Roundtable Discussion: The Association of Improvising Musicians Toronto

Critical Studies in Improvisation

The Association of Improvising Musicians Toronto supports creative improvised music and musicians in the Toronto area through fundraising and generating public awareness. This Roundtable of founding and current AIMToronto Board members discusses the organization's achievements and growth, and reconsiders its goals in light of the challenges the Board has faced.

Sangha: Collaborative Improvisations on Community

Critical Studies in Improvisation

Saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa and pianist Vijay Iyer have been frequent collaborators. In this conversation, they share their thoughts on the challenges of becoming South Asian jazz musicians: confronting their Indian-American families' attitudes toward the music, finding their own voice amidst the richness of Indian musical forms, engaging the South Asian American youth community in New York, dealing with various kinds of prejudice-all while trying to keep the creative edge in their music.

The Myth of Absence: Representation, Reception, and the Music of Experimental Women Improvisors

This dissertation examines how creative women improvisers are subject to gendered representations and receptions by the media, festival, and record producers. Current dispositions towards women, whether deliberate or unintentional, influence future engagements for women improvisers. In addition, the relative exclusion of feature articles on women improvisers or as leaders at festivals leads to what I call the myth of absence - the assumption that women are not interested in participating in the exploration and development of experimental creative improvised music.

The Legacy of Genius: Improvisation, Romantic Imagination, and the Western Musical Canon

This dissertation addresses the question of the decline of improvisation in Western classical music, investigating both its disappearance from performance practice and the scholarly neglect of this phenomenon in music histories and theories. Music historians have traditionally situated the disappearance of improvisation at the end of the Baroque, but improvisation continued to be an important part of Western classical music until well into the nineteenth century.

Review—Speak it Louder: Asian Americans Making Music

Wong's book takes an ethnographic approach in exploring the social and political construction of Asian American identities through music. Case studies include Laotian song, Cambodian music drama, karaoke, Vietnamese pop, Japanese American taiko, Asian American hip hop, Asian American listeners, and Asian American improvisational music. Wong draws on feminist theories of performativity, viewing musical performance is a form of cultural work with the potential to articulate and affect identity politics, especially with regard to interethnic contact.

Review—Rhythm Science


Stewart remarks that Paul D. Miller-better known as DJ Spooky that Subliminal Kid-has created "a manifesto of sorts for the digital age." Stewart believes that Rhythm Science belongs in the first rank of theories of improvisation, because it views DJ culture in terms of improvisatory musical traditions associated with the African diaspora, and because Miller's writing style itself is improvisatory,"like the improvised freestyle of a hip hop MC."

Review—Prinzip Improvisation


To Duval, German jazz vibraphonist Christopher Dell approached writing Prinzip Improvisation ("The Improvisation Principle") as he approaches performing music, preferring improvisation to premeditated structure. The book is therefore an attempt to grapple with the problem of using language to describe jazz' fluid musical processes, and a nonlinear text which an active reader may choose to interpret in his or her own way.

Review—Playing Ad Lib: Improvisatory Music in Australia 1836-1970


In Playing Ad Lib, musicologist John Whiteoak explores improvisation in music that was never recorded. His evidence consists of print sources and anecdotes from throughout Australia. These include incomplete scores, published execution "methods" (e.g., for playing ragtime), snippets of advertisements, and published stories.

Review—Minute Particulars: Meanings in Music-Making in the Wake of Hierarchical Realignments and Other Essays


To Scott Thompson, Prévost "nail[s] to the mast" the idea that musical practice can help to foster communitarianism. For Prévost, music at its root is comprised of the social relationships between those involved in its creation. By championing communitarian social relations in particular, Prévost identifies operational aspects of improvisation as the means by which to enact such relations in the process of music-making, during which musicians actively search for appropriate musical responses in dialogue with those around them.

You've Got to Be Jazzistic

This resource is the Introduction to Locke and Murray's edited volume "Thriving On A Riff." The editors note that there is "a distinction between the study of jazz itself (in a nuts-and-bolts musicological sense) and the study of things that are jazz related" and that "Thriving on a Riff belongs to the latter category and sharpens its focus further to examine two of the many cultural forms affected by African American music: literature and film." The Introduction surveys the contributions found in the full volume.


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