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T Nunn: Wisdom of The Impulse. On the Nature of Musical Free Improvisation.

1998 (publ. by author), pdf version (IIMA) 2004.
Part 1 (764 KB) Part 2 (604 KB). Download. see footer of this page.

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This comprehensive work deals above all with the analysis of typical phenomena and processes in free improvised music playing and it attempts to put up a consistent terminology to describe them. In addition, it provides insights into American free music life, including teaching of free improvisation, and a survey of improvisors maps opinions on questions of common interest. The book also features suggestions of exercises, both individual and group ones.

Improvisor (based in San Fransisco). Postal address: Thomas E. Nunn, 3016 - 25th Street, San Fransisco, CA 94110, USA.

Reference / source: http://intuitivemusic.dk/iima/tn.htm



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  • Comment Link Phil Morton Thursday, 21 November 2019 16:00 posted by Phil Morton

    This is one of the rare large scale writings on free improvisation from a music analysis point of view. Preceeded by a chapter overviewing historical developments leading up to the practise of free improvisation itself, the author proposes a remarkable, systematic descriptive terminology for freely improvised music. According to this, the music is characterized by sounding identities, both collective and individual which are formed by impulses and which undergo change in a number of characteristic ways. Among these ways are identification and continuity processes (establiching and maintaining identities, Transitions, of which seven kinds are discussed: "Sudden/unexpected segue", "Pseydo cadential segue", "Climactic segue", "Feature overlap", "Feature change", "Fragmentation" and "Internal Cadence" also "Relational functions" which beyond traditional roles like "solo/accompaniment" and more also may include a polyphonic "sound mass" and that of "catalyst". Though independent of styles, the music may refer to existing styles in a flowing and complex way, and it is highly sensitive to its immediate context. Both "Perception (Continuity Flow)" and "Cumulative Flow Perception" and "Impression (categorical impression / critical impression) influence the listener's experience.

    Several additional chapters of a less scientifically rigid nature follow. They deal, among other things, with the threats to listening presented by the noisy modern soundscape, with a model of response processes in free improvisation, with various practical issues (among others, practising; use of instruments/voice; concerts vs. recordings), with reviews (on the basis of a number of examples) and with the language and basic concepts they employ. One chapter reviews approaches of improvisation teaching with nine different teachers; another chapter (among the appendices) presents results from an enquete among musicians. Still another appendix contains improvisation exercises designed by the author, both for solo and ensemble use. They add a practical dimension to the theoretical framework given as the main part of the book.

    Notes by Carl Bergstrøm-Nielsen.
    Location: http://intuitivemusic.dk/iima/legno1uk.htm#030

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