This text illustrates and explains the practices and processes of musical improvisation. Improvisation, by its very nature, seems to resist interpretation or elucidation. With contributions by 17 scholars and improvisers, the text offers a history of research on improvisation and an overview of the different approaches to the topic that can be used, ranging from cognitive study to detailed musical analysis. Such diverse genres as Italian lyrical singing, modal jazz, Indian classical music, Javanese gamelan, and African-American girls' singing games are examined.
Bruno Nettl is professor of music and anthropology at the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana. He is the author or editor of nineteen books, including Folk and Traditional Music of the Western Continents and The Study of Ethnomusicology. Melinda Russell is instructor of music at Carleton College.