Patrick Avery (RCM) - 2020-21 Students

How do expert jazz musicians practice for creativity in performance?

Much of the existing research into how musicians practice is focused on the ways in which musicians interact and interpret a written score. However, not all music is score-based. In jazz, group improvisation is an essential element, a highly creative and cognitively demanding task in which performers create the music in real-time. Group interaction is common, and the jazz musician must be prepared to encounter novel situations during performance and able to react accordingly and appropriately. To practice this, musicians must engage in what has been called explorational practice, that is, practicing without predefined outcomes and where new ideas can be explored and subsequently synthesised with existing knowledge.

Research has shown that effective practice goes beyond physically playing the instrument and involves careful planning and evaluation, but our understanding of how musicians plan and evaluate explorational practice is undeveloped.

The aim of my research is to explore how musicians plan, engage with and evaluate their individual practice, how the material developed is subsequently used in performance and how performance may provide an evaluative function which influences future practice. It will draw upon artist interviews and observations of practice and performance to further our understanding of musical practice in general and towards the development of an ontology of jazz improvisation.

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