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Jazz improvisers' shared understanding: a case study.

Schober MF, Spiro N - Front Psychol (2014)

Bottom Line: Performers endorsed statements they themselves had generated more often than statements by their performing partner and the expert listener; their overall level of agreement with each other was greater than chance but moderate to low, with disagreements about the quality of one of the performances and about who was responsible for it.The quality of the performances combined with the disparities in agreement suggest that, at least in this case study, fully shared understanding of what happened is not essential for successful improvisation.The fact that the performers endorsed an expert listener's statements more than their partner's argues against a simple notion that performers' interpretations are always privileged relative to an outsider's.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Psychology, New School for Social Research New York, NY, USA.

ABSTRACT
To what extent and in what arenas do collaborating musicians need to understand what they are doing in the same way? Two experienced jazz musicians who had never previously played together played three improvisations on a jazz standard ("It Could Happen to You") on either side of a visual barrier. They were then immediately interviewed separately about the performances, their musical intentions, and their judgments of their partner's musical intentions, both from memory and prompted with the audiorecordings of the performances. Statements from both (audiorecorded) interviews as well as statements from an expert listener were extracted and anonymized. Two months later, the performers listened to the recordings and rated the extent to which they endorsed each statement. Performers endorsed statements they themselves had generated more often than statements by their performing partner and the expert listener; their overall level of agreement with each other was greater than chance but moderate to low, with disagreements about the quality of one of the performances and about who was responsible for it. The quality of the performances combined with the disparities in agreement suggest that, at least in this case study, fully shared understanding of what happened is not essential for successful improvisation. The fact that the performers endorsed an expert listener's statements more than their partner's argues against a simple notion that performers' interpretations are always privileged relative to an outsider's.

No MeSH data available.


Positioning of pianist and sax player, on either side of a screen onstage in the performance space.
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Figure 2: Positioning of pianist and sax player, on either side of a screen onstage in the performance space.

Mentions: After the performers entered the experiment room, which was a performance space at the New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music in New York City, they were seated on either side of a visual barrier with the piano on one side (see Figure 2) and then asked to select (on paper) which standards they would be comfortable performing (see Materials). The experimenter selected “It Could Happen to You” from those on the list that overlapped, and then presented instructions to both performers simultaneously. The performers were asked to improvise three versions of “It Could Happen to You” that should be different from each other and that should each last about 5 min and be separated by silence; the performers were never to speak to each other at all, neither before, during or after the performances. The performances were audiorecorded using the performance space's high quality microphones and recording equipment, and immediately burned to CDs (Recordings of the three performances are available in Supplementary Materials).


Jazz improvisers' shared understanding: a case study.

Schober MF, Spiro N - Front Psychol (2014)

Positioning of pianist and sax player, on either side of a screen onstage in the performance space.
© Copyright Policy - open-access
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC4126153&req=5

Figure 2: Positioning of pianist and sax player, on either side of a screen onstage in the performance space.
Mentions: After the performers entered the experiment room, which was a performance space at the New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music in New York City, they were seated on either side of a visual barrier with the piano on one side (see Figure 2) and then asked to select (on paper) which standards they would be comfortable performing (see Materials). The experimenter selected “It Could Happen to You” from those on the list that overlapped, and then presented instructions to both performers simultaneously. The performers were asked to improvise three versions of “It Could Happen to You” that should be different from each other and that should each last about 5 min and be separated by silence; the performers were never to speak to each other at all, neither before, during or after the performances. The performances were audiorecorded using the performance space's high quality microphones and recording equipment, and immediately burned to CDs (Recordings of the three performances are available in Supplementary Materials).

Bottom Line: Performers endorsed statements they themselves had generated more often than statements by their performing partner and the expert listener; their overall level of agreement with each other was greater than chance but moderate to low, with disagreements about the quality of one of the performances and about who was responsible for it.The quality of the performances combined with the disparities in agreement suggest that, at least in this case study, fully shared understanding of what happened is not essential for successful improvisation.The fact that the performers endorsed an expert listener's statements more than their partner's argues against a simple notion that performers' interpretations are always privileged relative to an outsider's.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Psychology, New School for Social Research New York, NY, USA.

ABSTRACT
To what extent and in what arenas do collaborating musicians need to understand what they are doing in the same way? Two experienced jazz musicians who had never previously played together played three improvisations on a jazz standard ("It Could Happen to You") on either side of a visual barrier. They were then immediately interviewed separately about the performances, their musical intentions, and their judgments of their partner's musical intentions, both from memory and prompted with the audiorecordings of the performances. Statements from both (audiorecorded) interviews as well as statements from an expert listener were extracted and anonymized. Two months later, the performers listened to the recordings and rated the extent to which they endorsed each statement. Performers endorsed statements they themselves had generated more often than statements by their performing partner and the expert listener; their overall level of agreement with each other was greater than chance but moderate to low, with disagreements about the quality of one of the performances and about who was responsible for it. The quality of the performances combined with the disparities in agreement suggest that, at least in this case study, fully shared understanding of what happened is not essential for successful improvisation. The fact that the performers endorsed an expert listener's statements more than their partner's argues against a simple notion that performers' interpretations are always privileged relative to an outsider's.

No MeSH data available.