Improvisatory exercises as a key to analyze group dynamics in collective improvisation:The case of the Gruppo di Improvvisazione Nuova Consonanza

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Valentina Bertolani


Avant-garde improvised music tends to elude analytical attempts, which have so far mostly focused on transcribing and describing sound parameters (e.g. pitch, timbre, texture, etc.) in the extant recordings. However, this does not account for the irreducible immediacy of the improvisatory practice, whose recordings are just the tip of the iceberg of a more multifold and varied production (often not recorded). This issue, inherent to the type of creative process at hand, suggests that, when analyzing, we should also take into consideration what aesthetical principles influenced the choice of a succession of musical events over another. The principles of action-reaction and of non-repetition of the musical material were the guiding elements of the improvisatory practice of the Italian Gruppo di Improvvisazione Nuova Consonanza (GINC) in the period 1965–1969. To adhere to these principles, GINC created a set of exercises to be practiced by members during the rehearsals. In this article I will analyze three examples from a 1967 video recording of the Gruppo di Improvvisazione Nuova Consonanza using these exercises to understand and comment the choices made on the spot by the improvisers. This strategy affords a better awareness of the group actions within the improvisatory context.

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