ArtsEverywhere, and its host organization, Musagetes, are deeply invested in practices of improvisation, musically and otherwise. One of our partners, the International Institute for Critical Studies in Improvisation, based at the University of Guelph, has developed an extensive body of practice-based academic research on applications of improvisation in many fields of civic society: justice, health, technology, decolonization, interspecies communication, and so on. As a result of this research, numerous essays and commentaries on ArtsEverywhere reflect on vocality, performativity, communicating, and listening.
In What is the First Sound from the Future, ArtsEverywhere’s Editor-in-Chief, Shawn Van Sluys, wrote an editorial that asks, “Does technology give greater voice to the silent, the silenced, and the voiceless? Or does it subsume a plurality of expressions into one voice — the dull monotony of layered MIDI-synth’d oomph, constrained by the limitations of zeros and ones?”
In an excerpt from his book, Improvising Freely: The ABCs of an Experience, Lê Quan Ninh recommends cultivating a taste for autonomy through improvisation: “We can try to provide avenues which allow one to be more conscious of the need to listen, all the while knowing that this effort references the fundamental demands of a discipline that can only be learned very slowly, extremely slowly.”
Jeannette Hicks offers a taste of what she learned at Musical Improvisation at Land’s End (MILE) in Gaspé, Quebec: “Communicating across linguistic difference requires shifting the emphasis away from achieving ‘perfect’ linguistic performance and towards compassionate listening. We can never be ready enough, or perfect enough. But we can be present.”