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Improvisation as a Way of Life: Reflections on Human Interaction

George E. Lewis

Published: 2011-05-07

President Lee C. Bollinger and Provost Claude M. Steele host the University Lecture given by George E. Lewis, Edwin H. Case Professor of American Music.

Improvisation as a Way of Life: Reflections on Human Interaction
May 7, 2011

Many musical improvisers have understood their sounds and practices as addressing larger questions of identity and social organization, as well as creating politically inflected, critically imbued aesthetic spaces. Following a 1964 suggestion by Alfred Schutz that a study of the social relationships connected with the musical process may lead to some insights valid for many other forms of social intercourse, the realization that improvisation is not limited to the artistic domain, but is a ubiquitous aspect of everyday life, can lead humanists and scientists toward new models of intelligibility, agency, ethics, technology, and social transformation. .

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...partly because I know that’s the only way that we could solve a creative problem [using improvisation with children ranging in abilities] and what doesn’t work is trying to impose a template on the students who are not able to respond to that template.

– Pauline Oliveros (in working with Abilities First)