The Improviser’s Experience: Knowledge, Methodology, Communication.  A Two-Day Conference at The University of Huddersfield

In association with the Royal Musical Association, and the University of Huddersfield’s Centre for  Research into New Music and Research Centre for Performance Practices.

THE CONFERENCE OF 2020 WAS POSTPONED DUE TO THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC, AND NOW WILL TAKE PLACE ONLINE, MARCH 18-19, 2021

Submission deadline: February 14, with selection notifications by February 28, 2020

Location of the conference: Zoom

Conference organisers: Jonny Best (University of Huddersfield), Irine Røsnes (University of Huddersfield)

Call for Proposals

Improvisation presents epistemological challenges to the artistic researcher. It’s hard to explain exactly what we’re doing when we improvise; the experience of spontaneous music-making can seem to be consciously directed only in part. To the extent that improvised musical performance relies on embodied or procedural knowledge, it can be elusive and resistant to being fully known, let alone pinned down in words.

As artistic researchers investigating the practices and procedures of improvisation, how should we respond? What kinds of knowledge about improvisation are obtainable? Which methods are most suited to the task? And how can we manufacture interfaces which enable the wider scholarly community – and the world beyond – to gain meaningful access to  experiences of improvised performance? How can we write and talk about improvisation effectively?

This study day will comprise a mixture of paper presentations, performances and discussion. We welcome proposals from PhD students, early-career researchers and improvisation practitioners. While the focus of the study day is artistic research, we also welcome proposals from non-performing academics who currently work with improvisation in some form or another. While our focus is musical improvisation, proposals addressing other spheres of improvisational practice are enthusiastically welcomed. 

The following list of topics is only indicative and should not be seen as exhaustive:

  • What kinds of knowledge are produced through and by improvised (musical) performance?
  • What kinds of processes are taking place in the moment of creatively engaging with a musical instrument through improvisation? To what extent and how does this vary with different musical instruments and sound-producing mechanisms? Through which methods might we perceive these processes?
  • To what extent can the performer’s kinds of knowing be made explicit, expressed and shared? 
  • To what extent and how should we structure our self-reflection as improvising artistic researchers?
  • To what extent should we be beware, or embrace, the performer’s subjectivity? What might its uses or limitations be?
  • What role can auto-ethnography play?
  • What role can phenomenology play?
  • What vocabulary or terminology expresses the experience of (musical) improvisation most usefully? How can we meet the challenge of communicating the experience of improvised performance to those who have not experienced it for themselves?

Proposals/abstracts (200-word max) are invited as follows:

– 15 min paper presentations

– 15 min performance presentations (including some blend of live performance with traditional paper)

–  improvised performances of any type up to 15 mins (shorter performances are very welcome!)

Please include biographies (max 100 words) of presenters. If you require any further technical or musical equipment, please provide full details with your application. 

If you have any enquiries, please email Irine and Jonny at network.impro@gmail.com