Subversion and stratification

the importance of improvisation




Deleuze, Nietzsche, improvisation, subversion, stratification


Unlike composition, improvisation offers performs greater flexibility and freedom. improvisation subverts musical structures and considers the ethical implications of improvisation. This diminishes the status of mistakes, which serve as platforms for further improvisation. Improvisation resists and subverts traditional musical structures while using the same musical material and processes as composition. Drawing on Deleuze and Guattari’s conceptual geometry of stratification and looking at the role of improvisation in their philosophy more generally, this article illustrates how improvisation and composition transform musical material in the same way while having different aesthetic aims. An improvisor’s aesthetic aims are not strictly-defined but are open-ended, subverting traditional conceptions of control and artistic genius. Besides witnessing how it subverts the musical structures that enable it, this illustrates the importance of improvising, in seeing the limits of a way of thinking and appreciating a multiplicity of perspectives.


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Academic articles