Considering Expression as Compositional Material: ‘Improvisation is the Middle Ground between Composing and Performing’ or ‘Using Improvisation in Live Performance as a Compositional Technique’

Tomorrow I will present the following at a postgraduate conference in Leeds:

Defining compositional material is not straightforward. Much of existing literature suggests there are many varied perspectives on this that are ultimately dependent upon each individual composer’s personal approach to writing music. As such, it can be argued that compositional material is an individual strategy for composing. Taking on this perspective, and with reference to my own work, this presentation explores a personal definition for compositional material by way of a particular compositional approach: improvisation.

It is my current hypothesis that improvisation not only embodies a middle ground between composing and performing, but can be viewed as expression (void of technical micro-level detail such as specific pitches and rhythms). As such, I am proposing a compositional method that sees expression as the building blocks for a musical work where micro-level musical details are a by-product.

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