Music Research Seminar: Professor Raymond MacDonald
Duet for Two People have never met: Online improvising as a mean of sustaining community and developing new approaches to creativity.
This presentation outlines a number of online music projects during the COVID 19 global pandemic. Particular attention is given to the experiences of The Glasgow Improvisers Orchestra’s virtual, synchronous improvisation sessions.
Sessions included an international, gender-balanced, cross-generational group of over 70 musicians all of whom were living under conditions of social distancing. All sessions were recorded using Zoom software. After 3 months of twice-weekly two hours improvisation sessions, 29 one-hour interviews with participants were undertaken, recorded, transcribed, and analysed.
Key themes include how the sessions helped participants stay connected, provided opportunities for artistic development, enhanced mood, reduced feelings of isolation and sustained and developed community. Particular attention is placed upon how improvisation as a universal, real-time, social, collaborative process facilitates interaction allowing the technological affordances of software (latencies, sound quality, gallery/speaker view) and hardware (laptop, tablet, instruments, microphones, headphones, objects in the room) to become emergent properties of artistic collaborations. The extent to which this process affects new perceptual and conceptual breakthroughs for practitioners is discussed as is the crucial and innovative relationship between audio and visual elements. Analysis of edited films of the sessions highlights artistic and theoretical and conceptual issues discussed. Emphasis is given to how the domestic environment merges with technologies to create The Theatre of Home.
Raymond MacDonald is a Professor of Music Psychology and Improvisation at Edinburgh University. His ongoing research focuses on issues relating to improvisation, musical communication, music health and wellbeing, music education, and musical identities. His recent book, co-written with Graeme Wilson, The Art of Becoming: How Group Improvisation Works (2020) is informed by a view of improvisation as a social, collaborative, and uniquely creative process that provides opportunities to develop new ways of working musically. He has published over 70 peer-reviewed papers and has co-edited five texts, Musical Identities (2002), Musical Communication (2005), Musical Imaginations (2012), Music Health & Wellbeing (2012), and The Handbook of Musical Identities (2017). He was editor of the journal Psychology of Music between 2006 and 2012 and was Head of the School of Music at Edinburgh University between 2013 and 2016.
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