Over the last few decades, the notion of improvisation has enriched and dynamized research on traditional philosophies of music, theatre, dance, poetry, and even visual art. This Handbook offers readers an authoritative collection of accessible articles on the philosophy of improvisation, synthesizing and explaining various subjects and issues from the growing wave of journal articles and monographs in the field. Its 48 chapters, written specifically for this volume by an international team of scholars, are accessible for students and researchers alike.
The volume is organized into four main sections:
I Art and Improvisation: Theoretical Perspectives
II Art and Improvisation: Aesthetical, Ethical, and Political Perspectives
III Improvisation in Musical Practices
IV Improvisation in the Visual, Narrative, Dramatic, and Interactive Arts
- Treats improvisation not only as a stylistic feature, but also as an aesthetic property of artworks and performances as well as a core element of artistic creativity.
- Spells out multiple aspects of the concept of improvisation, emphasizing its relevance in understanding the nature of art.
- Covers improvisation in a wide spectrum of artistic domains, including unexpected ones such as literature, visual arts, games, and cooking.
- Addresses key questions, such as:
- How can improvisation be defined and what is its role in different art forms?
- Can improvisation be perceived as such, and how can it be aesthetically evaluated?
- What is the relationship between improvisation and notions such as action, composition, expressivity, and authenticity?
- What is the ethical and political significance of improvisation?
Table of Contents
Alessandro Bertinetto and Marcello Ruta
Part I: Art and Improvisation: Theoretical Perspectives
1. Improvisation as Normative Practice
Georg W. Bertram
2. Improvisation as Resonance
3. Improvisation as Creative Performance
4. Material and Improvisation in the Formative Process
Robert T. Valgenti
5. Ontology of Improvisation and Jazz
Daniel Martin Feige
6. Improvisation and Orientation
7. Improvisation and Action Theory
8. Improvisation, Actions, and Processes
Pierre Saint-Germier and Clément Canonne
9. Rethinking the Realtimeness in Improvisation
Part II: Art and Improvisation: Aesthetical, Ethical, and Political Perspectives
10. Appreciating Improvisations as Art
11. Transformative Aesthetics: When the Unforeseen Emerges
12. Improvisation as Spontaneous Creation versus "Making Do"
13. Improvisation as Aesthetic Appearance
14. The Expressivity of Musical Improvisation
15. Jazz Improvisation, Authenticity, and Self-Expression
Garry L. Hagberg
16. Manyness in Music Improvisation
17. Forms of Improvisation and Experimentalism
18. Improvisational Phronesis
Bruce Ellis Benson
19. Improvisation’s Ethical and Epistemological Challenge
20. Street Art and the Politics of Improvisation
Andrea Lorenzo Baldini
21. Improvisation and Political Emancipation
Part III: Improvisation in Musical Practices
22. Competing Ontologies of Musical Improvisation: A Medieval Perspective
Uri Smilansky and Marc Lewon
23. Improvisation and Essential Ornamentation in Vocal Music (1600–1900)
24. Freedom and Form in Piano Improvisation in the Early 19th Century
Katrin Eggers and Michael Lehner
25. Improvisation and Authenticity in Early 20th Century Western Music
26. Improvisation and Composition: A Schoenbergian View
27. Repeatability versus Unrepeatability in Free Improvisation
28. The Risk of Improvised Music: An Ethnographic Approach
29. Empathy in Improvisation
30. Improvisation in Pop-Rock Music
31. "Improvisation" in Play: A View Through South Indian Music Practices
32. Improvisation in Arab Musical Practices
Ali Jihad Racy
Part IV: Improvisation in the Visual, Narrative, Dramatic, and Interactive Arts
33. Dance Improvisation as Experimental Inquiry
Eric C. Mullis
34. The Springs of Action in Butō Improvisation
35. Stage Improvisation in the Commedia dell’Arte
36. Performance Art and Improvisation
37. Improvisation, Stand-up, and Comedy
38. Improvisation, Machines, Cinema
39. Improvisation and Poetry
40. Improvisation in Painting
Alessandro Bertinetto and Marcello Ruta
41. Improvisation in Sculpture
42. Improvisation and Artistic Photography
43. Improvisation and Installation Art
44. Installed Improvisation: The Case of Erwin Redl
45. Improvisation in Design Processes
46. Urban Improvisations
Paola Berenstein Jacques
47. Improvisation in Cooking and Tasting
48.Creativity and Improvisation in Games
C. Thi Nguyen
Alessandro Bertinetto is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Turin in Italy and coordinator of ART–Aesthetics Research Turin (Philosophical Seminar). He has been an Alexander von Humboldt Fellow and a member of the Executive Committee of the European Society for Aesthetics. His most recent books are Eseguire l’inatteso. Ontologia della musica e improvvisazione (2016) and Estetica dell’improvvisazione (2021).
Marcello Ruta studied music (classical piano) in Milan and Trieste and obtained his PhD in philosophy in 2010 at the University of Strasbourg and his Habilitation in 2017 at the University of Bern. He is the author of Schopenhauer et Schelling, philosophes du temps et de l’éternité (2014) and co-editor (with Alessandro Arbo) of Ontologie musicale: perspectives et débats (2014).
"Practically everyone who has lately thought theoretically about improvisation has contributed to this volume, and just about everything one ever wanted to know about improvisation but dared not hope to see answered is here addressed. Suffice it to say that the editors have here done an incalculable service to this burgeoning field of research."
Jerrold Levinson, University of Maryland