The Right to Improvise: Musical Improvisation and the Construction of Community
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
Prof. Eric Lewis
Professor, Department of Philosophy, McGill University