Uncertainty as a Creative Principle in Free Jazz Improvising

  • Silvana K. Figueroa-Dreher (Autor/in)


A significant part of the work of orchestras that interpret composed music is aimed at optimizing the coordination of activities between different musicians by means of time-consuming rehearsals, in order to reduce the degree of contingency of their performances to a minimum and thus to remain loyal to the musical composition, whose score has already been largely defined. However, in the case of free jazz we are confronted with a phenomenon, which counteracts this pursuit of certainty because it deliberately produces uncertainty, thereby stimulating the musicians’ artistic productivity. By looking at the example of free jazz improvisation, I wish to tie two central topics in sociology into the following reflections: the structure of human action and the mutual coordination of action. Using these topics I will analyze certain aspects with regard to the contingency within a specific type of human action – improvising – and with regard to the related interactions. These aspects have received little attention in the empirical research until now.