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In the Course of Performance

Studies in the World of Musical Improvisation

In the Course of Performance is the first book in decades to illustrate and explain the practices and processes of musical improvisation. Improvisation, by its very nature, seems to resist interpretation or elucidation. This difficulty may account for the very few attempts scholars have made to provide a general guide to this elusive subject. With contributions by seventeen scholars and improvisers, In the Course of Performance offers a history of research on improvisation and an overview of the different approaches to the topic that can be used, ranging from cognitive study to detailed musical analysis. Such diverse genres as Italian lyrical singing, modal jazz, Indian classical music, Javanese gamelan, and African-American girls’ singing games are examined. The most comprehensive guide to the understanding of musical improvisation available, In the Course of Performance will be indispensable to anyone attracted to this fascinating art.

Contributors are Stephen Blum, Sau Y. Chan, Jody Cormack, Valerie Woodring Goertzen, Lawrence Gushee, Eve Harwood, Tullia Magrini, Peter Manuel, Ingrid Monson, Bruno Nettl, Jeff Pressing, Ali Jihad Racy, Ronald Riddle, Stephen Slawek, Chris Smith, R. Anderson Sutton, and T. Viswanathan.

424 pages | 6 halftones, 3 line drawings, 80 musical examples | 6 x 9 | © 1998

Chicago Studies in Ethnomusicology

Music: Ethnomusicology

Table of Contents

Introduction: An Art Neglected in Scholarship by Bruno Nettl
The Concept and Its Ramifications
1. Recognizing Improvisation by Stephen Blum
2. Psychological Constraints on Improvisational Expertise and Communication by Jeff Pressing
3. Do Javanese Gamelan Musicians Really Improvise? by R. Anderson Sutton
Improvisation as Music and in Culture
4. Improvisation, Ecstasy, and Performance Dynamics in Arabic Music by Ali Jihad Racy
5. Go On, Girl! Improvisation in African-American Girls’ Singing Games by Eve Harwood
6. Improvisation in Latin American Dance Music: History and Style by Peter Manuel
7. Oh Freedom: George Russell, John Coltrane, and Modal Jazz by Ingrid Monson
8. Improvisation and Group Interaction in Italian Lyrical Singing by Tullia Magrini
9. Exploding the Belly: Improvisation in Cantonese Opera by Sau Y. Chan
10. Melodic Improvisation in Karnatak Music: The Manifestations of Raga by T. Viswanathan and Jody Cormack
Studies of Individual Artists
11. Setting the Stage: Clara Schumann’s Preludes by Valerie Woodring Goertzen
12. A Sense of the Possible: Miles Davis and the Semiotics of Improvised Performance by Chris Smith
13. The Improvisation of Louis Armstrong by Lawrence Gushee
14. Keeping It Going: Terms, Practices, and Processes of Improvisation in Hindustani Instrumental Music by Stephen Slawek
15. Taqsim Nahawand Revisited: The Musicianship of Jihad Racy by Bruno Nettl and Ronald Riddle

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