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What makes a musical improvisation creative?

Jordanous, Anna, Keller, Bill (2012) What makes a musical improvisation creative? Journal of Interdisciplinary Music Studies, 6 (2). pp. 151-175. ISSN 1307-0401. E-ISSN 1306-9055. (doi:10.4407/jims.2014.02.003) (KAR id:42389)


Background in musical improvisation and creativity. What makes musical improvisation

creative? And what exactly is it that justifies one improviser being described as more creative

than another? For a clearer understanding, it is a practical necessity to use an approach such as

those of Berliner (1994) and Gibbs (2010), who make the study of improvisational creativity

more tangible by identifying key constituent parts, rather than treat creativity as ineffable

(Bailey 1993).

Background in computational linguistics. The log likelihood ratio statistic can be used to

compare two sets of texts (corpora) to examine word distribution patterns (Rayson & Garside

2000, Dunning 1993). Using this statistic, words are identified which are associated with

academic papers on creativity. Lin’s similarity measure (Lin 1998) is then used as a basis for

clustering words with similar meanings using the algorithm Chinese Whispers (Biemann 2006).

Analysis of the clusters reveals fourteen key components of creativity.

Aims. To model creativity in musical improvisation by identifying components of creativity

using computational linguistics techniques and understanding how each contributes to

creativity in improvisation.

Main contribution. The paper presents an empirical, language-based approach to

understanding creativity in musical improvisation. This approach is based upon treating

creativity as having common features that transcend different types of creativity but that vary in

importance depending on the type of creativity. Fourteen key components of creativity are

identified from an analysis of a corpus of texts on creativity. A study is then conducted to

investigate the relative importance of each of these components in musical improvisational. All

fourteen components are considered relevant to some degree, but particular significance is

attached to three of them: the ability to communicate and interact, the possession of relevant

musical knowledge and skills, and emotional engagement and intention. It is notable that the

products of improvisation are relatively less important than these process-based aspects.

Implications. The work provides a model of musical improvisational creativity as a set of

guidelines or benchmarks for evaluating how creative a musical improviser is. Such a detailed

understanding helps improvisers identify what areas to work on in order to develop their

creativity (Gibbs 2010).

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.4407/jims.2014.02.003
Uncontrolled keywords: improvisation, musical improvisation creativity, empirical methods, log likelihood ratio statistic, computational linguistics, creativity evaluation
Subjects: M Music and Books on Music > M Music
Q Science > Q Science (General) > Q335 Artificial intelligence
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Computing, Engineering and Mathematical Sciences > School of Computing
Depositing User: Anna Jordanous
Date Deposited: 18 Aug 2014 10:45 UTC
Last Modified: 16 Nov 2021 10:16 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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