvising body been dissolved away, or enriched? Have we found new ways to model improvisational reasoning, or is something crucial missing in such software? Is the code for such software akin to a musical score, or is it a vehicle for mediating the code‐writer’s intentionality? Should we fear improvising machines, as so many do a future awash with robotics, or are improvising machines such that we can enter into community with them? These and related issues will be addressed at this major event, incorporating, lectures, discussions, workshops, demonstrations and performance.
With the support of:
Music workshop for children with physical disabilities