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Enactive consciousness, intertextuality, and musical free improvisation: deconstructing mythologies and finding connections

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Bennett Hogg


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Consciousness is generally seen as synonymous with the mind or the brain, from a typically Western epistemological positioning that constructs a division between the physical and mental self. Musical free improvisation is one cultural practice that makes the problematisation of this split one of its central preoccupations. Both within the practice itself and at many levels of discourse about improvisation, the split between consiousness as something located in the mind, and action as something located in the body, is continually brought under interrogation. I shall reflect upon certain mental models that I have formulated through many years of free improvisation, in particular models I have used to attempt to verbally communicate my experiences to others in teaching free improvisation over the past few years. I shall then look at the broader context of ideas about improvisation from experimental theatre (Grotowski, Artaud) as well as in music (Stockhausen, Jon Stevens, Derek Bailey). I shall be arguing that a "bodily consciousness" has been one of the main tropes in conceptualisations of improvisation since the first widespread blossoming of the practice in the 1960s, but that such conceptualisations often betray themselves as sites for the devaluation of improvisation as a cultural practice. In attempting to address these critiques of improvisation I will argue for an understanding of consciousness, at least where musical improvisation is concerned, that spreads the idea of consciousness across the body-mind dualism.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Hogg B

Editor(s): Clarke, D., Clarke, E.

Publication type: Book Chapter

Publication status: Published

Book Title: Music and Consciousness: Philosophical, Psychological, and Cultural Perspectives

Year: 2011

Pages: 79-93

Edition: 1st

Publisher: Oxford University Press

Place Published: Oxford

Library holdings: Search Newcastle University Library for this item

ISBN: 9780199553792