The Improvising Mind: Cognition and Creativity in the Musical Moment

Hardcover | July 23, 2010

byAaron Berkowitz

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The ability to improvise represents one of the highest levels of musical achievement. An improviser must master a musical language to such a degree as to be able to spontaneously invent stylistically idiomatic compositions on the spot. This feat is one of the pinnacles of human creativity,and yet its cognitive basis is poorly understood. What musical knowledge is required for improvisation? How does a musician learn to improvise? What are the neural correlates of improvised performance? In The Improvising Mind these questions are explored through an interdisciplinary approach that draws on cognitive neuroscience, study of historical pedagogical treatises on improvisation, interviews with improvisers, and musical analysis of improvised performances. Findings from these treatises andinterviews are discussed from the perspective of cognitive psychological theories of learning, memory, and expertise. Musical improvisation has often been compared to 'speaking a musical language.' While past research has focussed on comparisons of music and language perception, few have dealt withthis comparison in the performance domain. In this book, learning to improvise is compared with language acquisition, and improvised performance is compared with spontaneous speech from both theoretical and neurobiological perspectives. Tackling a topic that has hitherto received little attention, The Improvising Mind will be a valuable addition to the literature in music cognition. This is a book that will make fascinating reading for musicologists, music theorists, cognitive neuroscientists and psychologists, musicians, musiceducators, and anyone with an interest in creativity.

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The ability to improvise represents one of the highest levels of musical achievement. An improviser must master a musical language to such a degree as to be able to spontaneously invent stylistically idiomatic compositions on the spot. This feat is one of the pinnacles of human creativity,and yet its cognitive basis is poorly understo...

Aaron Berkowitz received his M.D. from Johns Hopkins University, his Ph.D. in music from Harvard University, and his Bachelors degrees in Music (B.A.) and Biology (B.S.) from George Washington University. He has published his research in the journals NeuroImage and Twentieth Century Music, has been an invited speaker at several major...

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:216 pagesPublished:July 23, 2010Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199590958

ISBN - 13:9780199590957

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Table of Contents

AcknowledgementsPrelude1. IntroductionPedagogy and learning of improvisation2. The pedagogy of improvisation I: Improvisation Treatises of the Mid-Eighteenth and Early Nineteenth Centuries3. The pedagogy of improvisation II: Pedagogical Strategies4. Learning to improvise: Learners' perspectives5. Music and language cognition compared I: AcquisitionImprovised performance6. Improvised performance: Performers' perspectives7. The Neurobiology of improvisation8. Music and language cognition compared II: Production9. CadenzaCoda: Constraint, freedom, and style