Improvisation as a Way of Knowing Music: On the Nature of Improvisation and the Future of Improvised Music Education

Jens Skou Olsen

Publikation: KonferencebidragPaperForskning


This paper examines improvisation and points to improvisational practice as the central transforming force in music and the educational practice of the Rhythmic Music Conservatory (RMC). In less than 25 years RMC has radically changed its education methodology from one based on jazz and African/African-American/Cuban orientation in a worldview of music as an ontological, intransitive fact to ‘music-as-artwork’ – as an extemporal, physically explicit art object; from a performance-based focus on live bands playing as a central source and key of learning and excellence with little or no theoretical awareness to project-based classes put together with little or no regard to instrumentation and genre with a strong focus on analysis, artistic reflection and evaluation of the individual output. The author examines improvisation as an adaptation to and transformation of the world, and the possibility of a methodology of improvisation in popular music that can inform the construction of meaningful and relevant popular music programs based on music improvisation is discussed. The author argues for a need to critically examine the tacit auxiliary hypotheses that seem to govern our understanding of musical improvisation through the engagement of new ethnographies that move beyond the fifties’ models of jazz-making still dominating the discourses on Improvisation. This is seen as a central point not least for the future of the schools, universities, and conservatories’ popular music programs, as a continued conflation of improvisation and jazz risks the rejection of both improvisation and jazz.
Publikationsdato2 maj 2013
Antal sider35
StatusUdgivet - 2 maj 2013
BegivenhedGlobal Perspectives on Jazz and Improvised Music in Scandinavia Symposium - Rytmisk Musikkonservatorium, København, Danmark
Varighed: 2 maj 20132 maj 2013


SymposiumGlobal Perspectives on Jazz and Improvised Music in Scandinavia Symposium
LokationRytmisk Musikkonservatorium


  • Global Perspectives
  • Improvisation
  • Jazz
  • Education
  • Learning
  • Art
  • Change
  • Autonomy
  • Popular Music

Citer dette