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Title: Improvisation in Rock Music: Revealing the Extent to Which Capturing Spontaneity is Fundamental to Recorded Rock Music
Authors: Cook, Michael Alan
Issue Date: 2022
Publisher: Newcastle University
Abstract: This practice-led thesis explores the presence of improvisation in recorded Rock music through creative practice in studio composition and engagement with multi-disciplinary discourses. It is comprised of two interrelated components which are intended to carry equal weight: a written submission and selected recorded outputs from the researcher’s creative practice. The research builds on and interrogates existing studies into the construction and nature of Rock and improvisation. It argues that, whilst studio recording has been recognised as a defining characteristic of Rock and a fundamental site of Rock’s innovation and creativity, studies have failed to fully address improvisation’s presence there. A multi-methodological approach comprises case studies which incorporate autoethnographic and phenomenological examination together and analysis of ideas and concepts drawn from musicology, cultural theory and aesthetics, and addresses the work of selected practitioners and culminates in a close examination of the researcher’s own practice. The thesis argues that improvisation has always been a presence in Rock, its nature moulded by technologies which separate performers and processes with implications for the realisation of the creativity of musicians. Attention is drawn to the artistic intentions and agency of performers, revealing how recording technologies situate and influence the character of improvised musical material. The thesis - supported by creative practice - explains how improvisation contributes to studio composition and how interaction with technology and other performers facilitates and shapes the music. It investigates tensions created when improvised performance intersects with production, and how this dynamic operates in the composition process. Album tracks and videos from the researcher’s practice are submitted as illustrative examples which act dialogically with the written thesis to address the research aims and objectives. The purpose of this research is to provide a greater understanding of improvisation’s role as a compositional tool in Rock music, and the insights provided should contribute to the elucidation of popular music and studio recording practice generally.
Description: PhD Thesis
Appears in Collections:School of Arts and Cultures

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