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Improvisation, Language, and Cognition

Peter Blouw

Published: 2010-07-22

This article explores the way conversational language is both improvisational and structured. It touches on Noam Chomsky's idea of 'universal grammar' but also highlights the way we use preset linguistic phrases to create language in the same way that improvising musicians draw on a personal repertoire of motifs.

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Improvisation is, simply put, being and living this very moment. No one can hide in music, and improvising in music is to be truly in this very moment and being completely yourself, with all your qualities and faults. It is probably the most honest state for a human being to be in.

– John McLaughlin in an interview with Daniel Fischlin.