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Strategies for Composing for Large Groups of Improvising Musicians

Hunter, Anthony (2019) Strategies for Composing for Large Groups of Improvising Musicians. Doctoral thesis (PhD), Manchester Metropolitan University.

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Abstract

This research project is a Practice-­‐as-­‐Research enquiry into a novel approach to composing for large groups of improvising musicians, namely by incorporating improvisations into the writing process as well as the performance. The primary contribution to knowledge is the new working method that I present as a solution to key issues identified by other practitioners in the field. The two central lines of enquiry throughout my research can be summarised as: ‘To what extent is it possible to better feature the voices of the improvisers in my work?’ and ‘how can we achieve greater collective ownership over the material?’ This complementary writing documents the evolution of this method, situating my practice in a lineage of practitioners as well as showing where and how I challenge performer-­‐composer hierarchies. How this evolution contributes to wider discussions in the field is covered with specific reference to issues around solo improvisation, collective intention and curation. In doing this, I draw on recent scholarship in the emerging field of critical improvisation studies, as well as the more established jazz studies and new jazz studies, to provide a framework for these insights. Throughout the project, as is expected with creative research, several other avenues of interest appeared, arising from engagement with my central themes. These are focussed on issues of notation and distributed direction, and are discussed primarily in relation to the evolution of my creative practice, although I also outline their relevance to the wider community. This research is a first-­‐hand account of my practice in the field of improvised music, and as such, it constitutes a contribution to knowledge by making tacit knowledge more explicit for others to engage with.

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