Outside on the Inside: Musical improvisation according to contemporary materialist thought

Lovett, Matthew. 2018. Outside on the Inside: Musical improvisation according to contemporary materialist thought. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

One of the precursors to this PhD project was an awareness that a great deal of
writing about music aesthetics, the practice of making music and the nature of
listening to music, is often either knowingly or unknowingly grounded in a set of
philosophical debates that predate (sometimes quite considerably) the music that is
being written about. As such, there is a sense in which critical perspectives on
improvised music practice, if they are to be relevant, need to take into account
more recent developments in philosophical and theoretical thought, and one of the
objectives of this study is to meet that challenge by mapping of some of the key
aspects of twentieth and twenty-first century thought that have their roots in what
could be described as ‘philosophies of immanence’ onto various aspects of

From the outset, this project is written from a maker’s perspective, and takes the
form of a piece of extended research that takes as its starting point the idea that
musical improvisation is a form of creative thinking in action. From this position, the
process of improvising and an improvised piece of music, to some extent bear the
traces of the thought that has given rise to both the music and the improvising
itself. By grounding the research in a set of the afore-mentioned ‘philosophies of
immanence’, it is therefore my intention to develop new ways of thinking about how
improvisation works, new ways to describe what is happening when we hear
musicians improvising, and new ways to understand what kinds of changes and
innovations are brought to bear on the resources and materials – in other words the
musical knowledge, the skills, the instruments, and a wider set of musical contexts
and environments – that musicians have at their disposal during an improvisation.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Identification Number (DOI):



Improvisation, Improvised Music, Music, Materialism, Philosophy, Speculative Realism

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Visual Cultures


31 May 2018

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

06 Jul 2018 15:50

Last Modified:

29 Apr 2020 16:47



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