Reading Response Essay 1
Due Thursday September 12
Drawing upon the assigned reading, listening, and your personal reflections, answer the following questions in at least two typed, double-spaced pages. Strong responses will likely be longer than this.
In the introduction to his influential book Improvisation: Its Nature and Practice in Music, guitarist Derek Bailey introduces the distinction between “idiomatic” and “non-idiomatic” improvisation. Although we’ve skipped much of the book, how does “free improvisation” relate to this dichotomy and what does Bailey mean by the term “non-ideomatic”? Do you agree with his implications? Provide a detailed argument.
What does George E. Lewis mean by the terms “Afrological” and “Eurological” improvisation? How do these relate to race and music? How might this formulation impact our understanding of Bailey’s idiomatic/non-idiomatic dichotomy?
Listening Response Essays (3)
There are three listening response essays due throughout the semester and which correspond to the three listening “units” of the course. These essays should consist of personal reflections on one or more of the listening examples in the corresponding listening unit. You are encouraged to think creatively in your reflections; you might choose to relate the examples to discussion topics, performance workshop topics, historical issues, performance practice issues, or other listening examples and artists not discussed in the course. Be creative! Each listening response essay must be typed and at least two double-spaced pages in length.
Listening response essay unit 1 – September 25
Listening response essay unit 2 – November 6
Listening response essay unit 3 – December 4
Reading Response Essay 2
Due Thursday Sept 25
After reading the introduction to Bruno Nettl’s and Melinda Russell’s edited volume In the Course of Performance: Studies in the World of Musical Improvisation, read an additional chapter in the book and find a recording (online, in the library, or elsewhere) that is representative of the music tradition(s) discussed in the chapter. Using the recording as a point of reference, write a two to three page essay (typed and double-spaced) that explains the role of improvisation in the music tradition. Be prepared to share your finding with the class.
Due Thursday Oct 9
Prepare an original piece—a “structure for improvisation”—to be performed by the class. This can take many forms (standard notation, graphic notation, game or language-based notation, etc…); at the least, it must consist of a document that can be handed out to all members of the class. Bring copies for everyone.
Due Thursday Oct 16
Research all of the artists conducting performance workshops and talks this Fall as part of this class and in conjunction with the Faultlines festival. Review at least one recording, video, or written source by or involving each artist. Submit a written document that gives a brief biography of each artist and reflection on their recording/video/writing.
Visit the Faultlines website: www.amherst.edu/faultlines
Video Response Essay
Due Thursday Nov 13
View the following videos [reserve location TBA shortly]:
Inside out in the Open, Allan Roth, dir. (60 minutes)
On the Edge, Derek Bailey’s BBC improvisation series (4 episodes, app. 57 minutes each)
Jazz, Ken Burns, Episode 9, Chapter “The Adventure” (app. 10 minutes)
Jazz, Ken Burns, Episode 10, chapters “Freedom Now!” (app. 10 minutes) and “Imaginary Concerts” (app. 7 minutes)
Write a two to three page, typed and double-spaced, essay in response to the videos. You may address any issue that you find particularly compelling. Within your response, you are encouraged to analyze the ways in which improvisation is framed – what kinds of hidden discourses impact the definitions of improvisation in the videos?
Your research project is a detailed semester-length project of your creation that should bring together your interests with the key concepts of the course. This may take several forms—composition or performance piece, historical research, ethnographic study, and so forth—and will result in a document that is submitted at the conclusion of the course. Although your project may be of a different nature, it should be roughly equivalent to the workload of a fifteen to twenty page research paper.
There are four stages to your project: idea approval, project proposal, class presentation, and final document. Before preparing the project proposal, it is important that you discuss your idea with Professor Robinson. Ideally, this will occur during office hours. Your idea should address all of the elements required in the project proposal.
Due Tuesday Oct 28
Your project proposal should include the following:
1) A one-page summary of your project. This should include a detailed description of the document you will submit at the end of the course.
2) A list of questions addressed in your project.
3) A description of the methodology you will use to complete your project (ethnographic, historiographic, analytical, compositional, performative, etc…).
4) A works cited list that includes readings, recordings, videos, and other sources that you will engage.
Tuesday Dec 9 and during finals week
You will be asked to give a fifteen to twenty minute presentation of your project to the class.
The final written version of your project will be due during finals week. Exact due date TBA.