The vocal jazz improvisation act: a phenomenology

Forbes, Melissa ORCID: (2019) The vocal jazz improvisation act: a phenomenology. In: 3rd Australasian Jazz and Improvisation Research Network 2019 Conference: Body and Soul (AJIRN3), 1 June - 2 June 2019, Melbourne, Australia.


The human voice is the only musical instrument housed within the 'body case' (Vitale, 2014)—it is not subject to the musician’s direct control. It is perhaps because of the unique character of the 'instrument-voix' (Vitale, 2014) that research on jazz vocal improvisation has tended to focus heavily on the pedagogical aspects of improvising with the voice. As a result, little is known about the lived experiences of jazz vocal improvisers and the phenomenon of the vocal jazz improvisation act itself. This paper reports on a pilot study to explore one singer’s lived experience of the vocal jazz improvisation act (the larger study will investigate at least three singers’ lived experiences). The participant for the pilot was recruited using purposeful sampling, and is an internationally-recognised, award-winning jazz singer with extensive improvisation experience over many years. Using interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA) (Smith, Larkin & Flowers, 2009), this paper provides 'glimpses and manifestations' (Vagle, 2018) of the phenomenon of vocal improvising in jazz. Seidman’s (2006) phenomenological interview technique will be used to interview the participant three times, for a period of one and a half hours for each interview. As the researcher has personal experience of vocal jazz improvisation, a 'bridling plan' (Dahlberg, 2008; Vagle, 2018) will be used to restrain prior understandings of the phenomenon and to actively engage in openness, awareness and reflexivity around the phenomenon. Data analysis will be through a whole-part-whole process (Dahlberg, 2008; Vagle, 2018). This research will produce a text that 'captures tentative manifestations' of the act of vocal improvising in jazz 'in its multiple, partial, and varied contexts' (Kumm, 2013, p. 207) as well as the meaning of the improvising act for the participant. Beyond musical and performative concerns, this research aims to provide insight into the psychological, embodied and situated nature of the vocal jazz improvisation act.

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Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Commonwealth Reporting Category E) (Speech)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Oral presentation.
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Current - Faculty of Business, Education, Law and Arts - School of Creative Arts (1 Mar 2019 -)
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Current - Faculty of Business, Education, Law and Arts - School of Creative Arts (1 Mar 2019 -)
Date Deposited: 28 Feb 2020 01:42
Last Modified: 02 Aug 2022 05:23
Uncontrolled Keywords: jazz singing, vocal improvisation, PERMA, wellbeing
Fields of Research (2008): 17 Psychology and Cognitive Sciences > 1701 Psychology > 170199 Psychology not elsewhere classified
19 Studies in Creative Arts and Writing > 1904 Performing Arts and Creative Writing > 190407 Music Performance
Fields of Research (2020): 52 PSYCHOLOGY > 5299 Other psychology > 529999 Other psychology not elsewhere classified
36 CREATIVE ARTS AND WRITING > 3603 Music > 360304 Music performance
Socio-Economic Objectives (2008): E Expanding Knowledge > 97 Expanding Knowledge > 970119 Expanding Knowledge through Studies of the Creative Arts and Writing
E Expanding Knowledge > 97 Expanding Knowledge > 970117 Expanding Knowledge in Psychology and Cognitive Sciences

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