ERIC Number: EJ951062
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2011
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 0
Freedom and Responsibility: The Aesthetics of Free Musical Improvisation and Its Educational Implications--A View from Bakhtin
Kanellopoulos, Panagiotis A.
Philosophy of Music Education Review, v19 n2 p113-135 Fall 2011
This paper aims to examine how specific aspects of Bakhtin's theoretical perspective might inform our understanding of improvisation. Moreover, it outlines the possible educational implications of such a perspective. Specifically, a sketch of a Bakhtinian conception of improvisation is proposed, a sketch which emphasizes the cultivation of an attitude of consciousness that leads to an understanding of improvised music making as an obligation to explore the unknown, to search for freedom through the responsibility to attend to the uniqueness of irrevocable musical acts. Moreover, emphasis is given to the potential of improvisation to create a music-making context that counters monologic musical discourses, providing a site of resistance to fixity and closure. It is argued that improvisation is dialogic exactly because it creates a very special sense of interaction, which is characterized by unfinalizability and openness. At the same time, improvisation is in need of temporary finalizations which occur through the presence of the audience and the musicians' struggle to raise their minds "above" their playing, looking at their music from outside and getting "back in" again. It is hoped that such a perspective might provide the necessary theoretical tools for re-thinking the role of improvisation in music education. A Bakhtinian view on the experience of improvisation would, it is suggested, be educationally valuable exactly because it regards improvisation not as a problem-solving method but a problem-positing approach: as a musical practice that involves children and young people in the experiential pursuit of freedom and the understanding of the "ought" of imagining ways forward, countering monologue by allowing the flourishing of a polyphony of unmerged voices, constituting a distinctive chronotope which provides the possibility of an enactment of everyday living in musical terms. 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.
Descriptors: Music Education, Music, Creative Activities, Musicians, Aesthetics, Problem Solving, Children
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
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