The Right to Improvise: Musical Improvisation and the Construction of Community

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Moral theories tend to divide between those which foreground the individual and their quest for autonomy, and those which focus on group rights and obligations. I examine the practices of the AACM (Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians), a long standing Chicago based collective, in order to demonstrate how their musical practices can be seen as a way of bridging this divide in a manner akin to that suggested by political theorist Charles Taylor. What will emerge is an argument to the effect that we both improvise our rights, and have a right to improvise. Group improvisation will be seen as a process that thickens moral relations, creates possible lives that we may want to pursue, and codifies collective memories, all central concerns of contemporary moral and political theories.


Keywords: Rights, Ethics, Music, Improvisation, Identity, Community
Stream: Other
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
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Prof. Eric Lewis

Professor, Department of Philosophy, McGill University
Montreal, Canada

Eric Lewis is a Professor of Philosophy at McGill University specializing in the philosophy of improvised music. He is a principle organizer of the international research project "Improvisation, Community and Social Practice." He is presently completing a book entitled "Other Worlds: towards a philosophy of Jazz", and is an editor of the journal "Critical Studies in Improvisation"

Ref: A09P0220