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Improvisation and Ethnomusicology

Howard Spring

Published: 2010-09-02

An overview of improvised musical practices across a broad range of cultures, and a historical analysis of scholarship on improvised music. This piece offers a lengthy and attentive definition of the term 'improvisation' and discusses its varying forms and meanings across time and cultures.

Available Files

  • Ethnomusicology_Improvisation.pdf

    25 KB | application/pdf


Improvisation implies a deep connection between the personal and the communal, self and world. A “good” improviser successfully navigates musical and institutional boundaries and the desire for self-expression, pleasing not only herself but the listener as well.

– Rob Wallace