Extends the field of improvisation studies in a more global, transcultural direction

Table of contents

Acknowledgements vii

Preface ix
Field Notes on Cultural Difference in Improvised Music
John Corbett

Introduction 1
Sound Changes: Improvisation and Transcultural Difference
Daniel Fischlin and Eric Porter

1. Grooving with the Gnawa:
Jazz, Improvisation, and Transdiasporic Collaboration 15
Jason Robinson

2. Improvisation and the Politics of Nueva Canción Activism 42
Kirstie Dorr

3. “We Are the Ones Who Are Impatient”: Improvising Resistance and Resilience in Jordanian Hip-Hop and Rap 76
Beverley Milton-­Edwards

4. Nomadic Improvising and Sites of Difference 101
Sally Macarthur and Waldo Garrido

5. “That Which Exceeds Recognition”: Sound and Gesture in Hassan Khan’s Dom Tak and Jewel 125
Jemma DeCristo

6. Improvising Mythoi and Difference in the Asian/Woman More-Than-Tinge 150
Mike Heffley

7. Upaj: Improvising within Tradition in Kathak Dance 175
Monica Dalidowicz

8. Ode B’kongofon 200
Hafez Modirzadeh

Sound Changes: The Future Is Dialogue 233
Daniel Fischlin and Eric Porter

Index 261

Look Inside


Sound Changes responds to a need in improvisation studies for more work that addresses the diversity of global improvisatory practices and argues that by beginning to understand the particular, material experiences of sonic realities that are different from our own, we can address the host of other factors that are imparted or sublimated in performance. These factors range from the intimate affect associated with a particular performer’s capacity to generate a distinctive “voicing,” or the addition of an unexpected sonic intervention only possible with one particular configuration of players in a specific space and time. Through a series of case studies drawn from Africa, Asia, the Americas, and Oceania, Sound Changes offers readers an introduction to a range of musical expressions across the globe in which improvisation plays a key role and the book demonstrates that improvisation is a vital site for the production of emergent social relationships and meanings. As it does this work, Sound Changes situates the increasingly transcultural dimensions of improvised music in relation to emergent networks and technologies, changing patterns of migration and immigration, shifts in the political economy of music, and other social, cultural, and economic factors.

Improvisation studies is a recently developed, but growing, interdisciplinary field of study. The discipline—which has only truly come into focus in the early part of the twenty-first century—has been building a lexicon of key terms and developing assumptions about core practices. Yet, the full breadth of improvisatory practices has remained a vexed, if not impossibly ambitious, subject of study. This volume offers a step forward in the movement away from critical tendencies that tend to homogenize and reduce practices and vocabularies in the name of the familiar. Chapter authors include John Corbett, Jason Robinson, Kirstie Dorr, Beverley Milton-Edwards, Sally MacArthur, Waldo Garrido, Jemma Decristo, Mike Heffley, Monica Dalidowicz, and Hafez Modirzadeh.

Daniel Fischlin is University Research Chair / Professor, School of English and Theatre Studies at the University of Guelph.

Eric Porter is Professor of History, History of Consciousness, and Critical Race and Ethnic Studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Sound Changes is an exciting collection of essays, case studies, and histories of the way improvisation functions along several axes: crossing international borders, economies, and cultural histories; the ethics and politics of encounters on the stage, in the street, in the gallery; the body as instrument; gender, tradition, and new modernisms; and, perhaps most importantly as a vehicle to voice, across multiple publics, resistance and resilience, political consciousness, and collective responsibility.”
—Nichole Rustin-Paschal, Rhode Island School of Design

- Nichole Rustin-Paschal, Rhode Island School of Design