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Sync or Swarm: Improvising Music in a Complex Age

Sync or Swarm: Improvising Music in a Complex Age

Hardback

By (author) David Borgo

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  • Publisher: Continuum International Publishing Group Ltd.
  • Format: Hardback | 272 pages
  • Dimensions: 155mm x 231mm x 28mm | 499g
  • Publication date: 1 January 2006
  • Publication City/Country: London
  • ISBN 10: 0826417299
  • ISBN 13: 9780826417299
  • Illustrations note: Illustrations
  • Sales rank: 845,492

Product description

"Sync or Swarm" provides a fascinating study of musical improvisation, using theories from cultural and cognitive studies and the emerging sciences. Musical improvisation hinges on one's ability to synchronize intention and action and to maintain a keen awareness of, sensitivity to, and connection with the evolving group dynamics and experiences. The most successful improvisations are those in which the musicians are able to synchronize, not necessarily their sounds - although this too can miraculously happen - but their intentions or their moments of inspiration. And even during the most complex and dense passages of collective improvisation, a swarm-like quality can emerge in which individual parts are moving in very different directions and yet the musical whole moves with a collective purpose. David Borgo presents a systemic view of improvisation, with individual chapters funneling outward in scope: from the perspective of a solo improviser (English saxophonist Evan Parker), to that of a group interacting in performance, to the long-term dynamics of an improvising group from formation to dissolution, and finally regarding the network dynamics that bind together improvisers and groups into an aesthetic community. Each of these chapters is paired with a different aspect of the emerging sciences - including perspectives from cognitive science, biology, chaos and complexity theories, and the study of social networks - in order to offer new ways of engaging with and shaping the discourses that surround music in general and improvisation in particular.

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Author information

David Borgo is Assistant Professor in the Department of Music at the University of California, San Diego. He has released two CDs as saxophonist and composer (With and Against and Massanetta Springs), and plays live shows regularly in Los Angeles and at jazz festivals around the world.

Review quote

"Worth noting by British readers is the amount of space devoted to Evan, including some new quotations."--Sanford Lakoff

Table of contents

Preface; 1. The Sounds and Science of Surprise; The Age of Complexity; Sync or Swarm; 2. Reverence for Uncertainty; Exploring Uncertainty; Performing Uncertainty; Experiencing Uncertainty; Documenting Uncertainty; Evaluating Uncertainty; 3. The Embodied Mind (of Evan Parker); Taking the Note for a Walk; The Body in the Music; It's a Bit Like Juggling; Process and Reality; 4. Rivers of Consciousness: The Nonlinear Dynamics and Emergent Qualities of Improvised Music; Complexity and Emergence; The Phase Space of Improvisation; A Dynamical Systems Model of Improvised Music; Hues of Melanin; Some Final Remarks; 5. The Edge of Chaos: Envisioning Group Improvisation as a Self-Organizing System; Fractal Worlds; Musical Chaotics; The Dynamics of Self-Organizing Systems; Do You Hear What I Hear?; Some Final Remarks; 6. Sync or Swarm: The Life(time) of an Improvising Ensemble; 7. Improvising Music: Some Thoughts on Network Dynamics and Musical Studies; 8. Harnessing Complexity: Situated Learning and the Pedagogy of Play; Epilogue.