Dr Allan Sutherland—Perfection of Imperfections in Ensemble Improvised Music Making

The Perfection of Imperfections in Ensemble Improvised Music Making

Allan Sutherland (Kyushu University of Nursing and Social Welfare)

 There are no wrong notes, only wrong resolutions.—Bill Evans

Imperfection in improvisation is relational; imperfection emerges from part-whole socially musical relations. These relations are arranged to conceptions of (potentially perfectible) musical forms and ensemble interactions set within historical musics, ‘genres,’ according to their methods of organising musical relations (e.g., of ensembles, instruments, harmony, melody, rhythm, and/or ideational motifs) which frame musicians’ potential for improvisational action. Imperfections can be inadvertent or intentional disturbances in the conceptual flow structuring musical performances that require and inspire musicians to respond and innovate to resolve these satisfactorily, and sustain ensemble interactions. Consequently, this paper proposes modelling ensembles as socially symbiotic ensembles composed of synergist musicians who can negotiate, and insert stimulative, imperfections, disruptions, in the conceptual flow to creatively, cohesively, transform musical performances. The capacities of synergistic musicians derive socially from their embodied musical habitus emergent over their lifelong musical trajectories of exposure to musics, mastering instruments, etc., and integration within networks of local and international ensembles.


This conference is supported by JSPS Kakenhi grant number 16K02109.


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